Wow, thanks for the suggestions and precautions! I'll respond to each idea in future posts, but let me present an idea, illustrated with pictures (of course) right now. The idea is that of the "Hooded" Free Range Chicken Hook. From the following pictures, you can see that the sliding, spring loaded "Hood" would serve three functions:
(1) that of the traditional "Chicken Finger" (aka Donkey Richard)
(2) that of the push-away Mushroom style release slider, triggering the hook release mechanism
(3) that of shielding the kiter's fingers from components of the swinging hook, when activating the swing-hook release
(4) that of hiding the hook in a funnel-like enclosure, as its “default” spring-loaded return position, and thereby preventing accidental hook-ups, during episodes of runaway kite activity, where the bar is being dragged through other kiteboarders or their equipment.
The pictures show a "mock-up" of the "Hood" or "shroud" concept, which I have constructed from PVC (just because it is quick and easy to work with). I think that a true working model of this shrouded hook could be made, which would be about half the size of the one in the pictures, and constructed from rubber, plastic, nylon or metal.
A. The "Hood" is bungee or spring-loaded, so that the "Hood" automatically returns, to a position, where it covers the hook mechanism.
B. To exposed the hook, in order to hook into the rope, the "Hood" is pushed half-way toward the bar, into position "one", where an "O-ring" presents enough resistance to hold the "Hood" in the position, in which the hook is able to receive the rope, in a space of about 2.5 cm, between the end of the hook and the edge of the "Hood".
C. The “Hood” could then be pulled gently back, off of the “O” ring, where the spring would ease it back into the default position, where the “Hood” covers the hook, and acts in the manner or a “chicken finger” to retain the hook on the rope.
D. In order to trigger the swing-hook release mechanism, which will disconnect the hook from the rope, the “Hood” is pushed all the way to the bar, traveling through “position one”, where resistance is felt from the “O” ring, and then, proceeding to “position two”, where a tensioned spectra line connector pulls the trigger release.
E. As the hook swings open and the rope is released, the power of the released kite exerts its force, and the “Hood”, is first pulled back, covering up the components of the swing-hook…and then, is actively jerked from the kiter’s hand, just as the traditional Cahbrina “mushroom” slider handle is jerked away from the kiter. The “Hood” protects the kiter’s hand, when the release occurs, funneling the hand out and away from danger.
The pictures should be self-explanatory, demonstrating the above design features. A properly made device would have a smooth funnel shape, a reduced hook size, and would be much lighter in weight and smaller in size. Hopefully, the pictures will stimulate your thoughts on the ways to improve and refine this concept.
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