Monthly Archives: May 2015

KAP: Musing on progress

Setting the camera

Setting the camera

I was musing on my progress with getting IR cameras up in the air and that I haven’t so far. More through choice, than technical challenge, but it has still been an interesting learning experience so far. I have held back putting anything other than my well protected GoPro up as it has taken some time to get the hang of the kites and understand the conditions well enough so that the expensive cameras don’t end up quickly in bits.

KAP - Harry and the Cody

KAP – Harry and the Cody

Initially, primarily with my poor mistreated delta (the Dan Leigh Trooper) the crashes were frequent, especially flying without a tail; however, now my success rate is pretty crash free, which has been more about judging the conditions correctly (and learning to walk away), than expert kite control.

So, some things learnt so far:

  • Getting used the kites and conditions has been invaluable,
  • Gloves are essential with handling the line – one friction line burn was enough to get it.
  • Parks, with close trees, make for difficult places to fly.
  • Unless I have constant clean wind, I would rather use a frame/sparred kite than a soft foil. You only have to watch a foil collapse mid-air once to appreciate the issue.
  • All my kites seem to be better with a tail – I now always have a 16ft tail in my field bag.
  • I prefer using my homemade pendulum, to my pivacat. The picavet gets fiddly to attach when I am on my own and gets flayed around too much in difficult wind situations.
  • I generally take at least two kites with me now, when I go out. I take the general wind/weather forecast as rough estimate, which is often wrong for the actual location – with two kites of different wind-range, I can usually cover the actual location.
  • My rokkaku (or rather my skill with it) has been a real PITA – it has been like dealing with a diva opera singer – when it hit the right note, it knocks your socks off (pulls like a freight train), but more often than not, it chooses not to sing ! They may not lift as much, but starting with deltas is much easier.
  • With trips away, and less predictability, three kites has been sufficient to cover potential wind ranges.
  • I am still undecided on the use of swivels – I can the argument not to, but can also see the potential benefit of less impact on the line holding the camera.
KAP - Dan Leigh Trooper Fuzzy Tail

KAP – Dan Leigh Trooper

Re the KAP kites I have to play with (borrowed or owned):

  • The ITW Triton, which came to me secondhand, demands a tail otherwise it overflies; however, with one on it is a good light wind lifter. My first choice for light winds. Packs down well and easy to transport, which is a bonus.
  • The Dan Leigh Trooper, like the Triton, also demands a tail but more for stability and slowing the aerial sports down. Great for good to strong winds and my go-to when the wind picks up. Easy to assemble and handle on my own; however, a big (long) kite to transport and not easy to travel with.
  • The ITW UltraFoil 15 has not been flown much, as I have not had much strong clean wind to work with. Like all foils, it is easy to fold down and travel with so hope to use it more over the summer when away.
  • The Didakite’s Cody 30 looks very majestic and is a very stable mid-wind flier. Fits nicely between the ranges of the Triton and Trooper, but does not lift as strong as the Rokkaku. Assembling it initially was tricky, but the elastic band trick (see previous post) has made it now a doddle; however, it is much easier with two people. I suspect that the Rokkaku will displace it for mid-winds over time.
  • The Didakite’s Rainbow Rokakku, which also came to me secondhand, initially would not fly at all. After re-brindling it, which was probably more about me understanding how it worked than how it was initially set-up, has flown well and is a very strong lifter. Can be packed down small, if all the spars are take apart, which makes travelling with it easier.
  • The Dan Leigh Lightweight Carbon Whirlwind has not been flown much as it is a very light wind kite with a small wind-range. When the conditions are right it is lovely to see it fly, however, the Triton has a little more range to work with. I will probably keep the Whirlwind more for fun, than KAP.
  • On order is a Dan Leigh Wildcard (yes, I like Deltas)
Ultrafoil sideways on

Ultrafoil sideways on!

It is very early days, and I have a lot still to learn, but if I was to grab just one kite to run out of the house with, for the quick fix, it would be the Dan Leigh Trooper – it may not pull/lift as much as the rokkaku or foil, but it is a darn-sight easier to fly with.

Next, when we have some good wind, the full rig goes up with the 660nm infrared Olympus PM2.

KAP: Marking out the Rokkaku

After re bridling the rokkaku (basically untying the bridle and putting it back together with the top and bottom knots further back and the connecting line tied differently), and understanding more how it flies, especially how sensitive it is to where the line is attached, I have marked out some increments on the bridle and the bow lines. Trying take some of the guess out of the adjustment.

Rokkaku bridle marking

Rokkaku bridle marking

Rokkaku bow marking

Rokkaku bow marking

Got lots of help from some old forum discussions, and various articles, on tuning rokkakus:

The standout points to me, reading the various articles and discussions on tuning and setting up rokkakus, were:

  • Kite should fly approximately 70-80 degrees to the wind
  • The bridle should not be short – “can’t be too long!” (1.5x – 3x kite height seems most people’s guide)
  • “More wind, more bow”
  • Bow the bottom spar a little more than the top for stability
  • The window of adjustment, of where you attach the line (tow-point) and produce the kite angle, is small. Too high and the kite will overfly, too low and it will sink.
  • Higher tow-point = Higher Flying Angles, great for stronger winds.
    Lower Tow Point = Lower Flying Angles, creates more pull for lighter winds.
  • Fly the kite from your hand and keep lowering the tow-point and checking that the kite wants to lift until you have reached a point where the Kite does NOT want to lift. Then mark that position on the bridle plus another mark 10mm above this, this a good starting tow-point, if the Kite does not want to lift, then raise the tow-point by increments of 5mm at a time until you have liftoff.

KAP: The Rokkaku flies !

After the rain and wind settled down today I managed to get to test the re-bridling of the Didakite’s Rainbow Rokkaku on my way home from work, at Craneford Way park/playing fields; and, hurrah, success – it flies! And not just “flies”, pulled like an out of control train in about 14-18mph winds.

KAP - Twickenham & Rokkaku

KAP – Twickenham & Rokkaku

The canal, trainline and West twickenham

KAP - Twickenham

KAP – Twickenham

KAP - Twickenham 2

KAP – Twickenham 2

KAP - Twickenham 3

KAP – Twickenham 3

Location: Craneford Way playing fields & park, Twickenham

KAP: Hastings

After Bexhill on Sea we moved on to Hastings, which also proved a joy with constant wind off the beach; however, the overlooking West Hill proved more variable, but still good.

Flew the (repaired) Cody off the beach, as the wind had picked up to around a constant 10-12mph. Lifted perfectly and was as usual very steady, again using a shortish (12ft) tail.

KAP - Hastings Seafront

KAP – Hastings Seafront

With the weather turning the second site was at the top of the West Hill. The quaint victorian cliff railway takes you up the hill to a big open park area, which has the sea wind coming over it.

A lesson to learn for me – on the top of the hill the wind was a light 8mph (checked on the ever helpful anemometer), however, as soon as the kite was 10m up the wind became a lot stronger and the Triton was not happy under the stress. The Cody would have been more in its element and should have been the kite I put up. Quickly hauled the Triton down, not wanting it to break, but did manage to get a few shots from the short time it was up, with the weather turning.

KAP - Hastings West Hill

KAP – Hastings West Hill

Location: Hastings Beach & West Hill

KAP: First flight at the seaside, Bexhill on Sea

The first time flying at the beach and, wow, what a difference from learning in difficult parks. Lovely consistent breeze. Flew both the Triton and the Cody straight up out of hand and straight back to hand. Marvelous.

First up was the Triton at Bexhill on Sea beach, by the Sovereign Light cafe in a steady 4-6pmh light breeze. As usual, needed a shortish fuzzy tail to stop it overflying. Lifted the GoPro, on the wire pendulum, with ease. Very stable, a joy to handle.

My son easily holding the Triton (and other members of family in support :-> )

KAP - Harry with the Triton

KAP – Harry with the Triton

The shadow of the Triton on the beach

KAP - Bexhill on Sea 2

KAP – Bexhill on Sea 2

KAP - Bexhill on Sea

KAP – Bexhill on Sea

KAP - us on the beach

KAP – kite family on the beach

Location: Bexhill on Sea (Sovereign Light cafe)

KAP: Struggling with the Rokkaku

didakites rokkaku

didakites rokkaku

Struggled again with the rainbow rokkaku today.  The lines on mine are definitely not correct set-up and my attempts to change them on the fly was not great. Time to find some good documentation and help. Even though it was not correctly set-up, its limited flight did show excellent pull and potential. Happy to persevere.


The fine folks over at the KAP forum pointed me at the following PDF document on John Dobson’s kite site ( link – and am in the midst of re-bridling the kite.

KAP: First camera flight of the Triton

Triton with a tail

Triton with a tail

After a few simple no-camera test flights, I got a chance to fly the Triton properly, with a GoPro on my wire pendulum, and am impressed. Flew from Chobham Nature Reserve, not an easy place to fly from, given the wide cover of gorse bush.

Surrey Heath

Surrey Heath

I was warned that the Triton is a kite with a tendency to overfly and I can confirm this; however, with a short fuzzy tail on it (as shown), it flies fine. Very stable, with excellent pull in light winds – lifted my GoPro and wire pendulum with no issue in 4pm’ish winds. Straight up out of the hand and easy to reel back to hand.

Tried the Cody in the same wind and got nowhere near the same lift. The Cody needs really Bft 3 to lift well, whereas the Triton is very happy below that.

Location: Chobham Nature Reserve