The View Up Here

Random scribblings about kites, photography, machining, and anything else

Archive for February, 2011

When Life Gets Busy

Posted by Tom Benedict on 24/02/2011

Life has been busy.  Late last year I was called to jury duty, which started mid-January.  I won’t go into any details, though I’m officially off the hook and can speak freely about the trial now.  Suffice it to say it was long, ugly, and ate up far too much time.  In the middle of all this we’ve been building scale models of our facility at work in order to do some fluid dynamics tests on them before we modify our building.  At the same time the Telescopes from Afar conference has been looming large on the horizon.  Over the last week, everything finally hit at once.  Needless to say I haven’t done much KAP in the past few weeks, and though I’ve now got three short stories in the pipe, none of them are ready to share.

A couple of weeks ago we did our first dunk test on our water tunnel model.

Water Tunnel Model - In Tank

Since making this photo I’ve added turbulators to simulate the weld joints in our dome (0.004″ nylon monofilament threads CA glued onto the outer surface of the dome), and a bunch of detail parts one of our engineers made using a 3D printer.  Along the way I made some 7″ inside ring gears on the CNC mill along with the mating pinion, we made the remaining domes that have variations on the vent geometry from the one shown here, and a whole host of other changes that would be too long to list.  Everything went in the shipping crate last night, then promptly came back out when we discovered we were 70 pounds over weight.  This morning everything went back into two separate crates and went out the door.

Shortly after I started work on my poster for the Telescopes from Afar conference that starts Monday.  Two and a half hours later the poster was done, and I started the process of installing print drivers for our new photo plotter.  I’m still trying to get the drivers installed two and a half hours later.  There’s something fundamentally wrong with this, but I haven’t put my finger on it yet.

Telescopes from Afar 2011 Poster

The poster isn’t my finest work, but considering the time frame it’s not bad.  I even did the photography of the computer and phone in the two and a half hours I had available.  Right now done sounds better than great.  I’ll settle for done.  If I can’t get the driver loaded in the next few hours I’ll have someone else print it from their computer.

Monday the conference starts, and the following Saturday I fly to Seattle to use the University of Washington water tunnel facility.  Between now and then I hope to get at least one KAP session in and finish at least one of the short stories I’m working on.  If I can swing it I might even get code loaded on a little Arduino-based KAP controller I’ve been working on.  We’ll see.  For now I’ll settle for a good night’s sleep and a morning without anxiety attacks over pending deadlines.

– Tom

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A New Machine

Posted by Tom Benedict on 15/02/2011

Late last year I wrote a post about our aging Brother sewing machine, and the Singer Millennium I found at the transfer station.  To make a long story short, neither machine is in my house any more.  I had an explosively bad session on the Brother, and my wife said enough is enough.  We dumped both machines, pooled our money and all the gift certificates we got for Christmas, and bought a mid-range Janome that was being closed out.

I love this machine! It’s head and shoulders above anything I’ve used since my mother’s older White and my grandmother’s pre-WWII Singer.  And much as I hate to compare my new Janome against those elegant machines of a bygone era, it holds its own against them.  Within the first couple of days I fixed a kite bag I hadn’t been able to fix before, made a new pocket for the Fled, did some repairs on some other kites, and modified a big light baffle for work.

Over the weekend I figured the time had come to make something entirely new.  I had a bunch of Dacron lying around, so I got nylon webbing, a stack of D-rings, some snaps, and some carabiners, and I made sand anchors for the kids.  A sand anchor isn’t hugely difficult to make.  It’s a square of cloth, in this case 12″ on a side, hemmed all around, with nylon straps extending out diagonally from all four corners.  In use a sand anchor is buried in sand, the four straps are brought together and clipped, and a kite is then tied off on the clip.  It’s a simple project, offers lots of instant gratification if it works, and produces something useful.

I made two of them to begin with, and still have material for a third 12″ anchor for my older daughter, and a 24″ for me.  The machine performed beautifully.  Where the nylon webbing extends past the corners there are six layers of Dacron, four layers of 3M tape, and the nylon webbing itself.  The machine barely acknowledged how thick it was.  It just kept punching stitches through.  No problems with jamming, or uneven stitches, or any of the problems that plagued our old machine.  In the end I had two not so bad looking anchors and two happy kids.

We went to the beach on Sunday, and while the kids played in the water I launched one of my kites and tied it off to one of the anchors I’d made.  There wasn’t much wind, and I can see I’ll need the 24″ anchor to hold down one of my KAP kites.  But it worked!  And clean-up and pack-up was a snap.  I’m pleased as punch with them.

So what’s next?  Time to use the machine for what we got it for: making kites.  My wife has her heart set on a 12′ Delta Conyne.  Here we go!

– Tom

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KAPing Near Water

Posted by Tom Benedict on 08/02/2011

Over the weekend the family and I went to Hapuna Beach State Park on the west coast of the island.  The last time we went was several weeks earlier when a storm surge off of a weather system to the west of us was making some really big waves.  We watched the waves from the cliffs, but didn’t venture down to the surf.  When we went back on Sunday the waves were more manageable, but it looked like most of the sand had washed out.

This is typical of the winter wave pattern, but I’d never seen it this bad.  Only a month or so previous, we were able to fly our two line sport kite on the resort side of the beach without getting our feet wet.  I flew on Sunday, but to get the room I needed I had to stand thirty feet or more offshore.  It worked, so I decided to do some kite aerial photography, too.

I knew the view I wanted.  My goal was to get the camera centered over the beach, aiming south toward the state park end.  But to get that view I had to go a lot farther out than the thirty feet or so I went to fly the sport kite.  By the time I got to the spot I wanted, waves were coming up past my waist.  No big deal for sport kiting, and not really a big deal for single line kiting, either.  But the radio transmitter I use to control my KAP rig doesn’t like salt water.  I had to keep it dry.

KAP on the Edge

These photos describe the conditions better than any words I might write.  They also describe why I sometimes laugh when people tell me the only way to take a kite down is to stake it, walk it, and wind the line on the ground.  Mmm…no.  Sometimes you have to improvise.

Hapuna Winter Waves 1

But I got the photo I was after.  All in all, a really good day.

– Tom

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