Title:
Kite controller
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An economical kite control that allows a user to quickly and easily modulate the angle of attack of the kite without interfering with the user's ability to quickly and simultaneously steer the kite and without fatiguing the user. The kite control is preferably an elongate, substantially straight, control rod for simultaneously steering and controlling the angle of attack of the kite, and is preferably used in the sport of kiteboarding. In particular, left and right steering lines on the kite, which also serve as power and depower lines, are secured to respective ends of the rod such that rotation of the rod in a first direction along its longitudinal axis causes these lines to wrap around the rod, thereby shortening them with respect to respective depower lines extending from the rod to the kite. In a preferred embodiment, the control rod is operably harnessed to the user. In an alternative preferred embodiment, the depower lines are also operably secured to the rod such that rotation of the rod in the first direction causes the depower lines to lengthen. Conversely, rotation of the rod in an opposite second direction causes the depower lines to shorten and the power lines to lengthen.



Inventors:
Thompson, Mark D. (Vancouver, WA, US)
Application Number:
09/759109
Publication Date:
07/11/2002
Filing Date:
01/11/2001
Assignee:
THOMPSON MARK D.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B63B35/79; (IPC1-7): B63H9/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
WRIGHT, ANDREW D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
John Dawson (Portland, OR, US)
Claims:
1. A control rod for controlling the angle of attack of a kite having power and depower lines comprising: an elongate, substantially straight control rod having a longitudinal axis and operably secured to the power and depower lines such that rotation of the control rod causes the distance between the control rod and the kite along one of the power and depower lines to increase with respect to the distance between the control rod and the kite along the other of the power and depower lines thereby changing the angle of attack of the kite.

2. The control rod of claim 1, wherein: said power line is wound around said control rod in a first direction; and, said depower line is wound around said control rod in an opposite second direction such that rotating said control rod about said longitudinal axis causes one of said power and depower lines to wrap around said control rod and the other of said power and depower lines to unwrap from said control rod.

3. The control rod of claim 1, wherein: said power line is wound around said control rod in a first direction to wrap around said control rod during said rotation; and said depower line is pivotally secured to said control rod so as to not wrap around said control rod during said rotation.

4. The control rod of claim 1, wherein: said depower line is wound around said control rod in a first direction to wrap around said control rod during said rotation and, said power line is pivotally secured to said control rod so as to not wrap around said control rod during said rotation.

5. The control rod of claim 1, further including a harness for operably securing said control rod to a person.

6. The control rod of claim 5, wherein said control rod has first and second ends, and said harness is pivotally secured to said control rod toward said first and second ends such that said control rod may be rotated about its longitudinal axis and pivoted side-to-side about substantially its longitudinal center.

7. The control rod of claim 5, wherein the harness is pivotally secured to the control rod toward the longitudinal center of the control rod such that the control rod may be rotated about its longitudinal axis and pivoted side-to-side about substantially its longitudinal center.

8. The control rod of claim 1, further including hand grips operably secured to said control rod.

9. A kite flying system for simultaneously steering and regulating the power of the kite comprising: a kite having left and right steering lines, a power line, and a depower line extending therefrom; and, an elongate, substantially straight control rod having a left side, right side, and longitudinal axis of rotation; wherein said left and right steering lines are operably secured to said left and right sides of said control rod such that tilting said control rod side-to-side causes said kite to turn, and said power and depower lines are operably secured to said control rod such that rotation of the control rod causes the distance between the control rod and the kite along one of the power and depower lines to increase with respect to the distance between the control rod and the kite along the other of the power and depower lines thereby changing the angle of attack of the kite.

10. The kite flying system of claim 9, wherein said power and depower lines also serve as said left and right steering lines.

11. The control rod of claim 9, wherein: said power line is wound around said control rod in a first direction; and, said depower line is wound around said control rod in a opposite second direction such that rotating said control rod about said axis causes one of said power and depower lines to wrap around said control rod and the other of said power and depower lines to unwrap from said control rod.

12. The control rod of claim 11, further including a harness for operably securing said control rod to a person.

13. The control rod of claim 12, wherein said harness is secured to said control rod toward the longitudinal center of said control rod such that said control rod may be rotated about its longitudinal axis and pivoted side-to-side about substantially its longitudinal center.

14. The control rod of claim 12, wherein said harness is pivotally secured to said control rod toward the ends of said control rod.

15. A kiteboarding system comprising: a floatable board operably secured to a kiteboarder; a kite having power and depower lines for regulating the angle with which it strikes wind; an elongate controller held by said kiteboarder such that said kite propels the kiteboarder on said floatable device, said controller being operably secured to said power and depower lines such that rotation of the control rod by said kiteboarder causes the distance between the controller and the kite along one of the power and depower lines to increase with respect to the distance between the controller and the kite along the other of the power and depower lines thereby changing the angle with which the kite strikes the wind and regulating power provided by said kite.

16. The kiteboarding system of claim 15, further including left and right steering lines extending between said kite and said controller such that said kiteboarder may simultaneously steer said kite and regulate said kite's power by rotating and tilting said controller.

17. The kiteboarding system of claim 15, wherein: said power line is wound around said controller in a first direction; and, said depower line is wound around said controller in a opposite second direction such that rotating said controller about said axis causes one of said power and depower lines to wrap around said controller and the other of said power and depower lines to unwrap from said controller.

18. The kiteboarding system of claim 15, wherein: said power line is wound around said controller in a first direction to wrap around said control rod during said rotation; and said depower line is pivotally secured to said controller so as to not wrap around said control rod during said rotation.

19. The kiteboarding system of claim 15, further including a harness for operably securing said control rod to a person.

20. The kiteboarding system of claim 15, wherein said controller is an elongate, cylindrical rod.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The present invention relates to a device for controlling a kite, preferably used in the sport of kiteboarding. In particular, the device allows a user to adjust the kite's power quickly and easily.

BACKGROUND AND SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0002] The sport of kiteboarding is roughly a cross between sailboarding and parasailing. In particular, the typical kiteboarder rides a floatable board, such as a sailboard, surfboard, wakeboard or the like, over the water while being propelled by a large kite being flown by the kiteboarder.

[0003] In general, the kiteboarder manipulates the kite in wind such that it flies above and downwind of him or her, thereby pulling the kiteboarder along a path. The typical kite is shaped like an airfoil and steerable to the left or right by simultaneously pulling on lines extending from one side of the kite while loosening similar lines extending from the other side of the kite. For example, to command a typical kite to move left of its current position, a kiteboarder can pull on lines extending from the left side of the kite (referred to as left steering lines herein) while releasing lines extending from the right side of the kite (referred to as right steering lines herein).

[0004] One common way for a kiteboarder to control such lines is to secure the left and right steering lines on opposite ends of an elongate control rod, which is preferably harnessed to the kiteboarder. Accordingly, the kiteboarder can command the kite to move left by pulling the left side of the control rod closer to him or her than the right side of the control rod. Similarly, the kiteboarder can command the kite to move to the right by pulling on the right side of the rod closer to him or her than the left side. Obviously, when the left and right sides of the rod are equally spaced from the kiteboarder, the kite holds its current position.

[0005] More recently, kiteboarders have found that by modulating the angle of attack of the kite with respect to the wind the amount of force generated by the kite can be regulated by the kiteboarder during use. In particular, a kiteboarder can maximize the power, or lift, generated by the kite by positioning the kite perpendicular to the wind. Similarly, lift generated by the kite can be minimized by aligning the leading edge of the kite to be substantially parallel to the direction of the wind. Accordingly, a kiteboarder can select and adjust the power provided by the kite to any desired setting simply by changing the kite's angle of attack.

[0006] One known system for allowing kiteboarders to control the angle of attack of the kite includes securing power lines toward the trailing edge of the kite and depower or brake lines along the leading edge of the kite. Accordingly, the angle of attack of the kite can be increased, thereby providing maximum power, by pulling on the power lines and loosening the depower lines to align the kite to be substantially perpendicular with the direction of the wind. Similarly, the angle of attack can be minimized, thereby providing minimum power, by pulling on the depower lines and loosening the power lines to align the leading edge of the kite to be substantially parallel with the wind.

[0007] A power line and a depower line typically form a pair of lines with a first pair of lines mounted on the left side of the kite, and a second pair of lines mounted one the right side of the kite, thereby allowing the pairs of lines to also serve as left or right steering lines, respectfully.

[0008] A kiteboarder controls his or her movement through the water by simultaneously shifting his or her weight on the floatable board, directing the kite to fly in a particular direction, and properly managing the power provided by the kite. With practice, a kiteboarder can maneuver through the water in all directions available to a typical sailboat or sailboard. However, unlike these more conventional sports, the lift provided by a kite can also be harnessed to propel the kiteboarder as high as 50 feet above the water with hang times exceeding 5 seconds, adding to the thrill of the sport.

[0009] Wind tends to change direction quickly and it is prone gusts. Accordingly, a kiteboarder must be able to quickly and precisely modulate the kite's power without interfering with steering of the kite. However, known systems for simultaneously controlling power and depower lines while steering a kite have several disadvantages.

[0010] One known system includes detachably securing the depower lines to the kiteboarder, while securing the power lines to a conventional elongate control rod. By moving the control rod closer or away from the kiteboarder, the angle of attack of the kite is commanded. However, the forces acting on the control rod are quite large. Accordingly, control bars are preferably harnessed to the kiteboarder, thereby preventing the kiteboarder's arms from bearing the majority of the forces generated by the kite. This type of system requires the kiteboarder to unharness the control rod to allow it to be moved as described. Accordingly, in order to dynamically control the angle of attack of the kite with such a system, the kiteboarder's arms must carry much of the force generated by the kite. Such forces can quickly fatigue a kiteboarder, and in some cases, may be too great to allow some potential kiteboarders to participate in the sport.

[0011] Another known system includes securing power lines to the center of an elongate curved bar while securing the depower lines at the ends of the bar. Accordingly, a kiteboarder can modulate the angle of attack of the kite by rotating the bar such that depower lines are pulled while the power lines remain fixed. However, waves and wind gusts, normally associated with sailing in general, can cause the rotational position of the bar to fluctuate. Such fluctuations between the power and depower lines can cause the kite to vacillate, and stall or collapse, or become overpowered. Moreover, the kiteboarder is required to constantly provide a force to hold the bar in its commanded rotated position, contributing to kiteboarder fatigue. Some systems also call for the kiteboarder to adjust the depower lines with straps, cleats, or the like. However, such adjustment is difficult to perform quickly, especially in response to wind gusts. Moreover, the kiteboarder must release at least one hand from the control bar to make such adjustments, thereby compromising the kiteboarder's ability to control and steer the kite.

[0012] Thus, despite the known improvements to kite controls, there remains a need for an economical kite control that allows a user to quickly and easily modulate the angle of attack of the kite without interfering with the user's ability to quickly and simultaneously steer the kite and without fatiguing the user.

[0013] The present invention is an elongate, substantially straight, control rod for simultaneously steering and controlling the angle of attack of the kite. In particular, left and right steering lines, which also serve as power lines, are secured to respective ends of the rod such that rotation of the rod in a first direction along its longitudinal axis causes these lines to wrap around the rod, thereby shortening them with respect to respective depower lines secured to the rod. In a preferred embodiment, the depower lines are also operably secured to the rod such that rotation of the rod in the first direction causes the depower lines to lengthen. Conversely, rotation of the rod in an opposite second direction causes the depower lines to shorten and the power lines to lengthen.

[0014] A user can steer the kite simply by bringing one end of the control bar representing the desired direction of movement of the kite closer to him or her than the opposite end of the control bar. Moreover, the angle of attack of the kite, and accordingly its power, can be quickly, and if desired simultaneously, adjusted and optimized by simply rotating the control bar about its longitudinal axis.

[0015] Preferably, the control rod includes hand grips, and is harnessed to the kiteboarder such that the majority of the loads generated by the kite are not carried by the kiteboarder's arms.

[0016] Additional objects and advantages of the present invention will be apparent from the detailed description of the preferred embodiment thereof, which proceeds with reference to the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0017] FIG. 1 is an isometric view of a kiteboarding system in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

[0018] FIG. 2 is an isometric view of a control rod used in the kiteboarding system of FIG. 1 and in accordance with a first preferred embodiment of the present invention showing fragmentary portions of possible power and depower lines.

[0019] FIG. 3 is a schematic side view of the control rod and kite elements of the kiteboarding system of FIG. 1.

[0020] FIG. 4 is an isometric view of the control rod in FIG. 2 showing a possible alternative harness assembly.

[0021] FIG. 5 is an isometric view of a control rod in accordance with a second preferred embodiment of the present invention.

[0022] FIG. 6 is an isometric view of a control rod in accordance with a third preferred embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0023] A kite control rod 10 (10′ in FIG. 5, and 10″ in FIG. 6), preferably for use in the sport of kiteboarding is shown in FIGS. 1-6.

[0024] A. First Preferred Embodiment

[0025] In a first preferred embodiment, shown in FIGS. 1-4, a kiteboarder 12 is operably secured and supported on the water 14 by a floatable board 16, which is preferably a sailboard, surfboard, wakeboard or the like. He or she is then propelled by a large kite 18 being flown in the wind 20 by the kiteboarder 12.

[0026] In particular, the typical kite 18 is shaped like an airfoil and has a leading edge 30, a trailing edge 32, a left side 34 and a right side 36. The kite is steerable to the left or right by left and right steering lines 38a, 38b respectively, extending from the respective sides 34, 36, respectively, of the kite 18 as shown in FIG. 1.

[0027] Preferably, the left and right sides 34, 36 respectively, each include at least one line located toward the leading edge 30, referred to has a depower line 40a, 40b, respectively herein, and another line located toward the trailing edge 32, referred to as a power line 42a, 42b, respectively herein, such that the pitch, or angle of attack, of the kite 18 may be adjusted. A power line 42a, 42b and a depower line 40a, 40b, respectively, typically form a pair of lines with a first pair of lines 44a mounted on the left side 34 of the kite 18, and a second pair of lines 44b mounted one the right side 36 of the kite 18, thereby allowing the pair of lines 44a, 44b to also serve as left or right steering lines 38a, 38b respectfully.

[0028] The opposite ends of the left and right lines are secured to an elongate, substantially straight, control rod 10. In particular, the left lines 40a, 42a are secured toward the left side 50 of control rod and the right lines 40b, 42b are secured toward the right side 52 of the control rod 10 as shown in FIG. 2. The left and right depower lines 40a, 40b are preferably secured to their respective ends of the control rod 10 such that rotation of the rod in a first direction, shown by arrow 56, causes these lines to wrap around the control rod 10, thereby shortening both of them. Respective left and right power lines 42a, 42b are secured and wound around the control rod 10 such that rotation of the control rod 10 in the direction of arrow 56 causes these power lines to unwind, thereby lengthening both of them. It can be appreciated that rotation of the rod a second direction, shown by arrow 54, will cause the depower lines 40a, 40b to lengthen and the power lines 42a, 42b to shorten.

[0029] Preferably, hand grips 60 are operably secured to the control rod 10 to facilitate a kiteboarder's comfort, grasp and rotation of the control rod 10. Such hand grips 60 can include traditional foam and other common grip materials.

[0030] More preferably, a harness 62 operably secures the kiteboarder 12 to the control rod 10. In particular, the harness 62 holds the control rod 10 a fixed distance away from the kiteboarder 12, thereby allowing the kiteboarder's body to carry the majority of the force generated by the kite 18. In addition, the harness 62 permits the kiteboarder 12 to tilt the control rod 10 side-to-side, to steer the kite 18, and rotate the control rod 10 about its longitudinal axis, to control the angle of attack of the kite 18.

[0031] One known harness 62 is operably secured toward the ends 50, 52 of the control rod 10. In particular, the harness 62 includes a section of heavy rope having opposite ends 94a, 94b respectively pivotally attached toward the respective left and right ends 50, 52 of the control rod 10. The harness rope if of proper length such that it can be secured to the kiteboarder by being placed under a hook 63 that is attached to the rider wearing a conventional waist or seat harness 65 as shown in FIG. 1. As a result, the control rod 10 is pivotally secured to the kiteboarder 12, and may also be tilted side-to-side as previously described.

[0032] A kiteboarder 12 can steer the kite 18 simply by bringing one end of the control rod 10 representing the desired direction of movement of the kite closer to him or her than the opposite end of the control rod. For example, to move the kite 18 to the left, the kiteboarder 12 brings the left side of the control rod 10 closer to him or her than the right side.

[0033] Moreover, the angle of attack of the kite 18, and accordingly its power, can be quickly, and if desired simultaneously, adjusted and optimized by simply rotating the control rod 10 about its longitudinal axis. For example and as best shown in FIG. 3, a kite 18 in a depowered position 80 is shown in solid lines. A kiteboarder 12 can increase the power on the kite 18 by rotating the control rod 10 in the direction of arrow 54. Such rotation causes the depower lines 40a, 40b to lengthen and the power lines 42a, 42b to shorten, thereby causing the angle of attack of the kite 18 with respect to the direction of the wind 20 to move as shown in broken lines 82 (FIG. 3) and increasing the power provided by the kite 18. By rotating the control rod 10 in the opposite direction, the power provide by the kite 18 can also be reduced. In can be appreciated that a kiteboarder 12 can adjust the angle of attack to the kite 18 to any desired position, thereby allowing the kiteboarder 12 to dynamically adjust and optimize the power provided by the kite while simultaneously steering the kite 18.

[0034] B. Alternative Harness Assembly

[0035] An alternative preferred harness 62′ for use on the control rod 10 is shown in FIG. 4. In general, the control rod 10 of this embodiment has the same basic elements and construction of the first preferred embodiment. Accordingly, in order to avoid undue repetition, unless specifically identified otherwise below, reference numerals refer to like numbered elements having a like orientation and configuration as those elements identified in the discussion of the first preferred embodiment.

[0036] The alternative preferred harness 62′, shown in FIG. 4, includes operably securing a ring 64 within a recess 66 that is centrally located on the control rod. The ring 64 is then operably secured to a line having left and right elongate portions 90, 92, respectively with each portion having a first end 95a and an opposite distal end 95b. The first end 95a of each portion 90, 92 includes a device, such as a conventional buckle assembly 72 and attachment holes 74 for detachably securing the elongate portion 90, 92 together to be operably secured to the hook 63 (FIG. 1) on the conventional waist or seat harness 65 (FIG. 1) worn by the kiteboarder. As a result, the control rod 10 can rotate within the ring 64 and tilt side-to-side.

[0037] C. Second Preferred Embodiment

[0038] A second alternative preferred control rod 10′ is FIG. 5. In general, the control rod 10′ of this embodiment has the same basic elements and construction of the first preferred embodiment. Accordingly, in order to avoid undue repetition, unless specifically identified otherwise below, reference numerals refer to like numbered elements having a like orientation and configuration as those elements identified in the discussion of the first preferred embodiment.

[0039] In the second preferred embodiment, the depower lines 40a, 40b are secured to their respective ends of the control rod 10′ such that rotation of the rod in a first direction, shown by arrow 56 causes these lines to wrap around the control rod 10, thereby shortening both of them. Similarly, rotation of the control rod in the opposite direction will cause these lines to unwrap and thus lengthen.

[0040] The respective left and right power lines 42a, 42b are pivotally secured to the rod as shown in FIG. 5, such that rotation of the control rod causes the power lines to maintain their length. One know device for pivotally securing the power lines 42a, 42b as described includes securing these lines to rings 96a, 96b encircling the control rod 10′. As a result, rotation of the control rod 10′ causes the length of the depower lines 40a, 40b to change with respect to the length of the power lines 42a, 42b, thereby changing the angle of attack of the kite 18.

[0041] D. Third Preferred Embodiment

[0042] A third alternative preferred control rod 10″ is FIG. 6. In general, the control rod 10″ of this embodiment has the same basic elements and construction of the first preferred. Accordingly, in order to avoid undue repetition, unless specifically identified otherwise below, reference numerals refer to like numbered elements having a like orientation and configuration as those elements identified in the discussion of the first preferred embodiment.

[0043] In the third preferred embodiment, the power lines 42a, 42b are secured to their respective ends of the control rod 10″ such that rotation of the control rod 10 in a first direction, shown by arrow 54 causes these lines to wrap around the control rod 10″, thereby shortening both of them. Similarly, rotation of the control rod 10″ in the opposite direction will case these lines to lengthen.

[0044] The respective left and right depower lines 40a, 40b are pivotally secured to the control rod 10″ as shown in FIG. 6, such that rotation of the control rod causes the depower lines 40a, 40b to maintain their length. One know device for pivotally securing the depower lines 40a, 40b as described includes securing these lines to rings 98a, 98b encircling the control rod 10′. As a result, rotation of the control rod 10″ causes the length of the power lines 42a, 42b to change with respect to the length of the depower lines 40a, 40b, thereby changing the angle of attack of the kite 18.

[0045] In view of the many possible embodiments to which the principles may be put, it should be recognized that the detailed embodiment is illustrative only and should not be taken as limiting the scope of our invention. For example, the control rod the embodiments disclosed herein can include any conventional harness assembly, or operate effectively without any harness attached to it. Similarly, the positioning of the hand grips with respect to the attachment points for the left and right steering, power, and depower lines can be readily modified. Also, the relative positions of the power and depower lines along the control rod can be reversed without substantially altering the control mechanism. Accordingly, we claim as our invention all such modifications as may come within the scope and spirit of the following claims and equivalents thereto. I claim: