Introduction: Spinning Kite

About: I have always loved the feeling of finishing the construction of an object and if I don't have something I need or want I usually give it a go to build it from what I have. Usually though, I look at a boring o…

This is a very basic and quick-to-make kite which spins and works more like an autogyro than a conventional kite. It has 3 blades which spin and create a disk which then redirects air downward like a kite and pushes it into the air.

I made a similar craft to this at the beginning of the year, Here is a link to it:

This one differs from the earlier one because it has no body and is therefore lighter and appears more stable. It also behaves more like a normal kite than the Rotabuggy one. It is made from household materials so you should not need to buy anything to make this spinning kite. The first two pictures in this intro step are renders of a model I made in SketchUp. To download the SketchUp model of this kite, either download it from the bottom of step 1 or from this URL:

I have no photographic or video footage of this kite in flight because the weather is not very good at the moment and I can't fly it until the weather improves. It does however fly and I have tested it but I just have not recorded it flying yet, so the renders will have to do for now.

This is my entry into the Kite Contest, please vote for it if you like it :)

Step 1: Materials and Tools

To make this model the way I did, you will need the following:
  • Thin Polystyrene foam (I use the kind used for packaging eggs) [Or you can use thin balsa wood instead but not necessary and more expensive]
  • Balsa wood (2mm X 25mm X 25mm) for the rotor hub (This part can also be made with foam if you don't have balsa)
  • A toothpick or similar thin, round piece of wood, e.g. a kebab stick
  • A swivel (I used one from a fishing lure but any other type of swivel should work too)
  • A line and something to wind it around (to fly the kite with)
  • Putty or similar to use as ballast
  • Tape
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • A craft knife
  • A pen
  • A ruler
  • Thread (Not absolutely necessary but a good way to make the glued parts stronger)

Step 2: The Blades and Rotor Hub

Start by cutting off the edges to your foam tray if you happen to be using one. I will use measurements but if your tray is smaller than mine you will have to change them. My model uses three rotor blades but you could also change the shape of the hub and use a different number of blades if you prefer.

The rectangular blades in my model all measure 200 mm X 25 mm X 2 mm. measure and draw them onto your polystyrene foam and then cut them out. I suggest you cut a fourth blade just in case you damage another while building this kite.

The blades on my model spin clockwise looking from the top-down but you can make yours spin the other way. Just make sure that all the blades are exactly the same, DON'T make one a mirror-image of another or it won't spin properly. To allow the blades to spin, they must be given a kind of "twist". To keep this twist the same on all three blades, draw the same diagonal line on each blade (as shown in picture 2).

Then, using a ruler and a craft knife, lightly score along these diagonal lines. DO NOT cut all the way through the blades, just score the top side of each. Then bend the two triangular parts of each blade down from this scored line. One triangle must be bent down 6 degrees from its original flat position.(It should look like pictures 3, 4 and 5)

To make the three-sided hub, draw an equilateral (60+60+60 degree) triangle with each side measuring 25 mm. To find the centre of this triangle, draw lines from each corner to the opposite midpoint. The point where these three lines meet is the centre of the hub (see picture 6).

Step 3: Adding the Body and Finishing the Rotor Hub

Make a small hole in the centre of the rotor hub.

Clip the tip off of a toothpick to make it blunt and less dangerous, then push it into the hole you just made in the hub. Only a small part of this toothpick must stick out of the top of the hub. (See picture 1 for reference)
Make sure that the hub is perpendicular to the toothpick by spinning the toothpick and correcting any tilt of the hub to any side.

Add glue to the top and bottom of the hub to fix the two parts together.

At the bottom end of the toothpick, clip the sharp part off as before, but this time cut a "U" shape out of the toothpick (See drawing in picture 3 for detail).

Glue the swivel into this groove so that the swivel is parallel to the toothpick. Don't let any glue get into the swivel. Wind some thin thread around the wet glue on the toothpick and through the "eye" of the swivel to make the join between the two parts stronger.

Attaching the blades to the hub is very easy, just put tape on the top side of the inner ends of the blades and tape them firmly onto the hub (Pictures 5 and 6). Then add tape to the bottom of each blade also attaching it to the hub.

Test-drop your spinning kite to see how well it spins.

Step 4: Tie a String to It and Fly It!

Tie a line to the bottom of the swivel; and the other end of the line to something you can wind it around, and hold, while you fly the kite.

The second picture in this step illustrates why I have no footage of this cool kite in the air.

Kite Contest

Finalist in the
Kite Contest