Public Lab Wiki documentation

Kite making

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If you can't get balloons, helium, or if it's just too windy (more than about 5mph or 10kph wind) for #balloon-mapping, consider lifting a camera up on a kite. Kites are cheap and available through most of the world, and they're easy to build if you can't find one big enough.

(lead image by @elainechoi89 here)


You can make a really big kite for just a few dollars in materials -- anywhere in the world! You don't need to buy or waste helium, and kite makers are everywhere -- kids are especially good at it.

It's a fun activity, and flying kites over and over is free, unlike using balloons!


Most kites need at least 5-10mph (10-15kph) wind, unless you use a design for very light winds -- and most need a bit more to carry a 200g camera very high.

Kites that are very efficiently designed can fly at a high angle -- more vertically. But if yours has lots of drag, it may fly at a lower angle -- more diagonally from the ground.

You need wind.

Design constraints

Kites can be designed for many purposes, but some things to balance are:

  • cost and local availability of materials
  • time/complexity of construction
  • portability when not flying (does it fit in a car? a plane?)
  • light-wind flying qualities
  • heavy-wind flying qualities
  • overall size and lifting ability

Where do conversations happen

The grassrootsmapping list -- subscribe in the left-side column!


Add an activity  or request an activity guide you don't see listed

Activities should include a materials list, costs and a step-by-step guide to construction with photos. Learn what makes a good activity here.


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  • What types of data does the method produce (visual, numeric, graphs, charts)
  • How to access the data, where is it kept, maintained, accessed, who can get it
  • How does the data compare to other commercial methods or governmentally recognized methods?

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Updates on kite making

Lots has been published on this site about kite making over the years; some of this may be adaptable into activities to be listed above:

Title Author Updated Likes Comments
Quantifying the effect of a weighted tail on kite stability @ecta64 almost 3 years ago 0
Replicating a 37 year old kite anemometer @ecta64 about 3 years ago 0
High wind range tailless sled kite design @ecta64 over 3 years ago 0
Curved Spar Sled Kite @ecta64 over 3 years ago 0
Kite Construction: How bad can it get? @mathew over 3 years ago 1
Stormy O. Weathers' Horned Allison- towards a kite wind speed meter @mathew almost 4 years ago 1
Tyvek+Bamboo Kite Workshop at Pfizer Building (Brooklyn, NY 6/29-30/2012)) @elainechoi89 almost 7 years ago 1
Inspirational deltas @mathew almost 7 years ago 0
Easy Cut Delta Kite simplification @danbeavers about 7 years ago 2
easy cut delta kite plans @mathew about 7 years ago 3
Repairing a kite's stick with a fiber glass safety marker @pablo about 7 years ago 0
Diamond kite bridles @lfamular over 7 years ago 0
Towards a standard diamond kite kit @lfamular over 7 years ago 0
call it Delta, maybe @astoicof over 7 years ago 2
Tyvek Fleds, Theoretical & Actual Performance @mathew over 7 years ago 0
splitting bamboo for kites @mathew over 7 years ago 1
Towards a Tyvek & Bamboo Delta Kit @mathew over 7 years ago 0
Easy Kites for Kite Trains @mathew over 7 years ago 0
Mylar delta kite design @warren over 7 years ago 3
Prototyping a kite for kids @oscarbrett over 7 years ago 2
DIY Light Delta kite (Rogallo wing) @Safidy over 7 years ago 2
Lima, Peru: Kite Making/Ballon Mapping Workshop, U. of San Marcos @anita almost 8 years ago 7
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