These small kites are great for kite trains, kiddie amusements, or just
filling the sky with lots of kites. This plan is simple, and details and
suitable for children with perhaps a little help from a older brother, sister
uncle, dad, whatever. The initial kite however can be flown by children of all
ages. My own nephew (age 9) has no problems with building a small stack of
these kites after being shown the steps, once through.
As they are very cheap I do not mind if the kids "let go" accidentally,
and they are light enough that they will fly in the lightest of winds, The
long tail however allows the kite to fly even if the kids run all over the
place with them, as they are apt to do.
The plan may seem long, but that is because I try to offer lots of ideas
suggestions, and diagrams thought the plan. Really the kites are very very
simple to make, so please don't be put off by size of the plan you see
As an alternative for this plan, a similar one (slightly less complicated, but
less detailed too) is The MBK Tiny Tots Diamond
from a fellow Australian Kite Flyer. Note he is
a bit more commercial.
Materials (Simple and Cheap)
This diamond kite is basically a white kitchen tidy bag with bamboo BBQ
skewers. However the main component that makes this kite work is a
dihedral angle joint made from a short bit of "Balloon Stick". This is
used in the same way that many kite books suggest for a dihedral made
from aluminium tubing, bent in the middle, to create an angle.
Balloon Sticks are the cheap plastic tubes, to which balloons are tied
to a plastic balloon holder on one end, at fetes and other public events.
If you go to such an event you will find handfuls of these sticks
thrown away after the balloon has burst. One such event will yield you
enough balloon sticks for hundreds of diamond kites, now and in the
future. If you must buy them you can find a source at basically any
party shop in packets of 100 to 1000 or more!
You can build this kite without balloon stick (for the diahedral), but the
kite flys better with one. How to build the kite in this form is marked
Having explained the most important part of these kites, (and more on
this below), let's list the parts required, for a single kite.
- Kitchen Tidy Bag Plastic
These bags come on rolls of 25 to 60 bags, in white plastic. I recommend
you look for the cleanest looking you can find with the smallest amount of
advertising on them. You could also use the shopping bags the
supermarkets seem to love to give you every time you shop, though that get
very wrinkled in the process.
- 25cm Bamboo BBQ Skewers (4 per kite)
Make sure that are at
least 25cm long, usually sold in packets of 100 for under a dollar, again
at the supermarket.
- 5cm of Balloon Stick (ridged plastic tube - see above)
about 5cm is needed for each kite so even bent and broken balloon sticks
can still provide enough for 5 or so diamond kites.
Note A number of people have sent alternatives to this part. See
the section on the dihedral below.
- 3 meters of Plastic steamer for tail
This I find is the most
expensive part for me as I like to use Plastic Surveyors Pegging Tape sold
in fluorescent colors from the local hardware, in 50 or 100 meter rolls.
But there are lots of cheaper alternatives so see the tails section below, including a colorful streamer made
from an old bread bag.
- Twisted Nylon 'Netting repair' line.
In large fishing and
marine shops you can find 500 meter rolls of thin twisted nylon line which
is sold for repairing fish netting. One roll for about 5 dollars is enough
for about 150 kites, with 30 meter kite lines. But you can also use some
other light 'not fuzzy' string, or thicker sewing thread. Or next to
unbreakable nylon sewing thread.
- Wire Twist
A bit of wire to tie the balloon stick to the
longeron. I myself like using telecom phone wire, which you can get
handfuls of from the phone company working in street, or from old
buildings. The twist ties with the thick plastic coating removed should
also work fine too. NOTE: the wire should be easy to twist, IE no too
Hot glue had also been found to be an alternative.
- Scotch or Masking Tape
I suggest you avoid the really cheap
scotch tape as it seems to go yellow and flake away from the plastic after
a month or two. Scotch (magic) tape seems to keep on working unless you
drag it though the sand on a beach. Try and get the extra wide rolls (2cm
wide) if you can, as it makes taping the spars so much easier. Masking
tape is also good and much stronger, but can look ugly, on the finished
kite when flying in the sky.
Even with all the above materials, the cost for about 100 diamond kites works
out to about $20-$30 here in Australia. Most of that for the tails. So in the
end the cost per kite is very very cheap.
Cut Out the Kite Sail(s)
I first made these diamond kites as part of a kite arch following the AKS Kite Arch Plan
continued to use the same plan for the diamond kites when I later wanted to
build a kite train, using plastic for my prototype to avoid the more (200
times more!) expensive ripstop.
Make a cardboard/paper/plastic template of the above diamond, 40cm x 40cm with
cross spar 1/5th (8cm) from the top. If you also make a small hole at the
spar cross point, you can also mark that position when you mark out the
patterns onto the plastic.
Cut off the bottom of a kitchen tidy bag, (or shopping bag) and down one
side of the bag to give you a large sheet of plastic. Tape this flat to
your workbench. Layer more plastic sheets, over the first, if you are making
lots of kites.
Using your template, and a fine tip permanent pen, mark the four corners
and the spar cross point onto the plastic sheet. Repeat as many times as
you can, preferably without any of the advertising that the manufacturers
seem to like printing on the bags. The diagram below shows how I
layered out my diamond templates.
Cut out the sails, using a sharp craft knife. Fold the sail twice into rough
quarters at the spar cross point (which you marked using the template) and cut
off the folded corner in a arc to make a small hole (1-2cm diameter) for the
bridle. Actually you could probably skip this step, and later punch the
bridle line though the sail, but I prefer to make the hole anyway as it stops
the bridle line from distorting the sail.
You should now have a stack of 6-8 sails. Cut more, if you want, while you
are at it.
: How I actually cut out a stack of diamond kite
'skins' is to take two or three plastic bags ("Multix Kitchen Tidy
Bags"), which only have a small patch of advertising in the corner), cut
off the bottom and slit it down the fold closest to the small advertising.
Lay the bags on top of each other, so the advertising is all on top of each
other, and squash the air out from between the bags with a ruler. I then fold
the plastic sheets over along their longest length (half way between the bags
original top and bottom. Hint:
putting a heavy ruler along fold
temporarily makes this easier. Tape (or pin) the bags in place, then layout
the template 4 times (see figure below). A sharp craft knife can then be used
to cut out the 16, 24, or even 32, diamond kite sails in one sitting!
Decorate the sails
The title says it all. With permanent felt tip marker pens decorate the sail
with whatever design you like. Get your kids to help, though it is easier
if you lightly tape the 'skin' to your workbench before you let them at it.
The only problem I have with permanent markers, in general, is that you can
only easily get them in primary colors, red, green, blue, black, however if
you look in art shops and some news agencies you can often get other colors
like greens, yellows, orange, brown etc.. Be sure to 'paint' in a well
ventilated area, or you could get a headache from the fumes these pens give
off. Also if painting large areas ensure it drys well (at least an hour) as
some of these pens remain sticky for quite some time.
I like drawing a different pattern onto each of the kites in a batch. As
I am not an artist, I cheat! What I do is find clean looking pictures,
clip-art, sketches, icons, etc., from web sites all over the world, and
enlarge them to just fill an A4 page, or letter page for the Americans.
I then put that page underneath the plastic kite sail, follow the image
with a black permanent pen, and then use other permanent pens to color
it in. Quick, simple and lots of ideas and designs around.
For example, the "Dinosaur Hatching" photo to the left shows a printout I used
to trace the kites design. This sketch was found on "Mark Kistler's Drawing Web
Site!" (now offline).
As an another example, the dragon to the right is one of my favourite diamond
kite designs. The image is one frame of a dragon animation by Kevin Palivec, an
internet dragon artist (now offline).
And as a final example, the source image for the gecko kite (at the top of the
page) is from an icon image from my own Anthony's X window Icon Library
The image was of course greatly enlarged and graphically "smoothed" before
I now have a large folder of image printouts to allow me to create a huge
range of diamond kites, without repeating a pattern in a single batch of
kites. Some of these can be found (unsorted) in the "Patterns
" Sub-directory of this plan. To the right
are more examples of diamond kite designs I have created in the past.
Permanent pens also works great on ripstop. If you use with them on the
'smooth' side of the fabric, it will not be absorbed into the weave. Also with
a thick tip black pen, you can 'paint' large areas of the ripstop. If you
repaint the area two to three times, leaving it to dry between fills, you will
get the darkest black areas on your ripstop, without the use of appliqué
and is also water resistant. I used this with great success on my own kite arch
Cross Spar Dihedral
From a balloon stick (which are usually white but mine are blue), score and
snap off a 5cm length. Hold both ends of the 5cm plastic tube of the balloon
stick and while pulling on both ends, put your thumb into the center of the
stick to bend it slowing. Do NOT use your thumb nail!
Alternativally, you can use two bamboo skewers which has been marked 2.5cm
from the ends. Insert the skewers into both ends of the tube so the
two meet in the middle (use the marks to gage this). You can then
use the skewers to slowly bend the balloon stick. Do not do this too
fast or you will snap the tube, particularly in cold weather, slow and easy
is the trick.
The trick here is to stretch the underside of the stick (see lower part of
the photo) but without puckering or indenting the top (inside of bend)
of the stick (top part of photo). This is very important if you want your
kite to withstand a higher wind, or sudden really big gust without folding
up double. The puckering weakens the bend considerably as I have found
from months of experience with these kites.
Jeff Jaeckels <email@example.com> reports that heating a balloon stick
with a hot air blow dryer, allows the tubes to stretch and bend that much
easier and more precisely, but as I live is a warm climate, I have not had
any problems as long as I bend it slowly.
I have found one balloon stick can yield about 8 to 10 plastic dihedrals,
which considering that the sticks are normally thrown away, is great value.
You may however buy balloon sticks in party and balloon shops, though I
never have needed to.
- Alternative Dihedrals:
- John Cunningham <firstname.lastname@example.org> found that a little plastic
gadget used in a drip watering system worked perfect instead of the
balloon stick to form the dihedral.
- You could also slightly bend a thin aluminium or brass tube for for the
dihedral but this is much more expensive.
- No Dihedral Option:
- If you can't find a balloon stick you can still make
this kite without it. It will just not fly as well but it should still
work. Just skip this whole section and see the "No Dihedral Option"
Preparing the Spars
Take the four 25cm bamboo skewers you will be using for your diamond kite
and with a craft knife bevel the square, non-pointy, ends of the skewers.
After that use a bit of fine sandpaper and smooth the end to a rounded
finish. You can see this rounded end in the photo of the tapes spar below.
The purpose of rounding the ends of the skewers is to ensure that it can
not poke its way though the scotch tape you use to attach the spars to the
kite. Of course you don't have to do this for ripstop diamonds where you
use a multi-layered spar pocket, as in step 2 of the AKS Kite Arch
Take two of the bamboo skewers and with the points toward the center
measure them to form one long spar 39.5 cm long (5mm shorter than the
kite sails height). This will form the diamond kites longeron, also
called the kite's spine, or backbone. Using scotch (magic) tape or
masking tape, tape the two skewers together around the pointy ends so that
it is tightly held and can't stick into anything it shouldn't. See the
plan diagram above.
Wire the plastic dihedral you made from bending a balloon stick, to middle of
one of the skewers (IE: toward one end of the final spar, not where the two
skewers overlap. using telephone wire or twist tie. Look carefully at the
photos and diagram to see how I wire them together. Then using a pair of
pliers, tighten the wire while holding the balloon stick slightly bent. Not
too much or you will collapse and/or pucker the plastic tube, as I warned
The dihedral should angle up away from the spar, like the wings of a glider.
Upwards, not in the same plane as the spar. (See photo - click on it to get
the larger version).
Cut off the excess wire and fold it out of the way.
Instead of using a bit of wire to attach the dihedral to
the 'longeron' (or spine) of the kite, Peter Rodda
<email@example.com> (an 8 year old), reports that hot glue also
works well. You will however have to correctly position the dihedral as you are
gluing, as you can not slide it to the right point afterward. I myself have
used this method.
Option for Longer Lasting Kites:
Adding 'endcaps' such as used for wire
coathangers to the four ends of the skewers will help prevent the skewers
poking holes into the plastic sail.
As an alturnative, you can find some plastic tubing that are about the same
internal diameter as the skewers. Cut short 1cm lengths of this tubing, and
poke a hole into the side at the center of the short tubing. You can use
a sharp blade to make this hole an 'X' to enlarge. Push the end of the skews
into this hole, so the tube is perdendicular (right angles) to the skewer.
Later the sail will be taped over this smooth rounded tubing, rather than over
the end of the skewer, allowing a longer life span of the kite.
Tape Spars to the Sail
Tape the longeron (spine) to the decorated kite sail starting at the top of
the kite. The dihedral wired to the longeron should be at the same end.
Attach a 5-7cm length of tape (the wider variety if possible) to the front of
the kite and with the spar in place fold it over the corner of the sail, and
the end of the spar on the back. Press the tape to the kite sail really well
on both sides of the skewer. The harder the better. Then do the same with the
other end of the longeron.
When doing this try and tighten the sail, but not so much that it stretches,
If the scotch or masking tape you are using is not wide enough, tape another
piece of tape across the spar at the back to hold the first piece of tape in
If you wired the dihedral to the longeron, slide it so it lines up with the
hole in the kite sail. It you hot glued it to the spar, it should already be
in the right position.
Then with the other two bamboo skewers cut off the pointy end to form the
cross spars about 19.5 cm long (5mm too short). Then first
cut end of one of the skewers into one side of the dihedral, then
the sanded rounded end to the side corner of the kite sail, in the same way as
the longeron. Repeat with the other side, pulling the kite sail taunt.
The spars are intentionally a few millimetres too short so
that the corner plastic can also cover the rounded end of the skewer. This
also helps prevent the skewer punching though the scotch tape. The sanding
of the skewer ends also helps in this. Even so I still find the skewer will
still punch though every so often so keep that scotch tape handy when out
No Dihedral Option:
If you are making this kite without the balloon
stick tube dihedral, just tape the second two pairs of skewers together in
the same way you did for the longeron, tape them to the sail, then
that pair to each other in the same way as the dihedral is wired above. The
kite will fly fine, though a longer tail is recommended.
Knots for Kite flyers
Before attaching the bridle, I suggest you study various web page
available showing a number of knots used by kite flyers...
BRMRG Knot Review
Particularly look for and study the knots for
- "Figure-8" to make a large 'stopper knot' in a loops,
- "Larks Head" knots for attaching a loop at the end of the
flying line over a stopper knot. Note one site above calls this a
"Girth Hitch" but it is the same knot, just a different
- "Prusik Knot" for attaching a loop with a stopper knot to
the main bridle line. A special knot allowing it to be fixed in place
but still if 'unlocked' to be adjusted. (See the U-Prusik diagram
in "Kite Flyer's Knot
Bridling the Kite
Cut a length of about 60cm (not critical) of nylon twisted fish netting line
for the kites bridle. I suggest you use a cigarette lighter to cut the line so
as to prevent the line unraveling.
With a large needle (or a broken bamboo skewer) thread one end through
the sail (and scotch tape) 2cm from the bottom of the kite, and tie it
around the longeron (spine), pulling tight. Tie the other end around the
dihedral and longeron though the hole in the sail. The bridle line is of
course as with most kites on the front of the kite with the spars at the
Cut (burn) off a 10 cm length of nylon fish netting line, and make a
loop using a large figure-8 knot. This knot will be a stopper knot
which you can larks head the bridle line to.
Prusik Knot the loop onto the bridle line (See Kite flyers
Knots above for more info) and then adjust its position as shown in the
If you cut the bridle line about 60cm long before tying it to the kite, the
bridle point should be almost directly above the dihedral of the kite. The
kite is very forgiving of this point and will fly well on a badly positioned
bridle (important with kids).
Actually in a high wind I have found you could just attach the flying line
directly to the cross spars and have it work reasonably well, but I
recommend you use the above bridle arrangement, so it works in basically all
Later the kite line can be attach with a "larks head" onto the loops
'stopper knot' (see flying below).
Attach Loop with
Prusic Knot |
Stopper \ |
Knot \ |
\ | Kite
\ | Longeron
Tieing loop to bridle with Prusik Knot
Attach a Tail
For a tail I prefer to use fluorescent surveyors tape for attaching to
survey pegs. Your local hardware should stock it. A roll will provide enough
tails for lots of kites and comes in a lot of different colors. They also
look great. You could even use two different colors on the one kite.
Cut off a 3 meter length of plastic streamer and thread it behind the longeron
spar of the diamond, twice, at roughly the center of the streamer. You
do not need to tie a knot in the steamer, just loop it around the spar will
hold it in place. (See photo left).
This will give your kite a good 1.5 meter twin tail which will stabilise it.
Their are lots of other alturnatives however...
Take a bread bag, and cut off the bottom to make a long tube. Now put
the tube on your left arm (right if left handed), and while holding the
scissors just right you can have a partner slowly pull out a long streamer
from the bag about 2cm (1 inch) wide. That is the one long streamer is cut
from the bag going around and around in a helix.
Even longer tails can be made in the same way from a kitchen tidy bag or other
garbage bags, but one bread bag is just the right length (and colourful) for
these little diamond kites.
A simple solution for classrooms is to take a roll of crepe paper, and
with a heavy pair of sissors, just cut of streamer from the end of the roll
without unrolling it.
Chris Sandin emailed to say that an old VCR tape, that prehaps has been
eaten up by the video player will provide lots of tails. He also suggested
that you could ask at a video rental shops as they probably throw out a lot of
damaged tapes. However these are electrically conductive, and can short out
power lines - not that you should fly anywhere near such things!
Flying your New Kite
Tie a generous loop into the end of about 15 meters of that fish netting
nylon line (add a small pull handle to tip of the loop), and larks head this
to the stopper knot (see the Knots section above for
I usually tie the other end to a bit of cardboard tube (left over ripstop
fabric rolls :-), tieing it on, to give the kids a good handle to hang on
to. I also cut some slots into one end to hold the end of the line when you
wind it up and detach the kite.
Hint: After tying a generous loop in the end of your flying line
tie a very very small knot in the very tip of the large loop. This small
knot creates a small 'handle' which you can grab to very quickly untie
the larks head. This save you the frustration of try to use your
fingernails on such small and difficult nylon line when untieing it at
the end of the day.
The only adjustment that may be nessary is to slide the prusik knotted
bridle loop in the bridle line 5mm at a time, downward, if the kite does
large loops, or upward if the kite refuses to rise or wobbles side to
side. To adjust the bridle, "unlock" the prusik knot by pulling the
bridal line straight and sliding the knot. When positioned, pull on the
bridle loop while folding the bridle line in half at the knot, to
"lock" the prusik knot.
I rarely find any such adjustments are needed on the flying field. If
the knot is positioned just above where the spars cross, or maybe a little
further up from that point (See bridling) the kite flys perfectly. The
kite is very forgiving with a large range of acceptiable bridle points,
so a roughly positioned bridle should work fine. The kite even does not
mind kids which loves to run with the kite, especially when no wind is
available, and is a great way of wearing the ankle bitters out :-)
The original design is very light weight, even so it likes a light sea
breeze. Strong winds tend to make the kite loop and dive, and is very
difficult to get it to fly well in such winds. Here is a problem chart,
to try and help solve such flying problems.
Some times in a smooth, steady non-turbulent but strong wind, I move the
bridle all the way to the top so that the lower part of the bridle is
not used (all tension is on the upper bridle to the cross spars) and the
kite flys high and steady. This is not always the case though, it may work
with one kite but not another, experiment.
- Kite does not rise (does not loop just wobbles side to side)
- Bridle point is too low
--> move bridle loop up 5mm at a time until it rises.
- Tail is too long and heavy
--> try shortening it, or removing one half of the double tail.
- wind is too light for the kite (rarely with the plan above)
--> let the kids run with it, or try another day.
- Kite zooms upward then loops and dives, repeatally
- bridle point too high
--> move it down little by little
- wind is too strong
--> add longer and heaver tail, or try another day.
Diamond Kite Trains
I originally designed these cheap small diamonds for building a train of
diamonds kites and in light winds such a train works great. Make sure you
use a good strong line through where the spars cross, as 25 of these
little kites can add up to a huge pull. Don't forget to stake it down
Of course, with this huge pull, you will have to use a different bridle
arrangement. In my kite trains I use a very thick nylon builders line for
the top leg of the bridle, the main line, though venetian blind cord should
also be good. In long trains you may have to use even stronger line for the
lower parts of the train! It is through this leg that the huge pull of the
other diamond kites behind (and higher) is passed without damaging this
I also cut a separate segment of main line (builders line) for each kite,
about a meter long. This makes it easy to replace individual diamond kites of
the field (due to damage), shorten the train (due to that big tree downwind),
make the train longer (as you get more time), auction off each kite
individually (at the end of some big kite festival) or just to give that
particular diamond (with a bat picture or whatever on it) to some kid who
helped you out so much. IE: it makes the train a lot more flexible to the
situation you find yourself in.
A 'figure-8' stopper knot is added to the front end of this segment (See Knots above). In the other end, a generous loop is added
to allow this kite to larks head to the stopper knot of the next kite in the
About 20cm before the end loop of this segment I fold the line double, and
tie a knot to form a second smaller loop in the main line segment. This is
used to attach the kite to the main line, loosely.
The main line is threaded though the hole in the sail. The small loop is
then threaded on the diagonally opposite side of the crossed spars, around
the dihedral. The looped end of the main flying line is then threaded
though the small loop, so that the kite is now locked loosely to the main
line in that position.
____ loop to connect
@-----------------------@---@____) to next kite's
stopper || stopper knot
Loop to wrap
Only the main line itself actually goes through the loop. the two crossed
spars of the kite goes between the loop on one side and the main line on the
The loop should remain loose around the cross spar, just holding the kite
next to the main line, as it goes though the hole in the sail to the next
kite in the train. The kite then still free to adjust itself to the wind,
regardless of the tension in the main line. and can pass its own individual
pull to the main line via the small loop.
If loop was tight, or the main line was just tied directly around the
crossed spars, the heavy tension due to the kites further up the kite train,
could either pull the kite into an odd angle to the wind, or worse, crush
the crossed spars, to splinters. Yes 25 kites generate a lot of pull!
Also note that the small loop should not be so small that it can't go all
the way around crossed spars and dihedral. Nor should it be so big that
it will fall off the line segment during normal handling, before linking all
the segments together into the train.
Crossed Spars ---v
,;==:. Builders Line
// () \\ / ____
The lower leg of the bridle is the good old light weight fish netting line
as used for single diamond kites. This line is first 'larks headed' to the
upper leg, or main line, thus allowing adjustments to be made and tightened
into place. The lower end is then pushed through the sail 2 cm from the
bottom (not critical) and tied as normal to the spine (longeron) of the kite.
This thin line is used only to set this kites angle to the the main (builders)
line and does not carry the pull of the other kites behind this. Finally the
larks head then adjusted along the main line so that the angle 'A' (see the
above ascii-art) between the upper bridle and the kite longeron is just a
little bit greater than the 90 degrees (say about 100 degrees).
Thicker Larks Head |
Builders Line Knot | Cross spar (and small loop)
\ / |/ ____
Stopper \ A | Loop to attach to next kite
knot \ | (larks head to its stopper knot)
Thin \ | Kite
Nylon \ | Spine
Line \ |
The top most kite in the train is bridled in the normal (non-train) way. Its
purpose is to provide stability to the whole train, and during launch help
pull the rest of the train into the sky.
To help with this launch the line between the top kite and the second top-most
kite is usally much longer than the rest of the train. This allows you to get
that kite flying well, out of any ground turbulance, before letting the rest
of the train go up.
Other than that top-most kite stability is critical to a good train. A much
longer tail is recomeded, and the kite throughtly tested before hand for
stability. Often a bigger, stronger, and older kite is used for the top kite.
Also in many trains the selected top most kite is completely different to the
rest of the kites in the train!
Also as a train gets longer, the pull along that main bridle line gets bigger
and bigger! As such you may like to consider using a stronger line for the
lower part of the kite train. Nylon brilders line should be fine for a train
upto 25 kites, but I recommend going to venetian cord or a good quality dacron
line for the lower kites if you want to make it longer.
Err... Did I mention to tie you kite train down well, and have a helper at
hand. That pull gets strong fast!
Som a final note... Kite trains were used to set most of the world kite
altitude records. However in this case the kites were separated by a huge
distance, and the lower kites were flown so as to lift the weight of the kite
line rather than to work in a pretty sequence. Trains of this sort require a
very different, organisation. Each kite flys independantally with the main
kite line forking from its flying line lower down. This type of train however
is not generally recommended for kites with tails. However it can be done.
Remember the object here is to use the strong builders line to carry the
pull of all the kites behind (and higher in the sky) this particular kite.
Only the first (highest) lead kite would use the normal diamond kite bridle.
This lead kite should be a extra steady kite (diamond or otherwise) and I
usually put a extra segment of light flying line from end of the train to
the lead kite (see photos).
Overall Train Notes: The kites in a train should be spaced more that
the spine length of kite, preferable more than double that length. For these
40cm diamonds 1 meter is good separating distance. This can be more, and
there is no reason why it should be the same between all the kites in the
train, except posibly the topmost "pilot" kite.
Train by Debbie Kinchloe
(see Responses Page)
Notes for a Kite Class
The following are notes and suggestions for using this plan in a Kite Class
for school, scouts, guides, or whatever. The first few of these were
provided by Jane McDowell <firstname.lastname@example.org>, who substituted 1/8'th
inch dowel for the bamboo BBQ skewers. I have also added some comments and
- The kite should definitely be constructed indoors. I made the mistake
of taking the Tiger Cub Scouts to the location where we would fly our kites.
Even with minimal wind, the kite sails would blow off the picnic table.
- Any older kite builder available should show a demonstration of the
various knots (using a good length of rope). This would certainly be
great for scouting groups, since they learn about other knots not
normally used by the scouts. It would also be beneficial for
non-scouting groups, since it would be easier to see how the knots are
actually tied on a larger piece of rope or line.
The younger kids simply cannot tie these knots, so I tied all of the
knots and attached all of the lines.
The last thought I have is an organisational one.
- I found it much easier to preassemble 6-8 "kite kits" as opposed to
waiting for each boy to trace out his diamond, cut it out and then begin
decorating it. This could, however, have to do entirely with the age
Each "kite kit" contained the pre-cut sail, wire, the dihedral, a long
wooden dowel to be measured and cut, a 60cm length of line and 40m of
line already wound on a small handle.
Additional note from Anthony :- use a 6cm length of thick cardboard tube to
wind kite line onto. You can get lot of these from a fabric shop, either
by asking or looking around the back. A hacksaw cuts through the thick
cardboard tube easily. Also by cutting notches in the ends you can hold
the end of the line in place, and stop it unraveling when in you aren't
- The only items then to be dumped on the table for everyone to share are
the markers, tape and scissors, pliers to cut the dowel and sand paper
to smooth the ends. I think the older kite builders might enjoy
actually measuring out the sail and cutting it themselves.
- Note from Anthony :- To make the instructions simpler for a class
situation, I suggest you do away with the dihedral all together. Just use
a straight cross spar. This can be just tied, (or wired) to the longeron
(spine), and/or to stop it slipping up the longeron, glued applied to the
You can also do away with the complexity of the bridle. Just have the
kids tied the flying line directly to the cross spar, THROUGH the hole
in the kites sail. Note: you will find even with that instruction a
number of kids will tie the line from the back of the kite, which will
NOT work. So keep an eye out and make sure they do it right.
A longer tail is also recommended. A bread bag cut into one long strip (see
"Attach a Tail" above) will be fine for this.
Larger Diamond Kites
This plan can also be used for larger diamond kites, and in response to a
number of emails I have received, I present the following modifications...
To do this double or triple the above dimensions and substitute
the following parts, or variations...
- 6mm (or 1/4 inch) dowel, for spars. The longeron (or spine) will
be one piece, though you will still use two pieces for the cross
spars when creating a dihedral for the kite.
- No Dihedral Variation
- Instead of using a dihedral, or bowing the spar, you can just use
a straight piece directly, as your grandfather probably would have. The
kite will be stronger, but not as stable. You can compensate for this by
using a longer (and thus heavier) tail.
I do not recommend this, though it does work and may be better for
- Dihedral Tube
- Use a thin walled, brass or aluminium tube with the appropriate inner
diameter for your dowel. To bend this.. center the metal tube over a gap
in some wooden boards and tap a chisel with a hammer lightly in the
middle. Don't bend it too much. (See Dr Deleto's Eddy kite for
some details of this.
Alternitivally, insert some dowel into the tube and bend it the
same way you would with the balloon stick above. You may however
require a vice to hold one of the dowel.
- Sail or Kite Skin
- Ripstop is good, and you can sew it, hemming the edges to prevent
fraying, and add spar pockets with folded strips of ripstop. This allow
you to remove the cross spars for transport. It is however expensive.
Tyvek is also an excellent sail material:- it is easier to draw
on, allowing the use of plain crayons, felt tip pens, or cheap craft
paint you can get at the local news agent shops. It also does not
stretch, can be cut with scissors but will not tear; and it is water
proof. You can also glue or even sew spar pockets onto the sail!
Unfortunatally it is not as easy to get a hold of, is heavier. But is it
a lot cheaper than ripstop.
- Bowed Cross Spar Variation
- Instead of a dihedral you could also use a bowed crosspar...
Soak the dowel in water for 24 hours, then bend dowel using nails half
hammered into a bit of scrap chip board (or whatever) to hold the bend
while the dowel drys throughly. When dry the dowel will have a
permanent bow in it! You can do this with a group of dowel all
I myself have been lucky to find a dowel in the hardware shop which has
been standing so long the dowel has a bow in already. If you find such a
spar take it to the shop manager and see if you can make a deal! These
dowel are often un-sellable by the shop and the manager may let you
make a deal to take then of his/her hands ;-)
You can also bow a longish (over 1 meter) dowel with a 'bow line'
stretched and tightened from one end of the spar to the other, like a
bow as in 'bow and arrows'. You should be carful when doing than that
the dowel has no imperfections, or bowing too much with a very dry wood,
otherwise the dowel can shatter.
The following are other simple diamond kite making web sites you can try or
look at to find out more. Most have dissappeared, if you find one, let me know.
Dr Deleto's Eddy kite
For more information about peoples experience with building this diamond
kite, and what results they have achieved, I suggest you look at the
various Responses I have received. Many
thanks to all who have replied.
If like this plan, and/or build one, please mail and let me know what you
think. Including any ideas, suggestions or other experiences. That way I can
add them to the above so others can read and benefit from your results. :-)
Photos especially welcome!