Saturday, May 10, 2014

Kite time

Just made my first kite since I was a kid. It's a rokkaku, which is an old Japanese design: a center spar with two bowed cross spars, no tail. Depending on how the cross spars are tuned it's a very stable flyer or a little squirrely and can be used for kite fights.
I'd like to thank Andrew Newton for the inspiration, tips and links. There is an overwhelming amount of information about kitemaking on the internets and it was nice to have a starting point. Check out his blog to see his rok builds.

The rok pattern is built around ratios so you can easily make whatever size you like. This is a 3,4,5er. The unit is the distance from the top cross spar to the top point of the kite. In this kite it's 11 inches. It's 4 units wide, 3 from x-spar to x-spar, and 5 for the spine. So the kite's about 55x44, which, from what I saw, is about a medium rok.

Got some inexpensive kite nylon from emma kites.

You want the warp of the fabric to border the kite, otherwise it'll stretch out (since the diagonal edges would be on the bias), or that's what I hear. In any case, it's what the pros do.

Used some x-pac (laminated sail cloth) for corner reinforcement. Here it is before I attached the spar pocket. Flat felled seams with rolled edge. Used G├╝terman Mara 100 for the seams and top stitching, T70 nylon for the pockets.

I got the spars from Kites & Fun Things. There are about a million options. After a while I got tired of looking at kite spars and ended up ordering a selection ("1/4-inch sounds about right"). Originally I was going to make a smaller kite with a 48" center spar, but when I got the spars I realized I could mate the two Sky Shark II 5PT wrapped tapered rods to make a 56" spar, like with a fishing pole. I guess that's okay to do with these. We'll see. The cross spars are fiberglass with some carbon on 'em.

The bridal contact points are spaced one unit from each side of the center, so they're 22" apart here. Put in grommets reinforced with 1000d Cordura.

Looks pretty snazzy.

Here's a spar pocket.

And one from the other side...

The cross spars are always in their pockets, but the center spar needs to come out so you can fold the kite down. Here's what that looks like.

Sewed the Velcro a little too close to the edge of the reinforcement...getting some pressure points there. Whoops.

This is where the spars meet. Probably should've just done a simple tie, but I was feelin' fancy.

Here's the kite with bowed spars.

A couple of the other roks that I've seen use a little slider to tension the line. I thought I'd go super simple with a loop and knot. The knot is kept next to the loop with a couple half hitches.

Here's its first time up in the air, for a short bit. At this moment the wind's dying. Closer to dusk I got it up high enough to catch some consistent wind and it flew like a champ.