Public Lab Research note


call it Delta, maybe

by astoicof |

Read more: publiclab.org/n/3767


This is a research note and attached PDF for a kite design. This is the first time I’ve ever built a kite, so the design is as amateur as a prototype can get and has lots of room for improvement. For the design, I used a combination of the other kite research notes posted on PL (as of 7/23/2012), two books from the children’s section of the library, “Fun with Kites” (Dyson, J. a. (1976). Fun with Kites. UK: Angus & Robertson Ltd.) and “25 Kites that Fly” (Hunt, L. L. (1964). 25 Kites that Fly. Milwaukee, WI: The Bruce Publishing Company), specifically using instructions for a kite entitled “Star Streaker”, and the dimensions of the ITW Levitation Delta. Since it’s a hybrid of ideas/designs, I’ve entitled my instructions “call it Delta, maybe.”

The inaugural flight took place in Boonville, California. There is a small regional airport nearby, so I called the airport manager and asked about the process of submitting a NOTAM (the latest updates to the NOTAM page here on PL were not up yet). I provided the airport manager with information about the flight, including flying altitude, kite size and color, area of flight, time of flight, and all of my contact information. He submitted the NOTAM for me and stayed on the radio for the hour I was flying to warn any incoming aircraft.

There was wind (5-10 mph) but it was relatively inconsistent. The kite got up to about 200 feet at the highest, and I think with more consistent wind, it might have gone higher, however, tweaks to the design will help considerably more. The kite also got stuck in a tree at one point, and after the help of 5 frisbee golf players, it was pulled out of the tree, completely unharmed. I never got to attach the camera.

Some thoughts from this experiment:

  • I was surprised by the cost of the supplies. While the cost of the materials you directly use for the kite is very minimal, it’s hard to purchase just the amount of material you’ll need. For example, I would have preferred to use Tyvek wrap instead of the plastic sheeting I ended up using, but was not ready to invest in the $100 roll. This being said, I realized from this experience the incredible value of creating a kite kit, so that bulk materials can be best utilized amongst more folks.

  • I found that using bamboo that is slightly still green is favorable over dry bamboo culms for two reasons: more flexibility and less chance that it will snap.

  • One of the things I kept in mind while building the kite was quick and easy assembly and transport ability. As you'll see in the PDF, the reason I used materials such as paperclips and split rings is because of their ability to easily attach and detach from the kite. The only part left to figure out is the bamboo, as it cannot easily compact. Thoughts on this?

  • Things to improve upon (learned after first flight and after watching kites at the Berkeley Kite Fest): finding a solid knot to use on the mason line, extending the tails for greater stability or making a fuzzy tail, adjusting the bridle for different flying conditions, shortening the leading edge spars so that they do not reach all the way to the nose pocket, acquiring/making a stronger reel

  • For a first time kite-builder, the terminology was new to me, so I’ve added a glossary to the PDF of some words that stumped me

Enjoy! I am looking forward to suggestions.

Files Size Uploaded
Kite Design Instructions .pdf 3.52 MB 2012-09-12 19:14:25 +0000

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2 Comments

this is awesome! thanks for posting all your notes. I love your fold over pocket design, really clever.

Green bamboo is more flexible than dried bamboo, but cured bamboo is best if you can find it. I get some from an importer here in Portland, but it is hard to find. Alternatively, hardwood dowels (oak are fairly available) work great.

the Cow Hitch is also called a "Larks Head" sometimes, and if that isn't holding in place, try a Prusik, which is just a cow hitch wrapped three times: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prusik

Tyvek can be hard to buy in small quantities. I habitually check all construction dumpsters I run across for scraps, and have asked construction crews for scraps as well. Good thought on a bulk kit order-- we can put that out on the Grassroots Mapping list.


Also, if your delta is tending to one side, adding a tail to the wingtip of the opposite wing will help.


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