My Ideal Winder?



  • Just my 2 cents worth here but winding under tension isn't just about the integrity of the winder. To me, more importantly, it is about damaging the line and weakening the line by storing it under tension.
  • edited November 2007
    >> ...damaging the line and weakening the line by storing it under tension.

    I have wondered about this. Does it really? Do you have any evidence to support the theroy that storing kiteline under tension will weaken it?
    I store my line under tension all the time. I've never noticed anything to indicate the line is being weakened by doing this, but then again how would you tell? Has this ever been tested?
  • edited November 2007
    Before I get too critical let me say I like the fine work you have done of the graphics. When I was nine years old my Father made me a winder like the one pictured out of two coffee can lids and a broomstick. I found it awkward to use under tension with a hard pulling kite and I'm sure I still would. I have seen ball bearing winders similar to this with only one handle and on the opposite side a strap that held the winder in the palm of the hand. While I have never used one it looks like it would be more stable than the two handled model.
    As far as tension goes unless the line is tied off tight to the real I would think the line would relax on its own and the tension would be released.
  • edited November 2007
    >>...I would think the line would relax on its own and the tension would be released.

    In some cases, yes, but when winding with a consistently heavy load, the layers of line with constant heavy tension prevent this from happening.
  • I know that when I walk down my kite by tieing it off and using a pully to bring down 400 feet or so when I get the kite down and disconnect the line it can shorten by as much as 20 to 25 feet or more as it relaxes. To me that is a lot of stretch to keep in the line as it is stored and seems to me to be also bad as you re- launch the next time. As for any evidence it is bad, I do know that a rubber band twisted up on my pendulum where I tuck my safety line deteriorates very quickly cause its always stretched. Bow hunters never store their bows tensioned. Model airplane fliers don't leave their rubber band motors wound up. I would never store a kite with the bow line in place, And never tug on supermans cape.
  • I don't think that storing braided Dacron under tension hurts it. I have a collection of big game fishing reels with some very expensive line on them that often gets reeled in at 20% of rated load. Some of the line has been on the reels for years and is still strong. Never heard of relaxing the spool for storage.

    Speaking of winders though, I have a powerful Penn 9/0 reel with 1200 yards of 200# Spectra line that I am tempted to try as a winder. Other than potentially amputating a hand, is there a downside to Spectra kite line?
  • Besides the serious handling issue you mention, Spectra can melt with friction, so rubbing against an obstacle can be a serious issue.
  • edited November 2007
    "Spectra can melt with friction" .... I say - change "can" for "does" to add emphasis. In KAP I often find myself allowing my line to touch obstacles while working around them, I could not do that with spectra.

    There are times too in KAP, and you never quite know when they are going to be, when all hell lets loose and the only thing to do is throw the reel to the ground and haul line fast. With spectra? Forget it.

    One of the keys very often for me, and most experienced KAPpers I know, is working with line off the reel and on the ground. You are working the rig around a subject with loose line off the ground and the reel is 30 yards away. I wouldn't risk that with Spectra.

    Also with nice soft black dacron braid with light winds and small kites you can dispense with gloves and do fingertip KAP, feeling the air movements, vibrations and really getting in tune with the system. I wouldn't be able to do that with Spectra.

    I would be worying about my rig attachments to the line as well.

    I tried spectra for KAP not long after it was developed for stunt kites. Didn't try for long.
  • I do agree with Craig that rewind the line without tension is the best practice.

    Materials used for lines: polyamid, polyester (dacron), Kevlar, polyethylene (Dyneema) can hold moderate tension all their life. Like steel, they are used under permanent loads on structures or special applications. By moderate load, I mean under 60% their maximum load.
    When kaping, the pull is only a fraction of the line capacity. Myself, I limit to 10%, some are limiting to 15%.

    Then it really depends on the strengh of the winder , spool, reel...

    So, I don't follow the best practice; I rewind on reels in all my kap sessions with pull under 6kg. It doesn't worry me. Some reels and lines are more than 10 years now. When pull exceed 10kg, I wind up by other means only because they are easier, not really because of the line itself. I also prefer a slight tension to none because when the line is loose in the reel, it sometimes becomes tangled when releasing.
    On the few flat winders that I have, line tension is under 2kg , otherwise, I guess they would break..

    All materials get longer when under tension. Under repeated pulls within their load range, most come back to the same lenght after releasing the pull. Some of them, even metals, can continue to elongate even under low load. This is called creep. At ambient temperature, creep is very low on above mentionned fibers. Such fibers are incorporated in the belts of car motors. If there was creep, they couldn't be used for such work.
  • That would be a really really fun experiment to do!

    Back in the day, there were concerns about anchor chains in the British Admirality. The concern was that continually using a chain would weaken it because of repeated hard loads. James Nasmyth did some failure tests, and found out that repeated loads on the chain actually made it stronger. Work hardening in practice.

    I am IN NO WAY saying that the same holds true for synthetic lines. That's not how polymer chains work. So please please don't get the impression that I believe my lines get stronger if I store them under tension.

    But it does illustrate that it'd be a fun one to test. My guess is you'd eat a lot of line finding out the answer, but it's certainly doable.

    On Spectra: I wouldn't use Spectra for KAP for a lot of reasons. It's small, so it's like flying with piano wire. (At some point I'll garrote my hands, regardless of the gloves.) It's fragile. But it's also about as un-stretchy as you can get, so ANY shock on the line hits the kite hard. For a stunt kite, that's fine. I WANT it to feel my every twitch. (I twitch a lot...) But for KAP? Man, take the shocks out any way you can, and let my rig hang steady. Spectra's great for my stunt kites, but I'll take Dacron for my single-line kites every time.

  • Evan, I use the Sun Oak Crankmaster and really like it. For a long line launch and I am alone, I just anchor the line where the kite will attach, walk back to the anchor point letting the line unroll. Then just take the kite out to the end of the line and send it up. It is then very easy to walk the line down and attach the camera rig where I want it and send in up by walking the line back to the reel. I then unclip the reel from the ground anchor point, attach it to tool belt I wear using a sailors quick release, and then can easily let out or bring in any amount of line. I might add, as I am directly tying off the reel with a line around the wood end, I counter sunk metal corner brackets around that end for safety in case the nails and glue came loose. After removing the kite it takes very little time to reel the line back in. Just remember to wear a heavy glove to break with as it can get quite warm. Reel holds 650ft of 250# line.
  • All, excellent discussion on winders.

    Strato-spool remains my favorite. See link below for pictures

    Any good design can be improved on. A few ideas:

    Here is my short list on improvements:

    - make the winder out of a lighter material (light weight, high strength plastic)?
    The bigger strato-spools are heavy.
    - add ball bearings to the main axel - I liked the skate board wheel approach!
    - change the eyelet to an oval or square with an maximum opening to match
    the width of the main reel.
    - have the main vertical shaft (top and bottom) collapsible so it packs
    into smaller spaces.
    - have the main wind handle expand and collapse (as you need more or less
    leverage to pull in the kite under strain. (currently two fixed positions)
    - improve on the break surface (now rubber)
    - longer term - add gears, where one turn of the crank spins the reel 3 to
    5 turns.

    Please add your ideas.

    Any interest in forming a small design / build team? Good winter project!
  • I'm sure's heck interested in experimenting. I have some other obligations looming on the horizon, but I still have a bunch of line sitting on their original thimbles, ready and waiting to be put on a winder. So I'm motivated.

  • Eric, your earlier post had several pictures of your winder and the use of the inline skate wheels for ball bearings. From the pictures I can see one is used as a handle (blue) a second one is shown (black) with the bolt. I could not see from the pictures where the black wheel fits in. Can you explain? Thanks.
  • edited September 2008
    Sorry to resurrect an old thread, but I feel this fits in pretty well. Thanks in part to this thread, I've built a winder than incorporates some of the features mentioned. Right now I'm pretty tight for time (leaving for Florida to hunt scorpions in a few days) so I've used strictly materials I had lying around and nothing was made to look pretty.


    The heart of the unit comes from an old angle grinder that I set on fire (flames and everything -- you'd think it would have a thermal breaker or something). I re-drilled the holes on the mandrel to 1/4" and inserted threaded rod and nut before tacking them in place to prevent rotation. Then I bolted the bearing assembly onto a block made of 2 pieces of 3/4" ply laminated together.

    The spool is made of laminated plywood. The first end piece and center piece both have 1-5/8" holes so that they slip over the mandrel and bring the spool closer to the main assembly. The other pieces have four holes drilled to accommodate the threaded rod. A bike pedal was modified slightly as shown and fits between the threaded rod. It is notched twice on one side so that it doesn't slide back and forth. The last bit of ply just holds the whole assembly in place.

    The handle and brace are 3/8" threaded rod inserted through t-bolts into a very tight fitting hole. Right now there is plenty of friction to prevent rotation of these pieces, though I imagine I will eventually have to make some sort of collar assembly to keep them from spinning. Anyhow, this allows them to be detached for transportation if desired. The brace is actually the butt end of an old brace I had held in by its screw and some electrical tape (I ground a flat face to one edge of the threaded rod to prevent rotation). The handle is made from a leftover piece of that laminated plywood. It is very roughly formed into a handle with a cleat of sorts.

    I know it is hideously ugly and the workmanship is sloppy. Consider it a rough draft or prototype if it makes you feel better. Changes for the future (other than tidying it up) include:

    - a guide loop off of the handle through which the line runs
    - skeletonizing the outside of the spool to reduce weight
    - a sliding winch handle to adjust leverage
    - more recessed area to the spool to bring it even closer to the block.
    - a collar assembly to stop rotation of the handle and brace
    - a more effective cleat. I used this the other day and could only get the 300# line to stop slipping by running it twice over the cleat.
    - a brake. Easy to do since the shaft of the angle grinder is inserted through a hole in the block. I can work in any number of braking devices.

    Speaking of which, it is currently holding 500' of 500# dacron and 500' of 300# dacron knotted together. Judging visually, I could fit another 500' of line on easily and probably squeeze on 1000 -- especially if I went with more 300#. The whole thing spins stupidly easy and I found when flying the other day that I had to add friction to the line with a gloved hand to prevent too much slack building up.

    I hope this has been helpful to someone -- or at least not too big a bother to read.

  • You're off to Florida to hunt scorpions? Hope you're bringing a black light. It makes them really easy to spot at night. Every scorpion I've ever seen has fluoresced beautifully at night. (I need to get some of that film scanned one of these days...) Scorpions make great photographic subjects. Have a good time!

    Hey, thanks for resurrecting this thread! I haven't built my new winder yet, but I've been dinking with the plans, and have all my materials in-hand. I was hoping to do something with it this weekend.

    Your point about it spinning stupidly easily is a concern, because I was planning on going with Erick's skate wheel in the middle, which will probably have similar spin characteristics. (I found out with my current winder about half my "fight" is getting it to spin at all. The OTHER half actually contributes to bringing down the line. Kinda looking forward to "stupidly easy" spin on a winder.)

    One trick I've used for clipping of my line with my current winder is to use a carabiner to clip it off to a hole in the side plate of the winder. It works wonderfully well. If you still have cleat slip issues, and you're still planning to skeletonize your winder's side plate, that might be a quick solution.

    I'm glad you're planning to tidy it up. The four bolts in the middle of the spinning part have got my heart in my throat! (But I'm figuring you're way ahead of me on that.) Fit and finish aside, it looks like a beefy winder.

  • edited September 2008
    Yes, I'm bringing a blacklight -- specifically a 96 LED array in a spotlight housing. It and its predecessors have worked quite well for me in the past. I am just finishing up the various arrangements with respect to permits and I should be good to go. With respect to every scorpion fluorescing, it would seem that even cave dwelling species that never see a spec of UV their entire lives fluoresce. Not only that, the fossilized remains of prehistoric scorpions still fluoresce to this day. The compounds that cause the fluorescence are actually a byproduct of the hardening of the exoskeleton. Freshly moulted scorpions do not fluoresce, whereas their discarded exoskeleton does.

    If you look closely at my avatar on here, you will see it is a Hadogenes paucidens fluorescing under blacklight.

    But now back to the topic at hand.

    I agree that the spin is nice. When I built my first winder (keeping in mind I'm less than 2 months into this) I did so before getting the kite. Picturing massive pull, it was a full brace connected to the angle grinder head intact. I welded up a frame to hold the whole thing together and you could have used it to club a polar bear. It was also a pain to lug around and I always felt like all my effort was going into turning the mechanism and none of it into dealing with the kite. It did have adjustable gearing, but the angle grinder slowed the rotation a bit so I could basically get about 0.8:1 or 0.4:1 rotation. Useless. Hence the new rig.

    I like the idea of clipping to the spool itself, except that the last time I flew, I used the cleat to hold the tension in the line and then ran some line off of the spool, connected my picavet, undid the line from the cleat and hand-over-handed the picavet up the first little bit. It was really nice doing all of my connections with no tension to deal with. I'm not using any sort of attachment that requires tension to hold it. Rather, I'm using dowlings with holes drilled in them. I fold the line, thread it through the hole and then loop it back over the top of the dowel. I then put a wide elastic band over the line to prevent sliding in slack conditions, though I've tested it without and never had a problem with slide anyhow. I do, however, like the idea of tying the loose end of the line to the side of the spool when not in use -- something where a 'beaner and a skeletonized side would wonders.

    As to the four bolts, they do have a date with a grinder. As for capping, I'm not sure. I'm thinking of affixing a threaded piece of pvc to the outside of the spool and then put a threaded cap over the remnants of the bolts. Wouldn't add much weight, would be easy to remove if swapping spools, and would prevent the loss of fingers.

    Thanks for the input. When you get yours built, please post it here. Looks really interesting and something I might want to follow suit on. After all, if the folks around here are any indication, more kites and more winders are in my future.

  • @johndds: it was reviewed here:

    I've tried it and I think it and I think these types of winders are great for light wind flying because they let you take in line a little quicker.
    On the downside this "ball bearing" winder doesn't have a much leverage and it can be a real pain to use when the wind is strong.
    It's worth noting that I can let line out faster by spilling it off the side of my halo spool.
  • SueSue
    edited April 2009
    In reply to the last question about the plastic ball bearing reel, yes we have two about that size for use with small kites. We saw a bigger one on a stall at Dieppe kite festival 2008. They may well not be strong enough for the big KAP kites and wouldn't hold much thick line either.
    After seeing the bigger reels with the skateboard reel in Holland last year, we made one using plywood and some super nuts and bolts which had smooth thin ends which tightened up with an Alan key so there were no nuts or bolt ends to take the skin off your knuckles! They may have been something to do with skateboards too. The advantage of these reels is that they spin really easily. The DISadvantage is that thay spin really easily! I found that when I wanted to change my grip on the reel it sometimes took over. We fixed that by cutting a slot (to suit the line with a slightly bigger hole at the end,) near the handle. The line goes down the slot and a turn or two round the handle takes the strain. Sorted! If the pull becomes too much while winding, I hold the reel firmly against my jacket and this helps.

    Fly high
    Click on the photo to see it on flickr
    skateboard reel (3)
  • I looked at the common options available, and decided to build my own "stratospool". It works like a charm, and I usually strap it to an anchor point once the kite is launched and stable. The brake is a real godsend, as I can release line quickly but under perfect control. There is 500 feet of line on the reel in the photo, so 1000 feet would be a doddle.
  • my favorite winder is homemade, covered in a message on this group two years ago.
    Shown on my web page
    I like it because the reel can be separated from the winch.
    I can wind the line by holding the axle in my left hand, if the pull is light.

    The reel is very portable, useful for launching the kite.

    For heavy duty winching, I slide the reel onto a winch base.
    It's a heavy base, 10 lbs., but convenient to set down and park it without needing chains or ties.
    (I also have a lighter base for traveling, but need to chain that to something)

    I like the center axle of the spool. I can unwind and wind line very fast without jerking the camera.

    The large crank handle may be a hazard if the spool free-wheels. In fact I tried a small one thinking it was safer, but found that it's better to have a big one that your hand can never slip off of.

    I recently put a second cranking handle on the spool very near the center for speed winding.

    I also have a rule, if you let go of the handle, push the reel to the ground to stop the spin. Then put your hand back on the crank.
  • I have been experimenting with different designs for Kite Winders. The picture below is a Prototype Stratospool with interchangeable Hoop Spool Reels. I have been using this modified Stratospool for about 6 months. This is the winder that I travel with. I fits in checked bag. I take it apart and fit it in a carry on bag if needed. The hoop spools are interchangeable. Each with different line strengths. I wind down the kites under load with this reel. Each reel holds ~1500 feet of 150# line. What is not visible in the photos is I use an inline skate reel for the main bearing in the center. Works good. Comments welcome.

    Kite Winder - Prototype Stratospool with Interchangeable Hoop Spool Reels

    Kite Winder - Prototype Stratospool with Interchangeable Hoop Spool Reels

    Kite Winder - Prototype Stratospool with Interchangeable Hoop Spool Reels
  • Wind Watcher-
    What is the function of the narrow piece alongside the main 'arm'. A cleat.....?
    Keep up the good work,
  • PS
    How DO the halo spools attach to the winder?
  • edited November 2008
    "How DO the halo spools attach to the winder?"
    Appears that the 4 center bolts connect to the wood on either side of the hoop and the Velco on the winder is also on the inside of the wood so that the hoop does not spin freely.
  • The narrow piece applies friction to the spool and helps regulate spin speed?
  • Nice work - I also made a Stratospool copy but couldn't get the brake to work well enough and had to leave it out. Could you give some more details about using the bearing?
  • If you wind in the kite under tension you will definitely ruin the plastic spool after some flights. I would try massive wood or metal instead.
  • Per the questions above:

    - "What is the function of the narrow piece alongside the main 'arm'. A cleat.....?"
    The narrow piece of wood is a break. Take a careful look at the shape. Squeezing either end (to the main support) causes the centerline of the reel to shift causing friction with the reel and the main support. Works good. As for a cleat, none is needed the blue strap wraps around the handle knob and holds the reel in pace while under load from the kite. Very handy!

    - "How DO the halo spools attach to the winder?"
    The four small bolts pass through the wood reel frames AND the in-line skate wheel. Velcro strips on both the plastic spool and the inside wood reel support hold the spool in place. The four wing nuts and main bolt pop off quickly in the field as needed.

    - "Could you give some more details about using the bearing?"
    As described (but not pictured) above, I use an inline skate wheel on the main bolt (inside the two wooden reel frames (and the plastic spool). The inline skate wheel bearings provide a smooth (less friction) spin of the reel under load.

    - "If you wind in the kite under tension you will definitely ruin the plastic spool after some flights. I would try massive wood or metal instead."
    I have been winding my kite line under tension for many years. I did have a wood spool split one time (early version of what you see). Other than this one event, I have had no other ill effects. Given how I fly (very tight spaces with no or little room for a kite walk down) and limited time slots (to recover line) I have adopted to wind under load in almost all cases. The plastic spools are billed as "unbreakable" and I have seen no issues to date on three of three plastic hoops.

    This is just a prototype. I am working on a few more enhancements....stay tuned. As for now....wind is blowing and the sun is up....time to get the kite in the air! :-)
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