With just 1 hour left in the day to fly, and winds finally moderating, it was an opportunity to fly the big Multi Dowel Rokkaku kite for the second time. A number of small changes had been made, based on the experiences of the first outing! A stiffener had been added to the central vertical spar piece, and a longer bridle line fitted. That is, the piece that connects the upper and lower bridle loops. Also, the lower bridle legs had been shifted apart more, to 50% of the horizontal spar length on each side.
Original Multi-Dowel Rokkaku
Original Multi-Dowel Rokkaku
While rigging, the sail's top corner strap snapped apart. That sure hadn't lasted long! However, it only took a minute or 2 to fit a new one. This time using the full width of the packing tape rather than trimming it down.
At this time the wind at shoulder height was measured at 4.7kph gusting up to around 8kph.
It wasn't long after the flying line was attached that the huge Rok wallowed up into the darkening sky. Rays of the late afternoon sun played on the thin garden plastic, from one side. Wind speed had really dropped a lot over the preceding hour or so, making it a challenge to keep the kite up there at all. Flying with only about 10 meters (35 feet) of line out, I managed to take a few still photos and a couple of short videos. This required 2 hands for the camera, so the line was conveniently secured under one foot!
Despite the imposing size of the Multi Dowel Rokkaku kite, it only seemed to be pulling about 1 to 2 kg (2 - 5 pounds) of tension. Out of curiosity, I pulled the spring scales out, put a few turns of line around the hook and checked the reading. Yep - just 1 or 2 kilos (around 4 pounds) of tension in the 200 pound flying line!
The e-book Making The MBK Dowel Rokkaku Kite also contains plans and tips for doing a Multi-Dowel version.
With all the camera work out of the way, it was time for some fun...
Let's climb this beast as high as possible before the sun goes down! It was tricky. Several minutes went by before a slightly stronger gust enabled line to be carefully let out for a few meters at a time. From time to time, as tension came on the line, I would let the kite out further and further.
The line angle stayed pretty constant at around 45 degrees the whole time. That's not particularly efficient for a kite of this size, but some more changes which will stiffen the kite even further should help that. Also, the average wind speed would have been somewhat lower than optimum.
Finally, I had the pleasure of watching the huge Rokkaku float almost motionless up at around 250 feet, on 90 meters (300 feet) of line. Up there, the breeze felt like a constant 7 or 8 kph. A quick check with the Windtronic wind meter at shoulder height showed roughly 4kph gusting to 6kph. I took some video - see below... The only movement was camera-shake really :-) All too soon it was time to take the kite down.
The sun touched the horizon as I walked downwind, sliding my hand over the line to shorten the flying length. Soon, there it was, the 3 meter (10 feet) tall kite descending belly-first like a spaceship. The Multi Dowel Rokkaku kite was utterly steady as it was guided to a very soft tail-first touchdown on the shortly-cut grass and weeds.
A nice flight, but there's still work to do! As it is right now, this kite still has a rather tiny wind range. I'm hoping a thicker vertical spar and the addition of bridle lines to the upper and lower corners will sort that out. A wind range of between 6 and 25 kph would be great!
My Making The MBK Dowel Rokkaku Kite is a handy e-book of printable step-by-step instructions. It's a PDF file download. The PDF also contains plans for the huge Multi-Dowel Rokkaku.
The story above was an actual flying experience with the described kite.
My write-ups are definitely warts-and-all since things don't always go totally as planned. However, half the fun of kiting is anticipating the perfect flight. When it happens, it's magic!