Public Lab Research note

Lima, Peru: Kite Making/Ballon Mapping Workshop, U. of San Marcos

by anita |

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We held a Ballon Mapping and Kite Making Workshop on the Campus of San Marcos on Jan. 28, 2012 with a group of about 10 people from: Open Street Map Peru, Saberes Nomadas, and San Marcos Univ. (physics, geography, sociology, and geographic engineering depts.)

2 of the participants (Elver Villalobos and Samuel Pinares) were from Haquira, Apurimac, a pueblo in the Andes Mountains, where many residents (much as in other locations in the mountains) grow up learning how to make kites from local resources. Elver and Samuel spent about 20 minutes constructing kites from whole carizo branches (a dry thick reed some people use to build roofs in the shanty towns in Lima, and which is in plentiful supply in the mountains. it has to be broken down with rocks and whittled into thin strips before it can be used for the kite frame); plastic grocery bags, and string:

The worse of it was that we lost the camera with the best shots (with any luck, someone will find and return it): this was on account of using too short a length of string, not adequately prepping/warning the string holder in advance that it could slip out of her grip easily, also not having a reel to store/work with the string. We still managed to get a working camera rig going, and folks joined hands and gathered below the first rig float with a celebratory baile ring:

The most crucial lesson learned was on the suitability of home made kites: The ones the 2 students from Haquira put together easily carried more than 200 meters of flight (not straight above, but angled, of course), even though the materials that were used were non-optimal. In this shot, you can barely see the kite (a black dot) floating about 200 meters out:

According to the students, the carizo branches we bought in Lima (very cheaply, from a shop in San Juan de Lurigancho) are much thicker, denser, and thus retain more water than the version found in the mountains:

Also, there actually wasn't much wind, since we were flying in the afternoon above San Marcos' campus, not in a coastal or mountain zone, where winds are stronger. Nonetheless, tests with the kite models showed they could pull 200-300 grams easily:

We're planning to meet again to fly cameras with just kites over the frontier neighborhood of Villa Maria in Lima. Another of the team members, Johna Rupire, is planning to coordinate another mapping events on the same day we hold one in Lima in the Andes in Cuzco (home to Machu Picchu), both with kites.

Being able to build upon already present engineering knowledge in Andean towns would be crucial, in part because it would help to reduce costs of mounting flights in rural areas in Peru, and in part because it would help ensure sustainability among communities. We posted more photos from the Workshop (taken from the ground and above):

Thanks to: Elver Villalobos, Kadir Huamani, Valeria Clavijo, Anggela Ugarte, Milagros Arroyo, Samuel Pinares, Miguel Alva, (listed in order of appearance below), and especially to Johna Rupire (not seen below) for coordinating the workshop with us!

Hope to share more soon!

Files Size Uploaded
GloboBaile.JPG 653 KB 2012-02-02 16:46:29 +0000
CometaPrep1.JPG 1.1 MB 2012-02-02 16:57:41 +0000

lima balloon-mapping kite-mapping peru kite-making


Anita, this is super! Shall I syndicate it to

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I love this specific shot of the kite. Looks like it will need to be bigger, but good job splitting up the bamboo. Neat design.

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hola jeff, of course -- pardon the slow reply!

hi matthew: thanks for the tip -- we're trying out new kite designs as we find them online. the standard kite designs (the X frame or H frame) that the students use in Haquira, are the ones we started with - and the H frame has yeilded the best camera lift results so far. if you have other tips on design esp., they'd be welcome!

the X and H frame kites have a long and excellent history, the local design is probably pretty good. Lots of aerial photography people use similar kites, such as the Japanese Rokkaku, which is an H framed kite flown as an I.

keep up the experiments! have you seen

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hi matt: thanks for the link -- i'll pass it on! we have some really creative kite designers and they're absolutely curious about trying out other kite designs. they've impressively built some kite frames that are about a meter long and a meter high out of whittled carizo branches - the last one was a large flat panel with pointed roof in the middle. i'll be sure to post a photo of those designs and how they work out in the air!

I get pleasure from, lead to I discovered exactly what I used to be having a look for. You've ended my four day lengthy hunt! God Bless you man. Have a great day. Bye

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