August 30th
written by Bullet-Point Ben

Making your own kite might sound a little dorky.

However, a few points to consider:

  • This kite is 6 feet tall and 5 feet wide.
  • It’s called a Rokkaku.  Rok for short.
  • It’s a Japanese fighter kite
  • It can easily lift a camera for taking pictures
  • It has an angry face on it.

A point of clarification: those are angry eyebrows not slanted eyes.  This is not a racist kite.

The whole thing started when I learned that the Rokkaku kite is more or less the ideal kite for kite aerial photography. They cost at least $100, but I found this site with plans for how to build your own. It sounded like a lot of fun.

Construction quickly fell prey to what I call “2x+1” psychology, most commonly seen in building your own house or planning a wedding:

  • 2x: Since we’re building a house anyway, let’s make it 2 stories.  Twice the square footage and it only costs a little bit more.
  • +1: Since we’re building a house anyway, we might as well put in cherry cabinets and granite counter tops

In this case I decided that I might as well build an enormous kite if I was going to build a kite and I might as well put a design on it if I was going to go to all the trouble of making it.  Just like weddings and house construction it quickly got out of hand. I’m not sure how long it took to make it, but definitely longer than I expected.

Total cost was about $100, but only about $20 if I “prorate” it.  By that I mean that I have enough material and supplies left over to make another 3 rokkaku’s, a parachute, a tent, and several duffel bags.

Tuesday we finally had a chance to take it outside and fly it.  Initial flight attempts did not go well, the kite was totally unstable.  I believe the problem is that the top and bottom spreader spars are not precisely the same length.  Bowing them significantly mostly solved the problem for now.  Once that was taken care of, the kite took off into the air, pulling like a pack of horses.  We attached the camera and it didn’t even notice, just kept going up.  It’s a pretty cool feeling when you build something that actually works that well.

The camera setup:

I believe this type of photo is called an abstract.  Might make a nice wallpaper

Table Rock and the river.

My favorite kite photo so far, Boise River, downtown, and a bit of Table rock.  You can even see the little “waterfall” that’s so much fun when you float the river.  Very close to the Perfect Boise Picture I’ve been pursuing.

Not sure what the name of this canal is.  That’s us casting shadows

Oakmont subdivision


  1. Beth Scott

    Yay! I see you finally bought a sewing machine! Rok looks great…can’t wait to come fly him!

  2. 08/31/2008

    Yeah, I got a sewing machine, but I won’t be making my own clothes any time soon. It does come in pretty handy though, I’ve already used it to add loops to the side of my gym bag (to hang my lock and other paraphernalia on) and to fix the stake bag for our tent.