The following are kites built and flown by Anthony Thyssen. They are ordered generally by kite type.
Any and all comments are welcome, as is any queries on their construction, though you may like to look around his kite workshop before asking.
This is a 12 meter (circumference) circoflex made from silver mylar but has
a ripstop leading edge to hold the spar. This allows the spar to be
removable in 8 feruled sections and the mylar body rolled up into a very
very small and compact bundle for transport. |
This kite won 3rd place at the 21st Festival of Winds, 1998, at Bondi Beach, Sydney.
I started building lots of smaller mini-circoflexi as a special sale/give-away item. These smaller rings are about 1 to 1.5 meters diameter (3-5 meter circumference), and are made from ripstop in assorted colors and styles. The design is modified to that of the larger circoflexi (such as the one above), due the size and weight differences, and fly well in moderate winds (unlike the larger ring).
This particular version has some ripstop repair tape stuck on to the
kite, red & blue dots on one side, black strips on the other, so that
the pattern alternates as it spins.
More photos, hints, tips and construction notes are available in my Rotor and UFO Information web pages.
Unfortunately this axis results in the kite twisting up the flying line. Because of this you need to attach a small flap to the kite line just below the kite to stop the twists proceeding any further. When that short length of line between the flap and the kite is twisted enough, the swivels will start working properly.
My nephew took one look at this kite flying and exclaimed... They look like Jet Engines :-)
The kite is built from 14 pieces (7 bottom, and 7 top panels) and only uses straight edges which makes sewing easy. 8 straight seams and 4 tags. Not only that but this kite was also built using a very soft unsealed ripstop from a fabric shop, and not proper sail cloth. You can look at the Panflute Revisited Kite Plan in the Kite Workshop.
Flies like a dream too, though not very high (30 to 40 degree line typical), but does so from the lightest of winds to extremely strong. It can however be difficult to launch in parks with a low or turbulent ground wind. Once up however it tends to stay put with a gentle side to side 'waggle'.
The kite looks like a flying mattress and I find I have to keep telling people that, it is NOT a "Six Pack". In fact it is much easier to build and flies better than a "Six Pack". If their was a progression of kites from a sled to a parafoil, this would fall just of the sled side, while a six-pack would fall more on the parafoil side.
To give you an idea of its size the kite itself is 2.5 meters long while the 'space ball' tails are 6 meters and 12 meters. Here is a photo of Anthony launching the kite. The kite flies great at a 30 to 40 degree line angle (typical of a panflute) with a side to side waggle, but not moving around the sky. The long tails swishing behind the kite has made many kite flyers say that it acts more like an octopus than a Peter Lynn Octopus does, though its shape isn't all that octopus-like.
I found however that you can't just scale a panflute up to this size. If you do the kite collapses as all the air blows out the back of the kite. To keep the internal air pressure, I needed to reduce the opening of the tubes at the trailing edge. Also I added a couple of red 'fins' to the sides of the kite. Though I don't think it was necessary, the small splash of red looks great with the other colors.
The tails are known as 'space balls' and is basically a very long tapering windsock (blue) with a balls (white) inserted every so often. It is these tails which make the giant panflute so spectacular in the sky as the kite 'waggles' from side to side.
The kite was my first 'prototype', built at half size (1.5 meter across) from a Traditional Genki design I found on the internet. The material is a thick heavy nylon called 'shower proof', which was all I could get at the time. Its main spar is a well bowed (from use) 8mm pine dowel, while the rest of the frame is 3mm fiberglass rod.
After years of use this kite has taken a beating. It has been flow in all wind ranges from a gentle sea breeze, though to near gale force winds, been dropped into lakes and flown under water along the muddy bottom, rained on, dragged though grass, trees, dirt, and sand, and once even went surfing. Tuffy (not a bear) Koala and huge numbers of lollies have been dropped from it, generally via thousands of kite messenger trips up and down the length of its line, for which it is still used. It has been tangled in the bridles of a Peter Lynn giant octopus (owned by Peter Lynn himself), wrapped and dragged around by other kites big and small, and had its line snipped by a wandering rokakku. And it will probably be hit my more of the above as time goes by.
After all this it still flies well, and with a turbo wind sock to steady it
against turbulence, it flies like it is glued to the sky, regardless of the
strength of the wind. I wish all my kites were as resilient as this tough
The lightness of the kite and its larger size (which is still smaller than the traditional plan of 3 meters!) makes the kite ideal for night flies. Equipped with 5 flashing red LEDs and shadowing the stars high over head makes for a relaxing fly.
A photo of a genki flying flying kite marked out
with angle measurements, shows just how efficient genkis are as a single
line kite. Here is another photo of Anthony
holding the kite, so you can get an idea of its actual size.
As a side note, the constitution star is displaced, and the Union jack is larger vertically. This change from a true Australian Flag is due to the kite 3:1 ratio and the diagonal corners. Other than that All the southern cross stars are correctly placed, and all stars are of the correct size with the right number of points (7, except the smallest, which has 5).
The applique is a little unusual however as I have placed white on top! This was the best practical way of handling the union jack. Also of note is the the applique continues into the hem of the kite. This was achieved by using a white edge, and then continuing the design onto the hem with permanent pen markers!!!
The Hewitt flexiwing is not a good kite as is. To fly well it really needs to be part of something larger which provides some extra sail area before the leading edge spar so as to pull the kite out of such dives. Live and learn.
Here is photo of Anthony standing next to the
The kite was given away to a kid who was so eager I had to give him something.
The kite was a celebration of my purchase of my first sewing machine (second hand for $50 and still in use) and was to be a 'small' kite. OK, 50cm sounded like a small length and the thing seemed to fit the material I had. But 50cm base adds up to a monster of a kite.
Anthony was lucky enough to meet the designer of this kite, Peter Lynn, and
as you see he put his own hand of approval on this Tri-D, much to Anthony's
delight. Also Peter explained a better bridle arrangement for these box
kites. A three legged bridle from the two front longeron ends and the third
to the rear lower cell point. The bridle should also be at least twice as
long as the kite. Many thanks Peter, the new bridle worked wonders.
There is a good photo of Anthony checking the bridle
This is the result :- a 16 cell tetrahedral kite built with 3/4 oz ripstop
and 6mm dowel. The ripstop was cut so that the grain of the fabric falls
along the edges of the cells, which means 4 separate triangles of fabric was
needed for each cell. A total of 64 triangles and few weeks of Anthony's
free time to build. The kite collapses into flat diamonds of 4 cells each.
The kite after a lot of effort was never fully stable because of its weight. It was pulled apart and the cells were reused to create a new Tetra-TriD kite (below).
The tetrahedral is built using 30cm BBQ skewers, plastic tubing, and covered
with silver mylar gift-wrap. Very light, strong, and in sunlight, highly
visible. My only hate about it is the skewers break too easily, especially
as they become more brittle with age.
Eventually it was demolished due to lack of use. But he continues to build new ones :-(
The kite was built from the ripstop cells from my 16 cell tetra, which due to its weight, was never fully stable. This kite on the other hand is rock steady in the sky, flying all day on a light sea breeze, until the rear two cross spar dowels broke when the wind became very strong late afternoon.
Compared to other kites of this sort, this one has remained a favoriate, and is still regularly flown.
However as this was my first delta, I did not build it quite right (live and learn). The cross spar does not solidly connect to the leading edges causing them to roll inward. The kite however flies well and stable.
The kite was given away to a fellow club member as a good will gesture, but was eventually lost out to sea.
Well, they were right. This kite flew so well, so high, so stable, and in a
field from which I have rarely been able to launch a kite and keep it up, a
backyard surrounded by tall trees. It was just a shame the art work turned
out so plain.
Again it flew perfectly! So over the next few days I carefully painted the kite into a beautiful monarch butterfly pattern you can see.
The only problem I have encountered with trefoil deltas is that the nose tends
to get pushed in by the wind, as the material softens with age. The solution
was a removable length of plastic tubing, inserted across the nose to brace it
and keep it from collapsing. Later as the material softened further, this nose
collapse tended to equalize and the tubing was no longer required.
Kids can even play with this one when the wind is too turbulent or near
nonexistent. If the kite is placed on the ground with the leading point up
and downwind, the kite will just sit there until you pull on the line, at
which point it will leap into the air. With more carefully timed tugs on the
line, and then releasing, the kite will zoom and tumble around the sky, until
a ill-timed tug sends it zooming into the ground.
The kites are each 40cm by 40cm, made from BBQ skewers and white plastic
kitchen tidy bag. and every kite in a batch is given some unique design,
the gecko motif, shown, being one of the best.
Later a El-cheapo Diamond Kite Plan was created and over time expanded upon to become the most detailed kite plan (nearly book size) on the internet. Note these kites are simple, very cheap to make, and fly well in a light breeze. The plan is only large because of the number of options available at each step.
I usually have a box of these kite with me so I can let kids and small
children fly them. They are cheap enough that I am not particularly upset if
they 'escape' and end up in trees, or to give a few away to kid who have
been particularly inquisitive or helpful. If others like to keep the kite
Anthony only requests a small fee of a couple of dollars to cover costs of
building more of these nifty very light wind flyers.
One spike was removed and replaced with a mesh vent (with ripstop valve) and the balls bridle (with a red tip, to suggest the 20th spike). A zipper was added to the rear, which allows it to be easily deflated, also allows access to the inside.
As "landing gear" however this spiked ball is a disappointment. Because it is composed of spikes, it generally sits collapsed on the ground like a jellyfish out of water. It only inflates fully in a good strong wind. The spikes also cushions the ball, stopping it bouncing around like most balls of this type.
As the wind picks up, and the internal pressure becomes great enough, it looks wonderful. Which presented anther problem. With 10 triangular panels all coming together at various points in the ball, it creates a weakness that requires special reinforcements, something that took 7 months to figure out and still fails to resolve.
Finally, it is not a ball suitable for kids. First the spikes make it far to easy to grab and held by the little monsters (no offence). Secondly, it is too small. To my shock, a kid took a flying leap from a sand dune onto the ball. Resulting in a huge increase in internal pressure (the air value preventing the air to escape), and blowing out one of those reinforced points.
All in all, this ball represents experience for myself, as a kite builder. And I definitely do NOT recommend ball made completely from spikes to other kite builders or fliers. Live and learn.
I usually hang the line from a little height, so that it floats more than it
bounces, stopping it from being handled too much by kids.
The plan (courtesy of Mark) for the long Twisty Tube is now online in my workshop. The other tube pictured (screw
tube) I also have plans for, but it has a mistake in it somewhere, so has not
been properly published. Email me if you like its details.
On a good day with a large field and decent ground winds, Tuffy will performs dozens of parachute drops from a Kite Messenger or Ferry (see right), with the local kids running after to retrieve him, so he can do it all again.