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Flying Dowels & Plastic, Aug 2013 - Dodging Rainy Days
August 28, 2013

Fresh Kite-Making And Kite-Flying News


This month has been very wet and windy overall. But it's always possible to fly something if the timing is right! Sometimes you only have a window of several hours before the wind whips up again around here.

A couple of old designs have been re-built as a result of instructions being updated on the website and corresponding ebook material. In one case this was the Dowel Diamond getting minor changes to make it a little more versatile. Another time it was the 2-Skewer Rokkaku, just to get new photos for an improved and simplified set of instructions.

Entering the second half of the 2-Skewer Series, the Sode is next in line for an update. This should reduce the number of people who find the instructions too hard to follow! One or two FaceBook comments on these pages have underlined the need to do this.

If you check the 'whats new!' page you will find the flying reports for this month. The Multi-Dowel Barn Door, Multi-Dowel Box, 2-Skewer Rokkaku and Dowel Diamond have flown so far. Later today, or before next month at least, the big Barn Door might go up again with the camera. Should be interesting!

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. KAP Corner
  5. MBK Books

1. Visitor Contribution Of The Month

Besides the usual questions coming in via the 'ask Tim' page, a couple of 'kite date' stories popped up around the beginning of this month, after the previous newsletter went out. The first of these featured an awesome flying location plus a photo, so here it is...

Check out A Great Date in which the photo evokes a sense of 'spendid isolation' with a kite high in the air and a distant row of mountain tops!

2. Flight Report Of The Month

It always seems that two separate reports vie for my choice of 'Flight Report Of The Month'. This time, just four days apart, it was between the first flight of the re-made 2-Skewer Rokkaku and an outing with the huge Multi-Dowel Box.

The former report wins since it features something not seen before in MBK kites - 'fighter' behavior! Kind of. You'll see what I mean, in the following short-format report, titled...

Re-Designed 2-Skewer Rokkaku Rockets Up

"I say 'redesigned' but this Rok is almost identical to the original one, to look at. The main reason for making another one was to update the How To ... instructions on the website and in the Making Skewer Kites e-book. The new instructions are significantly simpler than the old ones, and provide more fool-proof help with doing the bridle lines.

This morning appeared to be a good opportunity to fly this Rok before winds strengthen over the next few days. Even so, the 2-Skewer Barn Door was also taken along, as a back up!

To my horror, the Rokkaku initially just spun around, completely unstable. Ooops, this design has already been published! But then, with a little adjustment of the bridle, I managed to get the kite a few meters up and it settled down.

Without the bow-line of the original design, the Rok was behaving like a fighter kite when under very light wind pressure. Just a few extra kph of airflow had the effect of putting a little extra dihedral in the lower horizontal spars. There is something to be said for 3-leg bridles on Rokkakus! Then the magic started to happen.

The breeze was cold and gusty down low but relatively smooth higher up. The weather was sunny with clouds here and there but convection seemed fairly mild. The little 2-Skewer Rokkaku flew smoothly and high with no hint of instability. A few minutes were spent on 30 meters (100 feet) of line. Then 60 meters (200 feet) and finally 90 meters (300 feet) of line.

Way up high on a tight 20-pound line, the bright orange Rokkaku behaved itself impeccably, showing off great performance, stability and wind range! Even as the wind speed started to edge higher around 20 kph, the kite just distorted evenly and settled out a little lower. Not wanting to push it any further, I started winding in.

Within 40 feet or so of the ground, the Rok started spinning this way and that in the slower rougher air. Not the easiest kite to bring right in to your hand!

The wind meter registered an average of 3.1kph near the ground with gusts to 11.5kph. The very firm pull on the line told a different story at 250 feet above the grass."

See a photo and video of the original 2-Skewer Rokkaku kite in flight.

3. MBK Kite-Making News

The Dowel Diamond kite

Two kites were constructed this month, based on existing MBK designs. Here, I'll stick to design and construction details...

Firstly, the previous Dowel Diamond had shown signs of limited stability near the top of its wind range. In very light air, the kite would perform magnificently, but would tend to droop to the left or right as wind strength started to exceed the 'light' range. The original Diamond, having a standard 4-sided shape didn't do this.

I concluded that perhaps the 6-sided shape was adding too much area near the tail. So, the latest kite has those extra two corners shifted away from the tail. See the photo up there. Total sail area remains about the same. It now looks quite similar to the 2-Skewer Diamond kite in overall shape.

Recently I have become fond of using fairly short bridles since they make the kite more tolerant of gusts and stronger wind generally. Without making any appreciable difference to smoothness of flight. Every time I re-design a kite for any reason, the bridle gets shortened if the old one seems unnecessarily long.

Hence the new Dowel Diamond has the lower bridle line attached 50% up the vertical spar. This allows some shortening of this line and thus the towing point ends up closer to the kite.

If there is any extra flexing of the vertical spar because of the higher attachment point, it doesn't seem to be enough to matter. There's not much sail area near the tail end of a Diamond kite anyway.

Secondly, a new 2-Skewer Rokkaku was made. This time, doing away with the bowed lower horizontal spar and simply increasing the dihedral a bit to compensate. One less detail for beginners to cope with! This feature is now an optional extra, mentioned near the end for keen builders.

Also, I had noticed that the vertical spar on the original kite was actually a tiny bit nose-heavy. Tsk tsk tsk! Hence it has been flipped around so the reinforced joins are closer to the tail end. It seems to make almost no difference in flight but I really feel so much better now ;-)

4. KAP Corner

The KAP weight went up just once this month, and I'll quote the relevant short Flight Report here...

"This time, the Barn Door was packed into the car, along with the green canvas 'kiting support' bag. The breeze was gusting into the mid-twenties according to the weather stations. Nothing the versatile Multi-Dowel Barn Door kite couldn't handle.

The Northerly wind direction meant only the width of the reserve was available downwind. But lately the flights have been low-ish anyway, with the KAP test weight bobbing and swinging about.

With the hose reel installed over a bollard and the Windtronic meter whirring away on a hillock, the huge Barn Door came together quickly. Must be getting used to it now!

Launching was easy, but dicey as rough air came tumbling across the patch of trees upwind. A nervous moment ensued as the huge Barn Door took a gust and arced over to the right, threatening to slam into the ground. A quick let-out of a couple of meters of line settled things down, and the climb resumed.

Shortly after this, I gingerly took in some line, right up to the Double Loop knots 15 meters (50 feet) from the kite, and attached the 280g KAP test weight. Up and up it went, the kite not seeming to notice the extra weight at all.

Eventually, with 45 meters (150 feet) of line out, the gustiness eased somewhat due to the higher altitude. However, it was just after the middle of the day. The worst possible time for smooth flight, with thermal lift and sink everywhere. I made a mental note to avoid this time of day in future, when doing KAP.

Up at this height, the breeze was stronger and occasionally the KAP weight and the kite seemed to interact causing the kite to pump rapidly in and out. I don't think it was just turbulence. Perhaps the weight needs to be further from the kite...

After a few minutes soaring around at high line angles the flight became pleasant enough with no more dramas. However, this is now three occasions out of three where I am glad there was a weight up there and not my camera! So much to learn.

Winds near ground level were 1.5kph average, gusting to 5.8kph. As mentioned earlier, gusts higher up were in the mid-twenties. And that's what it felt like."

Don't forget, if you have recently (or ever!) done any KAP, there is a place to share it - the Kite Aerial Photography page. There are a few older entries in there already.

5. 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.

My ebooks 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. Also, I will be offering the content in other formats in future.

A little reminder...

A PDF file, containing text and photos, can be downloaded to your computer's hard drive. These 'e-books' are handy for either reading on-screen at any print size you want, 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 Multi-Dowel Barn Door kite.

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 Wednesday (oops!), August 28th 2013 Issue #0073
My Best Kite
12 Muscatel Cct, Old Reynella, S.A. 5161, Australia

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