Throwing Caution to the Wind

by Dave Schoeff
(Toledo, OH, USA)

Sled made of gift wrap

Sled made of gift wrap

My wife and I are working on a STEM science unit about kites and kite building. I bought the Big Kite bundle and so far we've coached two elementary age "volunteers" through building 6 kites: 2 dowel sleds, 3 dowel diamonds, and a 2-skewer Sode.

The sleds were a breeze to build and fly like a dream. The diamonds were fun to build but I can't get the bridles right. Definitely a non-starter for a classroom teacher. Jury's still out on the sode since it flew...ish.

The book has been a great resource. Once we get these bridles dummy-proofed, the diamonds look promising.

A note about the title - we didn't have any handy tail material and used some yellow caution tape.

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Jul 15, 2018
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Diamonds in the Sky
by: Dave

Follow up on the diamonds. Our elementary volunteers built three dowel diamonds to test various materials. They used a whites trash bag, tissue paper, and brown kraft wrap from an amazon shipment. With some coaching from My Best Kite we resolved the bridle issues and the diamonds flew like birds.

We found a great tail material at our local building material store: plastic flagging tape. It’s a non-adhesive plastic film with a taffeta finish that does not stick to itself. The tail is light and provides just the right amount of drag to keep our diamonds nose to the sky. As a bonus it comes a several fluorescent colors.

We flew the kites at a great site - Maumee Bay State Park. A great location on the south shore of Lake Erie near Toledo, OH. There was a steady east wind at around 11 mph, and the diamonds flew great.

Jul 14, 2018
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Bridles etc
by: Tim P.

That's the beauty of sled kites for newbies - the correct positioning of the towing point is built into the sail so you can't go wrong.

As for diamond kites, a 3-leg bridle does require careful adjustment. The upper knot slides left and right to trim out any tendency to turn. The lower one slides up and down to get the 'angle of attack' right. Just a little too far aft and the kite won't fly at all in any wind since it's producing heaps of drag and not enough lift. Shifting the knot even a fraction of an inch or several millimeters can be the difference between 'useless' and 'fantastic' :-)

As for the 2-skewer Sode - a little more tail will settle it down and if the skewers are thin enough (preferably 2.5mm diameter) this kite flies beautifully in light winds. Steep and steady!

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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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