Public Lab Research note

DIY Mini Kite Kit first flight

by mathew | June 03, 2016 23:26 03 Jun 23:26 | #13163 | #13163


Inspired by @PatCoyle's look at small, cheap parafoil kites for mapping, I've been looking for a stable, sparless kite that could lift a small camera and pack down easily into a backpack. At the same time, @TonyC has been working to make some super-simple rigs for flying the Mobius action cam.

With the spring here, I was finally able to fly a camera on my kite and demonstrate that it could lift a Mobius. While still an early-stage kit with limited testing, @TonyC rolled these up into a kit in the Public Lab store.

My small kite:

Last fall I bought a 7.5 square foot parafoil kite from In the Breeze kites. Its flight performance was disappointing, as it hunted a lot and would turn over in higher winds. It didn't approach the 25mph top wind speed advertised, and became unstable at about 15mph.

So I modified the kite. I sewed two little tabs of ribbon onto the two back corners and bridled a piece of string between them, and then attached the tail. IMG_3963.JPG


With the tail bridled like that, its a rock solid flyer. I tested it in 20mph winds with 25mph gusts and it held steady. Here it is lifting a mobius in lower wind:


For the Mini Kite Kit, we had an upholstery shop down the hall from our office sew tabs onto the back of the In The Breeze 7.5' parafoil. They did a much neater job than I did.


The Camera Rig

I used @TonyC's mobius rigging, detailed here:

Its pretty stable. It gets a bit of a pendular motion.

I haven't gotten it high enough to get any good shots yet, but here are are few from low altitude:



Next steps

I need to fly the camera more! I'm interested in more sophisticated rigs for oblique shots and panoramas. I'm excited to have a stable kite that fits in my backpack.

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For oblique shots, there's a simple way to hang a miniball tripod head off the bottom of a pendulum. IMG_0040.JPG

Did you use the wire to connect the PVC to the string, or did you just run the string through the PVC on this? I don't see the wire with string wound round it. Just wondering if you were doing this on purpose, and how it went?

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The wire might not be visible, but I had the wire through the PVC, and wrapped the line around that. It worked great.

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