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Well-Known Member
May 25, 2009
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Is there anything you can buy, say at Home Depot, or Walmart that makes a decient parachute?
I've got a few older rockets that have melted chutes and don't really won't to spend much $ for on good chutes.
I tried some cheap trash bags and the type of rings that you use on paper.
I guess the plastic was too thin, it pulled lose at the eyes.
people will tell you not to use the 'trash bag' type material... i've never had one fail. sure its not as good as ripstop or mylar, but they work fine for me.

try to get the 'heavy duty' type material, or for small 'chutes use something like hte plastic from a ziplock bag or the bag your newspaper comes in. instead of putting holes in the 'chute use a peice of tape, lay the string on the edge of the canopy with a small loop in the end, and stick the tape on it. should be fine... experiment a bit (by rapidly jurking the 'chute through the air) to make sure the tape is going to hold alright. then coat the whole 'chute with LOTS of baby powder. this will help the plastic open, provide a small ejection 'puff', and keep any lose edges of tape from sticking the parachute together.

can't really get any cheaper than that;)
I'd just duggest getting a quality nylon chute with a kevlar or nomex chute protector. If you could deal with plactic chute, you probably don't need super high quality parachutes. Some good yet cheap nylon ones are sold at

Link .

If you want a high quality chute, i really like the skyangle chutes.
I've made some pretty decent 12" to 18" parachutes out of old mylar balloons. The fabric is more flexible than "Emergency Space Blanket" mylar, nearly as flexible as "trash bag" material and thin enough that an 18" will fit in a BT50 tube. Seems more resistant to scorching as well. And my kids, along with some of the other flyers, get a kick out of the "Barney says Happy Birthday", Snoopy, "Be My Valentine" and Winnie the Pooh designs.

NAR #83277
Originally posted by Carson
I've got a few older rockets that have melted chutes and don't really won't to spend much $ for on good chutes.

Carson, Why don't you check out the chutes at Rockethead rockets? They offer some very inexpensive, high quality, mylar chutes & I believe they offer a 20% discount through June. They'll ship them to you for just $.90. I consider them an exceptional value.
I can make you some parasheet (flat circle) parachutes that are high quality and won't break the bank. They don't have quite the capacity as a paneled parachute, but they will work.

The best part of the Rockethead Rockets parachute is that it comes FULLY assembled. You should try them.

You could use heavy duty trash bags. The ones sold around Halloween, that look like a giant pumpkin would be great, if you could find one this time of year. There are also some yellow bags made for storage of various items that would be good and thick. If you have an old tent you don't use, the nylon from it could be used also.
My parachutes also come fully assembled. You just have to attach the shroud lines to your shock cord or recovery harness, fold and fly - No assembly required.

Thanks for the advice.
For now I'll go with the heavy trash bags and keep my eye out for a better material for chutes.
How about the plastic bags that you get at say Walmart when you buy something? It may be too easy to rip>
If you're hip to using mylar, they can be had at a very low price.

I prefer ripstop, but that wouldn't fit your want/need for a low cost. At least in initial outlay of $$$, anyway. They will last a lot longer, and you can just use a swivel clip and use them over and over in many different rockets, though. If you consider the cost/effort and the reusability of ripstop, the cost becomes comparitive IMO.

If you use trash bags, get some of those adhesive rings that you can put on notebook paper to reinforce the hole where they slip into a three ring binder. Get the plastic ones, not the paper rings. That will help the longevity of the shroud line attachment point.
I have found just the thing for making cheap parachutes that I think is better than the trash bags:) .

I was in the Dollar Store in the party supply section to pick up a roll of crepe paper streamer material (81 feet for $.050) when I spied plastic table cloths for picnic tables. I got to thinking :rolleyes: .

I picked up a couple ($1.00 apiece). They are a little heavier weight than trash bags and they have a texture to them so they won't stick together. The material is surprisingly strong.

They are 54" X 108" so you get 4 1/2 square yards for a buck :D .

They also come in at least a dozen colors. I got a red one and a yellow one.

There were at least three shades of blue and a couple of purple so you could make parachutes to match your rockets.
ill tell you what i did.....
you'll need some kinda heating iron.
I guess a regular iron will work but i used and small round 1inch iron on mine...
a piece of news paper to place over the bag will help also.

alright heres how it works....
you take two pieces of trash bag put the newpaper over it then apply the iron heat. This melts the two pieces together making it slighty stronger...
hey it has worked for me numerous times. And it you want to reinforce the shroud line holes...put a piece of electral tape inbetween the carefull tough the tape doesn't melt as easlily as the bags.

hope this might help!
You could...if you had access to one use a bag sealer to melt them together. I have one for sealing products. It seals 12" long by 6 mil thick by 1/4" wide I believe. It would make a nice strong bond.

Originally posted by Carson
Thanks for all the ideas.
I think I'll try them all.:D

I have a few nylon chutes with holes in it. Those Aerotech ejection charges burn holes in my chutes quite often. I recently bought a sheet of nylon in a kite-store and pathed some chutes with little peaces of nylon and plastic glue. If there are just a few holes it can easily be repaired.
With that nice sheet of bright orange nylon I also plan to make chutes myself, that will safe a few bucks (Euro's in my case).:)


Robin Trap
Den Helder, Holland
Ripstop nylon is very nice, I have a 15" Top Flight chute that has seen many, many flights.

I used to think that you couldn't beat the price on plastic garbage bags or emergency mylar blankets. I've made chutes from both and the cost is indeed cheap. Until....

I got some of the mylar chutes from RocketHead Rockets. Fully assembled, well built and truly economical. "Almost" disposable prices!

... Bill
If you have a JoAnn's Fabrics near you they sell Rip Stop Nylon in bright colors for about $6 a yard. Sometimes they put it on sale for 50% off. My wife sews them for me know but I have replaced all my plastic chutes with nylon chutes now.

What I do is use that material and either Kevlar cord or 100% Nylon Upholstery Thread (very strong) for the shroud lines. Before we had a sewing machine, I used to just use a hole punch, or just poke a hole in the nylon fabric and tie the shroud line on just like the Estes plastic chutes. Works well and the lines do not rip through since it is rip stop with the little squares in it. Not the prettiest thing in the world, but still beats the plastic ones. On larger rockets and chutes, say 24" and 36" I use braided nylon cord sewn on.

Originally posted by Carson
I guess the plastic was too thin, it pulled lose at the eyes.

This will tend to happen more often when you use fewer shroud lines, like six or eight. The more shrouds you have, the lower the suspension load on each individual line, and the lower the load on the corresponding attachment.

I used to make competition chutes out of dry cleaner bags. For shroud line material, I used heavy sewing thread. I knotted the 'parachute' end of the shroud to reduce pull-throughs, and I taped it in place with a short piece of plain cellophane tape. I used 12 to 16 shrouds and if one pulled loose you wouldn't even notice the diff. When they were all attached and working I got a beautiful-looking canopy that worked as well (I think) as a true parachute. My competition chutes were usually good for upwards of a dozen flights IF they were well protected from the ejection gas. If not, instant death.
Excuse if I am stating the obvious here... but you really don't need to have a parachute for every rocket... I mean, you don't store the parachute inside the rocket, do you? You detach them after flight and store them separately.

So you only need a few of each size parachute. Given that, the mylar parachutes are a really good deal... I have an assortment for my LPRs that I just grab them as needed. (Unless, of course you fly all your rockets at the same time - which would be kind of cool)

I never use the parachutes that come with the kits (such as Estes or Quest)... so I have quite a few in their original packaging. If you know someone near you like me, they may have the same deal.

If you want, PM me your address and I could send you a few... I really don't want them.
man RJ, its times like this when i wanna kick my own butt.
You're genius. I guess I've gotten so used to using fishing swivels that I assume everyone does it?
I only have three chutes in my entire fleet that i actaully use because of swivels. not to mention they help to reduce tangles.
I would like to find the guy who invented 'em and kiss him (well, maybe give him a handshake?)

I like to keep a few more chutes around than just one or two. I might want to put several rockets on the pads at the same time and will obviously need more gear to do that. I also like to have spares on hand so I can keep on going if something gets damaged.

Mostly, I don't like to invest a lot into any one part of the rocket because in N. Texas (windy all the time) a large percentage don't come back.