Birds have always been an inspiration for mankind, and many ancient inventors tried to imitate their flying mechanisms.
Leonardo Da Vinci was one of the more notable brains of his day, and designed an 'Ornithopter' which is a machine that flies by flapping it's wings. Of course, we now know that human powered flight is highly inefficient and have resorted to using engines and rockets to pursue our desire to fly.
I was inspired by one of Da Vinci's prototypes for one such 'Ornithopter' flying machine, and decided to build a version which flies not by flapping it's wings, but rather catching moving air currents and is controlled by a handheld tether. In other words, I built a kite!
For this craft, you will need the following materials:
- Printable template (copy the image of the blue wing outline)
- About 6 bamboo meat skewers - mine were 25 centimeters
- Hot glue gun
- Old kite reel - or you can make your own!
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Step 1: Cut Out the Template
To obtain the templates, simply copy the images above and paste them in a word document, taking care not to change the width - to - length ratio. Once they are pasted, ensure that both wings are the same width (You may want to just use the same wing template for both sides to ensure that they are the same size. The wing next to the tail is just for sizing reference to the tail) The tail segment should be 12 centimeters long, but if you want you can size it up for a larger kite.
Step 2: Attaching the Struts
Now that you have your wing covers, carefully observe the above images, and see how the bamboo skewers are laid out and arranged on the templates. If you have a tail 12 centimeters like the one I did, you should have the following struts for each wing:
- 17 centimeter spar from the wingtip to the "elbow" on the leading edge
- 4.5 centimeter spar from the "elbow" on the leading edge to the front inside corner
- 19 centimeter spar connecting both wings (IMPORTANT! Assemble the tail first, then line up the connecting spar with the 'X' shape where the tail spars meet, along with the rear inner wing corners touching the tail spars. See pictures for reference.)
- For the Tail: glue 2 whole bamboo skewers to the long edges of the tail cover with the blunt ends pointing slightly towards each other. After about 21 centimeters they should intersect each other.
Step 3: Attaching the String and Tail
Almost there! All that is left is to attach your string and reel!
Grab a piece of string about 90 centimeters long and tie one end onto the intersection between the connecting wing strut and the tail struts, as shown above. Mark a point 15 centimeters from where you tied it, and glue it down onto the leading edge of the tail. Then glue the string down onto the very end of the tail cover.
After that cut out an 8 centimeter tall 'isosceles' triangle with a base length of about 5.5 centimeters, and glue that to the end of the string (this is just for stability).
The final step to completing the kite is attaching the reel to the 15 centimeter section between the tail and cross-strut. First, tie the end of the reel to the section of string. Then, find the point where when you hold the kite by the reel, the section of string forms a right angle perpendicular to the tail struts as shown. Glue the end of the reel to that point, and your kite is complete!
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Make It Fly Challenge