Tetrahedral Kite

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I'm what you call a first year sophomore at George Mason University. My building activities have...

Intro: Tetrahedral Kite

This project will tell you how to build a tetrahedral kite out of cheap household materials.

Step 1: Gather Your Materials

You will need:
*A lot of bendy straws. You will need 12 per cell of kite, so for the 16-cell kite shown, you will need 12x16=192 straws. Best make it 200 for the ones you will mess up on.
*Plenty of good ol' Scotch Tape. You may get by with a roll, if you are awesome, but I bought a three-pack.
*Twist-ties. Get these from garbage bag packets, or bread bags- you should have some around. You will need a fair number.
*Lifting surface. This should be thin and light, yet durable. Grocery bags work, as do garbage bags, good tissue paper, wrapping paper, mylar, chip bags, you get the idea. This is where the colour will come from, so go all out here.
*Kite String. Salvage it from an older kite, or buy it. Don't bother getting the nice stuff, the kind you get with a $2 kite from Wal-Mart works great.
*Dowel (optional)- If you are building a very large kite, this can add some stability.
Tools you will need:
*Scissors

Step 2: Make the First Triangle

Take three bendy straws. Put the short ends of them into the long ends as shown to make a triangle. This can be a bit tricky, the best way I've found is to flatten the end and fold it in half- this makes a skinny bit to help you stick it in.

Step 3: Make the First Cell

Repeat step 2 to three times so you have four of these triangles. Then, using tape, construct a tetrahedron as shown.

Step 4: Wind Surface

Cover two adjacent cells with your lifting surface material. In the end, you should wind up with something like this. This is your first cell.

Step 5: Make the Remaining Cells

Repeat this process as many more times as you want your kite to be big- pictured here are four and sixteen-cell kites. Attach the cells together at their points with the twist ties. It's ok if it's a little wonky- just try to keep it generally straight. Make sure to align the covered surfaces all in the same direction as shown.

Step 6: Add More Support (optional)

If you make a particularly large kite (16 or more cells) the staws will no longer be strong enough to support it. Run a thin dowel along the leading edge of the kite (the side with the covering where you will attach the sting in the next step.)

Step 7: Attach String

Take a piece of kite string about three times the length of one edge of the kite. Attach it to the kite at the points shown. Attach the rest of the sting to this loop so the kite flys approximatly parallel to the ground. Alternatly, if you have reinforced the structure with a dowel, attach a single line about a quarter of the way down the edge, and the kite should balance itself.

Step 8: Go Fly It!

You will want a clear day and a medium strength, steady wind. Have someone hold the kite, let it catch the wind, and enjoy! This kite won't take a lot of abuse, so try to keep the landings soft if possible.

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    11 Discussions

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    dan

    12 years ago

    wow! do you have a photo of it flying?

    5 replies
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    bemdudedan

    Reply 12 years ago

    Actually, not yet. This one was made as a sort of class project- hence the decorations- everyone made a cell. It hasn't been flown yet. But, rest assured, when it is, I will have pictures, and put them up. I should have pictures of some of the others I've made, but they are buried somewhere.

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    bemdudeimthatguy1125

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Forgot? No. This kite got put on display, and someone ripped it down and vandalized it. I'm making another one soonish for a class I'm teaching- and that one will be flown first thing.

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    kovessiz

    11 years ago

    Hi, have a look at my site - http://kovessiz.atw.hu - and you will find step-by-step pix of how i built a collapsible tetrahedron.

    Perhaps you're interested in a newspaper flowform kite, too. Step-by-step
    Fair winds,

    Zsolt KÖVESSI

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    dhammy

    12 years ago on Step 4

    In a tetrahedron, wouldn't ANY two cells be adjacent? ;) BTW, cool kite!

    1 reply
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    bemdudedhammy

    Reply 11 years ago on Step 4

    yes, in fact. the important bit is to cover only two.