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Flying Dowels & Plastic, Aug 2012 - Allison Sleds Can't Be Beaten
August 28, 2012

Fresh Kite-Making And Kite-Flying News


Bear with me for a moment. Remember how My Best Kite was included in an elite bunch of sites recently... That happened despite its rather plain, even amateurish, graphical appearance. Changes you might have noticed in the past few weeks haven't actually done much to really improve things either. Yours truly is no artist unfortunately.

Well, all is about to change! The graphic artist who turned his talents to some of my eBook covers several months ago is now in the process of looking at other elements of the site. Stand by for a refreshing and long-overdue graphical make-over! I think I did hint that this was coming many months ago, via this newsletter.

Anyway, so much for the site. It's the kites info that you opened this mail for wasn't it :-) As promised, there is some kite-making to report this month...

It seems that it doesn't matter what size of Allison Sled I make, the results are always the same - excellent. The recently tested 3-Skewer Sled is a case in point. A fraction of the size of the huge 2-Dowel design, the 3-Skewer Sled opened and stayed open until it arrived back on the grass for whatever reason.

This month the weather has been a little better, with more sunny periods. Besides the 3-Skewer Sled, a number of the Dowel Series kites were taken out for a fly. Some shook off more moth-balls than others...

  • Dowel Sode
  • Dowel Roller
  • Dowel Box (moderate wind version)
All had great high flights!

If you have access to Tyvek in a light enough grade for kite making, it is apparently a great sail material due to its strength. In particular, for MBK designs, you can also follow all the taping instructions as if you were making plastic-sailed kites. On top of that, white Tyvek can be painted, opening the doors to making better-looking MBK kites.

As usual, a small number of questions came in, on widely differing topics. More on one of these a bit further down...

Tim P.

"Every new kite is an adventure!"

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Table of Contents

  1. Visitor Contribution Of The Month
  2. Flight Report Of The Month
  3. MBK Kite Making News
  4. MBK Books

Visitor Contribution Of The Month

Despite a couple of short contributions, I think the most interesting post to point you to today is the question about some traditional Bali kites. Mind you, my answer fills in a few details too ;-)

For one thing, these are genuinely huge creations and there is a YouTube reference if anyone would like to paste it into their browser and actually see what this guy saw. The other aspect that can't be missed is the enormous tails. Up to 100 meters (300 feet) in length according to some sources.

So, those big expensive inflatables you see at kite festivals aren't the only huge kites around!

Here's Robert's question post, Balinese Long Tail Kites, which I edited soon after it was submitted, to include an answer.

Flight Report Of The Month

It was easy to pick this report from several others. There's a little more in it than just 'I let out the line, the kite flew, I took it back down again'. Here's a short-form report for a good-looking kite design that is not as well-known now as it was decades ago. However, high-quality retail versions in modern materials are still bought occasionally by discerning kite fliers.

Old Roller Has Its First Vertical Flight

"The Dowel Roller hadn't been flown for quite a while, so before I could even attach the flying line, a few extra bits of tape were required. Some damage was evident which was probably caused by the last flight it had in overly-fresh winds. That would also explain the very forward towing point position of the short bridle line knot. Anyway, the bridle was soon re-adjusted and ready to go.

Almost immediately, the Roller started to hang off to the right, quite a lot. It wasn't going to 400 feet in that condition, so it had to come down. I shifted the upper bridle loop knot quite a few centimeters to the left, just to gauge the effect. As expected, the kite now pulled off to the left, but I now had a good idea of where the knot needed to be. Shifting the knot once again, the Roller soared up and it seemed pretty straight up the middle. Good!

Some line-handling fun came next as I shook line off the winder with one hand while letting line slip with the other hand. A nice controlled 30 degree climb ensued, until the 60 meter flag came off the winder. At this point, I just held on and let the Dowel Roller kite climb out to a 45 degree angle in the gusty light breeze. Very light at times.

After a few minutes, I let the line out to 90 meters for a few more minutes of relaxed flying. Soon, the breeze almost died and the Roller started to sink slowly, tail first. Pulling in 20 meters of line enabled the kite to contact some more breeze. Just a little, but enough to climb back out to 200 feet.

A small crowd using the other side of oval got inspired and soon 2 or 3 small retail kites were flying!

They hadn't seen nothin' yet...

A healthy thermal came through and lofted the Roller right overhead, on 120 meters (400 feet) of line. Ssssh, don't tell the AAP (Australian Altitude Police ;-) ), who would like all kites and model aircraft to stay below 100 meters... These events only last for a few minutes at most though, so the kite soon made its way back down. Sure was nice seeing it way up there, upper trailing edges fluttering a little in the warm breeze fanning from directly below.

Nothing like a decent thermal to make a modest-performance kite look good!

Why not try a Dowel Roller kite yourself one day. Adjust that upper bridle loop just right, and it might surprise you with a very high flight."

For photos and a video, have a look at the instructions which show you How To Make A Roller Kite.

MBK Kite-Making News

Testing The 3-Skewer Sled

Well, I did 'get cracking' this month, and the 3-Skewer Sled kite is the result. The recent test flight outing was thoroughly enjoyable, with the kite fully meeting expectations. The photo was taken on a very short line, with the Sled coping easily with the turbulent air near the ground.

The central spar has its 3 skewers reinforced on both sides of each join. The outer 2 spars, which are further apart at the top than at the bottom, are reinforced on the inner side only, at each join. Mind you, these reinforcers are longer than the ones on the central spar.

The original intention was to use the same 3mm bamboo skewers as are used in most of the 2-Skewer kites. However, these were unavailable.

The whole range of sizes are still being manufactured apparently, but all the big stores in Adelaide have suddenly decided not to stock 300x2.5mmm or 300x3mm bamboo skewers any more. At least Coles had 4mm skewers which I knew would not be too heavy due to the much bigger sail area of the 3-Skewer designs. I have decided to standardize on this size for all 3 bonus designs included with the Making Skewer Kites eBook.

The current 3-Skewer A-Frame will be re-made with doubled skewers at the center of each spar. This will be a very stiff kite which I hope will tolerate moderate through to fresh winds.

Eventually, a cellular kite will complete the 3 bonus designs for the Skewer kites book, as a fresh-to-strong wind kite. The 3 kites together will cover a very considerable wind range. That's the aim. Be able to get out and fly, no matter what the wind strength.

Although the instructions for the 3-Skewer Sled will never appear on the website, they will soon be available as part of the Making Skewer Kites eBook. Probably by next weekend - just check the sale page to be sure.

MBK Books

These are advertised in the right hand columns of the My Best Kite website, and occasionally referenced in the body text of some pages. I'm sure you have seen them.

In recent months, the number of people accessing eBooks on all kinds of topics has exploded, thanks largely to the Amazon company and its increasingly popular Kindle e-reader. In fact, the term 'eBook' might soon be so well known that I can stop referring to mine as 'downloadable, printable books'!

Of course, my books are of the PDF file variety, which you can view and / or print off from PCs, Macs and other computers. A bit 'old-school' now, but still pretty handy. There are even ways to access them on the Kindle. But the way of the future is with hand-held devices that are as easy to read as paper.

A little reminder...

An MBK book is a PDF file containing text and photos which can be downloaded to your computer's hard drive. These 'eBooks' are handy for either reading on-screen, or printing off to paper, which is preferable for some. With a PDF, it's very easy to just print out the pages you want. For example, a couple of Appendices plus the instructions for a single kite.

Almost the entire book-published content of this site is contained in the MBK Book Bundle. Of course, the cost is much less than buying all the books separately. Also, as time goes on, the value will increase as new products are added or existing ones extended. For example, the recently-added 3-Skewer A-Frame.

Plenty of people are signing up for the MBK Beginner eCourse. Feel free to reply to this email if you have tried it and have a comment or 2. A more advanced course is in the pipeline.

Why not tell a friend about this kiting newsletter.

Issued on Tuesday, August 28th 2012 Issue #0061
My Best Kite
12 Muscatel Cct, Old Reynella, S.A. 5161, Australia

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