Radio Control Kites

by Tim McMahan
(Hermann, MO, USA)

Q:

I have been flying RC airplanes for 3 years, designing my own for 2. Suddenly, I got the urge to do a kite. Can you offer any advice? I can gladly throw you a bone on our YouTube channel as well. Perhaps we can help each other that way.

http://www.youtube.com/user/rcFFBloodyMicks

A:

I edited your title to read 'Radio Control Kites', in case you were intending to do one of those. As opposed to the standard tethered variety! While never having made or flown RC kites myself, I know there are some highly refined motor units available for powering kite-like craft. ARF Vector Power Units they are called, since you control the thrust-line of the motor in 2 axes for much more than just directional control!

Over at Amazon, I notice that they are offering some kites from Premier, like the VR Delta Box RC Kite which are 'Vector-Ready' or VR for short. It looks like they are ready to take the motor near the center of gravity of the kite. It strikes me that these kites might be particularly suitable for copying (the concept, non-commercially!) and doing variations for your own personal use.

Perhaps you could get some estimate of the weight and wing area of a VR Delta Box at Amazon, and then do a keel-less Delta with similar specs. Mount the motor under the vertical spar, with sturdy skids to protect it from ground contact. I know my Deltas double as gliders when the line goes slack! With no keel, and a bit of sail billow for directional stability, I can imagine it working quite well. Slow and graceful! First tests at 1/4 throttle perhaps, doing extended glides to the ground.

Now, if you actually just wanted to do a decent ordinary kite, perhaps you could look at the Dowel Rokkaku first. When bored with that, move on to the Dowel Dopero. Both of these are strictly for light-to-moderate winds, and both go straight overhead in thermals!

Checked out the movie at your YouTube channel - it makes me keener to start taking footage from my kites :-) If you want to link, why not link to one of my RC Kites pages. Thanks!

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  1. Flight Report:
    KAP Mystery Solved

    Aug 25, 14 03:57 AM

    Last week I came home from a KAP (Kite Aerial Photography) session down at Brighton beach, here in Adelaide, South Australia. The photos were a disaster, being totally washed out. Over-exposed, to be a little more technical. At the time I thought the problem was purely the position of the sun, relative to the direction of the camera...

    Well guess what. Down at the same beach today, the photos had the same problem - and this time it definitely wasn't the sun. Camera damage seemed a small possibility since the rig had hit the sand at some speed last time, during a white-knuckle experience with the kite in rough air! Which turned out OK, but that's another story.

    Anyway, once back home today, I did a little investigating with the camera, taking some test pictures from the back yard. It was a great relief to find the explanation for the bad images...

    It seems that setting a fixed ISO is not a good idea for this camera in very bright lighting conditions. It can cause the camera to run out of adjustment room for other parameters, like shutter speed or aperture. When the camera was allowed to set ISO automatically, the exposure problem disappeared. Whew!

    The Tyvek-sailed Carbon Diamond performed wonderfully today. It was, for the first time, hoisting the KAP rig into the air. Never has the rig been so steady for so long. Sway was almost non-existent. But whenever I handled the line the camera twisted back and forth due to the rather steep line angle from the rig to the kite. Without enough horizontal separation, the suspension lines do not provide the maximum resistance to twisting. It might be an idea to separate the attachment points even further, on the flying line.

    The 2 meter (7 ft) Diamond was struggling to lift the camera in the fairly light winds coming off the ocean. At times, people on the beach had to duck under the line from me to the camera! The camera was behaving as a sort of aerial tether point, with the kite flying at a steep line angle from there.

    Measured at shoulder height, the on-shore breeze was about 4.5kph gusting to just under 7kph. More of a day for the Multi-Dowel Sled really, which hardly feels a 280g weight on the line!

    "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 what's on offer in that message series!

    Read More








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