Kite Mapping

Kite mapping is similar to [balloon mapping](/wiki/balloon-mapping), but uses kites to lift cameras to take aerial photographs. With kites and a 5-20 mph wind, many of the objectives of balloon mapping are possible without helium or balloons. If you want to map a site with consistent winds, you may be in luck! Kite Aerial Photography [has a large and active community of practitioners]( which is focused on high-performance kites that can lift large loads and/or fly in very light winds. Here, we're especially focused on [We sell a kite mapping pack with two kites and a lot of tails to help you get going.]( ### Towing kites Kites can also be used in large flat areas with no power lines or trees, such as on oceans or lakes, beaches, or deserts, by towing them behind a boat, car, or bicycle. Keep in mind that going downwind will drop the speed of your kite. ## Activities [activities:kite-mapping] **** ## Questions [questions:kite-mapping] **** ## Choosing a kite ### Commercial kites Kite Aerial Photographers, or KAPers, often select expensive kites which can lift large weights, and many use heavier, customizable cameras such as digital SLRs with remote control targeting or stabilization. If you just want to put a camera in the air for the lowest cost and highest reliability, we recommend a few different relatively inexpensive kites, paired with the [PET Bottle Rig](/wiki/pet-bottle-rubber-band-rig). We sell two kites and a 15' Fuzzy Tail for high-wind flying, together as [our Kite Mapping Pack]( [9ft. Dazzle Delta]( is only $46 and a very good, easy flier. It doesn't pack down very small, but is a very affordable and high quality light wind kite. [7ft. High Sky Delta]( is only $30 and a great complement to the Dazzle Delta, providing easier flying in high winds. [Levitation Delta]( - ($65) 9 ft. wide - a strong and stable flyer in 7-20mph winds. In high winds it can take some effort to reel in, as it has a lot of lift. The spars all split in half and it packs down easily to 40." Good, high flying angle. Also available in 7 and 11 foot versions for high and low winds. [Zenith Delta]( - ($70) 7 ft. wide - This one is fantastic, a strong and stable flyer in even light winds (7mph). Not as much lift as the Levitation and it doesn't break down as small, but it is easier to handle in high winds. A great all-around kite. [Fled]( - ($110) stable, strong, very light-wind kite that flies at a line angle of 65 - 70 degrees. This kite is very quick to set up and simple to adjust. It flies in a wide range of conditions, and is a "go-to" kite for many KAPers. The high line angle is very useful for flying in tight spaces. [Gomberg Delta Conyne]( - ($37) - Harder to launch, and not great in light winds, but once it's in the air it's a stable flyer. A favorite of the Gowanus Conservancy in strong winter winds. [A chart for comparison]( ### Kite Making Making your own kite is great -- designs can range from easy and quick to bigger more ambitious one that can be more portable, stronger lifters, or light-wind flyers. > [Kite Making](/wiki/kite-making) **** #### Delta kites are a quick build, and very effective Mathew has [step by step instructions as well as a spreadsheet of dimensions for a quick-to-build DIY Delta Kite](/notes/mathew/7-19-2012/easy-cut-delta-kite-plans). This is a proven design that flies well. He uses tvvek and bamboo, but wooden dowels and plastic sheeting will work as well. [Astoicof wrote great build notes and a PDF on using plastic sheeting to make a delta kite.](/notes/astoicof/9-12-2012/call-it-delta-maybe). Jeff Warren and kids at Parts and Crafts have gotten good results from a [mylar copy of the Dazzle Delta.](/notes/warren/7-18-2012/mylar-delta-kite-design). Safidy has been playing with [NASA's Kite Modeler](/notes/safidy/7-3-2012/nasa-kite-modeler) software and making [DIY deltas](/notes/safidy/7-26-2012/diy-light-delta-kite). #### Non-Deltas [Grassroots Mappers in Peru]( have [had good luck with plastic and bamboo kites.]( Mathew also made a series of [Tyvek and Bamboo Fled kites]( based on the designs of Brooks Leffler. The third has been extremely successful at lifting cameras to very high flying angles, and he can now recommend others to build the same. follow his instructions in the link above. Leo Famulari has notes on [kite bridle adjustment](/notes/lfamular/8-15-2012/diamond-kite-bridles) ### Other Kite Building Resources []( and the [Kitebuilder]( forums are great online resources. The book [One-hour Kites by Jim Rowlands]( provides excellent plans and construction details. [Dan Kurahashi's Japanese Kites, Concepts and Construction]( has more great plans, great charts on predicting lift, and some excellent instructions on making plastic bag kites. ### Published literature pertaining to KAP [Nathan Craig's Mendeley Group]( may require setting-up a free, public account....

Author Comment Last activity Moderation
soniakakkad122 "Such a wonderful article this is. This article is significant and important for us. Much obliged to you for offering this sort of instructive artic..." | Read more » almost 2 years ago
adam-griffith "Thanks, Liz. I have used Canon cameras before and gotten the lens errors and have also used CHDK. I agree that the a490 Canon is simple, but I am..." | Read more » about 3 years ago
liz "I personally love anything in the Canon S series (s90, s95, s100, s110, etc). I appreciate how with a half hour in front of a laptop, a little scri..." | Read more » about 3 years ago
molangmuir10 " I will look into this! Thanks " | Read more » over 3 years ago
molangmuir10 " Thanks Chris that's really helpful! " | Read more » over 3 years ago
cfastie " Marking your kite or balloon line is a very good way to do this. It is a bit of a chore to do it, but maybe easier than building a data logger or ..." | Read more » over 3 years ago
JSummers "You may be able to do this using the GPS on your phone with an app like Strava. I think the Z direction accuracy of GPS is not as good as the XY a..." | Read more » over 3 years ago
JSummers " I think what you want will be called a barometer. It is what drones use to measure altitude. They are not super expensive, here is one for $6.70..." | Read more » over 3 years ago
molangmuir10 " Thanks!! that's really helpful Bronwen! " | Read more » over 3 years ago
Bronwen " Hi! You might be interested in some of the responses on this note: I woul..." | Read more » over 3 years ago
sdrfngg640 "tesitng " | Read more » over 3 years ago
pataxte " Hello @mlamadrid! Thanks for your response...let's talk more. You can email me at " | Read more » over 3 years ago
mlamadrid " Hi! I am DTLA and have both a balloon and a kite kit. I would love to help. Let's connect and see if we can make something happen. " | Read more » over 3 years ago
dusjagr "We are getting amazingly good results using the miSphere 360 camera. due to the gyroscope and other sensor, post-processing using their standard so..." | Read more » almost 4 years ago
Ag8n "Kite messengers could support a nano computer device, but for what purpose? I'm not sure. I've always liked Scott sleds as kites, not because of ..." | Read more » over 4 years ago
Bronwen "Oh wow, that seems like a really interesting possibility. I wonder if there's some potential for folks that want to send up loggers to measure atmo..." | Read more » over 4 years ago
Glenn "The book has plans for building 24 different miniature kites. Most take 15 minutes or less. Here is the direct link to the book about building mini..." | Read more » over 4 years ago
Glenn "The Kite Workshop Handbook is available on It has detailed plans for building inexpensive workshop kites with a group: https://www.amaz..." | Read more » over 4 years ago
warren "Awesome, thanks @SuziT9! " | Read more » over 4 years ago
daisywatson "Thanks Warren :) " | Read more » over 4 years ago
warren "There are some options here! #fisheye Hope that helps! " | Read more » over 4 years ago
daisywatson "I love GoPro, and I am following up to the question as I do want to know for some alternatives to it for aerial mapping. I have already been readin..." | Read more » over 4 years ago
mathew "glad you found the info, @ag8n! Some kite physics about altitude and line length is covered in notes on kite anemometers " | Read more » over 4 years ago
warren "We also found some Tyvek here: Tyvek HomeWrap - 9' x 150' - 1 Roll…Shop DuPont Tyve..." | Read more » over 4 years ago