Make a Kite-flying Machine

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Introduction: Make a Kite-flying Machine

About: The answer is lasers, now, what was the question? If you need help, feel free to contact me. Find me on Reddit, Tumblr and Twitter as @KitemanX

Many people try to fly microkites in the breeze from a desk fan.

Almost every single one fails, due to the extremely turbulent nature of the breeze from a fan. It's worse than trying to fly a full-size kite between tall buildings.

This device allows you to fly microkites indoors, and could be seen as a kind of art installation as well.

Step 1: Materials.

The machine started with the motor. It's a microwave motor from Ebay, which is geared down to 4rpm, and has a vertical spindle.

I also used a mains-rated rocker switch, a quarter-inch nut, some flat spade connector thingies, an extension cable (it worked out cheaper than buying cut cable and a plug) and a cheap trinket box to mount it all in. I also used a ten-foot length of thin pine dowel.

I used normal hand and small power tools - drilI (with a selection of wood bits), rotary tool with a sanding bit, wire cutters, pliers, screwdriver and glue gun.

Step 2: The Motor

The spindle of the motor needs to be roughly central in the lid of the box, for balance.

I cut a hole to shape, starting by drawing round the motor, then drilling a series of holes around inside that line.

The sanding bit on the rotary tool finished things off, and let me add a slope inside the lid to allow access to the motor's contacts.

Step 3: The Switch

I fitted the switch in the end of the box in much the same way as the motor, but using a smaller drill-bit, and I used a sharp knife to square off the corners.

The switch was push-fit, but I also added a bead of hot-glue inside later, just to be certain.

Step 4: Nut!

I fitted a quarter-inch nut in the bottom of the box, wedging it tightly in a drilled hole, then adding a bead of hot-glue.

"Quarter inch" is a standard fitting for tripods, usually allowing cameras to be screwed in place.

My tripod uses a "quick fit" plate, which fixes to the camera (or kite flying machine) by the same standard bolt.


Step 5: Power!

The microwave motor runs off (UK) mains power, so I need to get the power to the motor.

I used a cheap extension cable, because it was cheaper than buying cable and plug separately.

I just chopped off the sockets, threaded the cable through a hole drilled in the back of the box (half way along, for balance), and connected the motor and switch with the flat spade connector things.

The extension cable had an earth lead (US = "ground") in it, but there was no earth connection on the motor, so I used the excess earth lead to connect switch and motor.

Step 6: Glue

When I was happy everything worked, I added beads of hot-glue to anchor things in place.

Step 7: The Flying Arm.

So far, we have a motor in a box.

To add the arm that will do the work, I cut a block of scrap timber.  I drilled a vertical hole to push-fit and hot-glue to the spindle, and a notch across the top to lay the dowel in.

I also added four small wood-screws to clamp the dowel in place.  I did not put them through the dowel, so I can adjust its position if needed.

I also drilled a hole in a lump of ply wood.  When the dowel sticks out a long way in one direction, it needs balanced by a bit of weight on the short end.

Step 8: In Action

I took a quick video with my microkite.

I couldn't use it indoors, because the arm is too long for my house (I plan to use this to display in halls), and the weather was a bit bad for microkites (they're affected by almost any turbulence), but at least you get to see how it goes.

Step 9: Improvements

The flying machine works well, but it could be better:

I would consider replacing the dowel with a length of bamboo, which would droop less.

The motor I used did 4rpm, which is fine for miniature kites, but a bit slow for micro-kites.

I am going to be using this to display kites indoors, so using mains power is fine.  If you want to use it outdoors, you may want to use a DC motor and batteries.

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    26 Discussions

    Thank you!

    The largest I've seen on similar machines is only about 15cm across. Just guessing, but maybe larger kites create too much lift?

    please NEVER use earth cable for anything except earth wiring. It is illegal in most countries & a potentially very dangerous thing to do. Other than that a neat little idea.

    1 reply

    Since I'm the only one using this, and (more importantly) you can see both ends of the piece of wire, I reckon its fine. The cable itself is up to the job, the only issue is the colour-coding.

    If you do this, and are concerned, you can use a different sleeve, maybe heat shrink or insulation tape.

    What about a lightweight fishing rod from your friendly recycle center? Lightweight, collapsible AND cheap..

    1 reply

    Perhaps use a carbon fibre or glass fibre truss rod from another (or broken, heaven forbid!) full size kite. they are very strong and light, and don't droop too much over a sensible length....

    1 reply