Slitting Lower Surface
The lower surface plastic needs slits
through which the ribs' bridle attachment points can be inserted....
Where to mark dots for slits, on lower surface plastic
Firstly, place a bridled rib along the
vertical line drawn onto the lower surface plastic, near one tip.
See the photo at left, where the rib is aligned.
- Secondly, mark dots where indicated by the
yellow circles in the photo at right. Make the dots a
little wider than the line, so you can see them of course!
The dots are slightly further apart than the length of the attachment
points. This is OK and allows a little room for error.
Where to cut slits in lower surface plastic
Keep shifting the rib to the right, skipping
one line, and marking in those 6 dots each time. Keep going
until you have marked dots onto every second vertical line of the
whole lower surface plastic.
- Get out your scissors and make a slit between
every pair of dots. To make things clear, I have added a yellow
line which represents each slit, in the photo above.
Bridle attachment points on a rib – taped, cut and poked!
Place tape where indicated by the yellow
rectangles, in the first photo. Half the width is not stuck
to anything, yet.
- In the second photo, the first 3 tapes
have been folded around to stick on the other side of the
plastic. The yellow rectangles show where to stick 6 more tapes –
each of them 10cm (4”) long, with 5cm (2”) stuck down.
- In the third photo, the second lot of
tapes have been folded around to stick on the other side of
the plastic. The yellow lines show where to snip away a small
section of doubled-up tape.
- In the fourth photo, a square piece of
sticky tape has been half-stuck to one edge of each bridle
- In the fifth photo, the squares of
tape have been folded down around the edges. Also, yellow
circles indicate where holes have been poked for the bridle lines,
using a ball-point pen or something that size.
You know what's coming next – yes, do all the
above for every remaining bridled rib!
Attaching A Bridled Rib
Bridled rib with no vents taped to upper surface plastic
Lay down the upper surface plastic with the
tape edging facing up.
- Referring to the first photo,
line up a bridled rib with no vents
with the side edge of the upper surface plastic. Run tape the
full length of the join, as indicated by the yellow rectangle. Trim
off any excess tape with scissors.
- Draw the next edge of the rib to the
upper surface plastic, as in the second photo. Run tape down
the join – again, as indicated by the yellow rectangle.
- Two more rib edges to go – do these as
illustrated in the third and fourth photos.
- In the fifth photo, the upper surface
plastic has been flipped over, so the other side of the join can be
taped. Just apply tape section by section, like it is on the other
You know the drill by now – so no more yellow
Alternate rib taped to upper surface plastic
Take an alternate rib and line up it's
shortest edge with a black line on the upper surface plastic and
tape it in place – as in the first photo. Make sure it's
the black line nearest the other rib!
- Move on to the other rib edges one by one,
taping them to the upper surface plastic. See the second, third
and fourth photos.
- Now flip the alternate rib over. Flatten out
and tape the join edge by edge, from top to bottom. As in the fifth
Here's the picture... So far, you've done a
bridled rib with no triangular vents on one wing-tip of the
upper surface plastic. Next to this tip rib, you have taped an
alternate rib – which has triangular vent holes.
All ribs attached to the upper surface plastic
On the remaining vertical lines, in the
following sequence, you now need to tape in ribs as shown in the
photo above (from right to left), and as listed below ...
Bridled rib, alternate rib, bridled rib, alternate
rib, bridled rib, alternate rib, bridled rib, alternate rib, bridled
rib, alternate rib, bridled rib, alternate rib, bridled rib with
no triangular holes.
As a double-check, you should end up with an
alternate rib down the middle, with 7 alternating ribs on either
side. A bridled rib with no vents is on each wing-tip.
Note: To avoid a silly mistake... It would
be a great idea to put the bridled rib with no vents to one
side, until all other ribs are taped in!
Surface – A Bridled Rib
Bridle attachment points poked through lower surface plastic
Lay down the upper surface plastic (dark
blue) and then the lower surface plastic (light blue) as in the
- Poke the bridle attachment points of one tip
rib through the slits.
Note: The taped edge of the lower surface
plastic is on the left and facing the floor.
Bridle attachment points taped in place
Ensure the attachment points are pulled
through fully. The long edges of the orange rib should line up with
the straight black line which runs through the slits.
- Place sticky tape where indicated by the
yellow rectangles in the photo above.
Lower Surface plastic taped to tip rib, along full length
Flip the upper surface plastic up and fold it
along the black line – all the way from left to right. There is
only a thin strip of light blue plastic under the fold, in the photo
- Apply strips of sticky tape along the join.
You can use more or less pieces than indicated by the yellow
rectangles – as long as you end up with it all stuck down in a
straight line. The plastic in the photo is not sitting perfectly
straight, but get yours as straight as possible.
Surface – An Alternate Rib
Alternate rib nearest wing tip, taped in place
Flip the lower surface plastic down again, so
it is laying flat over the upper surface plastic. Note that black
line running from left to right, in the lower half of the top
- Fold the lower surface plastic back up –
with the previously mentioned black line quite close to the fold.
Note the straight edge of the alternate rib lined up next to the
black line. See all this in the middle photo.
- Now bring up the edge of the alternate rib,
to meet the black line. Apply sticky tape all along the junction, as
indicated by the yellow rectangles in the bottom photo.
Another approach is to tack the plastic together with 3 or 4 tiny
pieces of tape first, before running one piece of tape the full
Here's a photo
showing what you have accomplished – a cell! …
First completed cell, showing airfoil shape and ram-air opening
Surface To Remaining Ribs
You have seen how to tape in a bridled rib,
followed by an alternate rib. Now, it's time to repeat this over and
over. Working your way across the wing, rib by rib, until you finally
tape in the other (bridled) tip rib...
Lower surface of the completed canopy
Upper surface of completed canopy, showing both tip ribs
Leading Edge Reinforcements - Wing-Tip
For this step, you will need to tear off short
strips of sticky tape. About 3 times longer than they are wide...
Reinforcement of tip cell opening
- In the photo on the left, of a
wing-tip... The yellow lines indicate where to place the middle
of each piece of tape, before wrapping it around onto the plastic on
- In the photo on the right... Bearing
in mind that you can't see all the tape from this angle, the yellow
lines indicate where the tape has been stuck.
This step is tedious, but quite important if you intend to get many
hours of flying out of your kite!
Reinforcements – The Rest
Having done the reinforcements for one wing tip,
you should now be able to complete the job.
Work your way across, taping all the other air
inlets in the same way. Although you can't see the added tape in
the photo below, it shows all the cell openings at the front of the
Cell openings of the canopy
Closing The Trailing Edge
Lay the canopy on the floor with the lower surface
plastic facing up. Stretch out the trailing edge, laying all the ribs
of half the wing over towards the tip. As in the photo below...
Canopy trailing edge ready for taping, from center to tip
Where to tape the trailing edge
- The top photo shows a length of clear
packing tape laid down across the trailing edge, covering 7 cells.
Leave a small gap between the tape and the central rib. Also, just
half the tape is sticking to plastic. Avoid sticking tape to
- The bottom photo shows the canopy
flipped over. See how the tape has been folded around and stuck to
the upper surface plastic.
- The photos show half of the trailing edge
taped up. Now tape up the other half in the same way.
Since the rib taping was done front-to-back, it's likely that the
trailing edges of the upper surface and lower surface plastic sheets
do not line up perfectly. Like mine up there. Don't fret! If you have
done a reasonable job, the kite will fly fine.
Consider using my e-book Making Soft Kites to try any of the 5 spar-less designs in there. Hi-res, close-up photos help you through.
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