Rokkaku Kite Posts

(Oak Dowel Spars)

It's an archive of sorts, although there are no dates and times. Kite flying is timeless, don't you agree? I trust there is plenty in here to educate, inform and often entertain!

These short flight reports once appeared in the site blog page - that's the one you enter via the 'what's new!' site navigation link. Just scroll down and stop at any heading that appeals :-)





Dowel Rokkaku Kite

Dowel Rok Kite Float-Outs

Today was an attempt to get some better sequences of time-lapse photos to illustrate a 'float-out launch'. The kite was the very reliable light-wind Rok made from 5mm dowel and thin bag plastic.

The MBK Dowel Rokkaku

Unfortunately, the breeze down low was too soft and inconsistent for even this very stable kite to be let out across the grass. The kite would go out a few meters here, a few there, but it always would have to be pulled back in just to keep it off the ground!

After several attempts I gave up and just let it do its thing up high. First on about 30 meters (100 feet) of Dacron line, then 60 and finally about 100 meters (330 feet). There was plenty of breeze above 100 feet or so.

At one point, with the help of some rising air, the Rok managed to claw its way to an angle clearly more than 90 degrees! Eventually it nosed down, swung around and then recovered downwind.

The thought occurred that perhaps the beach would be the ideal place to illustrate a float-out launch due to the more consistent airflow.

Towards the end of the session I noticed that the cool air had smoothed right out, up where the kite was. This doesn't happen often at inland locations! The big pale orange Rok just strained away in much the same spot for a few minutes, at about a 60 degree line angle. Almost motionless at times, as was the flying line. None of the usual line-twitching to be seen.

A minute or so with the wind meter held at shoulder height recorded an average speed of 5.5kph and a peak of 8.8kph. Over a longer time period I'm sure the average would have been much lower. Up high, the breeze felt like a good 12kph most of the time.


Hovering Rok In Smooth Beach Breeze

Down at Christies Beach, we found a patch of dry sand which provided ample space over which to fly. Holding the wind meter at shoulder height, it registered around 9.5kph gusting to just over 11kph. Fairly smooth, as was expected since the wind was coming from across the ocean.

Just like the Roller yesterday, a few small pieces of tape were required to secure some of the spar tips to the sail. This kite hadn't been flown for quite a while either!

With the breeze so very smooth, it was possible to take some video on only 4 or 5 meters (15 feet) of line. This kite has never been recorded in such clarity before. I'll be posting it on FB of course ;-)

A couple more videos were taken on 10 meters (35 feet) of line, before I let it out to well over 30 meters (100 feet).

In the process of letting line out and re-climbing the kite, it became clear that it was slightly out of trim...

At low line angles, with more strain on the sail, the Rok leaned over and drifted far to the left. As the line angle became steeper, and line tension eased, the kite smoothly righted itself and continued to climb straight up. This pattern happened several times as I let the line out in stages. Never mind, a small tweak of the upper sliding knot of the bridle should be all it needs.

One of the leaning episodes took the kite far too close to the esplanade and its traffic. So I had no choice but to pull in very quickly to clear the road. This forced the kite down onto the embankment. Fortunately, it was possible, during a slight lull, to pull the kite off and into the air again. No damage done.

After packing up, another wind check revealed it had moderated down to 7kph, gusting to 9kph. Ultra-smooth beach flying makes a change from the somewhat less predictable experience of flying inland!


My Kite Called 'Dances With TV Antenna'

Yes it's another flirt with danger over the rooftop - this time with the Dowel Rokkaku.

To begin with, the air was somewhat gusty despite a quite low average wind speed. This did cause a few problems. Getting the kite's nose stuck in the gutter after about 30 seconds of air time was the first... A few short and scary flights later, I was pulling it out of one of our small trees. No great drama there. A few small pin-pricks from the rose bushes on yet another flight. But eventually, as the sun dipped towards the horizon, the air settled down.

With more constant wind speed, and lower strengths overall, I gradually put the big pale-orange Rok up higher and higher over our roof. Maybe out to 25 meters (80 feet) or so. A couple of trimming changes with the bridle knots also helped to keep it flying straight and true. With dark rain clouds in the not-so-far distance, the big Chinese character on the kite was appropriate - 'rain'.

The Dowel Rokkaku kite eventually tired of trying to stay airborne and slowly descended towards the roof. Just like when the Dowel Delta went up a few days ago. A little line handling ensured that the Rok made it over the gutter. Whereupon it floated onto its face and proceeded to glide straight towards me like a paper plane. An easy catch in one hand! A nice ending to another backyard sunset flight. And it was a great sunset too...




E-book special of the month (25% off)...

Click to get 'Making The MBK Parachute Kite'

This printable e-book takes you step-by-step through making a 119 cm (4 ft) wide Parachute kite. It's not quite that wide in the air since the canopy takes on a distinct curved shape when inflated. This 14-cell kite performs best in moderate to fresh wind speeds. That's 20 to 38 kph or 13 to 24 mph. In gentle winds, this kite will hang in the air at fairly low line angles. In fresh winds, it pulls firmly for it's size, so small kids should only fly it while supervised!

Every kite design in the MBK Soft Series satisfies the following points...

  • Materials are plastic sheet, tape and line – and nothing more!
  • Tools are a ruler, scissors and a marker pen - and nothing more!
  • All cuts are along straight lines.

For the greatest chance of success, I make recommendations regarding the materials. For example, the type/weight of plastic, type/width of tape and line type/strength. Close enough should nearly always be good enough, since the design is well-tested and should be tolerant of small differences from my original.

Get the e-book for making the MBK Parachute kite. After making your first one in plastic and seeing how it performs, you can try soft Tyvek or rip-stop nylon for your next build.

The e-book is a PDF file - which means printable instructions to refer to while you make the kite. It also means convenient off-line access if that suits you better.



What's New!

  1. Flight Report:
    Sunny And Light For Della Porta

    Aug 19, 17 12:29 AM

    Winter-like weather has been the norm here for many weeks. But today was sunny with very light winds. A rare opportunity to take out the tail-less Della Porta variant with it's latest mini-bridle conf…

    Read More





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Testimonials
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"Love the easy to understand step by step instructions, made from next to nothing materials and above all so much fun to fly... cheers Tim for sharing your well thought out pdf kite designs with the whole world.

Very satisfying making your own and watching them get air-born for the first time."

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Kite-making e-book: Simplest Dowel Kites

This one's FREE
Download it now!



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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