Introduction: Magnetic Kite Lights

To some, the mention of flying a kite might rouse little more than a yawn. Add some bright LEDs, magnets, and an evening with strong winds and you have something far more exciting. It takes the challenge and fun of kiting to a whole new level - Its kind of like remotely piloting a UFO - Its Kind of like driving a super star powered kite -  but what really describes it best is EXTREME KITING!

The idea of attaching lights to a kite is not new, however I wanted to put together a simple package that could be easily made from simple electronic components, attached and detached from any kite quickly and easily (with no alterations to the kite) and be reasonably light weight. 

This is my first revision of the design, and there are sure to be improvements made along the way. So far, they seem to be pretty effective, and robust. If the kite avoids slamming into the ground or other objects, the lights seem to stay put even in strong winds. If the kite slams into the ground in high wind, its a safe bet that the magnets may detach.

I attempted to shoot some video while flying it, however my point and shoot camera doesn't take very good video. I think the long exposure photos turned out great though, and I had a bunch of fun trying different things with it. Eventually I would like to make some RGB models with a slow color fade - I think it would make for some really neat photos (rainbow color cycling exposure trails) 

If you have any suggestions, or if you have any questions, please send me a message or leave a comment. Thanks for checking out my project, and hope you give it a try sometime.

Step 1: Materials

Materials used - 

LED(s) (preferably ones that operate around 3v)
Small Switch
Solder-able Perf.board
Coin Cell Battery Holder (one that fits the batteries you intend to use)
Coin Cell Battery (I used CR2032's)
Wire (short scraps are all you need)
Magnets (relatively strong ones)

Ideally you will want everything to be relatively light weight, so small components are preferable


Step 2: Arrange the Components

Pop the components into the board and figure out how much spacing you want between the components. 

Step 3: Solder

Once everything is placed, its time to carefully flip the board over and solder the components together with some short bits of wire. 

Step 4: Magnets

Who doesn't love magnets? I've had a set of BuckyBalls for quite a while, and eventually they sat on my desk untouched growing dusty. Since then I have used the little magnets for a number of different projects. I also used them for this project, and they worked quite well. Any reasonably strong, relatively small magnets should do just fine. Two pairs pf relatively strong magnets should suffice, however more can be used if deemed necessary. A single pair of very strong magnets may work as well.

Step 5: Test 'em Out

Install batteries, make sure they work as planned, and then drop them on the floor a few time to make sure they still work as planned :)

Step 6: Attach 'em to the Kite

I have a small two-line para-foil kite, so there are pocket-like cells between two layers of nylon fabric. The lights are bright enough to shine through the nylon, so I put them inside two of the outer cells, and used the fabric as a diffuser of sorts. The lights and circuit are inside the pocket, the magnet strip is on the top/outside of the kite  

Step 7: Paint the Night With Light!

The lights are pretty inexpensive to put together, and many people likely have most if not all the necessary parts left over from other projects. 

Its not much more difficult flying a well light kite at night vs flying in day light, but the effect is very cool, and somewhat mesmerizing. The long exposure photos look really cool in my opinion, and overall its a fun experience. 

Out where I live, windy nights are somewhat of a rare occasion. If you live near a beach, or large body of water, you'll likely have an easier time finding the right conditions to use them.

I tried to capture some of the effect in a video, but unfortunately my efforts were somewhat unsuccessful. I apologize for the less-than stellar clips. I can however promise that it is a lot of fun and definitely worth a try.

Step 8: Fly Safe!

Have fun and be safe - fly your kites in an unobstructed area free of trees and power lines.
On Easter, we had a bunch of cousins and family over - unattended kids have a habit of doing things you warn them against, and the next thing you know you are setting an even Better example 50 feet up in a tree retrieving one of your expensive kites..... such is life

Thanks for reading :)

EXTREME! Challenge

Finalist in the
EXTREME! Challenge