Flying Barndoor Kites

Tiny, Medium, Large or Huge!

Not long after starting this site, I made some tiny Barndoor kites from bamboo BBQ skewers and clear plastic. These little Barndoors flew well in slightly stronger winds than the similar-sized Sleds and Diamonds. They had a tendency to traverse from side to side, extending further to each side as the wind speed increased!

Later, the 1-Skewer Barndoor was made more visible by doing the sail in orange plastic and using a simple ribbon tail made from black plastic. The tail was looped, being attached to the lower tips of the 2 diagonal spars.

Next up in size came the 2-Skewer Barndoor, which again preferred moderate winds. The 3-leg bridle kept it steady and helped prevent flexing of the spars. Hence this design can put up with fairly fresh winds, if well-made.




Then we started making larger barndoor kites like the Dowel Barndoor. This one also has a 3-leg bridle, which is the practical minimum for this kind of design anyway. The 1-Skewer version does manage with a single-leg bridle, but only because the horizontal spar was placed in just the right spot. It took some trial and error!

Finally, the huge Multi-Dowel Barndoor was created. Most of the time, this wonderfully stable and predictable kite was used for KAP - kite aerial photography.

Making The MBK Dowel Barn Door Kite is one of my handy e-books of printable step-by-step instructions. It's a PDF file download. The PDF also contains plans for the huge Multi-Dowel Barn Door.

Down below is a photo or 2 and a video of each MBK Barn Door. This illustrates the end result, in case you decide to use our instructions to make one of these kites.



1-Skewer Barn Door

Barndoor Kites - early 1-Skewer barndoorOne of our first Barn Doors

Barndoor Kites - early 1-Skewer barndoorOne of our first Barn Doors

Several 1-Skewer Barn Door kites were made, while I experimented with spar configurations and one or 2 other things. This photo shows one of the earliest ones, where the diagonal spars come to a point at the tail end of the kite.

These originals were made from clear freezer-bag plastic, which made them hard to see against a gray sky. However, it's a different story when back-lit by the setting sun!




Barndoor Kites - 1-Skewer barndoor in orange plasticMBK 1-Skewer Barn Door
Barndoor Kites - 1-Skewer barndoor in orange plasticMBK 1-Skewer Barn Door

This little Barndoor required considerable dihedral to fly properly. But the reward was a great reliable little moderate wind flier!

We fly this kite on 50 meters (150 feet) of 20 pound line. It doesn't need that strength, but we also fly our 2-Skewer kites on the same line....

Over there is a photo of the latest version of the 1-Skewer Barn Door, in orange garden bag plastic.

The tail is cut from a cheap black garbage bag. The looped tail gives the kite more stability than if the same length was allowed to just hang by one end.

Check out the video below, which shows 2 more of these kites bobbing around in a gusty breeze. The dark blue kite is flying off a 2 meter (6 feet) line from the light blue kite. Extra loops of tail have been added to settle the kites down in the Moderate strength gusts.



 


2-Skewer Barn Door

Barndoor Kites - 2-Skewer barndoor with looped tailMBK 2-Skewer Barn Door
Barndoor Kites - 2-Skewer barndoor with looped tailMBK 2-Skewer Barn Door

The 2-Skewer Barn Door is, as the name suggests, exactly twice as tall as the 1-Skewer design. This gives it 4 times the sail area with not much more than double the weight. Hence, it doesn't need quite as much wind as the smaller design.

The kite pictured has 2-ply plastic which makes it a little heavier, but it still flies great. A little dihedral plus the 3-leg bridle keeps this kite much steadier in the air than the tiny 1-Skewer version.

This is the kite we pull out when there is too much wind for all the other skewer kites!

The video below shows this kite flying in rough air that causes it to sweep around quite a bit. Up higher and on a lot more line the kite settled down and flew smoother.

Barndoor kites like this one have no trouble climbing up to 400 feet on a 20-pound line.



 


Dowel Barn Door

Barndoor Kites - Dowel barndoorMBK Dowel Barn Door
Barndoor Kites - Dowel barndoorMBK Dowel Barn Door

For a few years this was the largest of the MBK Barndoor kites.

It took a couple of attempts to design a Barn Door which was reasonably easy to rig and de-rig. Also, the original one used 4mm dowel, which proved to be far too light. Not to mention non-standard, since the rest of the Dowel Series uses 5mm dowel.

The Dowel Barndoor is a reliable flier in light and moderate breezes.

Like most Barndoor kites, the flying line angles are modest, but it climbs easily to 400 feet if you let enough line out.

Size? It's twice as tall as the 2-Skewer version, so that's 4 times the sail area. Compared to the 1-Skewer version, the Dowel Barn Door has 16 times as much area!



 


Multi-Dowel Barn Door

The MBK Multi-Dowel Barn Door kite in flight.MBK Multi-Dowel Barn Door
The MBK Multi-Dowel Barn Door kite in flight.MBK Multi-Dowel Barn Door

The big Daddy of MBK Barndoor kites, the Multi-Dowel Barn Door. Or, depending on your culture, perhaps the Mother of them all!

Like the Dowel Barndoor, this design is a reliable flier in light and moderate breezes. Due to it's sheer size and also it's predictable flying characteristics, the Multi-Dowel version does very well hoisting a camera for aerial photos.

Again, like most Barndoor kites, the flying line angles are modest. However, this kite can go directly overhead if rising air is encountered in summer weather. That's one aspect that isn't so good if you have a camera dangling from the line!

Size? It's twice as tall as the Dowel version, so that's 4 times the sail area. Compared to the 1-Skewer version, the Multi-Dowel Barn Door has 64 times as much area!

In the video below, the big kite is wallowing down near the bottom of it's wind range. For aerial photography it would need a little more breeze to fly steadier and higher...


 



That's about it for this page on Barndoor kites. In 3 convenient sizes! Hope you enjoyed the pictures and the info.

Making The MBK Dowel Barn Door Kite is one of my handy e-books of printable step-by-step instructions. It's a PDF file download. The PDF also contains plans for the huge Multi-Dowel Barn Door.

 


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Thanks so much, and happy flying!



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P.S. Keep an eye out for books by kite author Glenn Davison, a prominent kite person in the USA.

What's New!

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    Drogue Saves The Day

    Nov 17, 19 12:25 AM

    In the early afternoon on Saturday a quick check online revealed substantial winds were blowing down at the coast. Tetra time! In fact, the breeze was stiff enough to warrant bringing the Dowel Tetra…

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

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

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

Strong ...
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

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