Build a Delta Kite From an Umbrella

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First of i have to admit, that when i started working on this project, i was mainly driven by my ego. I would appreciate it, if any of my ideas become valuable for somebody.

So, why would anyone build a kite from an umbrella?
The fabric used in common umbrellas is very light and durable Nylon. For this build i used an old and broken pocket umbrella, i had lying around. Also on rainy days people often leave their umbrellas in public places, so you can grab one for free! xD

This project set a lot of challenges concerning kite-design and minor problems, which were either solved or developed throughout the build.

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Step 1: Gathering the Parts

- bent bicycle wheel
- yarn
- 2 x aluminum pipes 8mm x 1m
- 3 x plastic pipes 8mm x 1m
- 30cm rubber hose 14mm thick
- 50cm rubber hose 8mm thin
- elastic band
- 4m plastic belt
- back part of a maxi-CD case
- an empty hair gel tube
- 2 x washers

Tools:
- all sorts of pliers
- sewing machine
- rulers in different sizes
- normal and fine scissors
- hot-glue-gun with lots of ammo
- a candle
- matches
- jigsaw
- pircer
- drill with 6 and 8 mm drill bits

Starting of with the umbrella, you will need to detach the nylon fabric from the carcass. Use your scissors to cut the yarn loops. When you're finished, you may want to clean the fabric in a washer.
The bent bicycle wheel is useless except for the spokes. We will need 6 of them.

Step 2: Design

Since all umbrellas assemble an octagonal shape, i figured a way to utilize most of the fabric. By detaching the fabric into 8 equal triangles you can rearrange them into a "delta kite friendly" rhombus shape. In my case this was the only reasonable decision, since the diameter for the fabric was only about 1m. If your umbrella is bigger than mine, you may cut the fabric without detaching it and design your own kite!
For the purpose of better visualizing the finished kite, i've built a 1:10 scale model.

Step 3: Sewing Part I

In order to detach the 8 triangles, you need to loosen up the seam, by pulling the yarn gently with a fine scissors, loop by loop. When you're finally done, iron the triangles. Prepare your sewing machine and set it up for dotted seam. First sew the triangles into 4 equal, small rhombuses. Follow the instructions shown in the picture and continue sewing the 4 parts into the main rhombus. Ironing the edges before sewing can spare you frustrating moments! xD

Step 4: Sewing Part II

Set up your sewing machine to zig-zag line mode. Take the plastic belts and shorten two of them to 97 cm and one to 71 cm. Now cut 5 holes, like its shown in the first picture. Melt all the cuts with a candle. Sew the 71 cm long belt to the middle part of the kite and leave out the bottom groove in order to fit in a plastic pipe (the spine) later on.
Fold the plastic belts by half along the long side, attach it from both sides to the edge, make sure to leave enough space to fit the plastic pipes inside and start sewing. Don't forget to attach elastic band loops on the lower parts, underneath the belts.

First of cut 6 equal square shapes out of the leftover plastic belt. Then cut a hole in each of them and melt the cuts with your candle. Next grab the back plate of the maxi-CD case and cut out 6 small circle shapes with a pair of scissors, which should be half the size of the squares. Now you will need 6 snippets from the thin rubber hose sized 4,5 cm. Cut 3 legs in the snip and attach it to the circle with a load of hot glue. If you're done, pull these snips though the hole of the small squares. Finally sew these 6 link-ups to the fabric with a zig-zag seam, like its shown in the picture.

Step 6: Link-ups II & Framework

Cut one of the aluminum pipes in half with the jigsaw. Now shorten one of the 3 plasic pipes to 75 cm. Remember that small cylindrical piece, i've salvaged from the umbrella? This will be attached to the spine to hold the aluminum pipe in place. Cut off the piece you can utilize for this project with the jigsaw and drill 8 mm holes perpendicularly to each other, like its shown in the picture. Next cut 4 times 5 cm long pieces off of the thick rubber hose. Drill 6 mm holes through each of them and round the edge on one end. These will be the edge linkages that will hold the aluminum pipes in place.
Now cut one 6 cm as well as 3 times 3 cm long pieces off of the thin rubber hose. The 6 cm piece will assemble the arrow part of the kite.
Pull the 1m long plastic pipes through the stitched belts and don't forget about the 4 rubber hoses. Do the same with the 75 cm pipe. Attach the 6 cm long rubber hose to both ends of the 1m pipes and put the 3 cm pieces onto the other ends of the pipes. Before that you may want to round the edges of these ends.
Continuing with the remaining link-ups, we will need the 6 spokes with screwed on caps and two 4 cm long pieces from the thick rubber hose. Use pliers to straighten out the spokes and make 3 holes with the piercer in each of the rubber hose pieces. Pull each spoke through the hole, like its shown in the picture.
Finally attach the link-ups to the fabric as well as to the aluminum pipes. In order to hold the two linkages in place, u can cut small stripes out of an empty hair gel tube or any other similar material.

Step 7: Basics in Cord Attachment

To begin with, you will need to buy or find braided nylon cord as well as two spool winders. I found mine lying at home. You will also need two iron or aluminum rings. I've used 12 mm washers.
Take the cord and cut it into 2 x 40 cm and 1 x 35. Follow the measurements on the picture and tie 3 knots on each end to the link-ups as well as to the ring. Lit up a match and carefully burn and melt the left over cord, so that the knot won't loosen up. Now take the rest of the cord, divide it in half and wrap up the spools. Attach the windings to both sides of your kite and you're done!

Step 8: Finished Kite

Finally its done!

One last question remains: Can this beast actually fly?
Well i will find out and upload a video to prove it. At least it tends to fly forward, if u drop it face down. Also this kite only weights about 400 g, while a standard delta kite weights approximately 250-300 g. So it might hover in the winds. I hope so! xD

Update 27.09.13: I tried it outside today, but the wind was too weak (about 8 km/h). At least the kite seams to behave like an ordinary delta kite. According to the weather forecast for this Sunday the wind speed should top 25 km/h. So updates will follow.

Update 29.09.13: I lost my brave cameraman, so i decided to film myself while flying the kite with both hands. This way its nearly impossible to capture anything. Stay tuned for better video upload!

Update 01.10.13: I'm unable to capture anything useful. It's the winds' fault!!! xD Nevertheless, a new video in better quality will be up soon.

Update 03.10.13: This will be my last video until i see some real autumn weather. The max wind speed today was about 13,7 km/h. But since my kite weighs 400 g, it will probably need at least 30-50 km/h to reach its full potential. Nevertheless i'm glad about the results. This kite is officially airworthy!!!

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19 Discussions

i suggest you use more duarable elastic maybe strips of innertube?

i suggest you use more duarable elastic maybe strips of innertube?

love the way you have made the connectors...will try to improve mine later with tubes. which do you think is lighter...bamboo or plastic or aluminum tubes?

5 replies

Guess it depends on your certain build. Personally i would prefer thin bamboo sticks over anything else. Those plastic tubes i've used, are highly flexible, so u're able to bend them into shape (down to 60 degrees before they start to brake). Although i have to admit, that the spine is way to loose, which could affect the flight characteristics of the kite. And those aluminum tubes are needed to straighten the skeleton and give it some rigidness, so that the kite won't bend in the wind and keeps its shape. I couldn't find anything lighter and suitable for this project.

Bamboo is such a versatile material, very strong and flexible. And cheap, if you can find a patch close by. The running bamboos, which inevitably get out of control, can be identified by the flat bit on alternate sides of each inter-node. Anyone who has bamboo of this type (and they come in a wide variety of sizes), will almost certainly be happy to have you take some away.
The leaf-bearing branches off the main stem will yield plenty of kite spars, and the main stems are good if you want to get into man-lifting craft.
Clumping bamboos have a perfectly round stem, and the patch expands rather slowly.
If you want to get max life out of bamboo sticks, dry them in shade, so they don't crack.

bamboo is fairly easy to split it just takes time to pratice,i myself can make a fairly uniformly bending stick but i cant make it round or tapered

okay...bamboo it is! :-) thanks...only...homemade connectors for that is difficult...i tied mine...want to use the rubber tubes...so that it would be easier for storing.

I want see it fly. in india, there's a crazy kite fest in January. you have to be there to believe it!

I've seen so many dumped umbrellas in the streets.
I could be Grand Emperor of Delta Kiteness had I known this sooner!