GWTW Forum

Kites! Kites! Kites! => Kite Building and Repair => Topic started by: stapp59 on May 01, 2014, 09:39 AM



Title: Black Mamba VV
Post by: stapp59 on May 01, 2014, 09:39 AM
Warning!

This thread contains graphic descriptions and images of invasive surgical procedures performed on an unsuspecting Blue Moon Mamba sport kite.  These procedures are experimental in nature and not approved by the AKA, AMA, AOPA, FDA, FDIC, NSA, or The Onion. These organizations, and most people for that matter, really don't care.

Those however that consider flying the Mamba to be a spiritual event may experience revulsion and other discomforts (*) from these activities and are encouraged to leave this thread immediately.

(*) may include nausea, vomiting, migraines, or worse?

You have been warned!

==================

With those formalities out of the way, we'll post the details tomorrow sometime after lunch assuming this thread is not locked, forum account suspended, or some unfortunate accident occurs...


Title: Re: Black Mamba VV
Post by: Tmadz on May 01, 2014, 10:34 AM
nausea, vomiting, migraines?


Title: Re: Black Mamba VV
Post by: stapp59 on May 01, 2014, 11:50 AM
Could include...

nausea, vomiting, migraines?


Title: Re: Black Mamba VV
Post by: Gardner on May 01, 2014, 05:26 PM
Why all the moaning, groaning, wailing, and gnashing of teeth?  I have a Black Mamba VV, made by Master KMac. 


Title: Re: Black Mamba VV
Post by: stapp59 on May 02, 2014, 04:22 AM
No gnashing here.  Have enjoyed modding and tinkering with sport kites for over ten years now and building complete kites for the last several.

Some folks get a bit excited with some of my work done on designer kites, especially Ken's, so I took a different approach reporting this effort.  ;)

Master Ken suggested I post these ideas to the forum to share.

Good you have a Mamba vent.  Nice kite!  There's quite a few Mamba standards out there, not nearly as many venteds. Not many with the latest mods either.

Am almost done with the project and will post pics later.  The vented configuration I use is a modification of Ken's and better suited for the conditions I normally fly.

Cheers,
Steve

Why all the moaning, groaning, wailing, and gnashing of teeth?  I have a Black Mamba VV, made by Master KMac. 



Title: Re: Black Mamba VV
Post by: stapp59 on May 02, 2014, 06:40 PM
A little background discussion ...

Generally, the perfect vented is a kite that flies just like a standard in winds 15-30mph, with even sane sail pressure, minimal speed buildup, no frame shudder or distortions, and tricks available with little additional effort. AFAIK, this kite does not exist.

I doubt fliers agree completely on what makes a good vented kite. Traditional ballet kites allow routines to be flown in high wind fly or die situations.  Tricks Party fliers want to throw down trick combos in high winds with minimal sprinting to slack the lines.  Recreational fliers want to carve the sky and throw an axle or two whatever the weekend wind conditions.

Because wind pressure increases with the wind speed squared (V**2), it is unrealistic to think one kite will fly well in all winds.  Indeed many of us have SULs, ULs, and Stds just to cover winds 2-18 mph.  Why would we think one kite should fly well and do everything in winds 15-30?  It won't.

There are some things we can do to extend our Stds in higher winds: heavier lines, wah pads, screens, raise the tow point to dump wind, lower the tow point to control speed, move the standoffs towards the tips to increase drag, add a 100' tube tail.  None of these are overly effective as the winds increase and our Stds are overloaded.

If we want to continue flying kites in higher winds we will have to reduce the sail area to reduce the buildup in sail pressure. Bigger sails generally generate bigger pressures with wind speed.

One way to cope is a smaller kite.  The Psycho, Minigem, Micron and Alien are quite effective in bigger winds. These don't fly like our favorite Std though even if they are fun.  Fighter kites anyone?

The other way to reduce sail area is vents.

Perhaps one of the best vented kite is the Rev with it's flat sail and infinitely adjustable angle of attack.  Quads are different animals that dualies and even Revs have multiple venting configurations: half vent, full vent, screen door.

Some sport kites will handle a bit more wind than others.  One could write a dissertation on wind loading as affected by sail area, angle of attack, aspect ratio, mid chord span, leading edge sweep, sail depth, tip washout, etc.

Let's keep it simple for this discussion.  When our favorite Std dualie is feeling overloaded, starting to shudder, threatening to explode, and no longer fun to fly; it's time to think about a vented kite or a favorite beer.

Let's talk about the Mamba...


Title: Re: Black Mamba VV
Post by: dragonfish on May 02, 2014, 10:20 PM
I must say, you are very good at creating suspense.  Still waiting...and curious.  :)


Title: Re: Black Mamba VV
Post by: stapp59 on May 03, 2014, 06:27 AM
Vents are not all *that* exciting but they can save the day in bigger winds.  Let's continue...

I must say, you are very good at creating suspense.  Still waiting...and curious.  :)

Ken designed and released the Mamba at the turn of the century (love that phrase) in Spring 2000 just around the time I had stopped building model airplanes, gotten married, took a new job, and acquired an untreatable feverish affliction - sport kites. 

In the market for my first serious kite, I was just about sold on the I2K.  Who wouldn't want the only kite you'll ever need?  Stumbling across this forum and asking all the typical newbie questions, Mr Hall suggested the Mamba instead. Ah those subtle twists of fate...

By most accounts, the Mamba is one of the best ballet kites ever made.  Ken built close to a thousand of them before retiring.  Mambas have won national competitions, have flown internationally, and are still flown by kites teams today almost fifteen years later.  Indeed at a recent kite festival in Indiana a couple weeks ago two teams were flying Mambas and they looked as good as ever.

Those two teams though faced a dilemma as the winds were brisk in the mid teens.  Fly the Standards at the higher end of their wind range or fly Venteds and risk being underpowered if the winds lull?  Ends up one team flew standards and one team flew venteds.  Both survived and it got me thinking about the Mamba again as I was flying a variable vented Exile off on the side which was just perfect in those conditions.

There have been two valid criticisms concerning the Mamba:
- There are trickier kites available.  Yes but they don't fly like the Mamba!
- The wind efficient Mamba sail loads quickly as the winds increase. Yes but there is the vented.

Once hooked on the Std Mamba a UL and a Vented followed to complete the set. As a sport flier in inland winds it's common to have erratic wind days where the standard is overpowered at times yet the vented is a bit too vented when the winds lull. I wanted a std Mamba with some venting for those in between wind days.  Ken did not build that kite.  My lovely wife did have a sewing machine and I wondered...

When the kid's soccer games are over this afternoon I'll post pics of some of the experiments and the final result.


Title: Re: Black Mamba VV
Post by: stapp59 on May 04, 2014, 04:56 AM
Here is Ken's original Mamba vent.


(https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-mS_ZNYRpfxE/U2TQ_yh-RKI/AAAAAAAADDw/h6tJu9J0HYU/s400/IMG_0836.jpg) (https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/1HXeZC90fE8e2OZCpijnpNMTjNZETYmyPJy0liipFm0)

The inner vent is screened and always open. The outer vent has a dual walled screen "pocket" with Velcro closure and a Mylar insert to open and close the vent opening.  This gives two staged venting, some or a lot.  Pretty clever and just fine for competition ballet when combined with the Std.  The original had a P300 frame.  Later versions used newer Nitro LEs.

So why mess with a good thing?

One of the best things about Ken's kites is their excellent wind efficiency.  BMKs are known for flying well in lower wind ranges.  That same wind efficiency though loads the sail quickly when the winds pick up.  With typical inland variable winds I wanted a Std with some venting for more blustery days. As screening, velcro, and mylar are heavier than sail fabric I wanted to reduce the weight of the vents which affected the kite handling when the winds lulled.  Sounds like a half vent is in order.

So I took a Std Mamba and started experimenting.  Tried a number of vent configurations and cover ideas over the years.  Some worked, some not so well.  Learned a lot in those days, most importantly that vent size and location can greatly impact the handling and tricking ability of a kite.

In talking over the issues with Ken at a kite festival he suggested a vent cover that would open the vent in stages yet still be light. Hmm.  More tinkering and a year or so later settled on a smaller version of Ken's original vent opening with a sail fabric and Velcro cover that would roll open in stages. Something like this:


(https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-IhOYqhss094/U2Ox1dW6ErI/AAAAAAAAC_4/DR2A6jS4CoA/s400/IMG_0753.JPG) (https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/JMD4Z-N6RBZiM4AOFN5McNMTjNZETYmyPJy0liipFm0)

With vent covers:


(https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-VnDnYFQy07k/U2QwgyrMmAI/AAAAAAAADBw/Z4QEGlBStms/s400/IMG_0766.JPG) (https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/o4xdhZ6PcLeXKh4tEenQ0tMTjNZETYmyPJy0liipFm0)

The vent covers roll open in three stages:


(https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-aSmtFTPCfP8/U2QwhrzWXbI/AAAAAAAADB4/TtLvLyPC3-0/s288/IMG_0767.JPG) (https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/Ei4C9VcKH8nGW8mjzx70VdMTjNZETYmyPJy0liipFm0)


(https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-PTYsu7Gp4Uw/U2QwigyaxaI/AAAAAAAADCA/HG0bl_YYiRQ/s288/IMG_0768.JPG) (https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/Cl0-HiWVoZc2dDauDuO3rdMTjNZETYmyPJy0liipFm0)


(https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-EPSwvadjfbY/U2Qwjg4NyII/AAAAAAAADCI/6vwu9hB1PVc/s288/IMG_0769.JPG) (https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/YvEr7jPB5KBAbu7f7y3u7tMTjNZETYmyPJy0liipFm0)


(https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-VT5r74Mhp4c/U2QwkjuR7FI/AAAAAAAADCQ/cwO6sc1rH_Y/s288/IMG_0770.JPG) (https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/fMAhI4YyUb__NZMCIWn5wdMTjNZETYmyPJy0liipFm0)

Each opening increment adds a few MPH to the upper wind range.  With the vents fully open the kite flies well up to 20mph or so.  Is this revolutionary? Not really but sometimes the simple things work best.  Does this replace Ken's full vent. No, but it does fill a niche and comes close to meeting the original design goals.

These vents coupled with Ken's Black Mamba mods work well together.


Title: Re: Black Mamba VV
Post by: stapp59 on May 04, 2014, 06:36 AM
Interesting to note that as most of Ken's kites share a similiar sail geometry, these vents work on his other kites as well.  I've done variable vented versions of the Mamba, Mantis, Mongoose, and Exile. Vent location is important and varies a bit with each kite.  The vents do not always align with the panel layout but fly well. 

Did I mention the Exile is my all around favorite kite?  I'm particularly pleased with this version:


(https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-5VgxDBwC9m4/UtUgPLGwezI/AAAAAAAACd4/qe1TrT6azm8/s400/IMG_0571.JPG) (https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/X9QVeO4Or8u4kyORK_pL2dMTjNZETYmyPJy0liipFm0)

After the workshop, Ken gave permission to build a personal copy of the Exile. Always liked the race flag layout.  Sometimes though I see a picnic tablecloth with this one  ::)


Title: Re: Black Mamba VV
Post by: indigo_wolf on May 04, 2014, 08:06 AM
Sometimes though I see a picnic tablecloth with this one  ::)


Or..... Scenes From An Italian Restaurant   ;)

(https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-5VgxDBwC9m4/UtUgPLGwezI/AAAAAAAACd4/qe1TrT6azm8/s400/IMG_0571.JPG)  (http://i.imgur.com/ULz2TNd.jpg)(http://i.imgur.com/j8WjBWu.jpg) 
Billy Joel - Scenes From An Italian Restaurant Lyrics [on screen] (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=od4yFljMRIg#ws)

ATB,
Sam


Title: Re: Black Mamba VV
Post by: stapp59 on May 04, 2014, 10:24 AM
Ha!  That works. :) A little Billy Joel (I have that album), good pasta, a little Chianti...

Sometimes though I see a picnic tablecloth with this one  ::)

Or..... Scenes From An Italian Restaurant   ;)


Title: Re: Black Mamba VV
Post by: stapp59 on May 05, 2014, 12:39 PM
Non Expert disclaimer:

Forum veterans already know this but it bears repeating:

I am not a guru expert nor the fount of knowledge all things kiting.  That is not the intent of my posts.

I do have some academic background, a history of modeling experience with things that fly, am fairly good at building things, and can throw a trick or two with a kite.

Most importantly I'm enthusiastic, persistent, and like to seriously tinker with my hobbies. Design, building, and flying are equally enjoyable. It's an ongoing project to observe things that work and see if there are ways to adapt and reapply those ideas with the goal of finding incremental improvements.

On a good day the failure to success ratio may be as low as 10:1.  If I do find something that works, I like to share it and hope it improves someones kiting experience or sparks another good idea. That is the spirit of these posts.

A relevant quote from blogger Seth Gordin says "Ideas donít get smaller when theyíre shared, they get bigger." Itís absolutely fine to use these ideas - just promise to make them better and report back.

I'm also not the foremost Blue Moon expert and fan boy.  Ken is the expert and heck I don't even have custom BMK license plates or face tattoos!  DougC, debbieH, BobM, SKB etc, etc where are you folks these days??  I'd like to think I'm a member of the club though :)

Speaking of being a fan of great custom builders, JonT deserves special mention as someone who builds great kites and understands the plight of inland wind flyers.  You can't buy Ken's kites anymore but you can get a Skyburner and I've been stealthily acquiring a cache of Jon's latest designs.  There are other great builders out there for sure...

Now if could fly my kites as well as they will fly *that* would be an amazing success indeed...


Title: Re: Black Mamba VV
Post by: DMF on May 05, 2014, 02:55 PM
Nice looking Mamba!   I now have to work on getting my hands on an exile!


Title: Re: Black Mamba VV
Post by: stapp59 on May 05, 2014, 04:11 PM
You have some nice kites with your Monsters.  The Exile will not out trick the Monster but it will out fly it, if you understand.  My bag (car trunk actually) has room for both but if I had to pick just one, the Exile - easy choice.

Nice looking Mamba!   I now have to work on getting my hands on an exile!


Title: Re: Black Mamba VV
Post by: stapp59 on May 07, 2014, 05:02 AM
This wouldn't be complete without a discussion of the Black Mamba mods.  When Ken brought a proto Mongoose to Michigan, he also brought an all white Mamba proto he called the Black Mamba and said if designing the Mamba today he would use an updated standoff geometry. This is the TE profile of the standard Mamba:


(https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-JlM3qFAd94E/U2mKEOsaezI/AAAAAAAADGM/lKZQ3E3vjng/s400/IMG_0776.JPG) (https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/fwZ1relJG6A1Ss3ztIWD29MTjNZETYmyPJy0liipFm0)

Here is the Black Mamba:


(https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-0CIqr9y2-D4/U2mKFug4OWI/AAAAAAAADGU/vQ7QutINg10/s400/IMG_0777.JPG) (https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/-_KFh0clslf56KFZSMkS8dMTjNZETYmyPJy0liipFm0)

Note the inner standoffs are moved out 3" and the tunnel flatten by using equal length standoffs.  The wider keel helps slow the kite and moderate acceleration. Some tricks such as the backspin are more accessible.  The solid fade and other Mamba goodness are all still there.  The flattened tunnel does allow the kite to rotate more freely and induces some oversteer which is easily controlled by moving the tow points out 1/2".

These are not radical changes but some of the veteran Mamba flyers really liked the kite and where throwing some pretty impressive moves with the Black Mamba.

The changes are pretty easy to make, add a new standoff position, make a set of standoffs, move the bridle.  I went a little further and replaced all the TE reinforcements to look like my later Mambas:


(https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-7VTYeVwPkZE/U2OxxWaUWHI/AAAAAAAAC_c/n8mB3djk3Tc/s400/IMG_0740.JPG) (https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/whMXNGfdq3hmC0cJHbSjmtMTjNZETYmyPJy0liipFm0)

There are a few optional mods you may want to do.  The adjustable standoffs were used by Paul Shirey on his Sano and make it easy to fine tune the TE profile.  You can do much of this by pushing the individual standoff connectors around but the coupled standoffs make it easier.


(https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-w3lo7q91bDY/U2Ox2BQyzDI/AAAAAAAADAA/0BtsTc4MQD8/s400/IMG_0760.JPG) (https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/FkuUpSOjQjS0I7tIL8cuMdMTjNZETYmyPJy0liipFm0)

The knotted pigtail and slider knot on the uphaul make it easy to isolate bridle adjustments and equalize the bridle halves after the inevitable knot tightening and cord stretching.


(https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-R-dW1z8LSqI/U2Ox3QgPliI/AAAAAAAADAI/lqbbF2czSc4/s400/IMG_0763.JPG) (https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/HQbuicj9T-EJvA8hvFk_BdMTjNZETYmyPJy0liipFm0)

Lastly, even though later Mambas use Nitro LEs, those long wingtips can induce frame shudder in higher bumpy winds.  This is virtually eliminated with an additional bridle leg from the middle of the LE.  Ken did this on a number of his earlier kites and JonT puts one on the Ocius std.  The additional leg does not seem to interfere with tricks and helps the kite feel very solid all the way up to where the LSs start to bend in big winds.


(https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-sVrzA0nCtN8/U2bnr1kY10I/AAAAAAAADFM/nl9LBkQFKTI/s400/IMG_0773.JPG) (https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/6QHG7XaPyjpgwQJkfANVONMTjNZETYmyPJy0liipFm0)

In conclusion, if you've been flying a steady diet of trick flippy monsters, pull out your turn of the century classics like the Mamba and remember what it is to fly a kite that just flies well.

AoxomoxoA,
Steve


Title: Re: Black Mamba VV
Post by: indigo_wolf on May 07, 2014, 07:51 AM
Wasn't the coupled standoffs referred to as the "Shapeshifter?"

Seemed to remember you or someone else doing a writeup of it on the BMK forum.

ATB,
Sam


Title: Re: Black Mamba VV
Post by: stapp59 on May 07, 2014, 08:24 AM
Yes and guilty!  Still tinkering...

Wasn't the coupled standoffs referred to as the "Shapeshifter?"

Seemed to remember you or someone else doing a writeup of it on the BMK forum.

ATB,
Sam


Title: Re: Black Mamba VV
Post by: stapp59 on May 12, 2014, 04:15 PM
Have spent the last week with the Mamba.  Good thing it has variable vents as the winds have been all over the place.  While the classic settings are great and the Black Mamba settings add some nice characteristics, I actually prefer something between the two.  Currently the inner standoffs are moved  out 1" (instead of 3") and the TE flattened to 1.75" (approx halfway between 3.25 and .5" ).  The tow points are moved out 1/2" to keep the precision crisp.  I suppose you could call this one Mamba the grey, nicknamed Gandalf.

None of these updates turn the Mamba into a 'modern' trick kite.  It remains a classic ballet kite that can do many tricks when asked.  I'll pull out the Exile, Monster, Superfly etc (higher aspect ratios, swept forward LE, weighted, etc) for more tricks.  Of the three only the Exile retains the overall flyability and classic feel of the Mamba.  Not a surprise as it is a Ken kite after all.

When flown after the Mamba, the Superfly seems like a U2 spy plane  :D  While the Superfly is tricking with abandon and complaining about the bumpy winds, the Mamba is just up there flying and somehow seems to find the little puffs to keep flying around its broad wind window.  The Mamba throws graceful rotational moves to remind the Superfly how that's done.