These miscellaneous kite posts are flight reports that don't really fit anywhere else on this site. For example, when I take out a club kite that I didn't design or for which I didn't publish plans.
If you want to take a closer look at my own MBK designs...
The Big MBK E-book Bundle is a collection of printable PDF file downloads.
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 :-)
Patchwork Diamond Drifts
At last, after a run of unflyable days, the weather seemed ideal for putting something up...
Why not the big Patchwork Diamond, as I have dubbed it now. This club kite is a bit of a barge, with its fiberglass tubes and metal fittings. The wind today was mainly in the Gentle range, gusting just into Moderate. The wind meter registered 12 kph with a gust to 20 soon after I arrived at the field.
Some time was spent hauling the big diamond up in every gust that came through. Being from the east, which is overland here, there was nothing smooth about the conditions. But eventually the kite settled down for a while, on 75 meters (250 feet) of 200 pound Dacron.
In the strongest gusts, there was just a hint of the left-turn tendency which had been noticed in the previous outing. I had come prepared though...
With the kite back on the grass, I tied on a small cylinder of rolled-up plastic to one of the short lines that hung from each side tip of the kite. Exactly what these lines were originally used for is a bit of a mystery, since the horizontal spar has it's own bow-line. Perhaps small spinners, tails or other decoration hung off the lines at one time.
The Patchwork Diamond does not seem to be a particularly efficient kite since it rarely makes 45 degrees of line angle. Over quite a range of wind speeds. But I might try adjusting the towing point even further forward to reduce drag. Since it's last outing, the 3 bridle lines had been lengthened as planned, and this did seem to reduce the flexing of the vertical spar.
The rolled up plastic hanging from one tip had the desired effect, keeping the kite straighter in gusts. Not to mention an extra few degrees of line angle. I think it looks less distracting than an entire tail hanging off just one side of the kite...
Big Diamond Lumbers Aloft
Recently the club acquired some kites from interstate, including a large Diamond and an equally large Asian-inspired design...
On it's last outing, the Diamond proved to be a very mediocre light-wind performer. However, today the breeze was solidly in the Moderate range most of the time.
The kite had a patch-work sail of rip-stop nylon and tubular fiberglass spars. Paired to the big square-shaped diamond was a tail of small diamonds end-to-end. Each tail diamond had a light fiberglass rod running horizontally from side-tip to side-tip.
In no time the kite was up and pulling strongly. On about 60 meters of line I flew for a while to just observe. For such a large kite, the line angle seemed quite poor, so I brought it down and shifted the towing point forward a little to relieve the pressure. The kite was certainly pulling hard. On the spring scales, the tension popped up to 7 or 8 kg during a gust.
The kite also had a slight lean to the left under pressure. In fact it completed a tight loop to the left at one point! With the kite back on the grass once again, I flipped the horizontal spar around in case it flew better that way. Sometimes small imbalances in frame and sail can cancel each other out. But not in this case - the kite continued to lean left, so the spar must have been very symmetrical in stiffness and weight.
To keep the kite more upright, I added in a second length of banner-style tail, leaving the flat diamonds trailing on the end. With the extra stability it was decided to let out more line. In the end, there was over 90 meters (300 feet) of 200 pound Dacron buzzing away in the Moderate breeze.
With the vertical spar flexing quite noticeably at times in the strongest gusts, this kite might prefer somewhat longer bridle lines than how they were set today. The flexing was back and forth like a floppy delta, not side-to-side as when a kite fish-tails.
Tune in for big Diamond kite tune-ups later on...
Polka Dot Diamond Drifts
A friend had requested that the traditional bow-ties tail on his Diamond be switched over to a less troublesome drogue...
So yesterday, with a gusty light breeze outside and bonus winter sunshine, it seemed prudent to get the Diamond up for a test fly. Before the weather closed in as forecast.
Down at the reserve, the kite was easily launched and flew briefly on 30m (100 feet) of 50 pound Dacron line. 'Briefly' because the air was quite active despite the time of year. Clearly, it would take more than a short length of line to ensure the kite stayed up, despite it's excellent wind range.
The air certainly wasn't smooth. To my surprise, the drogue line managed to snare in the towing-point fitting. As sometimes happens when flying a supposedly reliable tailed design, I looked up just in time to see trouble... The kite was about to touch down in an unstable configuration! On more line and hence in smoother air it would be unlikely to happen again. And so it turned out...
Moving to a better location on the field, I soon had over 60 meters (200 feet) of line out and the Diamond was doing well. Quite a sight against the blue sky and high-level clouds. Large shifts in wind direction were nudging the kite left and right. Also, sudden decreases and increases in wind speed were causing just as sudden ups and downs in the brightly dotted Diamond's flight path.
After taking a few videos, and soaking up a little more sunshine, it was time to bring the Tyvek-sailed Diamond down. Below 50 feet off the grass the tension eased up and it became much easier to loop the Dacron line onto the winder.
It was test flight complete, with video proof of a coping kite in the rough air!
Drogues Are A Real Drag
Literally ;-) For those unfamiliar, a drogue is a windsock-like device that can be used as a stabilizer for kites. Like a long tail commonly does...
It's Kite Festival time again, here in Adelaide, South Australia. Once again I hope to put up a moderately long train of Diamonds. From previous experience, long plastic tails tend to get wrapped around the flying line. Particularly when the wind speed drops off and the train assumes a shallow angle.
Over the last few years, attempts have been made to minimize the tail-tangling problem. This year a swap to drogues will be tried. In theory, there should be almost no contact between drogue and line. Maybe the occasional bump-and-slide. This is because the drogue plus bridle lines combination is relatively short compared to the amount of tail that used to be required.
So today was a try-out with 3 different sized plastic drogues that were whipped up just yesterday. Out at the field, the breeze was only gusting to around 20kph. But even so it would provide a fair indication of how effective the drogues would be. Just on one kite, for speed and simplicity.
The first drogue tied on was the middle size. 120cm circumference at the front and 50cm long. Rather big for a 1m tall Diamond? Well, this particular kite always needed plenty of tail, being much like a fighter kite in outline. Somewhat to my surprise, the drogue seemed quite a bit too big. The kite tended to pitch down when the drogue caught a bit of extra pressure. Also, the kite struggled to climb far in the light breeze.
Changing to the smallest drogue of the 3, I tried again. This time the kite did better, but still seemed to lack it's usual climbing ability. And then came an idea... Fishing around in my kite gear bag, I soon found an older drogue that was even smaller than the one currently on the kite...
Soon the Diamond was away. Up and up it went, the old drogue looking very fine in proportion. As well as providing completely adequate stability. Great! That'll do. The largest recently-made drogue didn't get a look-in.
Now to create a template to make up 8 or so new drogues. Plus another template with dimensions 20% smaller, which should be sufficient in light winds.
Hopefully wasted time at the Festival will be minimized. Flying time maximized. No wrap-around messes this time!
Paper Barn-Door Lifts Off
The Paper Barn Door has been sitting half-completed for many days, while the Diamond saga unfolded. But yesterday the Barn Door took to the air...
The traditional frame is quite tricky to do in paper. Hence the first experiment has been with the diagonal spars separated into unconnected upper and lower portions. A 4-point bridle prevents the kite folding up. The idea seemed to work quite well in flight...
The little Barn Door managed to spend a few seconds at a time in the air, but was hampered by limited stability. Despite having plenty of tail. However, from experience with tiny 1-Skewer barn doors years ago, I'd say it just needs more dihedral.
For a first prototype using an unproven construction idea, it was satisfying to see the few short climbs to 20 degrees or so of line angle. Before spinning set in. It's a start!
So, the horizontal spar will be replaced by a copy of the very successful Diamond kite spar. Except with a little less width and somewhat more dihedral angle built in. I'll probably swap out the current odd-looking tapered tail to a simple corner-to-corner wide ribbon tail. A looped tail that has always worked nicely on the 1-Skewer and 2-Skewer Barn Door kites.
And don't forget, if you want to take a closer look at my other MBK designs...
The Big MBK E-book Bundle is a collection of printable PDF file downloads.