Powder those Chutes!

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Micro Craftman/ClusterNut
TRF Supporter
Jan 18, 2009
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Washington DC
we've been talking in a couple of other threads about improving the odds of your plastic and/or mylar Parasheet, parachutes and streamers opening by dusting them with Talc baby powder.
Pre-crumpling and dusting with talc will ensure your recovery device will open in nearly any weather/humidity condition.

It is also a good Idea to add a little tracking powder to those high flying PD models to aid in seeing chute ejection. The White talc will give a nice cloud but sometime other colors make spotting the cloud easier in differing sky conditions.
I've found through a lot a testing that mixing 50/50 Talc Baby powder with one of the many color chalk line chalks or dry tempra colors make wonderful tracking powders. Here's a pic of some of the items i've used. mixing in the talc just about halfs the weight of the combined powder without reducing the density of the colored cloud.
Yellow tempra, by the way has proven to make the easiest cloudy day color.

The only down side to "tracking powders" if using dry tempra colors, they will make a mess if not wiped off quickly in very high humidity or rainy weather. Chalk line blue seems to stain white gloss paints if unwaxed. other than that I haven't noticed any major problem with just about any color tracking powder, I usually have fluorescent orange, red, yellow, blue, and black in my range box in both pre-measured waxpaper folded funnels and in small squeeze bottles as shown in the photo below.
hope this helps.
MM -- what do you think would be the best tracking powder color for a clear blue sky? I've tried red but it doesn't show up well... should I just load up with talc? Or yellow maybe? I hate not being able to see ejection!
alot of the FAI guys use a color called rocket red so that red+ blue = a black dot in the sky.......

I use the same idea and it does work....
Originally posted by daveyfire
MM -- what do you think would be the best tracking powder color for a clear blue sky? I've tried red but it doesn't show up well... should I just load up with talc? Or yellow maybe? I hate not being able to see ejection!

I'd suggest orange. If you look on a color wheel, orange is the contrasting color opposite blue. I do not know if this necessarily means that it would be more visible, but I think so.

For a cloudy sky, I'd recommend black.
Shiockie is right on!
FAI rocket red, a 50/50 mix of red and blue dry tempra (bottles shown in the pic posted) seems to have the best overall contrast on those cloudless blue sky days. Orange isn't bad on Cirris cloud days along with black, while those grey and broken cloudy days I try to sick with yellow or fluorescent orange. All cut 50/50 with talc by the way. I know the FAI guys don't cut there powders but all that extra wight bothers me;)

By load up, you'll need to be a bit more specific. If your flying for fun, or in a very high flying LRM or HPR sure give the model a couple good squirts of the squeeze bottle on top just before you put on the nosecone. BUT...if your flying PD, SD or anything needing to be tracked like Cluster Altitude (my favorite:) I'd use measured amounts ranging from about 3g for 1/4A and 1/2A to 15g for 6 C. I can testify that 15g of yellow make a very visible cloud on a broken cloud day at 666m (2185ft):D

Something to keep in mind: We are looking at transmitted not reflected light, where the suns rays are passing through the cloud and the particals of the cloud. Even on the darkest of overcast days yellow will be your best choice, a Black cloud is ok for most low to mid altitude skys but gets lost quickly, dispursing at high altitudes. Like everything in MR, these are the "field condition" choices we must adjust to;)
Hope this helps.
Here's an 8 pic page of one way of powdering and folding your mylar chutes to ensure they will open. for sport flying I normally leave the shrouds loosely wrapped around the folded canopy. For competition however I insert the canopy in the model and fold the shrouds in on top as neatly as possible than funnel in an amount of colored tracking powder matched to the current sky contitions. notice how crumpled this 12" chute looks, it's flown about a dozen times, been repaired at least twice, and is now marks as a "qualified returnable flight" chute. meaning it is very unlikely to thermal away because of the damage;) I have a higher res photo in my yahoo briefcase if needed.
Hope this helps a little