Why Make Your Own Kite?
With shop bought designs so cheap, why make your own kite? There are
plenty of rewards, including these top 5. At least, just about all the
experiences I have had with kites seem to fall into these categories!
The more often you make your own kite and fly it, the more
discoveries await. In a 21st Century world of high-tech devices, who
would have thought that so much could be gained from something as simple
as a single-line kite?
It's true that some can't appreciate single-line kiting, labeling
it 'boring'. However, you're here reading this page so I don't think
that applies to you!
In any case, very young kids almost always find the idea of flying a kite exciting, after they first spot one flying high and steady! There's my boy in the photo, flying a home-made Roller. On a short line, so I could fit everything in the frame.
For flying line, something like this Stake Line Winder
on Amazon is ideal for kites that are 1 or 2 meters (3 to 7 feet) in span. You just can't DIY flying line! Dacron, particularly the braided
variety is great stuff for single line designs.
Make Your Own Kite For...
Some of us are just 'builders' at heart. Can you remember getting
into Mechano, Lego or other building block systems like that, and really
enjoying the creative process? While making a kite, you see a miniature
aircraft taking shape before your eyes. The anticipation of flying
builds as you approach the final steps.
People vary a lot when it comes to just how much complexity they are willing to cope with in a kite design!
At one end are the school teachers and mothers who just
want a small and colorful kite which comes together in 15 minutes or
less. As long as it rises up a little as a small child tows it around
the back yard or other grassy area, they are happy. For the child,
helping with decoration and attaching the tail can be rewarding. Not to
mention the huge buzz of seeing it actually fly outdoors!
At the other end of the building spectrum are the people
who are talented and perhaps even professional artists and craftsmen.
These creations look stunning and fly reliably over a wide wind speed
range. Cellular kites, inflatables, whimsical artistic works, the
variety is breathtaking. Some of these high-end kites might take hundreds of hours to complete.
But many of us are in the middle ground. We just want a kite that looks OK, flies high, flies reliably and doesn't take too long to build! Is that you? If so, you'll be glad to find my Making Dowel Kites book!
A morning or afternoon on the weekend is enough time to set aside
for making something which will return hours of enjoyment. As long as
the wind strength is somewhere in the 'light to moderate' range, which
most of the time, it is.
Make Your Own Kite For...
Let me briefly list 4 different types of flying which can be
particularly fun to do with a single-line kite! Like the home-made Delta
- Low-wind flying is a challenge. Occasionally, there will be barely
enough wind to keep the kite up. Staying in the air will require
constant attention to the kite. However, this can be fun when it
happens! Stick at it and sharpen up your kite-handling skills. If you
have few chances to fly, this will result in less disappointment.
- Confined area flying can be a laugh from time to time! With a
cheap expendable home-made kite, it's fun to attempt flying from a very
small backyard, for example. The aim being to never actually let out
enough line to lose the kite over the fence. On a larger scale, you
might enjoy dicing with danger down at a small park, where tall
trees are liable to reach out and grab your kite. The keys to this kind
of flying are quick reel-ins and quick sideways running to head off
disaster! Just getting the kite in the air at all will require timing. Wait for that next gust!
- High altitude flying is satisfying, although I am careful to
stay below the legal limit of 100 meters (330 feet) here in South Australia. Still,
that's high enough to enjoy seeing your own flying creation floating
about, so removed from the ground-level existence we experience most of
the time. One day I would love to get into China where apparently you
can fly kites as high as you like just about anywhere!
- Thermal flying is a buzz with light wind kites. Thermals are
patches of rising air that occur due to uneven heating of the ground.
Soaring birds such as eagles and hawks use them all the time to avoid
having to flap their wings. As an ex-soaring pilot myself, I used to
think thermals were very big and quite rare in cooler weather. However,
kite-flying has taught me that small patches of rising air occur
practically everywhere, nearly all of the time that there is any direct
sunlight at all. If you make your own kite that is light enough, it's
possible to tow it into rising air on an almost calm day, and watch it
get gently lofted overhead in a passing thermal! Often, the effect of
rising air on your kite is more subtle, and it takes practice to
recognize and exploit it.
Make Your Own Kite For...
With all the modern emphasis on beach kites and kite flying for kids,
this aspect is pretty well-known. It's not just fun for kids, since the
whole family can get involved.
Making the kites at home provides an
added dimension to the experience for kids, since they can get involved
in the simpler aspects of construction. For example, as already
mentioned on this page, doing simple decoration and adding tails. It's
satisfying for them to see their own efforts up there in the air.
With a mid-sized kite, a wide age range can take part in the
flying. Picking light-wind weather to fly in also helps here, since the
pull on the line is more gentle. We had our 3 year son hanging on to a
1.2 meter (4 feet) span Rokkaku one time! It was just to get a photo of
him, and the wind was very light. There's the Rok in the photo.
On another occasion, we had him flying a small box kite.
However, the wind was in the 'very fresh to strong' range, and the
little fellow struggled to hang on! By the way, if you want to make your
own kite, Deltas are known for their relatively light pull, for any
given size of kite.
Unless there is a lot of room to spread out fly, it's probably more practical for a small family to share a single kite when going out to fly.
It just happens, if you make your own kite and fly it often enough! You learn stuff you never intended to learn.
Here's a list of just some of these things...
- Knowing when you have 2 minutes to get the kite down before rain hits.
- Knowing that the wind will moderate when that low, dark patch of cloud scoots away.
- Judging wind strength from leaf noise and branch-waving.
- Realizing that most local bird species have a level of curiosity about your kites, and often fly in closer for a look!
- Realizing that when you make your own kite there are probably a
dozen or more possible reasons why it wants to loop left or right when
wind gusts get too strong.
And so on. There's no end to it!
This is not the place to go into aerodynamics or physics in any
depth, but you might be interested in these few general points...
The simplicity of kite flight is an illusion! To fully
explain or simulate the flight of a simple, single-line kite is actually
a big task. It's a 'glider on a string', with the tethered aspect
providing all sorts of extra complications. But it's not necessary to
consider this fact at all, in order to enjoy single-line kiting. Any
twit can hang on to a kite line :-)
Many schools include kite studies to help teach very basic
aerodynamics and physics to the students. With the practical side of
kite making and flying easily within reach of even young teenagers, it's
a fun and engaging way to pass on knowledge.
Even without formal studies, making and flying kites will teach
you more and more about why and how things fly. Get out there and make
your own kite!
Pair your kite with strong, light line, such as the stuff wound onto this Stake Line Winder
on Amazon, and you will really make the most of your efforts.
You might have noticed that this site has a monthly newsletter...
For single-line kite fliers and builders, it's always been a good read. But if you are interested in KAP and/or large home-made kites you won't want to miss it!
So sign up today, and download the free 95-page e-book "What Kite Is That?" straight away. Info-packed and fully photo-illustrated.
And there are even more free resources, such as a kite-making e-course, waiting for you in the next issue of this newsletter.
Sep 23, 14 01:22 AM
This day's flying had been anticipated for at least a couple of weeks. A 'drag bucket' added to the tail end of the 2m (7ft) span Carbon and Tyvek Diamond was an attempt to raise the upper limit on the flyable wind speed for the kite. From earlier experiences it seems the unmodified Diamond becomes unstable at around 30 kph.
The first flight was done with the drag bucket adjusted for fairly minimal effect. As half expected, the kite soon started to fly way over to the left and right. So, the wind speed up there must be at least 30kph! This was down at Brighton Beach, but all thoughts of doing KAP soon evaporated, due to the high wind speed. Not to mention the turbulence coming from some high buildings directly upwind.
For a second attempt, the Velcro fastener was re-adjusted to considerably open up the intake of the bucket. The bucket being two Tyvek flaps which come together over the tail-most region of the sail. This had an immediate effect. More stability! Unfortunately, the extra drag also helped keep the kite at a lowish line angle in some of the fiercer gusts. Lots of line tension ensued, with a huge amount of distortion apparent in the sail.
At this rate, something was going to break pretty soon, so I struggled to get the kite down to the sand. After shifting the towing point forward by about 3cm (1") the kite seemed a little more comfortable. When the sail of a Diamond distorts badly, it reduces the amount of effective area below the towing point. This is like shifting the towing point back - adding to the problems of too much wind!
And then the inevitable happened. The already broken-and-repaired horizontal ferrule gave way and the kite promptly folded up and sank to the sand. But not before I had carefully observed every second of the kite's struggles, trying to learn more about Diamond kite behavior in high winds.
Just an hour after arriving home, the weather station at the nearby airport was reporting gusts to 50kph! It was less further down the coast, but I suspect the Carbon Diamond felt the brunt of around 40kph for at least a few seconds at a time.
"Simplest Dowel Kites": A free but very useful kite-making e-book. Make a super-simple Sled, Diamond and Delta - step-by-step with photos. Sign up for the e-book and get an emailed series of messages called "MBK Tips'n'Ideas". If you don't need the e-book, consider signing up anyway... You won't believe the value on offer in that message series!
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For now, please view this site on a Desktop or Laptop computer to see the videos. And there's plenty of them!
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