Kite-balloon prototyping

We’ve had a lot of trouble with winds between 5-10 mph, where it’s not enough for a kite, but too much for a balloon… so this weekend at WhereCamp a few of us designed and built a hybrid kite-balloon, which we named Black Knight 1, made from a 99-gallon trash bag.

Sadly, after a lot of careful work, it immediately exploded! But in fact it made a pretty passable large sled kite, even after falling apart. So we learned a lot, and are moving forward on the Black Knight 1.1. I encourage anyone interested to tackle this problem, since it just takes a lot of plastic and packing tape! Basically it’s a balloon which acts as an airfoil, so that instead of a light wind pushing the balloon down onto the ground again, it provides lift and flies more vertically.

We really need an ‘open source’, easy-to-build design for a kite-balloon! Read more about the concept and upload pictures and notes from your own experiments at Helium Kite page on the Grassroots Mapping wiki.

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