Title:
Control line system for power kites
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A line guide system for controlling a power kite (20) comprising a line guide system (50) directing multiple control lines (30) within line guide mechanisms (52) and line sheath (54). Further a harness line (34) and harness line handle (62) connecting the kite controller (32) and the tractive pull of the power kite to the kite operator (24).



Inventors:
Hansel, Byron Zachary (East Lansing, MI, US)
Application Number:
10/460096
Publication Date:
02/24/2005
Filing Date:
06/13/2003
Assignee:
HANSEL BYRON ZACHARY
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B63B35/79; (IPC1-7): F41J9/08
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
SEMUNEGUS, LULIT
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BYRON Z. HANSEL (HOOD RIVER, OR, US)
Claims:
1. A line guide system for controlling a power kite, Comprising:

2. The line guide system of claim 1, further including a line guide mechanism adapted to direct multiple control lines from the kite operator to the kite, generally comprising;

3. The line guide mechanism of claim 2 wherein two or more line guides are positioned in reference to the kite and kite controller

4. The line guide mechanism of claim 2, further including multiple hole patterns

5. The line guide mechanism of claim 2 wherein the size, shape, and material are capable of harnessing and redirecting the tractive force of the kite with minimal friction

6. The line guide mechanism of claim 2, further including a line guide stopper as means of securing said line guide at desired location

7. The line guide system of claim 1, further including control lines comprising plural connection points and generally comprising;

8. The line guide system of claim 1, further including a line sheath capable of encompassing multiple control lines with minimal friction

9. The line guide system of claim 1, further including a flute as a means of connecting said line sheath from claim 8 to said line guide mechanism of claim 2

10. The line guide system of claim 1, further including a harness line generally generally comprising;

11. The harness line of claim 10, further including a graspable handle portion of rigid structure

12. The harness line of claim 10, wherein there is a means of connecting the tractive force of the kite to the kite operator

13. The harness line of claim 10, further including an emergency release as means of immediate disconnection of the kite operator form the tractive force of the kite

14. A method of containing control lines for use with a power kite, comprising: (a) The method of claim 14 wherein multiple control lines are inserted into and through numerous line guides (b) The method of claim 14 wherein multiple control lines and line guides are covered with a sheath (c) The method of claim 14 wherein said line sheath is connected to said line guide (d) The method of claim 14 wherein multiple control lines are channeled to the kite and kite controller

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

Not Applicable

FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH

Not Applicable

SEQUENCE LISTING OR PROGRAM

Not Applicable

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION—FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to the control line systems of power kites, generally associated with the activity of kiteboarding.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Power kites add a new dimension to flying kites. These large kites, with a surface area greater than about two square meters, are capable of generating substantial tractive forces. These tractive forces have been used in many ways to convert kite flying from an almost sedentary pastime to a fast-paced and challenging activity. For example, athletes and thrill seekers have combined power kites with boards, skis, boats, sleds and wheeled land vessels to speed across water and land. The sport of kiteboarding is becoming evermore popular, and the demands for high quality equipment that is safe and simple to operate has become a very high priority.

The large forces generated by power kites demand significant operator control throughout the kite set up, launching process, kite flying cycle, and the landing process. In many cases the kite is tethered to a hand held control bar by a multitude of control lines. The lines transfer the load of the kite to the kite operator and transfer the kite operator's movement of the control bar to the kite.

Multiple lines coming off the control bar and up to the kite can be very dangerous. During the kite's launch, they can be snagged on the ground, tangled, or worse the lines may wrap around a bystander causing injuries. Line tangles and snags complicate the launch and may prevent the kite from flying properly. Further, such events may cause the line to be weakened, or even break. If a kite line that is weakened during the launch breaks during the flight cycle, the kite operator will lose control of the kite and jeopardize his safety and the safety of others around him.

Another concern during launch is the amount of space on a launch site that is consumed by setting up the control lines. With a multitude of control lines of at least about 20 meters to more than 28 meters a peice, each operator setting up his kite's lines takes up substantial space. It is a common occurrence to spend a considerable amount of time untangling kite lines during set up. With multiple kite operators all setting up long lines and consuming large portions of launch sites, space becomes limited and the chance of a tangle or catching a line on a fellow operator becomes increasingly viable.

Inventions attempting to solve the issue of long lines have come up with many alternatives such as variable line kite controllers with spooling apparatuses, line organizers, and others but are unsatisfactory. For example, variable line kite controllers and spooling apparatuses such as those claimed in patent application US 2002/0084384 A1, are bulky in size, heavy in weight, can be faulty, and still leave all of the control lines separate as they extend to the kite.

During the flight cycle, it is common to come into close contact with fellow kiteboarders. With multiple lines stemming from the control bar to the kite, there is a greater chance of snagging a kite line on another kite enthusiast or some other person on the surface where the kite is being flown. Being caught up in kite lines can cause serious injury and even death. In the event that a kite line was to strike another person, serious injury would certainly result. In the event that a kite line was to break during the flight cycle, the kite operator would be at risk of being struck by a control line or hitting someone else. Further, a broken line has the capacity to wrap around an object and re-power the kite. Since the kite operator has no control over the kite in the case of a broken line, the kite can be very dangerous in this situation. If the line becomes taut after catching on an object or person, the kite may become re-powered and generate the same tractive force as it would when it is in full operation, creating multiple hundreds of pounds of pull on the lines.

Upon landing the kite, many concerns can arise from multiple lines. Getting a line snagged on the ground or an obtrusive object can cause the operator to lose control of the kite. If the line comes down around a person or another kite system, tangles and injuries may result. Wrapping up the lines can also be a difficult job resulting in further tangles of the lines and may be very time consuming.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION—OBJECTS AND ADVANTAGES

Accordingly, besides the objects and advantages of the contained line guide system detailed in my patent, there are several objects and advantages of the present invention. The contained line system prevents tangling of control lines at all stages of the kite flying cycle including set up, kite launch, flight cycle, landing and disassembling of the kite system. Containment of the control lines within a line sheath rids the issue of snagging the lines, hence protecting the lines from weakening and/or breaking. Further, the line guide system creates a contained set of control lines extending to the kite from the kite controller. This system also increases the steering response of the kite.

In terms of simplicity and ease of set up, the contained line system has many advantages over the present control line systems. First, contained lines are much simpler to set up, hence shortening the set up time. Second, since this system incorporates a multitude of control lines into a contained set of lines, which does not have to be checked for tangles before use, this system takes up less space on a launch site and is easily laid out for connection to both the control bar and kite. Finally, with the contained line system, the issue of line snags during launch (which is common with the current line systems) is eliminated.

In terms of safety, containing multiple control lines into at least one or two contained line systems, creates a more visible and less dangerous line system. With a single line there is a much smaller chance of catching a line on something or someone. Since the line is more visible it is more easily seen by the kite operator and surrounding individuals. This will aid in keeping the line system away from people and objects that can cause harm and difficulty. Since the contained line system is larger in diameter than each individual line, the severity of injury in the case of contact with a person is lessened.

By containing the lines within a sheath, the issues associated with a line breaking are also lessened substantially. Instead of whipping uncontrollably in an area as large as the line's length, the broken line will, in many cases, remain within the line sheath, hence disabling it from wrapping around someone or something or getting caught on an object and re-powering the kite. A broken control line can be an extremely dangerous situation, with the line whipping around uncontrollably, Keeping the line within the sheath after a break creates a large advantage in the prospect of a safe landing without injury.

The future of kiteboarding is dependent on safe operation of the activity. Further objects and advantages are to provide a line control system that is simple to use, safe to operate, and easy and inexpensive to manufacture. This system can be applied to power kite systems of all sizes and types and provides a safe and simple alternative to present control line systems. The objects and advantages will become apparent from a consideration of the ensuing description and drawings. Still Further, the invention will be appreciated by kiteboarders and bystanders around the globe.

SUMMARY

In accordance with the present invention, a device for controlling a power kite comprising a line guide system for means of directing multiple control lines within line guides and sheath. Further, a harness line and harness line handle as a means of transferring tractive pull from a power kite to a kite operator.

DRAWINGS-FIGURES

FIG. Prior Art is a perspective view of a kite operator controlling a power kite with various aspects of prior art power kite systems.

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a kite operator controlling a power kite with various aspects of a power kite system in accordance with aspects of the invention.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a kite operator controlling a power kite with various aspects of a power kite system in accordance with aspects of the invention.

FIG. 3 is a plan view of aspects of power kite system in FIG. 1, showing orientation of a control line system to kite controller and kite.

FIG. 4 is a plan view of aspects of the kite control system in FIG. 2, showing orientation of a control line system to kite controller and kite.

FIG. 5 is a plan view of selected aspects of a control line system of FIGS. 1 and 3, including the harness line, kite controller and control lines of FIGS. 1 and 2.

FIG. 6 is a plan view of various aspects of a control line system of FIGS. 2 and 4, including the harness line, kite controller and control lines.

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of the kite operator connected to the harness line by a spreader bar hook attached to the harness.

FIG. 8 is a plan view of the harness line in reference to the kite controller, comprising a harness line handle and harness line attachment.

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of a line guide system, encompassing and directing four control lines.

FIGS. 9A-D are plan views of multiple line guide hole configuration patterns for directing control lines.

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of a line guide system, encompassing and directing two control lines.

FIG. 10A is a plan view of a suitable line guide hole configuration pattern for directing control lines.

DRAWINGS—Reference Numerals

20 Kite System

22 Kite

24 Kite Operator

26 Conveyance Platform

28 Surface

30 Control Line System

32 Kite Controller

34 Harness Line

36 Harness

38 Lead lines

38A Left Front Kite Lead Line

38B Right Front Kite Lead Line

38C Left Rear Kite Lead Line

38D Right Rear Kite Lead Line

40 Front Corners

40A Left Front Corner

40B Right Front Corner

42 Rear Corners

42A Left Rear Corner

42B Right Rear Corner

44 Connection Points

46 Leading Edge

48 Trailing Edge

50 Line Guide System

52 Line Guide Mechanism

54 Line Sheath

56 Power Lines

56A Left Power Line

56B Right Power Line

58 Steering Lines

58A Left Steering Line

58B Right Steering Line

60 Sheetline Mechanism

62 Harness Line Handle

64 Spreader Bar Hook

66 Emergency Release

68 Safety release

70 Line Guide Stoppers

72 Flute

74 Harness line attachment

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Section One—FIGS. 1 and 2—Power Kite Systems

This section describes the elements of a power kite system and how these elements are physically and functionally interconnected; see FIG. 1. In a power kite system 20, a kite 22 may be used to pull a kite operator 24 on a conveyance platform 26 (in this case a kiteboard), across a surface 28. The kite is connected to the operator by a number of control lines 30 (in this case, four) attached to a control bar 32. The control bar, also referred to as a kite controller may be grasped by the operator and/or linked to the operator with a harness line 34 attached to a harness 36.

The kite generally comprises any tethered flying device elevated above a surface by an interplay of forces provided by the wind, gravity, the control lines, and some form of tension by the kite operator. Here wind refers to the force of moving air, which may be created by air moving relative to the kite and/or the kite moving relative to the air. Wind may be at least about 5 knots up to about 40 knots or more. Power kites may be flown by a stationary operator or used to generate a tractive conveyance force and flown by a moving operator, commonly associated to the activity of kiteboarding.

The kite operator 24 generally comprises any person or persons linked to the power generated by the kite. The kite may be flown by a stationary or moving operator.

The conveyance platform 26 generally comprises any structure or device that can be pulled over a surface by the force of the kite. Alternatively the operator's feet may serve as the conveyance platform that contacts the surface.

The surface 28 generally comprises any boundary capable of slidingly supporting a conveyance platform.

The control lines 30 generally comprises any elongated tethering material capable of coupling the kite (and the force generated by the kite) to the kite controller. Said control lines may be a multitude of kite lines that directly connect the kite controller to the kite or may also include multiple lead lines 38. Lead lines are generally of greater diameter than the control lines. The lead lines may link the control line to the kite controller, generally being directly attached to the controller. Said lead lines provide a means of adjusting the control line length to accurately maneuver the kite during flight. Said lead lines may also extend directly from the front corners 40 and/or rear corners 42 of the kite to the control lines in order to adjust for the correct ratio of control line length to the kite size. The lead lines may be connected at connection points 44, including various knots and/or looping techniques. The control lines may include two, three, four, or more lines attached to the kite at plural sites.

As shown in FIG. 1, plural lines may extend to the leading edge 46 and trailing edge 48 of the kite from the kite controller through a line guide system 50. The line guide system is comprised of at least two line guides 52 (of various hole patterns), and a line sheath 54 (of various materials) which contains the control lines within it. Line guide systems are described in detail in section 3. In this case, four lines extend from the lead lines connected to the kite controller, through a single line guide system, and connect to the lead lines adjacent to the kite.

Other numbers and distributions of the line guide systems may be suitable. For example, FIG. 2 illustrates another suitable line guide system of four control lines directed through two separate line guide systems. In this case the four lines are channeled through two separate line guide systems, with 2 lines in each line guide and sheath, and attached to the lead lines of the kite. These configurations may be used to channel a plurality of control lines attached to the lead lines and/or kite and/or kite controller into an enclosed line system from the kite to the kite controller. In some embodiments other distributions of control lines will extend into a multitude of line guide system patterns. Generally at least two control lines will be used, with one extending from each side of the kite controller upward to the kite.

The kite controller 32 generally comprises any device for connecting the body of the operator 24 to the pull of the control lines 30. The kite controller may allow fixed or adjustable position of control lines, generally being capable of withstanding at least about 200 pounds of tractive force from the kite.

The harness 36 generally comprises any mechanism for connecting the kite controller to the kite operator's body, both to disperse force from the operator's hands and to prevent separation of the kite controller from the kite operator. The harness should be strong enough to withstand the entire force generated by the kite, and generally extends around the waist and/or torso of the operator. The harness line 34 facilitates the connection from the kite controller 32 to the harness 36.

Section Two—FIGS. 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8—Control Line Systems

This section describes the elements of the control line system and how these parts are physically and functionally interconnected to various elements of the kite control system. As shown in FIG. 3, plural control lines extend from plural lead lines attached to the kite and kite controller. Control lines generally comprise one or more central or power lines 56A-B which may extend to the front of the kite (or front lead lines) and two or more outer or steering lines 58A-B which may extend to the rear corners of the kite (or rear lead lines). In this case, said control lines consist of a left power line 56A, a right power line 56B, a left steering line 58A, and a right steering line 58B. In this case of four control lines, said lead lines are connected to the left front corner 40A, right front corner 40B, left rear corner 42A, and right rear corner 42B of the kite. Typically, each control line connects to a corresponding lead line at the kite and/or kite controller. Said lead lines consist of a left front kite lead line 38A, right front kite lead line 38B, left rear kite lead line 38C, and right rear kite lead line 38D which extend from the kite. These lead lines, of various lengths and diameters, may be used to adjust the kite's flight performance. Lead lines may also extend from the kite controller to the corresponding control lines. Such lead lines consist of a left power kite controller lead line 38E, right power kite controller lead line 38F, left steering kite controller lead line 38G, and right steering kite controller lead line 38H. Generally such lead lines adjust control line length and the kite's flight performance.

Other numbers and distributions may be suitable. For example, FIG. 4 illustrates an alternative four control line system to FIG. 3. In this case the four control lines are directed through two separate line control systems with two lines in each guide and sheath.

Changing the relative lengths of control lines during kite flying, and thus the power exerted by the kite, is generally referred to as sheeting. Generally, sheeting is affected by the relative deployed lengths of control lines that extend to the front and rear of the kite. FIG. 5 depicts a sheeting adjustment mechanism 60 which generally comprises any mechanism that allows the kite operator to independently regulate the effective length of a subset of control lines. Generally the sheeting adjustment mechanism is used to alter the pitch of the kite, thus changing the amount of wind harnessed and the force generated by the kite.

As shown in FIG. 7, the harness line 34 facilitates the connection from the kite controller to the harness by providing a link from the spreader bar hook 64 to the kite controller. Said harness line may include a harness line handle 62. Said harness line handle enables the kite operator to grasp the harness line for connection and release from the spreader bar hook. Said harness line handle must be of at least adequate size for a hand to grasp, and may be larger. The harness line handle is of rigid structure in order to maintain integrity under tension and prevent twisting of the line upon itself.

FIG. 8 details the kite controller attachment 74 which is one suitable method of connecting the harness line to the kite controller. Other methods may also be suitable to connect said harness line. FIG. 5 shows the harness line and harness line handle in relationship to the kite controller. Shown in FIG. 5, the emergency release, 66 allows the kite operator to disconnect immediately from the kite and control system while under load. The device is deployed by pulling on the loop located on the handle.

Section Three—FIGS. 5, 9, 9A-D, 10, 10A Line Control Systems

As shown in FIG. 9, a line guide system 50 may include multiple control lines, contained within at least two line guides 52 and a line sheath 54. Line sheaths 54 are generally elongate tubes with an inner parameter that is greater than the parameter of the control lines, to allow the control lines to pass through the sheath easily. Line sheaths may be slidably positioned over multiple control lines as a means of containment and protection. The size and composition of the line sheaths may be selected based on functional considerations. As mentioned above, the inner parameter is selected to allow the control lines to pass easily through the sheath. Sheaths may be somewhat flexible, water resistant, light in weight, and protective against abrasion of the control lines within it.

The line guide 52 is a mechanism containing channels through which multiple control lines may be passed in a controlled manner. Line guides may be comprised of multiple hole configuration patterns suitable for 1, 2, 3, 4 or more control lines. The size, shape and material will generally be adequate to minimize friction of lines traveling through the line guide mechanism. Said mechanism will generally maintain a sustained position by multiple line guide stoppers 70, positioned above and below the line guide on one or more power lines 56A-B. In the case of FIG. 9 the line guide stoppers are sandwiching the line guide nearest the kite controller on the left power line and the guide nearest the kite on the right power line. Line guide stoppers must be large enough to prevent them from traveling through the line holes in the guide and strong enough to withstand the force generated by the kite. Alternative methods and configurations may also be suitable. For example FIG. 10 illustrates a line guide system of two lines per guide. This method may be suitable for two control line kite systems or may be used in conjunction with another line guide system for four control line kite systems. FIG. 10A details a suitable hole pattern for two control lines. Multiple configurations are suitable for multiple control lines. Some suitable patterns are shown in FIGS. 9A-D.

As shown in FIG. 9, a flute 72 extends around the line guide as means of securing the line sheath to the line guide. This can be achieved in multiple ways. In this case it is secured by a tight fitting band encompassing the line guide and sheath at the flute. Other means of attachment may be suitable.

Various safety systems may be incorporated in the line guide system. This may include at least the attachment of a safety release line 68 as shown in FIG. 5. In this case the safety release line is connected from the right power line to the operator's harness. This ensures that when the kite controller is separated from the operator, the safety release line remains connected to the operator, while the other lines travel toward the kite along with the kite controller, hence disabling the force of the kite's pull. This system also prevents the kite operator from being separated from the kite and control system. Details of a suitable safety release system can be seen in FIG. 5.

Although the descriptions above contain many specificities, these should not be construed as limiting the scope of the invention but as merely providing illustrations of the presently preferred embodiments of this invention. For example, the line guides can have other shapes such as circular, oval, trapezoidal, triangular, etc. The line sheath can have other shapes. The flute may be any form of attaching the sheath to the line guide, etc. Thus the scope of the invention should be determined by the appended claims and their legal equivalents, rather than by the examples given.