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Kite Mapping

Kite mapping is similar to [balloon mapping](/wiki/balloon-mapping), but uses kites to lift cameras to take aerial photographs. With kites and a 5-20 mph wind, many of the objectives of balloon mapping are possible without helium or balloons. If you want to map a site with consistent winds, you may be in luck! Kite Aerial Photography [has a large and active community of practitioners]( which is focused on high-performance kites that can lift large loads and/or fly in very light winds. Here, we're especially focused on [We sell a kite mapping pack with two kites and a lot of tails to help you get going.]( ### Towing kites Kites can also be used in large flat areas with no power lines or trees, such as on oceans or lakes, beaches, or deserts, by towing them behind a boat, car, or bicycle. Keep in mind that going downwind will drop the speed of your kite. ## Activities [activities:kite-mapping] **** ## Questions [questions:kite-mapping] **** ## Choosing a kite ### Commercial kites Kite Aerial Photographers, or KAPers, often select expensive kites which can lift large weights, and many use heavier, customizable cameras such as digital SLRs with remote control targeting or stabilization. If you just want to put a camera in the air for the lowest cost and highest reliability, we recommend a few different relatively inexpensive kites, paired with the [PET Bottle Rig](/wiki/pet-bottle-rubber-band-rig). We sell two kites and a 15' Fuzzy Tail for high-wind flying, together as [our Kite Mapping Pack]( [9ft. Dazzle Delta]( is only $46 and a very good, easy flier. It doesn't pack down very small, but is a very affordable and high quality light wind kite. [7ft. High Sky Delta]( is only $30 and a great complement to the Dazzle Delta, providing easier flying in high winds. [Levitation Delta]( - ($65) 9 ft. wide - a strong and stable flyer in 7-20mph winds. In high winds it can take some effort to reel in, as it has a lot of lift. The spars all split in half and it packs down easily to 40." Good, high flying angle. Also available in 7 and 11 foot versions for high and low winds. [Zenith Delta]( - ($70) 7 ft. wide - This one is fantastic, a strong and stable flyer in even light winds (7mph). Not as much lift as the Levitation and it doesn't break down as small, but it is easier to handle in high winds. A great all-around kite. [Fled]( - ($110) stable, strong, very light-wind kite that flies at a line angle of 65 - 70 degrees. This kite is very quick to set up and simple to adjust. It flies in a wide range of conditions, and is a "go-to" kite for many KAPers. The high line angle is very useful for flying in tight spaces. [Gomberg Delta Conyne]( - ($37) - Harder to launch, and not great in light winds, but once it's in the air it's a stable flyer. A favorite of the Gowanus Conservancy in strong winter winds. [A chart for comparison]( ### Kite Making Making your own kite is great -- designs can range from easy and quick to bigger more ambitious one that can be more portable, stronger lifters, or light-wind flyers. > [Kite Making](/wiki/kite-making) **** #### Delta kites are a quick build, and very effective Mathew has [step by step instructions as well as a spreadsheet of dimensions for a quick-to-build DIY Delta Kite](/notes/mathew/7-19-2012/easy-cut-delta-kite-plans). This is a proven design that flies well. He uses tvvek and bamboo, but wooden dowels and plastic sheeting will work as well. [Astoicof wrote great build notes and a PDF on using plastic sheeting to make a delta kite.](/notes/astoicof/9-12-2012/call-it-delta-maybe). Jeff Warren and kids at Parts and Crafts have gotten good results from a [mylar copy of the Dazzle Delta.](/notes/warren/7-18-2012/mylar-delta-kite-design). Safidy has been playing with [NASA's Kite Modeler](/notes/safidy/7-3-2012/nasa-kite-modeler) software and making [DIY deltas](/notes/safidy/7-26-2012/diy-light-delta-kite). #### Non-Deltas [Grassroots Mappers in Peru]( have [had good luck with plastic and bamboo kites.]( Mathew also made a series of [Tyvek and Bamboo Fled kites]( based on the designs of Brooks Leffler. The third has been extremely successful at lifting cameras to very high flying angles, and he can now recommend others to build the same. follow his instructions in the link above. Leo Famulari has notes on [kite bridle adjustment](/notes/lfamular/8-15-2012/diamond-kite-bridles) ### Other Kite Building Resources []( and the [Kitebuilder]( forums are great online resources. The book [One-hour Kites by Jim Rowlands]( provides excellent plans and construction details. [Dan Kurahashi's Japanese Kites, Concepts and Construction]( has more great plans, great charts on predicting lift, and some excellent instructions on making plastic bag kites. ### Published literature pertaining to KAP [Nathan Craig's Mendeley Group]( may require setting-up a free, public account....

Author Comment Last activity Moderation
adam-griffith "Thanks, Liz. I have used Canon cameras before and gotten the lens errors and have also used CHDK. I agree that the a490 Canon is simple, but I am..." | Read more » about 3 years ago
liz "I personally love anything in the Canon S series (s90, s95, s100, s110, etc). I appreciate how with a half hour in front of a laptop, a little scri..." | Read more » about 3 years ago
tahnok " I was thinking for that price I might be able to crack one open to harvest it for parts, or maybe hook up an arduino to the output somehow. BUT th..." | Read more » over 3 years ago
cfastie "Hi tahnok, Those inexpensive anemometers seems to be missing an important feature of the expensive Kestrel and other fancy anemometers. They do no..." | Read more » over 3 years ago
tahnok " Have you done any test flights with some of the ~20$ anemometers you can find on Amazon to compare with the Kestrel? " | Read more » over 3 years ago
warren "@warren awards a barnstar to imvec for their awesome contribution! " | Read more » over 3 years ago
Bronwen "Just a word of caution: kites can be harder to maneuver if you're in an area with a lot of buildings and trees-- they typically require more space ..." | Read more » over 3 years ago
warren " There are a lot of designs up at #picavet - maybe one of them would be a helpful starting point? Also there are a LOT of designs up here: https:..." | Read more » over 3 years ago
warren " " | Read more » over 4 years ago
warren "I'm putting together a page on the AS220 sensors and want to list this and another on there -- I hope that drives some interest in the SkyPod and o..." | Read more » over 4 years ago
zengirl2 "@cfastie well isn't that NASA item a bit complicated. Here's an Instructable that mentions that process." | Read more » almost 5 years ago
cfastie "Thanks Zengirl. I don't think you can buy a NASA Aeropod. You can license the technology from NASA and manufacture them, but I don't know if anyone..." | Read more » almost 5 years ago
zengirl2 "First, your video is awesome and I'm glad you explained the lines from pulling in the kite. I really like the look of the NASA anemometer--what is ..." | Read more » almost 5 years ago
cfastie "A goat is way better than brown M&Ms. But that is not exactly my motivation here because I'm sure everybody reads my research notes extremely ..." | Read more » almost 5 years ago
warren "Hi, Chris -- great post as usual! I do have to ask about your comment regarding chemtrails -- I strongly suspect you put that there to see if anyo..." | Read more » almost 5 years ago
cfastie "It would be fun to try an Aeropod. I couldn't find any details about the instruments, but it looks like an awesome contraption to fly. " | Read more » about 5 years ago
warren "Hi, Chris, I think it's possible we could get a wind profiler "payload" for the (patented) Aeropod sent out, which has a Kestrel attached. If so, m..." | Read more » about 5 years ago
cfastie "A pitot tube measures air pressure and uses fancy math to relate that to wind speed. I assume the ones on airplanes work better than the Rev P. " | Read more » about 5 years ago
warren "Yeah it reminds me of the things (pitons?) used to measure windspeed from the leading edge of an airplane. Uhhhhh bootstrapping? :-) " | Read more » about 5 years ago
cfastie "I decided not to drop into the rabbit hole of applying time series analysis to these data. There does appear to be some periodicity present, but I ..." | Read more » about 5 years ago
warren "Sorry to miss some of this as I was away last week, and just catching up again now. This looks really great! Sorry if I missed it, but were you abl..." | Read more » about 5 years ago
cfastie "I have a hypothesis about the different results obtained with two BME280 sensors on the flying rig. A difference of 3° to 4°C is more than should b..." | Read more » about 5 years ago
cfastie "Yes, the newer Rev. P sensor works better in high wind because it has a strong heater so the wind can't cool it off too fast. But the older Rev C s..." | Read more » about 5 years ago
warren "Hi, Chris - this is so great. I had just been talking with folks at NASA Globe and the AREN project about wanting to test a datalogger with one of ..." | Read more » about 5 years ago