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Wed Jan 10 11:03:35 CET 2018
A tennis court in a sports hotel in Schladming in the Austrian Alps
Prism 4D on about 3m (10 ft set, but with adjustable length) 20kg lines
(The 4D was the only kite that fitted into the suitcase - brought it just in case...)
This reminds me of a Swedish proverb: "Som en åsna mellan två hötappar" - like a donkey between two hay feeding stations. This means here that there is a problem of choosing a preferred activity. The surface of this tennis court was a bit odd. The first time I played tennis during the trip I didn't realize that that the smooth surface was made up of green rubber gravel. Those handles were not as quick to adjust as I had hoped for unfortunately. Perhaps one should add a little knob on the handles to wind the line around to make the process evening the length simpler?
Line tension, line tension and line tension or should I rather say that technique, technique and reliability training was the theme of the week. On vacation in the alps the key occupation has been skiing of course, but the circumstances provided opportunities to do tennis and kiting as well. The reason for the opportunity for the tennis and kiting? Waiting for a teenager daughter not really appreciating any morning I had a chance to use the always free tennis courts of the hotel.
Before starting with the kiting session I'd like to point out one similarity between all three sport activities and that is the constant aim of improvement in technique and reliability. Furthermore I'd say that kiting (which is the activity I spend most time doing) has introduced/evolved an ability (I hope) to find the most important thing learnt from a session and then to take a short note of that. If you have this goal of not wasting lessons learned, it comes natural to think through the previous session(s) and have an idea of what to think of and what to practice the next time. I believe one reason for starting out with the notes and written preparations is that on the field there are no other persons to learn from. Well, when learning from videos, as others have already pointed out, it can be difficult to remember it once you are out on the field. Then resorting to watching videos is not what you would like to spend time on there - field time is precious.
My belief is that you teach yourself mainly (with the possible exception of introductions etc.), and only occasionally you get some nugget of spot-on info from others. Another reason is limited session time. If you never made any notes, never read them through/thought them through and never did any (tennis) swing rehearsal the evening before the weekly 1h session, much of the session might have passed before you get to practice the current issues and think the thoughts you had the last time.
Preparation and indoor location
Well for this session I didn't have much prepared since I've never flown indoors before, but have only done some low wind sessions with a minimal line length of 6m (20ft). Almost always when I play tennis (indoors) it is before work and I'm in a rush leaving no time to ask for permission to use a free tennis court for kiting. I only had two things to practice that I had decided before - the 360deg (the kite goes around you) and the up and overs (you guessed it, the kite goes up and over you).
I didn't really know what line length to use other than that that they should be shorter than 6m (20ft) "since it was indoors". I was also encouraged here to go short by the "Kaiju" line length of 2.13m (7ft), but at the same time being a bit conservative by making it slightly longer. When measuring the lines after the session I had ended up on 3m (well 2.98m + handle length).
The handles were quickly made (while packing for the trip) by cutting a paint stirrer stick and making a few strokes with the file. The evening before the session I started out with the 6m lines and tried to make the length extending from the winder equal by winding in the same way - didn't work, needed to wind taking some short turns (normal to the original wind direction) as well, to make the line length somewhat even. Since it took some time to get the an equal line length, I never came to change the line length during the session. Finished up with the rubber bands to hold the line to the handle. I had planned to make a slidable cover using a wide heat shrink tube. The idea was booth to keep the lines in place and make a small well defined exit for the lines from the handle. Turned out that the widest dimension of heat shrink tube I had was just a fraction too small. If you would try to use heat shrink tubing anywhere near Dyneema/spectra/polyethene/polyethylene lines (which also can include bridle lines!) you should be aware that they start to melt at about 130deg and one common temperature for shrinking of heat shrink tubes is about 125degC. From experience I know that it is a bad idea to add wear resistance to the bridle line on a Rev around the (original) bridle line where it goes over the LE nock by shrinking a heat shrink tube around it - the core of the bridle line melted. It worked however for another bridle line of other material (the core fibres were black and never melted - carbon?).
Asking if it was OK to use the tennis courts at the hotel for kiting always ended in the same way. I had to explain that indoor kiting was possible and showing the packed/folded kite. No one however, could say if it was a good or bad idea, just "go and ask that other person (hotel employee)" - so I didn't in the end.
Using the initial setting with the nose neutral or slightly backwards, the kite didn't even take off. Changed to almost maximum nose toward pilot setting which made the take off possible.
To this point when doing (and/or attempting) 360deg outdoors on 6m or 15m lines I've found that when doing the backwards running around in circles, running in a direction that makes the kite to fly into tensioned lines, i.e. in the leading side of the temporary wind window, works. This time I instead tried the suggested method here (KL) of extending the arms while rotating and then combine it with only a little jogging/walking in circles. Yes, this was calmer, but I don't know if this was from the line length or if it was from the arms extended way of doing it. The most common way to fail? - failing to maintain line tension. More practice required.
The first parts of the up and overs went fine, but ending it was another matter. Following the advice to pull downwards when the kite was above was almost intuitive and most often went well. The problem was to turn to the side when finishing the up and over. The turn lagged so much so that the kite hit the floor most of the times. I pulled more aggressively in the ending turn but really never got any control here. I'm sure that this aggressive pull is the wrong way of doing it, should try it more times with a moderate pull. What would happen if one instead would have attempted to land on the wing tips? Perhaps it is the heavy nose forward setting that is contributing to the slow turn?
The floor surface consisted of a quite densely packed rubber gravel in a thin layer, a type that I've never seen before, yet somewhat surprisingly, slightly more slippery than "my" normal indoor tennis court. The short lines could just be used to roll the kite up (lying on its back) from the ground to relaunch position, without slipping on the tips of the standoffs. This was possible if the kite was given (pitch) rotational speed when getting to the launch position. To get it into launch position more easily, perhaps some high friction layer could be added on the wing tips and where the stand offs goes through the sail?
The rubber bands on the adjustable lengths handles had an unexpected use. They had a good enough grip onto the floor so that they the kite could be placed on its wingtips ready in launch position. Very good since none of the methods of starts where the kite was tossed worked out for me. Had more luck when starting the kite from ground in a flared position. I then got it in a 2-point start position in a kind of quick rotation direct from the initial pull on one line.
How much physical exercise was an indoor kiting session compared to tennis? Well that depends on what you attempt to do and how, but both activities makes you thirsty.
Thoughts and preparations for the next time
Maintaining line tension is the thing, also try to see when the tension can be reduced, perhaps that can help making that ending turn of the up and overs better?
Continue to work on pancake landings pop-up launches. In particular the pancake to (2-point) launch position.
Study videos of throw launches. Is some weight somewhere along the spine required here?
Try other line lengths than 3m.
The area and the trip and more skiing
Being a ski resort in the Alps, Schladming offers beautiful views of the mountains obviously. By the end of the week we still hadn't tried all the available ski slopes. The scale of it was impressive. E.g. they had arranged with dams looking like mini lakes in the mountains to supply the water to the everywhere present snow guns.
I appreciate the culinary differences. The portions were typically large and hunger a distant idea. Odd stuff: pancake soup, omnipresent gulash soup, a fondness of horse radish (spicy), germknödel (fat warm steamed bun with plum jam, a bit sweet mix between a lunch and a desert) and (less appreciated) alcohol being served in restaurants in the ski slopes. I mean I don't mind any category of alcohol containing drinks in general, but mixing downhill skiing and jagertee/beer is not really a good idea.
One day we took the train to Salzburg ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salzburg ) for a four hour visit in the old town mainly (really short yes). I remarked to my family, that this time we were like a flock of hurried tourists at home in the old town of Stockholm. Mozart balls (chocolate, pistachio marzipan and nougat) were being sold "everywhere".
The Swedish nature might be less extreme than the Alps (at least in terms of the mountain areas) but it still offers beauty. The below images is from a cross country ski trip on the local golf course one week after coming home. Daytime during summer those those fields are a no-go area due to the many golfers. But I have also ruled them out as kiting fields because they are not very large, probably giving too turbulent winds. Perhaps these fields would be good for low wind (less turbulent?) session during off golf season?
Though a bit destructive, as a kiter I can't help thinking of how it would be to fly a low/zero wind kite through those mist layers.
I was inspired by the information shared in recent posts regarding the existence of something called a "Nail Board" to help tie accurate "Knot Systems" such as bridles, leader lines for handles and potentially other applications. I decided that what I am about to share is too lengthy for a forum post so I have posted this as a blog instead. I hope you find it useful. SF
Nail Board Instructions for Knot Tying
A Nail Board consists of a “flat board” with physical markers defining the spacing between knots tied in a line for a specific purpose. “Bridles” and “Leader Lines for Handles” are good examples but there may be other line applications that a Nail Board can be used for.
A Nail Board serves two purposes that provide an advantage to using a tape measure or rule for tying lines with knots that require precise and symmetric spacing:
1. The location of each knot can be consistently and accurately marked.
2. The line material can be pulled under light tension when making the marks using the physical markers. This allows the spacing of the knots to remain proportional when stretched during wind-loaded flying conditions.
What a Nail Board does not do for you:
You can’t tie single or multiple loops from the dimensions on the board; the dimensions on the board are “final” dimensions of the “knot system” you are tying. Prior to tying looped knots you must determine the length of line that is required to tie the loops, or other knots, to fit the final dimensions of the physical markers on the Nail Board.
Knot Tying vs Knot Marking.
The process of tying the knots is separate from the marking of their location. Each type of line material has a specific diameter and each knot and type of knot takes a specific length of line to tie. This must be determined beforehand.
The actual line required to tie a knot system is defined as:
Line spacing defined between the knots + “length to tie” for all knots in the system.
Calculating the length of your line to tie a loop knot (“Length to Tie”):
Mark a 12” length of the line with which you will be tying a knot. Call this “D1”
Note: in the picture I used blue tape as a mark only for the purpose of illustration. I use a white “cloth marking pencil” to make my marks which does not show up well in a photograph. Tape is not a good material to use for marks since it can slip on the line while tying.
Tie the specific knot that you will be tying. I have used an overhand knot for this example to form a loop. The marks that you previously made should be behind the knot by ~1”. The marks should match each other below the knot.
Make sure that the knot is “Well Formed”. All lays are parallel with each other as the knot is formed; no crossing between the lays.
Pull the knot taught with force after tying; I use my forceps in the top of the loop and pull very hard on the opposite end.
Now measure the distance from your marks to the top of the loop. Call it “D2”
Length to Tie = D1 – 2 x D2 . this will be the “Length to Tie” for this line and this loop knot.
The length to tie a loop per knot for my material is 1 1/8” believe it or knot (100# bridle line)
Here is an example:
In this example there are two loops. The total length of the knot system is 3” (2 ¼” + ¾”). The length of line required without knot consideration is 6”. There are two knots in this loop system, one at the bottom and one towards the top, which will take 1 1/8” each for my line material.
The total length of line to tie both knots in this system is 6” + 1 1/8” + 1 1/8” = 8 1/4”.
For a single knot (not a loop) in a line the “Length to Tie” is simply:
Length to Tie = D1 –D2 after you have performed the same experiment with a single knot in one line.
How to use the “Length to Tie”
The “Length to Tie” must be added to the line dimensions when you are tying your knots. After they are tied, they should fit back on the Nail Board and be under slight tension.
Following these procedures and using a Nail Board should result in very accurate knot placement for your projects. When tying more than one identical knot systems, they will end up being perfectly symmetric.
Materials and tools required to make "my" board are:
#18 x 3/4” wire brads.
36” x 5 ½ x 3/4” Pine Board (premium grade, flat, actual measured dimensions shown)
Drill press with depth stop capability (not required but adds precision and protects the drill bit).
3/64” drill bit (available for Dremel tools or other sources)
Long Straight edge rule 4 ft (for drawing straight lines on the wood)
Tape measure for measurements of marker placements.
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Wow, I can't believe it's been so long since I have posted anything here. I have been consumed by work & life over the last few months, without much if any time to get the kites out. Not a huge deal, as this is the off-season for kite flying where I live (at least in my book.).
I have had a few brief moments to get out and fly on the way home from work. Quick, half hour sessions do a stressed mind a world of good. Recently, a friend of ours in the kiting community passed away (BobbyB) and I took a little time at the end of my day to fly one of his kites and think about things. Just a picture perfect day with lab-grade winds... couldn't ask for anything more, other than having not heard of the passing of a friend earlier in the day. Anyway, here's Bobby's kite basking in the late day sun...
Most of my free time is spent keeping the 3 kids busy, enjoying summertime activities. We recently took a day trip out to Montauk, and I brought the KAP backpack, hoping to get some shots of the cliffs & the lighthouse. Unfortunately, the wind was low & iffy, so I was lucky to get the kite alone in the air for a little while...
The girls are at the age that they enjoy the SLKs still...
We took turns flying the Ultrafoil 15...
We took a long weekend trip up to Vermont a couple weeks ago. Vermont ? Sounds like a terrible place to fly a kite, right ?
You just have to have the right kinda kite ! The Plutz3 was awesome in the lack of wind in the mountains & woods. I flew that Plutz in one weekend more than I had ever flown it. The girls also learned how to fly a glider & had a great time !
Yes, I fly gliders with a wand. That's how I learned & don't really get how people fly them on a loose line without tripping over it & getting all knotted up...
So, hopefully there will be a lot more flying to report next time, as Kite Season will be officially underway around here in about 10 days. Looking forward to that LBI kite festival, too, this year will be the 3rd Annual.
In the mid-sixties I had a paper route in Brigham City, Utah delivering the Deseret News. It was my first experience in how to operate a small business as we were all essentially independent contractors. My route took about an hour & one half delivering 50 to 60 papers on my 3 speed English bike. The newspaper company was always trying to get us to sign up new subscribers. Incentives were given based on the number of new subscribers we recruited. The most memorable premium I ever received was a Gayla Sky Spy kite. While not my first it was a very good kite. I could stand out in the street in front of the house & launch it by propping the kite up, laying out about thirty feet of line & towing it until it cleared the roof top & got into some clean air. I considered this advanced kite technique at the time. I was fourteen.
Once in the air it was easy to go to the end of a 500' spool of line. We used the latest kite technology, Hi-Flier Megalon Super Strength kite cord made of thin light nylon. It was much better than the old cotton string of the fifties. You could splice on more line but after a while the kite could not lift more line & it would not go higher, just further away. If you had out enough line you could let go of the line & the kite would still have enough tension on it to keep flying as the line slowly slipped along the ground. It was a lot of effort to reel in a thousand feet of line using an empty Suran wrap tube. One time we even tried to use an Erector set motor to make a power winder but long extension cords were hard to come by which was the limiting factor on that effort. Eventually I got a Hi-Flier spin winder.
Certain times of the year the west wind would blow for days. I don't know why we left the kite up all night for the first time. But once we found out it was possible we would try to go for a record number of hours. The best we ever did was three days. When the kite did come down unattended we would leap on our bikes & follow the string for a couple blocks to hopefully find the tough little kite laying in a yard some ways away. Eventually there came a day when the kite was not to be found. Then I went into a dark time of no kites, but the girls kept me distracted.... SHBKF
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Suddenly, it's May! The weather has been turning colder here over the last few (eight!) weeks. Work has been busy, and combined with the end of daylight savings time, it has definitely put a crimp on my flying! I finally got a chance to debut my new ribbon tails last weekend, they looked great! Unfortunately I can't show you any video, the GoPro wasn't working properly - operator error! Then I got rained on and it dawned on me that I now had to work out a way of drying 2 x 25ft tails...
The answer I settled on was pulling each tail through a folded towel, that seemed to work pretty well! I managed to put my first puncture in the sail, but my kite repair kit came to the rescue and it handily patched the small hole before it had the chance to become bigger.
I got to go out and play for about an hour the following day in about 10 - 14 km/h winds, I had a lot of fun just keeping the kite in the air and moving it around in the window. Nothing fancy. I need to go back and review all the slack line trick videos again before I go out next time, that wind speed seemed ripe for trying a lot of tricks.
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Phew, it has been busy these past couple weeks. Changing weather and a bad flu really cut into my flying but I've still managed to get out a bit!. I've been trying to accomplish four things while on the field:
1) Fractured Axel practice. I'd like to get much more consistent with them which I think involves two things. First is to make sure the kit is in the middle of the axle before pulling for the fade. I can do this in the middle of the window, but I miss most attempts when trying this near the edge. I think this has something to do with the asymmetry already present in the lines when flying at the edge of the window? I have to think about it a bit more though. The other thing I need to do is Give.More.Slack. Every time I watch the footage of my sessions I can see line tension screwing up the trick. I think I err on the side of too little slack because I'm usually practicing in lower wind and don't want to have to regain ground lost when I take up slack. When there is finally enough wind to sustain a fade with the Quantum though I just don't give enough.
2) Virtual Freestyle practice. Less than a week left to get an entry in! I'm trying to get an entry that starts with the kite on the ground, includes at least one fractured axel and one nice slide, and ends with the kite deliberately (not crashed) on the ground within 1min 30sec. This has been hard! I'm starting to 'check in' with the ground, landing more frequently which is helping for sure.
3) Axels. I've been working on more deliberate control of my axels. This has involved trying them with the nose pointed every direction 'above' horizontal, and with both wings. I'm still not usually giving a snappy enough tug or enough slack for the kite to come all the way around but I've learned to bail out of them into horizontal flight and maintain/gain momentum in the process which is good for low wind flight. I've also been working a bit on 'Push Axels' -- Axels started from a
18090 degree push turn instead of a stall. I don't think they look quite as good but they are very fluid,and very easy to do.
Exult sent me this link to a great trick list that has a lot of insight in the descriptions. From that list I turned what I thought had been constant failures at Half Axels into repeatable successes with Rixels! This is the most reliable way I have right now of getting into a turtle.
Finally, my BF bought me a new camera! He got a super deal on a new GoPro Hero 5 my anniversary, Xmas, and Birthday gift. Worth it!!!! The videos included here are all from the GoPro.
This first one is probably the least exciting! It was filmed at 2.7k but converted to 1080p cause Windows movie maker doesn't do higher res. It has a lot of Fractured Axel attempts, and some Virtual Freestyle practice. It also has a few Rixels and one snap turtle
The next videos are done with GoPro studio. It is OK, but I like Windows Movie Maker more. Oh well! This Push Axels video is filmed at 2.7k and uploaded to Youtube, which downscales it to 1440p.
This video was mostly me screwing around with the camera as there was no wind all morning. It is in 1440p resolution but 4:3 aspect ratio. with the gopro this means much more sky is visible. I'm not sure how I feel about this aspect ratio! Nice to see more of the sky, but I don't like black boarders.
Finally, here are two virtual freestyle attempts plus a couple half axels This was filmed at 2.7k which was used to crop a 1080p frame. It is a great way to keep the kite in frame the whole time, but I already miss the higher resolution of the full 2.7k image.
I can't wait to play with this camera in more appropriate winds! There's no upper spreader in my kites for almost all of these
This week will be much of the same, VF attempts, FAs, and as many axels as I can while getting to know this camera. I might have to learn howto fly with gloves on soon though, getting cold!!
Oops, a bit overdue on this one.
Memorial Day weekend brought around the San Ramon Art and Wind Festival. It is a Sunday-Monday festival, this year held on May 29-30, 2016.
Sunday started off on a good note, with temperatures not terribly hot, and there was wind! Bumpy, inland wind with lots of "holes" typical of that location, but nevertheless there was wind. Sport kite fliers flew demos most of the day, interspersed with some other attractions. Penny Lingenfelter put on a show with kids from the audience, giving them kites to fly and briefing them on the story they were acting out before taking center stage.
We also ran bol races, where older kids got to pull bols into the wind and attempt to run to the finish line.
A couple of giant octopus kites also went up.
Here is Team AirZone getting ready to perform. You can see the octopus still being put away on the ground.
We ended the day with a quad line megafly as we like to do.
Unfortunately, we were not as lucky on Monday. Temperatures were already picking up in the morning, and on top of that, there was no wind. But the show must go on. For the first few hours, demo fliers were flying on short lines, some even flying their indoor routines on indoor kites. I got creative and flew a mystery ballet with a single line glider.
Since it was Memorial Day, we also had a red, white, and blue fly, with people running their kites across the field to get some lift. One guy tied three cube kites (red, white, and blue; I believe they were Shanti cubes) to a banner pole and was using it as a giant wand to fly the kites.
Banner display that was put up on Monday.
We did finally get some wind later in the afternoon, so we were able to fly the routines we typically fly at outdoor festivals. Before we knew it, it was time to pack up and head home.
It has been a little over 3 months since my last entry. Wow! Time flies doesn't it! Work was booooming and I was taking advantage of all the extra shift hours available. However. I miss spending time with the things that make me happy. The important things. My growing family. My friends. My kites.
My son, our middle child, just turned 8. Growing into a fine young boy. Around 2 years ago, when he was 6 and this still blows me away, said "he wanted a kite just like mine but different". After talking with him for a while to find out exactly what he was after, yep he wanted a Rev. So I set him up on Watties colouriser. http://kitepaint.com/#!/ He played with it for a while, came up with some pretty cool designs too. We chatted about different kites. I told him that he could earn extra money by doing jobs and that if he stuck with it I would match him dollar for dollar. After explaining what that meant, he had a quiet grin of determination. Then it hit me. He might get a Pro before I do!! He did all sorts of jobs to keep topping up the kite fund. Some were easy, some were not. He went without lots of treats to put that money to it as well. I began taking him out flying with me. His attention span got better and a kind of stillness would come over him when we flew. We sat down a month before his 8th birthday and did the numbers. He was about 6 months from a B Series, poor little fella wanted it sooner than that. I had a quiet word to my wife, then began to feel him out for a scheme. He had gone off his technicolor dream coat rev, thank me later Baz! He was liking the older style Blue Grey B Series. Which is good as it would match my Red and Grey B's. We got a Travel frame package ready to fly. It came just before his party so he could show all his mates. We have had a couple of flights on his new sail. The winds were a little light for the 3 wrap travel frame but he had fun. I would like to say a big thanks to Kevin Sanders as he sent my boy a set of his handles and a stake. A much lay appreciated gift.
Now, once he's got the hang of it, I'm putting him on some 30's and we are going to the streets!!!