THE WINDING HANDLE
This should be made out of the strongest possible materials and well sanded and varnished to protect it. I use one inch thick marine quality plywood cut to the pattern shown in the pictures page No 2. A large fishing reel can also be used. However it's not advisable to wind the kite directly down with it unless it is designed for crushing loads. You could make a suitable winch but always think big and make it stronger than the worst possible conditions you are likely to encounter. To get some idea of the potential forces that the reel may have to deal with take for example:- The kite is pulling with a force of 50 Lbs (I can assure you that it will on occasions) and you wind in 100 turns of line. There will now be a pressure on the reel of at least 5,000Lbs. This is why it is essential to use only the best quality and strongest available materials. If you are going to use a reel it should be equipped with an efficient break to slow and stop the kite at the height you decide. It should also be equipped with a ratchet and a lock to assist you to recover line or to maintain station at the desired flying altitude. Some folks use power winches but they are a luxury and only for the seriously dedicated.
WINDING THE FLYING LINE
The flying line should never be wound onto the handle simply by winding the line round it in the same direction layer after layer and time after time. This will cause the line to twist and it will begin to entangle itself as soon as it is taken off the handle. Always wind the line onto the handle in a figure of eight this will prevent the line becoming twisted and balances the stresses more evenly on the handle. Never ever wrap the line round unprotected skin in an attempt to pull the kite down you will get a friction burn or a cut or both. The stresses on the handle or reel (and the hands) can be almost eliminated if you follow the correct flying procedure outlined within these notes. Always wear gloves when flying a kite to prevent the line burning or cutting your skin.
PREPARATION TO FLY
Check the wind speed have a good look for possible dangers. Read these notes carefully and make a list of all the items you will need to obtain and bring to the flying site. In bright weather it's not a bad idea to bring a pair of polarised sunglasses to protect your eyes when looking up at the kite. If you are operating on your own then by using this simple method of launching and recovering the kite you can avoid all stresses on the handle and those awful friction burns and it can be done without exhausting yourself. It is always advisable to test fly the kite to learn how to launch and recover, becoming confident with it before attempting to DX.
The kite must be anchored to something which is secure a large dog spike or stake driven into the ground or to the towing bar of your car. Attach the winding handle to the anchor point by using a thick and strong piece of nylon rope. This will help to lessen the effects of chaffing and fraying should the rope constantly rub against some obstruction. Always protect the paint work on your car from the abrasive effects of the flying line. Pull off about (100 feet) 30 metres of line as you walk downwind towards the chosen release point. Having drawn out the line return to the anchor point and secure the flying line in the locking slot on the winding handle or engage the lock on the reel. During these early learning stages (100 feet) 30 metres is enough line to experiment with.
THE SKY HOOK
This is an essential tool which clips over the flying line and allows the lone operator full control over the forces generated by the kite. It can be either a butchers hook or an extra dog spike or a good quality pulley (A marine quality one with ball bearings not the nasty clothes line variety.) It should always be threaded onto the line before the kite is attached. Another excellent device is a shroud clip with an integral swivel attachment. A strong dog clip with swivel may serve the purpose. Whatever you choose always add a few feet of strong rope to it to provide yourself with a comfortable handle. Assemble the kite and remember to bow the spars using the slider bars at the back of the kite, 3-5 inches is about right. Bow the lower cross spar a little more than the top spar. Ensure that the sky hook or pulley has previously been attached to the flying line. Holding the bridle point raise and turn the kite into the wind. Do not attach anything to the mooring loop on the bottom of the kite it will not fly.
TRIMMING FOR FLIGHT
If all is well the kite will try and fly from your hand but don't let it go just yet watch it for a few moments. If it is twisting and turning it could be caused by ground turbulence. If this is the case release the kite and allow it to rise up a few yards controlling it with the sky hook. If the kite becomes stable then walk back to the anchor point controlling the height of the kite with the sky hook. Should you have any doubts about the kites stability walk back towards the kite sliding the sky hook along the flying line until the kite comes into your hand. You may need to bow the spars a little more or advance or retard the attachment ring on the bridle. Once satisfied with the behaviour of the kite for the prevailing conditions allow the kite to ascend by walking towards the anchor point. If the kite rises almost vertically above your head and occasionally wobbles in flight then move the ring about 1cm towards the rear. If the kite is reluctant to lift move the slider forwards. Move the ring in very small movements. Having arrived back at the anchor point unclip the sky hook from the line and observe the kite. If you are satisfied that it is flying correctly and wish to let it fly higher then clip the sky hook back onto the flying line and walk the kite down. Secure the kite by some means or other (by driving a second dog spike or tent peg into the ground and attaching the kite to it) using the mooring loop to prevent it being blown away while you return to the anchor point to unwind more line from the flying handle. Having unwound the required amount of line from the handle lock the line and return to the kite. Unfasten it from the mooring. Walk downwind until the flying line is taught present the kite to the wind and allow it to rise into the air under control from the sky hook. This time the kite should rise high into the air and remain stable. Stability is directly related to the wind conditions. If the wind is varying in strength and changing direction then the kite will follow the vagaries of the wind. If the conditions are steady the kite will remain stationary high in the sky. You will feel from the pull on the flying line that it has more than enough strength to lift a wire antenna.
You will also notice that the kite has altered its shape in flight it has now adopted a sailform because the spars have been bent by the wind. Carbon rods have excellent flexibility and strength and will not break as easily as fibreglass. Coupled to this they are much lighter than any other materials available. If the flying line begins to sing this is quite normal but it should be treated as a warning that the wind is beginning to rise. Check the amount of pull being exerted by the kite on the line, if you think the pull is approaching 50% of the breaking strain of the line then consider recovering the kite long before the line severs. If the line does sever then you are in for a long walk to rescue the kite. If you have any worries, always recover the kite from the sky before problems arise. After a few flights you will become familiar about the kite and become confident in flying it.
RADIO OPERATIONS DXing
Almost everyone who will read this will have prior knowledge and be suitably qualified to permit them to operate a radio at high frequency and it is not for me to tell you how to operate your equipment. The methods which can be employed are endless, but it is important that you use an antenna tuner and have some means of measuring SWR to achieve best results. One other precaution while you are operating is the need to avoid Radio Frequency burns. Never grasp the antenna while transmitting and don't let anyone else touch it while you are operating. If you have not extended your aerial (antenna) fully make sure that the unused section is secured within a suitable safe well insulated container. If you are using insulated wire as the antenna remember that the unused section in the container will act as an inductor. Bare wire will mutually short itself on the reel and the problems will be fewer. The ideal method is to use wire cut to resonate correctly at the lowest operating frequency and have the full length of antenna wire in the air. A crocodile clip can be used for making the connection at the lower end of the antenna wire. The most readily available wire suitable for our purposes is PVC insulated 7/0.2 @ 1.4 A or 16/0.2 @ 3A the insulation on the wire that I use is good up to 1,000 Volts. The antenna wire must always be longer than the flying line to allow for any stretch in the flying line during operations.
THE PARK PLANK
If you decide to make and use one of these devices it is essential that you place your wheel solidly on the plank and apply the hand brake (parkingbrake). All of the antenna should be in the air to achieve consistent results. There are some drawings to help identify the various items of equipment that could come in handy. (The names change from one country to another but the drawings are universal) A ships chandler, a good hardware store, farming supply stores and pet stores are good sources for bits and pieces. The reels for electric fences are very cheap but are only suitable for line storage. If you must use one insert a strain relief toggle. Do not attempt to wind down the kite on such a reel it will be destroyed by the pressure exerted by the line. Always walk the kite down using the sky hook and detach the kite from the line and aerial wire before winding up the line.
With a little thought the kite can be made to do many other things such as hoist cameras, instrument packages and radio beacons. To get the maximum pleasure out of your kite you can experiment with different payloads. Trial and error will teach you how much the kite will lift in various conditions. If you are thinking of lifting valuable equipment into the air it would be wise to obtain some form of insurance and also insure the kite against loss. Have the insurance extended to cover you in the event of possible damage that it could cause to property. E.g.:- If it becomes entangled in someones Television Aerial you are going to have to repay the cost for retrieval and any damage it may possibly cause. Be aware of the dangers of lightning strike. More people are killed each year from lightning strikes than are killed by shark attacks.
RADIO CONTROL / PHOTOGRAPHS
Some of you may wish to take Aerial Photographs. The budget way to do this if you are good with a soldering iron is to purchase from a well known radio component supply company the toy radio controlled car "GT 911 Turbo" it retails for under £10.00. Strip it down and remove all of the unnecessary electrical connections and mechanical grubbins. (The lights and steering should be removed, exchange the motor for a 500 ohm reed relay (£1.40), box up the remainder in a suitable case. The aerial should be about 6 feet of 7/0.2 instead of the original 10 inch piece of wire. I lashed this arrangement together and was pleased to discover that the range had now increased from 10 m to over 100 m with fresh batteries. If you feel that this is just too cheap and nasty Maplins have the proper kit for under £50.00. There are plenty of fixed focus cameras on the market with motor wind again for under £50. Check that the camera has a remote release extension connector, if it has buy it. It may be possible to modify a camera without a remote release socket by wiring the battery in such a manner that it can be switched (pulsed) on and off by the relay. The shutter release will need to be held in the down position by taping or some other method.
I have made these kites with radio amateurs in mind and I want them to be enjoyed and to be used to the full. The notes are quite long winded and the reason is very simple. There is a world of difference between the fun kites that were flown years ago and this size of practical functional kite. With a little experimentation you will be amazed at what this kite is capable of doing. If you achieve any unusual contacts or have any comments to make as to how the product can be improved I would enjoy hearing from you. If you have any problems you have my number.
NB#1The Penguin Book of Kites, by David Pelham ISBN 0-14-004117-6 regarded as the Kite Flyers Bible.
NB#2The Book of Kites, by Paul and Helene Morgan. Published by Dorling Kindersley. ISBN 0-7513-0145-0. An excellent introduction to kiting and making kites.
NB#3 The kite can be personalised with your call-sign or other decoration with spray paint but remember that light will shine through it and produce colours different from the colours that you intended. Eg Blue paint will show as green when light shines through. Experiment on the patch included. Keep your eye on this page I have ordered special white material for the artists. However it may be several months before it is delivered from the manufacturer.
NB#4 I do not supply flying line or winding handles. The flying line is available in fishing tackle shops cheaper than I could supply it to you and there would be additional postal charges to be added to your costs. The winding handles and park-planks can be cut out for you by local wood suppliers / DIY shop saving you postage costs