Making And Flying The Dowel Box Kite

by Andy Mical
(Todos Santos, Baja California Sur, Mexico)

I made a few modifications to the instructions:

1. Instead of one long piece for the cell, I pieced together alternate black and white plastic to make the kite stand out a bit.

2. Instead of using the short pieces of dowel to lock the cross pieces, I used 3/16th tygon tube. (One inch pieces of tube, sliced half way through at the 1/2” point, bend at a 90°, and slide one half onto the spar, the other half will project at a 90° angle to accept the cross piece.)

3. I also positioned the cross pieces in the middle of each cell.

4. And due to a shortage of 3/16th dowel I used 1/4" dowel for the crosspieces. I also had to taper the ends to fit into the tygon tube.

In my haste to go out for a test flight, I had seen a plan for only attaching the bridle at one point, just below the top cell. This was a mistake! In a nice moderate wind the Dowel Box Kite took off very nice but at about 30 feet it just dove to the ground and the wind blew it tumbling up and over the beach dunes. When I finally caught up with it I found the spar broke right at the bridle attach point. Too much strain for that little 3/16" spar.

After splicing the break with a piece of tube, and attaching the 2 point bridle, as suggested, it was ready for another flight. With a light breeze this day the kite went up OK but would not gain much altitude. The wind died down and the kite did too. Decided I wanted to bring this back out with a little more wind.

Back to the beach with winds at about 10 to 12 MPH, some gusts to 14. The kite took right off, and with a little flexing in the wind and a nice pull on the line I wondered how much those 3/16” spars would take. This was a great flight, the kite just kept climbing until I had let out almost all of the 500 feet of line.

I leaned back in my reclining beach chair to rest my neck and slowly started to reel in the kite. When it still had about 350 feet of line it started to drift to the right and loose altitude. I thought it would recover, but no it continued to loose altitude. I fell out of my chair as I tried to jump up and then dropped the reel as I raced down to the beach and the kite fell behind the sand at the water line. Not sure if I would save it from the waves I grabbed the line to pull it out of the water when it tumbled into view and jumped back up into the air.

At this point I reeled the Dowel Box Kite in to survey the damage. No damage, it was wet and sandy but that was about it. All in all a fun flight with an exciting end.

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by: Tim Parish

Good post! The reason behind using short dowel pieces to secure the cross-pieces is that it keeps the materials list short and cheaper. Also, the approach scales perfectly if anybody wants to increase all the dimensions - including dowel diameter.

Regarding the kite going off to one side after that long flight - perhaps one of the leading edges slipped back a bit along a spar? It's happened to me before...

Hope you keep having good high flights with your Dowel Box Kite!

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Wind Speeds

Light air
1-5 km/h
1-3 mph
1-3 knots
Beaufort 1

Light breeze
6–11 km/h
4–7 mph
4–6 knots
Beaufort 2    

Gentle breeze
12–19 km/h
8–12 mph
7–10 knots
Beaufort 3    

Moderate breeze
20–28 km/h
13–18 mph
11–16 knots
Beaufort 4    

Fresh breeze
29–38 km/h
19–24 mph
17–21 knots
Beaufort 5    

Strong breeze
39–49 km/h
25–31 mph
22–27 knots
Beaufort 6

High Wind
50-61 km/h
32-38 mph
28-33 knots
Beaufort 7