Alexander Graham Bell used tetrahedral kites in the early 1900s to disprove the theory that size detrimentally effected a flying machine's ability to get off the ground. This Instructable will show you how to make your own tetrahedral kite using bendable drinking straws and Tyvek. It's similar in its design to other kites shown here, but this kite uses less material and is guaranteed to get off the ground in very little wind.
The kite shown in this Instructable was awarded 2nd place in the 2009 Fly NY
kite competition in NYC. Not too shabby for a first attempt at kite design! Visit Haptic Lab
for more information about the project.
Step 1: Ingredients
You will need the following items:
1. bendable drinking straws (a pack of 200 works great)
2. craft or floral wire cut into 3" lengths
3. small pliers for bending and cutting ties
4. transparent tape
5. sail material: about 2 yards of tyvek, tissue paper, or mylar
6. craft glue
7. thin wood dowels (4 or 5 total)
This project shouldn't cost you more than $10.
Step 2: Straw Triangles
A tetrahedron is the simplest Platonic solid: a triangle with 4 faces. To build the individual tetrahedral cells that make up the kite, start with three straws. Flatten the long end of each straw and insert it into the short end of another straw. Make a triangle.
Step 3: Making Wings
Unlike other drinking straw "tetras", this kite only needs two straw-triangles per cell. By using less material, your kite will fly better and at lower wind speeds. To make a cell, simply tape two straw-triangles together. Angle the wings slightly as shown, but don't worry about making an exact 105-degree angle: the bend in the corners will flex for you.
Step 4: Making Connections
Make the bottom of the kite first. Connect several tetra cells together by twisting 3" bits of wire. Clip the twisted ends off; you'll get poked later on if you don't. Keep connecting, making a larger triangle out of the small cells. I recommend using 3 or 4 rows as shown.