Sunday, October 30, 2005

00098 Back in the water

After a two week layoff, I got back in the water today.
Firstly I went for a swim at Petit Port, this time with a wetsuit. Got an ice cream headache, so I stuck on a swimming cap. Then decided that the goggles would have to go, as they are blue tinted to too great a degree and fog too easily. When I finally did get to swim, the swell was really big and I got the heebie-geebies – I don’t really want to get dashed against the rocks, especially with no one around to help. Tried KAPing instead, but the wind was too turbulent around the cliffs. The KAP group theme this month is “Motion”, so maybe I’ll try to get some images of those horses running along the beach that I’ve been meaning to shoot for ages.
Oh, and secondly, Dan called up today to say he was going out to check the wind. I though tit was going to be unsurfable Southerlies today, so that came as a surprise. So we all went down and rigged up at Grand Roques. First ten minutes was great and I was really getting upwind. Then it started getting really gusty, to the point where the wind just died completely and then I was hoiked off my board – most undignified (not that any of the kitesurfing I do qualifies for any sort of dignity bonus). Won’t forget my boots again, it was like walking on … well it was actually walking on sharp pebbles. Ow.
After the surfing, we headed down to Dan’s house, where Lucy and Meriel were playing with the kids. As Dan said, it’s a kind of kitesurf widows’ benevolence thing.
The board construction is taking a back seat while I wait for deck pads. Surfstore gave me some bum ones, so I’m off looking for more elsewhere and sending theirs back.

In other news Brooks pointed out today a couple of World Wide Panorama entries that are really something else. I’ve recently stopped posting bumf from the interweb, but these are exceptionally good:
Dog composite pano and Child in a playground composite pano.
This is surely something that could produce awesome images from a KAP rig.
Ignore them and be blander for the ignorance.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

00097 Tintin rocket

Having just returned from a trip to Eindhoven with the family, I had to post this to remind me that I must make this at some stage. I think a lathe and a few quality blocks of wood glued together to give a wierd collage-of-grain thing would be cool - we'll see.
Didn't get to KAP, mind - bummer.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

00095 New Gentled AUTO for KAP

After helping James Gentles (but only by giving him the dubious benefit of my experience and opinion), I got the new Gentled AUTO in the post.
I've been neglecting my KAP recently, partly because of the kitesurfing and partly because I'm running out of original landmarks and good weather - not to mention the fact that we're not finding ourselves down on the beach with nothing to do. It's not summer anymore, y'know. So this gave me an incentive to get out to the (IMO) unfortunately named Fort Pezeries to take some shots of the fort and it's nearby slipway.
The wind was a good F5 and 3 sections of tail gave me enough stability once the kite got out of the wind shadow of the headland - you know that feeling of attaching your camera and rig to a bucking and diving kite ... well, maybe you don't, but hey.
As per usual I could have used some more height to get the Fort in full-frame, but I got a couple of decent shots along with the one I wanted of the slipway shown here. I later tried to stitch a pano together, but it was like pulling teeth and all I got was this. To be honest any slipway would have done, I just wanted to take a pic of one to see if slipways looked as good from the air as they do from the ground - and I think they do, so I'll be doing that again, time willing.

Anyway, to conclude, this AUTO thing was excellent, instead of the usual mucking about with a rubber band or a long timer interval with the associated "is it on? is it not?" problems, I got a no hassle setup with a velcro attachement, then I just turned on the camera and flicked the switch on the AUTO to start it capturing - easy peesy Japaneesy.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

00094 Thoughts on the layup

I posted this on the Flexifoil forum thread on ply board building in reply to a couple of questions, but I'm posting it here too because it covers some details I meant to mention:

I've just stuck two battens of a suitable height to the floor (to give me the rocker), covered it all with a polythene dust sheet, put the laminated board on top, then covered the board with the dust sheet and then put the weights (bricks) on top. The majority of the weight from the bricks is placed at the point where I intend the outer footstrap bolts to go, this way I'll get a gentle progressive, almost eliptical rocker. I've used the poly sheet before in a test and it provides a cheap, perfect and very thin protective layer to stop the epoxy sticking where it shouldn't.
I did lightly brush (or rather spread) some epoxy on all ply contact surfaces before adding the epoxy/silica mix, so hopefully it'll bond well. The only bummer is that halfway through the process, my one-pump system started acting up, so I had to estimate the volumes of hardener & resin towards the end. I was doing so well, it'd be a bummer if the whole thing was messed up by faulty measuring pumps. I have a feeling it's going to be ok.

00093 Rocky surfin

So I almost forgot to add an entry for the kitesurfing at Pembroke on Thursday 13th (last week). I got down there extra early as Meriel had to drop me off before picking Jonah up from school – we won’t have to do this again as we have our new car now. I got there at 11:30 (too keen) and rigged up the 11 meter, a good choice for winds gusting up to 27 knots. Naturally by the time Grif arrived it was dropping, but there was still enough wind to be powered at least some of the time. Meriel arrived in time to see the end of a four hour session and proclaim that I have improved immeasurably since the last time she saw me at Ladies Bay. I really got to grips with tacking across quite large waves, hitting myself in the chest with my legs a few times as I absorbed the impacts. The tide meant that there were partially exposed rocks suddenly appearing in front of us, but as the tide went up these started to disappear thankfully – they were a real worry and a big confidence deminisher. Dan had a go on my board and pronounced it fit for general consumption and Grif leant me his SK8, which was really nice – a lot of flex and a hard rail.

00092 Laid up

Here's the board all layed up and weighed down to give it some rocker. It's quite an old set of floorboards and the bricks are getting on, so I guess you could say it's an ageing rocker (haw). I've got an image of the side view to get a better idea of how much rocker there is. There's a fair bit, but I envisage that it will spring back a little when I take off the bricks.
The laying up took longer than I thought (naturally), but without the aid of one of those epoxy squeegies (spreading tool), it would have been a nightmare. As it was, the epoxy got everywhere - but fortunately I'd covered everything with a polythene dust sheet. It seems that with all the best intentions in the world you can set out determined not to get the stuff on your hands and by the end of it you are practically hand painting the room with it.
Anyway it's done now, so I'll leave it well alone for a couple of days, possibly longer until it's properly cured. I had a bit of trouble with the "one pump" epoxy setup I had and the mixtures of resin and hardener weren't entirely consistent throughout, so fingers crossed that it actually works.
Next step will be to drill out the footstrap and fin holes, fill them with an epoxy/microbaloons mix and wait for it to cure before drilling out the holes, then I'm practically done.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

00091 Holey mid ply

Following Ben Vine's lead, I decided to bore out some holes in the mid ply of the board to save weight, making sure to leave well alone the areas where the strap bolts and fins will go. It'll definately help cut down the weight, now I just have to worry about the jig that I'm going to lay up the plys and the epoxy in. It has to be accessable from the underside to wipe any excess epoxy off as it oozes out when I apply pressure to the layup. Mmmmm.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

00090 138x36 - Test run's dun

I ran a test to see if epoxy would hold the rocker, add stiffness and if it would work at all. So it did work and I drilled some holes in the upper ply just to see if it would make any difference to the stiffness. To be honest it was difficult to see, because the test area was so small.
The picture top left is the small rocker table I fashioned while the plys were wrapped in plastic with bricks on top to weigh them down in the middle during curing (DURING CURING - excellent).
The board sprung back a bit when I removed the bricks (albeit twenty four hours too soon), but only by about a third and I imagine that this was also in part due to the small size of the test board. You can see the rocker I was left with in the top right shot and another view in the bottom left.
I filled up some of the holes with the remainder of the epoxy and bonding additive and drilled it out (bottom left shot) to accept a countersunk bolt - worked fine.
Now I have to decide if I plough on with the real thing or if I do another test, this time with the outside coat. It's a tricky one to call - on the one hand I don't want to waste my time (although I am rather good at that), and on the other I don't want to mess the whole thing up by not knowing what I'm doing.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

00089 Testing testing

I'll have a picture tomorrow of the two ply test I ran using the epoxy and two sheets of the marine ply. I made a "board" about a foot long out of two sheets of ply laminated together and with the help of a few house bricks, I added a little rocker (more that I'll have on te board itself), just to see what happened. I coated each sheet in epoxy, then added a bonding compound (I think it's a silicate additive - basically a glass thickener) to one layer and stuck the two together. I guess that the bonding additive would give a similar effect to the addition of a glass fibre layer. I also drilled a few holes in the top layer (as I'll be doing with the middle ply of the board) and filled them up with the remaining epoxy/bonding additive mix. This way Ill find out how reliable it'll be to drill out big holes to take fottstrap and fin bolts/inserts.
I've learned to always have more gloves to hand (heh), and never start the proces unprepared. Also I bought the "Glass Fibre Handbook" off Amazon the other day, full of stuff including a frustratingly small chapter on sandwich construction - basically foam and glass fibre (presumably carbon fibre would work in a similar way). Man, there's a lot to learn, as usual ...

Friday, October 14, 2005

00088 138x36 in the wood

The covers are off. I cut the ply with my trusty Bosch D1A0 - splinter free blade, nice, good anorakage.
All the drillings for foot straps and fins are marked up. Next thing is the epoxying/laying up.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

00088 Outline stuck to board

I've printed out the board outline, stuck it together and spray-mounted it onto the three pieces of 4mm ply, ready to be cut out. I screwed the ply together to make sure that they stay together when I cut them. I thought I'd be clever and drill through where the footstrap fixings will be, so that I could put screws into the holes and hold the boards together that way - naturally I drilled them in slightly the wong place. Ah well, you've got to get a mistake or two out of the way before you start working on something, otherwise you'd be left wondering what you've done wrong. At least I know what I've cocked-up.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

00087 138x36

The final iteration before production begins. A thinner board and slightly more rounded edges. Slightly shorter too. I got the wood cut to 141cm and it looked a bit long - don't know why.

00086 Plywood arrives

The plywood arrived and we went down to get it cut down and pick it up. It looks much thinner that I thought it would, but that means I'll be able to put a rocker in it alot easier.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

00085 The Fins are here

Kitesurf board fins from Omnitech arrived the other day. I've got the epoxy, I've got the straps, I just need the micro baloons (or whatever) and as soon as I have the wood (tomorrow) the process of building the board can really begin.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

00084 Star Wars and low winds

Bought the box set of the IV-VI Starwars trilogy so that me and Jo could watch it together - should be here next week. Also got a book on Fibre Glass use - now what did I do that for?

In other news, went to Ladies with Mike. Waited an hour fro the wind to pick up as it was supposed to. It only just made it enough to get going on the 15 and when I finally did a few runs, the wind dropped with the kite way up high - so the kite dropped, wrapped itself in the 5th line and there weren't no wind to relaunch it, so we packed up and went home. Bummer.

Still, Thursday looks good. Nice.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

00083 Pembroke on the big board

Afternoon session with Grif at Pembroke yesterday. We agreed that it should be a big kites and big boards party, and so it was.
I'm becoming more and more convinced that the 5th line system installed on my kites is detracting from their power. I posted up a thread on the kiteboarder forum and there's one guy there who agrees with me. The up side is that, in the right conditions, there's a possibilty that I can fly the bigger kites in a higher wind than I first thought. Concerns for safety, however, mean that I can't just rig up the 15 whenever I please, I'm going to have to continue like this for a while.
Anyway I really liked the big board and it turns on a penny - worryingly saw a large rock revealed by a trough between waves, but the board reacted almost faster than I could think (if that's possible). I didn't really notice any advantage in the upwind, however, but maybe it's the board, the wind or just me, time will tell. It's certainly a different style of riding. The best thing for me was that I got really into riding over medium sized waves, dipping the kite for more power as I went over the edge of each wave - that's where I was losing speed before. I'm also better at predicting when to lean back as the kite pulls while sining, that way I don't lose so much ground downwind.

As for the board, I bought some epoxy today (expensive stuff) in order to bond the ply together. I'm erring towards using the original method of bricks and wedges to get the rocker, after having previously been through all sorts of loony ideas. After scanning through 1000 of the 1600 posts on teh Yahoo kiteboardbuilder group's message board, I keep toying with the idea of glass fibre. One step at a time, I think.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

00082 The next iteration - 141x36

The second iteration of the design. After looking through half of the 1600 posts on the Yahoo Kiteboardbuilder group, I've made the boards a little longer with straighter edges (to test how the upwind ability will be affected - favourable, I hope), it's also have less width for handling the chop better (although here I might make it 37-38cm). The rocker will probably be 3-3.5cm and be more eliptical, if I can make it happen. I've also given it a squarer look as I don't really need a board that'll turn well in the waves - that'll be for another board.

The Fins are on order from Omnitech - tracker fins, 2". I've ordered six, four for the ply board one pair for the Mauricio Pro. The straps will be my old Wipika ones and the deck pads will either be £20 from online order, or a cut up camping mat (yet to be decided).

As for the board, maybe shorter and a little wider - I don't know, it'll probably be decided as I cut the thing out. Also to be decided is whether or not to use epoxy (more expensive) or just do waterproof wood glue (tempting). If I use epoxy, there's the additional temptation to add a layer of glass fibre.

In addition to all this I'm wondering whether or not to drill out the center ply of the laminate to reduce weight as per Ben VInes board. It makes sense, but I'm worried it might make the board quite weak, especially if it's to be 141cm long.

Another question is whether to add some kind of cushioning or reinforcement to the area around the heels, where most pressure will be excerted. But then I'm only roughing this board, so why bother - I don't want to lose sight of the fun element, I just want to build it and take it out.

Monday, October 03, 2005

00081 First design - the proposed 138x38

It's supposed to be a way for me to experiment, so I thought I'd try a 138cm x 38 cm with nice rounded edges. I suspect I'll be coming across the usual design problems and mess up quite a bit on the way, but I've got to start somewhere.

It'll be 3 ply using 4mm marine ply sandwiched together with epoxy resin. Hopefully glass fibre rails will reinforce the edges, but I've never done this before, so we'll have to see ...

00080 New project -plywood kite board

So I’ve decided on my next homebrew project – a kitesurfing board. Everything I’ve read or heard leads me to believe that it’ll be fun and cheap, my two favourite words.
I’ll be using (or so the current intention goes) 3 sheets of 4mm marine ply laminated together with an epoxy resin and placed on wedges with bricks to weigh the board down, creating a rocker of 5-6 cm at the tips, leaving a flat section in the middle. Images of the design to follow.
My only decisions are what size to make the board (I reckon 145cm x 38 cm) where to get the fins from, whether or not to reinforce the edges with glass fibre and whether or not to add a design. I might even consider sticking a piece of fabric to the base of the board with epoxy.
The 8’x4’ sheet of marine ply is on the way, now I have to source the epoxy, glass fibre, footpads, stainless steel bolts to countersink into the underside and the fins.
What’s going to happen – no one knows.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

00079 Wavey day

Went to Pembroke today in a NNW started on the 11m and after the customary screw-ups, got out on a few tacks. But, my word, big old waves in the middle of the bay meant losing the board and wiping out quite alot. Still managed to stay upwind for a little while which meant I didn't get beasted by the waves too much. Big air (for me) off the biggest waves and I learned to move the kite after going over the wave - it really takes the speed out of you (I guess it's because you move nearer the kite on the crest, so the kite loses power). Quite enjoyable all in all and some new things to try next time: keep hands towards the center of the bar to avoid violent downwind aerials on my back followed by heavy deep-water impacts, and power up after a wave.
Wind died later on, so I tried the new F-one board, but it was too rough for me and the wind had died too much to carry on - shame. I'll wait to try it at ladies under "laboratory conditions".
Am now seriously considering making a board from ply. Mmmmmmm.