Friday, January 29, 2010

Tuning your power kite for best performance.

How do I tune my power kite and why isn’t it already set up right from the factory?

So why isn’t your kite handles and lines pre-set from the factory? After all they should know what setting is best for the kites they are producing ... right??

The problem is that everyone has a different flying style, therefore there really isn't ONE setting that works for everyone. Some people hold the handles nearly perpendicular to the ground and others (like myself) hold the handles so the bottoms are almost always pointing at the kite. Because there could be over 4 inches or more of travel between the two positions you will almost always need to re-adjust your brake lines when switching from one pilot to another.

The best thing to do is just try a bunch of different settings until you find one that works best for your flying style. This is really easy to do and only takes a couple of minutes.

First, if you do not already have knots on your leader lines (the long lines running from your handles to where you attach your flying lines to) then tie a series of overhand knots about 1.5 to 2 inches apart starting with the first knot closest to the handles and moving outward to the ends of the leader line. Most power kites come with handles that have long leader lines on them so you can add in additional knots if needed.

If by some chance your leader lines are very short and you can't get 5 or 6 knots in them then add on 4 leaders appx. 12 inches long (one to each leader off the handles) and add the overhand knots to the new leaders. To make the leader extensions, get a length of leader line appx. 12-14 inches long, tie a loop in one end and larks head that loop to your short leaders on your handles. Basically your just extending the leaders out longer for more adjustments.

Now, the actual distance between the one knot to the next is not that important as long as the knots are EXACTLY EQUAL from the right handle to the left handle. If one knot is closer on one handle than the same knot on the other handle your kite won't fly straight.

Ok, we got our new leaders and a bunch of adjustment knots, lets start tuning the kite to your flying style.

Once you get your knots in your leaders, start by attaching your top lines to the furthest knot from the handles with the standard Larks Head knot. Attach your brake lines on the closest knot to the handles the same way. Fly the kite. This setting will usually make the kite feel very "heavy" (a term used when the kite just won't climb up to zenith and just stalls out). Basically when you pull on the top lines to launch, the kite heaves itself off the ground, stalls and drops back just wont fly and acts like there isn’t enough wind to launch. - Move the larks head knots on the bottom lines (brake lines) out to the next knot from the handles and try launching again. Keep moving the brake lines out each time until you find a setting that allows the kite to launch and fly with the best speed while still being able to safely stall the kite and brake it for landing. If you set your brake lines to far out (too loose) then you will not be able to stall the kite and land it, your steering will also suffer. If you adjust your brake lines all the way out and you are still stalling the kite to much, start adjusting your top lines in towards the handles and continue.

By placing the knots on the handle end it allows you to make simple adjustments to the kite without having to go to the kite each time. Changing your settings is super simple and only takes a couple seconds to do. The nice thing too is that in the event your lines stretch out you can make a very simple adjustment instead of having to re-adjust all your lines. This also helps for setting your kite up for different wind conditions. In stronger winds you may want to drop the brakes out a little so the kite races to the edge of the window faster. Stronger gusty winds will put a lot more force and resistance on the brake lines of your kites and may cause the kite to drop back into the power more. For lighter winds or gusty/turbulent winds you can bring the brakes in and stall the kite a little more so it doesn't overfly in the gusts.

With proper tuning of your power kite you can get the kite to perform at its maximum level and also make it easier to control. Remember that over time your flying lines may stretch out and this will change the amount of tension you have on your brake lines which could negatively effect the way your kite is performing. If your kite feels like it isn’t flying as good as it should, play around with your line settings and you may discover that you are choking the kites true performance. You may want to try adjusting your kite a little even though you might think it is perfectly fine. Many time people don't even realize they are choking their kites performance.

Hope this helps. If you need any more info on this just let me know.