Line Climber

Just for fun I decided to make a “line climber.” That’s a device that uses a small sail to ride up the line (string) of a kite, pushed along by the wind. It goes up the line until it hits a small dowel tied in the line. When it bumps into the dowel, the sail’s configuration is changed so that it no longer catches the wind, and the line climber slides back down the line. Reset the sail and repeat.

Here’s what it looks like:

Naturally, I used my GF to cut out (most of) the parts using 3mm BB. I also used it to cut the sail from lightweight nylon ripstop, using the new pass-through beta for the first time. In addition to the wooden parts and the sail, the climber also needs a 10cm (4") piece of aluminum tubing, some pieces of wooden dowel, a small key ring, a few centimeters of vinyl tubing, a wire coat-hanger, and some string. Oh, and glue.

The sail is about 75cm wide and 13.5cm tall. The horizontal spar goes through the aluminum tube near the front of the climber and can rotate in it. A length of kite line is attached to the bottom points of the sail, and the keyring is inserted in its center.

To make the device ready to climb, insert the key ring into a latch in the body, and close the latch. This positions the sail so that it catches the wind. Release the device, and up it goes! When the climber gets up to where the dowel is tied into the kite line, its forward motion opens the latch, releasing the ring. That lets the sail rotate so that it no longer is pushed much by the wind. With nothing to hold it up, the climber slides back down the string to where it started. Here’s a picture of it on its way up the kite line.

Here’s a drawing of how it’s all put together.

For the sail spars, I used 5mm (3/16") dowels for the main horizontal one and 3mm (1/8) for the others. I made the main horizontal spar in two pieces, so that they can be removed from the aluminum tube, but that’s not strictly necessary. The bottom horizontal spar is joined to the two vertical spars using short (~25mm) bits of 3mm ID vinyl tubing that have chunks taken out of their centers to turn them into right-angle connectors. Like this:

One last detail. The only tricky part of assembling the climber is getting the formed coat hanger wire into its position. The easiest way to do it is to assemble the whole climber body except for one of the side cheek blocks that form the sides of the latch. The coat hanger wire part can be inserted by placing the rear vertical portion of the wire between the first two line hangers, then rotating it so that it slides through the second one, then rotating it again to let it pass through the third, and finally doing it one last time to get it to slide through the rear-most hanger. At that point you can rotate the wire into place and install the second cheek block holding the whole thing together.

Here are the .svg files: (27.8 KB)
Hope you have as much fun with this one as I did.


Neat! Never seen one of those. :slightly_smiling_face:


Gosh, that sounds like fun! Thanks for sharing.

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That looks like a fun way to gauge the wind.

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That is so cool! Now I need a kite!!!


That is very cool. Brings back memories of flying kites when I was kid.


Great share!
I had never seen one. whole new dimension to a kite!

Set my kids up with kites, and realized how much fun I had forgotten! I think if you grow up all the way, something has been lost.


Memories indeed. I had a 5’ aluminum framed stunt kite (2 lines)… I didn’t have many “toys” as a kid, but I loved that kite - and terrorizing the other kids with it!

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Never seen this either, looks fun though. Thanks for sharing your unique design!

Well just when you think you’ve seen everything…

this is so very cool! Thanks!

Hey thats neat!
Hmm, might be able to get some pretty cool shot if you were to mount a goPro on there…

When we were kids we’d pick a long blade of grass and tie it around the kite string once the kite was fully out. It would take off up the string and disappear eventually. Cheap entertainment!


We were too poor for that. If we had done too much of that the grass would be gone and then what would we watch? :smiley:


Paint dry?
Or a pot of water?

… a friend of mine tried to make popcorn in a pressure cooker. Thankfully was not in the kitchen when it blew.


We watched too slow to see paint dry. But water, we could have watched water evaporate. What a wasted youth - could have sent grass clippings up kite strung and watched water. Who’da think :man_shrugging:

Oh, how do you get the string in the air? We bought kite strung once but it never did grow no kite on the end.

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Yes, I use it to take things up and let them go, too.

A small parachute with a thin wire loop in the center of the 'chute can be held by the catch in the same way the sail is held. When the climber gets to the top, both the parachute and the climber’s sail are released. The climber comes back down the string and the parachute floats downwind. I’ve used small stuffed animals as the sky divers. Kids get a real kick out of running to retrieve the skydiver.

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Interesting idea.

I know there are folks who do kite aerial photography and have developed some pretty fancy rigs. But I haven’t heard of anyone combining KAP and a line climber.

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Many youths ago I would design, cut and sew out of ripstop nylon some very stable heavy duty rokaku kites for kite aerial photography. I once subestimated the traction power of one such kite and it literally flew away with the Adirondack Chair it supposed to be anchored to. :joy:

Of course I also had my average mylar fighter kites, two-lines, backward flying four-lines, trains, tandems, etc.

Wherever I traveled I would pack a kite. I have flown kites in most countries in the American Continent from Anchorage, Alaska to Punta Arenas, Chile, including the Falklands and many other beaches on islands in the Caribbean, Atlantic and Pacific.
Ohh such times…

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The first time I ever heard of a line climber was when my brother was using it for aerial photography. He would use a cheap/disposable camera rigged up with a shutter trigger that would activate when the camera reached the kite and hit a strike plate. You would only get one picture per climb, but he had some awesome shots from it.