Flying Rokkakus

Good Reliable Kites At Any Size!

Rokkakus are originally from Japan, but have been enthusiastically taken up by many Western builders and fliers. Although the authentic kite was a fighter, most Roks you see at festivals are simply made for their performance and reliable flying characteristics. The hexagonal shape also presents a handy canvas to show off tasteful art work!

Our little 1-Skewer Rokkaku design requires a tail, but is then a good moderate wind flier. Initially, we made a few in clear plastic, while experimenting with a few details of the construction. More recently, this kite has been made more visible by doing the sail in orange plastic and using a simple ribbon tail made from black plastic.

Next up in size comes the 2-Skewer Rokkaku, which prefers fairly light winds. A wonderful kite to fly on those light wind and thermals kind of days! In fact, this would have to be one of my very favorite Skewer kites to fly in thermal conditions.

The only drawback is getting a sore neck from looking straight up all the time!




Later, we started making larger kites like the Dowel Rokkaku. This one has a 4-leg bridle, which keeps the kite very steady and predictable most of the time. This kite also likes to go directly overhead when given the slightest help from warm rising air!

Finally, the huge Multi-Dowel Rokkaku came into existence, with it's 5-leg bridle. An initial prototype proved too floppy and couldn't cope with anything but very light wind. So the sail area was cut down somewhat and the current version has proved to be a good light-wind kite, flying on 200 pound braided Dacron.

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.

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



1-Skewer Rokkaku

Rokkakus - original 1-Skewer RokkakuOriginal 1-Skewer Rokkaku
Rokkakus - original 1-Skewer RokkakuOriginal 1-Skewer Rokkaku


This dinky little number is called the 1-Skewer Rokkaku. You see, the vertical spar is a 29 cm (1 foot) bamboo BBQ skewer.

The original was made from clear freezer-bag plastic, which made it almost impossible to see against a gray sky. A good little moderate wind flier though, with that tail for extra stability.

We fly this one 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.




Rokkakus - the latest 1-Skewer Rokkaku kite.MBK 1-Skewer Rokkaku
Rokkakus - the latest 1-Skewer Rokkaku kite.MBK 1-Skewer Rokkaku


Here's the latest version of the 1-Skewer Rokkaku, in orange garden bag plastic.

The tail is cut from a cheap black garbage bag. The long ribbon tail helps the kite cope in moderate breezes, keeping it pointed into the wind.

Check out the video below, which shows this kite trying to stay up in a very light breeze. And quite gusty. Shortly after, the kite ended up on the grass below.



 


2-Skewer Rokkaku

Rokkakus - 2-Skewer RokkakuMBK 2-Skewer Rokkaku
Rokkakus - 2-Skewer RokkakuMBK 2-Skewer Rokkaku

The 2-Skewer Rokkaku has a span of 2 skewer lengths, or about 58 cm (46 inches) On a 20 pound line, this kite loves thermal weather and scoots around directly overhead when in rising air.

The kite pictured has 2-ply plastic which makes it a little heavier, but it is still a great performer in light winds.

The video below shows this kite flying in fairly light wind, but with a lot of rising air about.

See how the Rok flies up high, responding to every change in the wind. Rokkakus built from skewers and plastic are very efficient, as long as the wind strength doesn't go too high. In stronger wind, they distort. Then the kite really starts to drag at the wind, and is forced to fly at lower line angles.



 


Dowel Rokkaku

Rokkakus - the Dowel Rokkaku in flight.MBK Dowel Rokkaku
Rokkakus - the Dowel Rokkaku in flight.MBK Dowel Rokkaku

For quite a while the largest of the MBK Rokkakus was the Dowel Rokkaku. With plenty of sail area, this one does well in light conditions despite the extra weight of dowel.

Size? It's about twice as tall as the 2-Skewer Rokkaku, so that's about 4 times the sail area.

Compared to the 1-Skewer Rokkaku, the Dowel Rokkaku has about 16 times as much sail area!

The video below was taken down at a local beach and gives a good close-up view of the kite in flight. Even inland, this kite tends to fly very smoothly and requires very little breeze to get going.



 


Multi-Dowel Rokkaku

The MBK Multi-Dowel Rokkaku kite in flight.MBK Multi-Dowel Rokkaku
The MBK Multi-Dowel Rokkaku kite in flight.MBK Multi-Dowel Rokkaku

The huge 2.4 meter (8 feet) span Multi-Dowel Rokkaku ended up going to 4 prototypes before I was satisfied with how it flew. For example, the first attempt was just too flimsy and proved to have a very low and narrow wind range. It was more like a giant indoor kite design!

Later versions tried different bridling, with the current version using 5 legs. But in the end, it was hard to improve on the time-tested traditional concept with a 4-leg bridle.

Size? It's about twice as tall as the Dowel Rokkaku, so that's about 4 times the sail area.

Compared to the 1-Skewer Rokkaku, the Dowel Rokkaku has over 60 times as much sail area!

In the video below, the big Rok is flying on a fairly short line, in rough mid-day air...



 



That's about it for this page on Rokkakus. In 4 convenient sizes!

Hope you enjoyed the pics and the info.

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.

 


Don't miss your free download...

Could you do me just a small favor though?

Here's a page with reviews for that e-book, plus a sign-up form for my free monthly publication, "Tethered Flying". The e-book download becomes available once you sign up.

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!

  1. Flight Report:
    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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