Roller Kite Posts

(Oak Dowel Spars)

It's an archive of sorts, although there are no dates and times. Kite flying is timeless, don't you agree? I trust there is plenty in here to educate, inform and often entertain!

Try the Making The MBK Dowel Roller Kite PDF, if you are interested in making this kite for yourself. Handy for working offline or from printouts.

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 :-)





Dowel Roller Kite

Roof Rips Roller

Just a small rip, on the second flight, during a bit of excitement...

The MBK Dowel Roller

Yesterday, winds near the bottom of the 'gentle' range were showing on the weather page. However, with Summer still around, thermal activity was pushing past the trees surrounding our house. Still, nothing extreme, so the Dowel Roller was in it's element floating on mainly light breeze strengths.

Thought you saw 'roof' mentioned in the title? Yes indeed, it was another backyard effort. After waiting for a convenient gust, the Roller was up. Immediately, unseen dogs from two different directions took notice and barked.

Standing in the side lawn, I only had a few meters to maneuver myself. Working the line a bit to gain height and let out line, I soon had the kite out on about 10 meters (30 ft). For a minute or so I gingerly flew it directly over the roof. Finally, the gusts died away and down came the kite as I pulled in line to land it on the grass.

Knowing from past experience that more was possible, I soon had the kite back up over the roof. A little slope-soaring near the peak of the tiles helped keep things going. This time, there was more than 15m (45ft) of line out. Shifts in the wind direction made things interesting! At this point, during the landing phase, the kite contacted the corner of the roof which put a small hole and a tear in the plastic sail. Some quick work with sticky tape soon had the craft airworthy again.

Perhaps it was the repair, but on the third flight, the Roller had a decided lean to the right during gusts. However, this didn't stop it rocketing almost overhead in a patch of rising air!

Now with almost 20m (65ft) of light 20 pound Dacron line out, the kite soared around and finally, under pressure, arced way to the right - in danger of landing on a neighbor's roof! With some rapid pulling-in of line, the kite just managed to clear the fence and snagged on some small twigs. No problem - the kite pulled free with no damage.

You haven't really lived a kiter's life until you have taken chances with a spot of backyard flying :-)


Dowel Roller Rises

While the predicted wind speeds for today were just 1 or 2 kph, actual measured speeds were gusting into the teens. Phew! So, leaving the wife at the supermarket, Aren and I set off on foot. He with a scooter and myself with the Dowel Roller kite.

Stepping into a muddy grassy field, it turned out to be just dry enough to walk on and rig the kite without getting things dirty. It wasn't a huge space to fly in, and barely a whiff of breeze was evident as the Roller was rigged.

This particular design does not seem as efficient as other light-wind dowel designs such as the Delta or Rok. But it does do a fine job hanging up there in light air. And so it was today...

The Roller kite was soon away on a light gust. I concentrated on letting out line until there was about 20 meters (70 feet). This was just enough to clear the slower moving air down low and the kite sat steadily at a modest line angle of perhaps 40 degrees. Wind speeds did not seem to be pushing past 10kph though!

A few movies were taken, just to record the flight really. The backdrop was a dull and uninteresting mass of gray cloud. The kite drifted slowly left and right, and also lost and gained height from time to time. I'll be posting a clip on FB later so people can at least see what a light-wind Roller looks like.

Winter flying is only for the keenest I suppose. Still, it was nice to see the Roller shake off the cobwebs and soar once again! After the movies were taken, a few more meters of line were let out before finally it was time to bring the Roller down and return to the car park.


Old Roller Has Its First Vertical Flight

The Dowel Roller hadn't been flown for quite a while, so before I could even attach the flying line, a few extra bits of tape were required. Some damage was evident which was probably caused by the last flight it had in overly-fresh winds. That would also explain the very forward towing point position of the short bridle line knot. Anyway, the bridle was soon re-adjusted and ready to go.

Almost immediately, the Roller started to hang off to the right, quite a lot. It wasn't going to 400 feet in that condition, so it had to come down. I shifted the upper bridle loop knot quite a few centimeters to the left, just to gauge the effect. As expected, the kite now pulled off to the left, but I now had a good idea of where the knot needed to be. Shifting the knot once again, the Roller soared up and it seemed pretty straight up the middle. Good!

Some line-handling fun came next as I shook line off the winder with one hand while letting line slip with the other hand. A nice controlled 30 degree climb ensued, until the 60 meter flag came off the winder. At this point, I just held on and let the Dowel Roller kite climb out to a 45 degree angle in the gusty light breeze. Very light at times.

After a few minutes, I let the line out to 90 meters for a few more minutes of relaxed flying. Soon, the breeze almost died and the Roller started to sink slowly, tail first. Pulling in 20 meters of line enabled the kite to contact some more breeze. Just a little, but enough to climb back out to 200 feet.

A small crowd using the other side of oval got inspired and soon 2 or 3 small retail kites were flying!

They hadn't seen nothin' yet... 

A healthy thermal came through and lofted the Roller right overhead, on 120 meters (400 feet) of line. Ssssh, don't tell the AAP (Australian Altitude Police ;-) ), who would like all kites and model aircraft to stay below 100 meters... These events only last for a few minutes at most though, so the kite soon made its way back down. Sure was nice seeing it way up there, upper trailing edges fluttering a little in the warm breeze fanning from directly below. 

Nothing like a decent thermal to make a modest-performance kite look good!


Mistaken Identity

After grabbing the Dowel Dopero and opening it up at the flying field - it turned out to be the Dowel Roller! They do look similar all rolled up. Hardly surprising given that one is a doubled-up version of the other. Both have pale-orange sails and keels.

Oh well, the Roller was still a good choice for the conditions. Dropping a pinch of dry grass, there appeared to be a weak northerly drift of air. Trudging half-way across the field, I tested again - and sure enough, the 'breeze' was now from the south!

Thermals were evidently lifting off and causing weak air currents in all directions. A few moments later the air was about 3kph from the west. It was going to be a thermal soaring outing today.

Some still photos were taken with the Roller close to the grass, then it was time to work the line. Some of the puffs of air were a little stronger now so it was an easy matter to get the Roller out on 60m (200 ft) of line.

Just to keep my hand in, I did a 30 degree constant-angle climb, followed by a short additional climb at 45 degrees. This involves holding the angle constant by letting out the line at various speeds.

Shortly after this the air temperature seemed to drop and the wind speed picked up significantly. A sea breeze? Possibly not - it might just have been the effect of large cloud shadows causing localized shifts of air due to temperature differences across the ground. As if to confirm this, the breeze eventually returned to the weak and variable nature it had earlier.

The Roller, meanwhile, had a good fly at all altitudes from 20 feet to 200 feet. The air speed was varying all over the kite's wind range, as it moved about in a very steady fashion. Occasionally the Roller would descend tail-first with just a hint of tail-wag.

Not a bad outing, despite flying the wrong kite! 





Don't forget to try the Making The MBK Dowel Roller Kite PDF, if you are interested in making this kite for yourself. Handy for working offline or from printouts.




What's New!

  1. Club Flying In Perfect Weather

    Dec 10, 17 08:19 PM

    Warm, breezy and sunny. That's how it often is at this time of year, far south of the equator... The monthly club fly at Semaphore had a center-piece of sorts. Mike had a big red Pilot kite with an ev…

    Read More





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

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

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

Strong breeze
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