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  1. #1
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    Packing a Deployment Bag - Four Different Bags

    Edit: Added photos and info on large (24+ foot) parachutes later.

    Following is a sequence of photos that documents the packing of three different deployment bags. Two are custom built for specific airframe sizes, the third is an off-the-shelf bag, with modifications.

    The two custom bags were designed and sewn by an FAA licensed Senior Rigger. The modifications were made the same individual.

    Two of them (the bag for 7.5" tube, and the modified commercial bag) are really easy to pack. The third (for 3" tube) is a bit more difficult -- fitting an R12 into 9" of 3" tube results in a pretty stiff bag.

    -Kevin

    Last edited by troj; 7th June 2013 at 11:04 PM.

  2. #2
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    The first bag is was made for fitting an R-14 into a 7.5" tube. This one is really easy to pack, and I can fit a much larger parachute into the same bag without difficult. This one has flaps on the side to cover the line stows. The flaps are held down via sewing across the top, and snaps at the bottom -- after the line stows are in place, the flaps are folded down and a short people of elastic is snapped in place to bridge across both, helping to hold them down.

    This bag is designed as a free-bag, meaning the pilot chute is designed to pull the bag up and off of the main. In the rocket it was designed for, the nosecone comes down on the pilot chute.

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  3. #3
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    The first thing to do when packing any parachute is to lay it out, and straighten the lines. Check the canopy for any damage, then flake out the gores. This means all the fabric is out flat and even, with the lines all together. Sometimes half of the fabric is on one side of the lines and one is on the other half (this is how we do the big parachutes, such as a C9). In all of these examples, I have all the gores in the same spot.

    It's also important to take the time to untangle the lines as best you can. There's an art to this, and an experienced rigger makes it look easy. I'm slow at it, and sometimes can't get that last twist out.

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  4. #4
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    Next, we start by folding the parachute so that its width matches the bag we're putting it in. How you fold it will vary depending on the size of the canopy when flaked, and the size of the bag. Here, I've folded it into thirds, lengthwise.

    Next, I begin by Z-folding the apex of the canopy, prior to sliding it into the bag. The flat part of the folding (the top layer) goes flat on the top of the bag. Once I've done the first few folds, I slip that in place in the bag, then begin Z-folding the rest in.

    When folding, having some beanbags to place on the canopy, to hold it folded lengthwise (or a helper) makes life easy. It also helps to have something to hold just a little tension on the lines. This all helps keep things neat and orderly, while you focus on getting the canopy folded into the bag.

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  5. #5
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    Now, the canopy is fully folded into the bag. The fact that I can hold it upright and the canopy doesn't start to pop back out shows you just how loose it is, in this particular bag.

    At the bottom of the bag are four flaps. Three have grommets, one has a loop with an elastic loop on it. The elastic loop is pulled up through each of the grommets in turn, closing the bottom of the bag. I then run the first line stow through the elastic, which holds the bag closed, and the canopy in the bag. Some bags just use four grommets and a rubber band through them, to hold them in place. Either method works.

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  6. #6
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    Finally, the line stows go on the outside of the bag. Some bags use nylon loops that the lines are fed through. In this case, the nylon tape is there to hold a rubber band. I'm using black rubber bands sold for use in hair -- a buck or two for a couple hundred. If you have girls in your house, quietly appropriate a few....

    On this particular bag, there are plenty of line stows for the shroud lines, as well as the recovery harness. I'm not bothering with the harness, but it goes into the stows in the same fashion as the lines. If your harness goes into stows, be sure to NOT put the connection between the lines and the harness into a stow -- you risk it getting hung up. It should be at the bottom, where it can come away without any resistance.

    Once all the stows are in place, the flaps are pulled down and snapped in place. The parachute is then ready for placement into the rocket, and the pilot chute is attached to the harness at the top of the bag.

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  7. #7
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    The next bag is an R-9C into a Rocketman XL deployment bag. This is a commercial bag which has been modified by adding loops for line stows down the flap, as well as two grommets to help keep it closed, and two small pieces of nylon tape for line stows to hold the flap closed.

    Once again, we start by flaking out the gores, and folding the canopy to the right width. Because this isn't a free bag, we also need to attach the tether from the top of the canopy to the inside of the bag.

    Finally, we don't want the tether to get out of place, so it gets bundled up into a figure-eight on the pinky and thumb, then tucked into the top of the bag.

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  8. #8
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    Next, the canopy is Z-folded into the bag, in the same fashion as the previous one. This one is a little big of a challenge to keep in place, because of the wide opening running up the side. Keeping some pressure on the canopy, forcing it into the top of the bag, helps keep it in place.

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  9. #9
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    Once the canopy is in the bag, the opening is pulled together and the rubber band attached to one grommet is pulled through the second one. The first line stow then goes through the rubber band. Don't be afraid to double-loop the rubber band around the stow, if need be -- these rubber bands break VERY easily, if they don't want to come loose.

    The lines then get zig-zagged through the stows, and finally, the flap is pulled up onto the bag. Two rubber bands then hold the last bit of line stow, to hold the flap in place, and this bag is ready to go.

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  10. #10
    troj's Avatar
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    The final bag is the toughest to pack. This one will hold an R12 into less than a foot of a 4" airframe. My rigger buddy has no problem packing it, but he has a lot more experience than me. He laughed gleefully for about 10 minutes when he handed it to me (unpacked) and my jaw hit the floor.

    There's a nylon tape around the base for all the lines, but in this case I didn't use it, to show another way the lines can be handled.

    One thing to note, when you look at this bag, is that the tether at the top of the bag is sewn all the way down the sides. Without this, the pilot chute can rip the top off of the bag, instead of pulling the bag out. We've seen this happen on some commercial bags.

    To start with, I've got a picture of the R12 rolled up pretty tightly with the lines wrapped around it, and shoved into the large ziplock bag I store it in. You'll notice that even folded and wadded pretty tightly, the canopy is still larger than the bag it's going to go into. This shows one of the benefits of deployment bags -- you can fit a canopy into a much tighter space, because the bag keeps it from getting jammed in the tube.

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  11. #11
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    Once again, we flake, then fold the canopy, lengthwise, to match the width of the bag. The second picture shows some convenient items being used to hold the canopy partially folded, so I could take the picture. I then called in my lovely assistance to help, from there on out.

    Because of how narrow this is, and the need to always have a hand holding it in place, I don't have any pictures once I started putting it into the bag. The technique is the same as the others; it's just a bit of a workout to do so. Having an assistant on this one is pretty important.

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  12. #12
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    This bag also has four flaps with grommets. A rubber band is attached to the first grommet, then is fed up through the others, in sequence, and finally a line stow is inserted. The bag is now held closed, and the canopy can't come back out until that line stow comes free.

    I put two additional stows on the bag, to help hold things in place. I then did the rest of the lines in bundles with rubber bands. These will come out and pull out in a nice, orderly fashion.

    This method can work, but it isn't optimal, as one of the goals of a deployment is to keep the canopy from catching air and inflating until the lines are taught.

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    Last edited by troj; 2nd June 2013 at 08:42 PM.

  13. #13
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    In all three cases, you'll notice that everything is setup such that layers of the canopy don't zip past each other as they come out. In addition, the lines are never in a position to rub on the canopy either.

    This prevents friction damage on the canopy, as well as keeping things from getting damaged by letting the components out in a nice, orderly fashion.

    -Kevin

  14. #14
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    Thank you for this informative tutorial. Sticky?
    Several rocket motors burned this year.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CarVac View Post
    Thank you for this informative tutorial. Sticky?
    +1 Agreed. Very informative.

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    My rigger buddy has no problem packing it, but he has a lot more experience than me. He laughed gleefully for about 10 minutes when he handed it to me (unpacked) and my jaw hit the floor.
    LOL...it's always fun as a rigger to watch people who aren't jumpers (or who are newer jumpers) struggle with D-bags.
    :cool::cool::cool::cool:
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  17. #17
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    Oh, my bags are packed, I'm ready to go....
    James
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  18. #18
    troj's Avatar
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    I've got the 24 and 28 footers at the house, now. Will post info on them in the upcoming days.

    We'll see if I decide to unpack one or just post pictures and general info. Packing a chute that size is work!

    -Kevin

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    Yes it is...

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  20. #20
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    Rounds are a piece'o'cake!!!

    http://www.softieparachutes.com/asse...ual-lowres.pdf

    This is a manual for an emergency rig (24 and 26 ft round from this manufacturer), but the packing instructions for these things are pretty much universal. Packing weights are a life-saver to keep things neat. The instructions for packing the canopy itself start on page 30 of the manual. This canopy, as most all rounds do these days, use a diaper to keep things together before the lines and canopy become taught (pilot chute always used too). I'd use some type of diaper (I'd probably custom make my own for your C-9, but that's just a personal preference and I'm set up to make one) even if I were using a d-bag in a large rocket. I don't think you can assure a proper sequence (subjective to what I consider proper sequence ) if you don't ensure that the canopy and lines become straight and taught before the canopy starts to inflate. A few line stows keep the diaper closed. Just my 2 cents.

    As always, your mileage may vary.
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  21. #21
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    I've not yet decided if I'm up to packing one of these at the moment, but I do have one packed and ready for flight, as well as one that needs to be packed, and have photos of both.

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    This shows both parachutes; the top is an unpacked (wadded) C9, to give an idea of just how much material we're dealing with. The bottom photo is one packed and ready for flight.

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    Here's an end-on view of the deployment bag, with the velcro flaps open. The black spot in the middle is the top of the bag; the rubber bands are the line stows. The purpose of the velcro flap is to make it easier to pack -- they're kept open while starting to pack the parachute, and closed as you work your way down. The top flap extends to the flaps that close off the portion of the bag that covers the canopy; the bottom flap is where the line stows are.

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    This is a closeup of the bottom of the bag. The triangular bits are sewn to the side of the bag, and hold the canopy in the bag via the first line stow. This is used in the same fashion as the other bags I've shown.

    The rubber bands are all the individual line stows.

  22. #22
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    Click image for larger version. 

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    Here's the packed parachute, ready to go. On a C9, the lines are in two groups, with each one coming to an aluminum "ring" (It's actually rectangular). We've got a Y-harness that connects those to a single ring rated for way more load than the canopy will survive. Likewise the webbing that connects it all together.

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    This is a closeup of the top of the bag, showing the lead for the pilot chute. The lead is bunched up with a rubber band, just for storage. During flight, we don't use a rubber band here -- we want the pilot chute to easily be able to catch air. The lead is attached to a D-ring at the top of the bag; that D-ring is then held on by the strip of tubular nylon which extends partway down the side of the bag. There's a strip of nylon tape that runs the length of the bag on each side. This keeps the pilot chute from potentially tearing the top off the bag, instead of pulling the bag up and out of the airframe.

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    I've opened the bottom velcro flap to show the bundles of line in the line stows.

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    Both flaps opened, showing the parachute and the lines.

  23. #23
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    Troj,

    Thank you for doing this thread. Well done!

    Gerald

  24. #24
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    Excellent information, thank you for sharing it with us Kevin.
    "He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster, and if you look long into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you." - Friedrich Nietzsche

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  25. #25
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    Hey Kevin,

    Thanks for the documentation. Pictures are worth a million words as they say.

    Where do you pack your C9? I don't have room indoors for it, so thinking I might spread some tarps in backyard and lay stuff out there.
    Also - for the C9, your tube is 7.5" I think, so your bag is a good match. For larger airframes, is it best to make a bag the same diameter as the tube ID?

    Detail question - what are you making the bags out of? Magna fabrics has some nice looking 93% nomex/5% kevlar material in both ~5 oz and 6 oz that I am thinking about getting.
    Andy Cook
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  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndyC View Post
    Where do you pack your C9? I don't have room indoors for it, so thinking I might spread some tarps in backyard and lay stuff out there.
    Anywhere we can stretch it out. Tarps in the yard would work. Or, sweep the driveway/garage and do it there.

    Also - for the C9, your tube is 7.5" I think, so your bag is a good match. For larger airframes, is it best to make a bag the same diameter as the tube ID?
    We actually use these in airframes from 12" to 24". Our "standard parachute tube" is a 30" long piece of LOC 7.5" tubing, or a 30" long piece of 8" sonotube. Either one works well. The bag should fit the tube.

    Detail question - what are you making the bags out of? Magna fabrics has some nice looking 93% nomex/5% kevlar material in both ~5 oz and 6 oz that I am thinking about getting.
    It's nylon of some sort. I didn't make them, so I cannot remember exactly. Relatively heavy (and just a little bit rough) stuff. We never expose the bags to an ejection charge, so aramids aren't necessary.

    -Kevin


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