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Mini Phantom (Benson)
7 panel Icarex
Exel 4mm carbon
standard 3 point
The Mini Phantom is the first
kite that we built, it was really easy as it was already in kit form. Here is a review
written by David Lindgren which was posted to rec.kites.
Well, I guess it is about time that I wrote something about the
Benson Mini-Phantom. This is a long post --- be warned.
As I said before, I was lucky enough to get hold of a Mini-Phantom kit from Tim Benson,
but I am almost certain that he has none left (unless he has finally decided to produce a
few more; which at this point, while he is trying to clear his backlog of orders for Outer
Spacen and possibly working on new things, seems unlikely).
Anyhow, the kit arrived, pre-cut and ready to assemble:
7 icarex sail panels with double sided tape pre-stuck in the right places on each
Pre-cut leading edge tapes and other reinforcements
6 pre-cut 4mm carbon tubes which form the frame
2 pre-cut 2mm standoffs
lots of fittings
Instructions on how to sew the sail
Pre-cut bridling line
Trick line (unless that was an extra bit of the bridle that I saw no use for :-)
Instructions for this were very clear.
Simply peel off the paper back of the tape and stick the panels together as described in
Sewing the panels caused me a few problems because the needle gummed up when sewing
through the tape and messed up the stitching. Some people will not experience this
problem --- I am sure it depends on the machine you are using. I overcame it by
regularly putting a little petroleum type grease on the needle. I am not sure
whether I should recommend this solution because although it gave me perfect results,
people have expressed concerns about whether this damages the machine.
Leading edge tape and other reinforcements were stuck and sewn as per the instructions on
the sheet, and again there were no real problems here.
I added a couple of small squares of reinforcing dacron either side of the tail as per the
following crap-ASCII diagram because I thought it would be a good idea...
marks the spots
/ _____---- \ /
/---- TE \ /
There were no instructions for framing the kite, but this really was obvious. The tube for
the spine was cut slightly too long, so I had to cut a little off it.
In my kit, there were 3 nocks. As for my other kites, I put one on each wingtip and one on
the end of the spine so as to attach the trick line.
There was also one end cap which I put on the nose end of the spine to protect the nose a
bit from nose landings
The LE connectors were APA fittings and there was a centre cross piece.
The first thing I noticed here was that there was nothing to hold the LE and cross-piece
fittings in place on the tubes. Admittedly, the LE fittings did not look like they
were about to move anywhere, but the cross-piece would have moved a little within the hole
cut in the sail for it. The simple answer would have been to add a drop of superglue
to all the fittings, but of course I wanted to go one better. Instead, I got the sheathing
from a piece of electrical cable (in fact, it was a piece of co-ax cable) and cut some
small rings to act in the same way that C-clips work on larger kites. A drop of
superglue on each of these to hold them to the kite worked brilliantly and enabled me to
tie the bridling string directly to the LE without it having to be tied around the whole
The other thing I noticed was that there was no obvious way of tensioning the sail
provided with the kit. The simple way to do this would have been to put a small hole
through the wingtip end of the LE dacron and then attach a piece of bungee to go through
that and to loop onto the wingtip nock. I did not have any bungee when I got to this
point so I made the hole anyway and then used an everso slightly cunning method whereby
the trickline (which was a shade too long anyway) doubled up as the sail tensioning
Again, no instructions for bridling the kite, but the upper/lower outhaul line for each
side was pre-cut, so I just tied that on. The inhaul line had a loop tied in the
middle for attachment to the spine, and all that was necessary to produce a simple static
bridle was to tie a knot along the inhaul at an appropriate (ie. somewhere that looked
right) place and larkshead the outhaul line to it.
I just guessed at a bridle length according to what looked right. I am sure that
there is an optimal bridle shape, but that will come through experimentation.
Overall thoughts on construction:
Very easy to build if you have built a two liner stick kite before If this were the first
kite I had built, I would have liked a few more instructions, HOWEVER, the kite was not
initially designed for a first time kite builder to make without help. It was made for Tim
to take with him to Fort Worden where he gave a kite making tutorial. If Tim were
ever to build the kite commercially, I am sure that the instructions for framing and
bridling would be fuller.
As far as making the sail goes, it is so well cut and prepared, and the instructions are
so clear, that it would be very very difficult to make any error in construction.
The finished kite looks wonderful.
I have not had very much time yet to fly my new kite, mainly because of the British
weather, being at home for Christmas, being in Ireland for New Year and then having a
hideous cold that stopped me from doing anything over the past two days.
However, I did get half an hour to fly it in between the bouts of rain.
First thought: amazing.
The kite flew like a dream despite the fact that I had just thrown on a random bridle.
The wind was light; going from about 5mph down to nothing. I managed to do a couple
of rising fades, a couple of lazy susans (something I have not yet managed to do with any
of my other (tricky) kites) a rotating fade, axels, 540s and all the usual gubbins.
It is a really easy kite to fly, possibly not a beginnners kite, but nevertheless, it made
even me look half way competant. I made an adjustment to the bridle and it still
flew well, leading me to believe that this kite is so good that it can mop up any bridling
errors / inaccuracies.
Being a small kite, it is quite fast. I was flying it on my short light lines to
start with and then changed to my longer heavier lines. This was not such a good idea.
With the wind so light (probably less than 3mph by then) the kite did not give
enough positive feedback and pull on the end of long(er) heavy lines (hardly surprising
for a small kite) and as a result I could not fly it so well. I went back to flying
on the short lines as the wind disappeared. It was interesting to note that I was
able to fly a 360 with it in a 0-1mph wind despite the fact that I have never tried
zero-wind flying (I don't have a 0 wind kite) and am therefore useless at it.
I am fairly convinced that a good indoor flyer would be able to happily fly this kite in
I would like to drop the bridle back and fly it in a slightly higher wind to give me a
little more pull on the lines and to slow the kite a little, and I will undoubtedly active
bridle it at some point soon.
All in all, this kite flies great. What a bargain. I really, really hope that Tim decides
to produce this kite in kit form for general release. If he ever does, get one
quick. This is one kite that no kite bag should be without, especially given how
little it will cost. They will sell like hot cakes.
I could go on all day about how great this kite is (even having only had half an hour's
flying time), but that would get boring. I'll sum up how good it is by saying that I
may end up flying it more than any of my other kites put together...
I may end up posting a picture of it via Sam's kitepics gateway if I ever take a photo of
it, but it'll probably look just like normal Phantom.
If anyone is interested in the size of the kite, the LE is 1m long so the kite is probably
about 0.6 scale of a normal Phantom (I don't know the dimensions of a Phantom off the top
of my head).
I hope that is of interest to someone. Dunno who though, given that no-one can get
hold of one :-)
Email me if you want more details,