FAQ

  1. You say that the kite is pulled out when the wind pulls hard, and pulled back in when it pulls not so hard.  What about when the wind blows consistently?

    Consistent wind is actually the ideal.  The variation in pulling force is effected by a combination of how we steer the kite, and de-power the kite with the brake lines.

  2. What happens when there is no wind?

    KiteBot won't be used.  Until we prove the viability of the system under manual operation, we'll deliberately ignore questions of automation.  Our plan is that with the mechanical decoupling of steering and drive/recoil, launching and landing the kite can be done with relative ease (compared to fixed line-length scenarios).

  3. Why are there so many chains used for coupling components in the present design?  Isn't this inefficient?

    Yes, it's inefficient.  But I think this is the cheapest/simplest way to realize an initial prototype.  For example, it would be more efficient to attach the left and right steering spools to the planet and outer ring (resp.) of the Sturmey Archer planetary gear set (and adjust for the gearing ratio in spool diameter), but in trying to picture how this would physically would be done, it seemed to introduce a lot of mechanical complexity.  However, I could be entirely wrong in this estimation, which would be a very welcome development.

    Update 12-12-2011:  There's only 1 chain now, and the front SA is no more.

  4. In my experience flying a kite, there's a somewhat delicate tugging and releasing interaction with the kite line(s) to get the kite to stay aloft, particularly in light winds.  How would this be done with KiteBot.

    The drag of the planet ring in the D/R subsystem should allow for this the "tugging-and-releasing".  In stronger winds, we would also want to adjust the length of the rear, braking lines to partially de-power the kite the same way a kiteboarder does.  The partial de-powering may end up being the primary mechanism for creating the force differential allowing the wind to do a net positive amount of work on KiteBot.

  5. What stage is the project at?

    It's been at the present stage (as of March 2010) for some time now.  Which is to say, I've come up with the design described here and convinced myself that the two planetary gear sets should work as intended.  But I haven't succeeded in simulating the drive/recoil planetary gear set, or put metal to metal, as it were.  I'm hoping that by putting the design out here, I'll motivate to take it to take it to the next stage, get some help from people more skilled at mechanics than myself, and/or someone will point out exactly why it's clear that I'm smoking crack (proverbially).

    Update 12-12-2011:  Finished simulator, and partially complete simplified physical prototype.  See Still, Still here.

  6. Has KiteBot been patented?

    There are dozens of patents covering varying aspects of and approaches to using kites to harness wind energy.  These date from the 1970s to present, and surely there's many more on the way.  Since intellectual property litigation can't necessarily be avoided by simply not participating, we have filed a provisional patent application to cover the novel uses of mechanical components described on this site.  Bah.


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