Streamer vs. Parachute Recovery

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JRThro

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Say I'm flying some small model rockets under windless conditions.

When would you recommend using a streamer versus a parachute?

I have never used streamer recovery, but have always used parachute recovery, on models with weights down to maybe 1.5 ounces.

But I now have two models from Quest, the Antari and the Commander, that use streamer recovery.

The Antari is 12" long, has a BT diameter of 0.787", has plastic fin can and fins, and has a stated empty weight of 0.81 oz (23 g). The only recommended motor is the A8-3.

The stock Commander is 12.75" long, has a BT diameter of 0.787", has balsa fins, and has a stated empty weight of 1.0 oz (29 g). The recommended motors are the A8-3, B6-4, and C6-5. I didn't build mine stock; instead I bashed 3 Commander kits together into a model with a length of 32.75" and an estimated weight of 1.6+ oz.

Any hints or suggestions?

Thanks.
 

wwattles

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Streamer recoveries can be used for nearly any size/weight rocket, as long as the rocket itself can handle impact at a slightly higher rate of descent. I've found streamers very useful for my smaller rockets, especially the ones that don't have room for a parachute without jamming one in and risking a completely failed ejection!

My Estes Hi-Flier came with a streamer, as did my Squirrel Works Spirit of Texas (Space Ranger with NSL theme). Both are very lightweight, and recover well on the small streamers. But I've also seen one of my friends recover an 8-foot, 3" diameter rocket (H-powered, mind you) on a streamer that was actually about 50 feet of "Caution!" tape. So rocket size doesn't necessarily play a defining role in the question of "Streamer or Parachute?".

WW
 

Fore Check

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I'd definitely use the streamer in the Antari - and any other rocket with plastic fins (generally.) Plastic fins are pretty darn tough, and they won't get hurt under streamer recovery.

I suggest flying the Antari a time or two with the streamer to familiarize yourself with that form of recovery (if you've not flown streamers before.) Then use your best judgement on the Commander. It may come down to what your flying field looks like - is the landing area relatively soft grass, or is it somewhat rocky or hard (like a dry, plowed field?) A harder landing area might cause some fin damage under streamer depending on the landing site. And by damage I mean a chip or paint scar or something - not necessarily breaking one off at the glue joint.
 

JRThro

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Originally posted by Fore Check
I'd definitely use the streamer in the Antari - and any other rocket with plastic fins (generally.) Plastic fins are pretty darn tough, and they won't get hurt under streamer recovery.

I suggest flying the Antari a time or two with the streamer to familiarize yourself with that form of recovery (if you've not flown streamers before.) Then use your best judgement on the Commander. It may come down to what your flying field looks like - is the landing area relatively soft grass, or is it somewhat rocky or hard (like a dry, plowed field?) A harder landing area might cause some fin damage under streamer depending on the landing site. And by damage I mean a chip or paint scar or something - not necessarily breaking one off at the glue joint.
The flying field is at a public park with mowed grass, but the area includes blacktop roads and parking lots, tall grass, and a farm. I think I'll do what you suggested: fly the Antari on streamers and see what happens. Then, unless I gain a lot of comfort from those flights, I'll use a 12" parachute in the super-duper-long Commander.

Thanks!
 

Micromeister

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JR I'm sure you will gain a good deal of comfort as you experiment with Streamers. Heres a few grains of salt strained from the sea of info over the years you may find helpful

The best streamer for your model may not be 1 piece.

Folding your streamer in half, then half again and agiain until you need only roll it one or two turns aids in quick full deployment at ejection.

Baby powder your streamers both sides, just like you do your chutes. Do not STUFF you streamer it should slide in and out of the body easily.

10 to 1, Length to width ratio works. Test have proven no gain in drag over this ratio. It has been observed and documented that very thin,very long streamers actually increase decent rate.

Crepe paper streamers have the best drag ratio for a few flights. they must than be changed. even better than folded mylar and Mica fim streamers. Their is a very good report on streamer testing for competiton models available from NARTS

1", 2" and 3" surveyors color plastic tapes & Caution tapes are fine for small models with plastic fin cans. If a single 1" x 10" piece isn't enough try two pieces or a 2" x 20" , 3" by 30" and so on... wider streamers can be made by taping plastic type wrapping paper strips end to end. I've used up to 10" x 100" metalized mylar type wrapping paper streamers in models up to 1 pound (454grams).

Try to find streamer materials that will hold a crease when folded.
Accordion folding the last 2/3rds of the streamer creates much better drag ratio then unfolder or slick material streamers. We want the material to whip back and forth in the air not simply follow the model to the ground.

I'm sure there is a weight to length chart out there somewhere, I know I've seen one for competition models. If anyone has a site or link to this info I'm sure it would be of great help.
hope this helps
 

powderburner

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Originally posted by JRThro
Say I'm flying some small model rockets under windless conditions.
If it is really windless, then your parachutes should not drift at all. But if there are moderate winds, a faster descent under a small streamer could mean the difference in getting your rocket back or not, regardless of whether it gets a little extra dinged up in the process.
Usually the recovery system that is provided with the kit works pretty well. If you want to play with a streamer substitute, go for it.
I agree with the above-posted assessment that you should be fine on the first rocket (with the plastic fin can). With a larger streamer, your larger rocket would probably also be fine.
Micromeister is very correct that crepe paper streamers work well, but I really hate that stuff---the color from the crepe paper rubs off all over your hands when you fold and pack the streamer.
Maybe I am imagining things, but it seems to me that streamers 'bounce off' of trees (or slip through the branches) a teeny bit better than chutes, especially the mylar streamers. Anybody else notice that?
 

Micromeister

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You don't Talc your crepe paper streamers? Powder everything..makes em come out easier and the color stays on the crepe not your hands:D

Yes, the surveyors tape type seems to slide through the branches better but not the folded creased mylar, mica film, or even the wider 3" Caution" tape.

I completely forgot to mention 2" wide colored well more tinted Teflon Tape makes an execllent small model streamer and doubles a the wadding.
 

wwattles

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I get that Teflon tape at McMaster-Carr, and it's very reasonably priced, for the amount you get. And you get it FAST, too. You could order it today and have it in time for a Sunday launch.

WW
 

JRThro

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Originally posted by wwattles
I get that Teflon tape at McMaster-Carr, and it's very reasonably priced, for the amount you get. And you get it FAST, too. You could order it today and have it in time for a Sunday launch.

WW
I wonder if Stuff-Mart has it.

(Oops, wrong thread! :) )
 

Missileman

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I just wanted to clear up a misconception I have seen here on TRF.
I have heard it sayed that streamers don't slow descent and just make it easier to see the rocket. WRONG
Streamers do indeed slow the descent and properly sized streamers will slow it quite a bit more than you may have guessed.
The 10 to 1 ratio on streamers is for a reason.
Streamers flutter or wave as the rocket descends, this adds more drag and slows descent. Over a 10 to 1 ratio tends to dampen this effect and renders your streamer less usefull.
I have several rockets I use streamer recovery on and they can and have drifted for quite a long ways.
I even had one recently land on asphalt with only very minor cosmetic damage.
 

JRThro

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Originally posted by missileman
I just wanted to clear up a misconception I have seen here on TRF.
I have heard it sayed that streamers don't slow descent and just make it easier to see the rocket. WRONG
Streamers do indeed slow the descent and properly sized streamers will slow it quite a bit more than you may have guessed.
The 10 to 1 ratio on streamers is for a reason.
Streamers flutter or wave as the rocket descends, this adds more drag and slows descent. Over a 10 to 1 ratio tends to dampen this effect and renders your streamer less useful.
I have several rockets I use streamer recovery on and they can and have drifted for quite a long ways.
I even had one recently land on asphalt with only very minor cosmetic damage.
Of course, if a streamer didn't slow the descent, then meeting the streamer duration for the NARTREK Bronze level would pretty much be impossible:

"Make a successful flight of at least 30 seconds duration with a model rocket you have built from an existing model rocket kit of your choice, using a streamer as the recovery device. Use a motor of no more than "B" total impulse. This model can be the same one used for the parachute duration requirement, with a streamer substituted for the parachute. Someone else
must time the flight in the same manner as for the parachute duration flight. Time the flight from the moment the rocket begins to move until it lands again. Complete the requirement certification sheet. If your model is the same one use for the parachute duration requirement you do not have to take another picture of it. Simply note on the requirement certification sheet that it is the same model."

My only real concern is having something break when I use streamer recovery, since I assume that a streamer will not slow the descent as much as a parachute will.
 

Rick James

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I know this is the LPR forum -- but my LOC Aura - which is MPR - comes stock with a 4x72 inch streamer (which I guess now is too long?)

The first time I flew it at Black Rock it came down on the flight line and scared everybody because it came in so fast. The rocket wasn't damaged, but it wasn't woth scaring everyone like that. I only fly it with a parachute now - and I sometimes walk a fair distance to get it.

Anyway -- another consideration for streamer vs parachute: safety - if its a large model.
 

Fore Check

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When I was a kid, I had an Estes Nova Scout Ship that I built stock and launched several times. It uses (used) a streamer. I can remember some long walks to retreive it - longer than those needed to retrieve some parachute models that flew higher off the same pad, same rod angle, same launch trip.

One particular launch that comes to mind, we were launching in a fairly large field that was surrounded by large trees on all sides. We set the pad up on the upwind side of the field, about 25 yds from the trees, and angled the rod upwind. I launched the Nova Scout, and the angle of the launch was low enough that from our vantage point we couldn't see apogee nor ejection because the trees were in the way of our line of site of the event. Naturally, I was quite nervous... But soon enough, here she came drifting back into view - and then it continued drifting all the way across the field and landed in the low branches of the trees on the opposite side of the field (low enough that we didn't have to climb to get it back.) We then flew a Sizzler on a C6-5 after raising the rod angle a bit (so less of an upwind trajectory) and it recovered smack dab in the center of the field after a very nice, high flight. I'm sure the wind hadn't changed much - it was the very next flight.

Just thought I'd throw that in there.
 

powderburner

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Originally posted by JRThro
My only real concern is having something break when I use streamer recovery, since I assume that a streamer will not slow the descent as much as a parachute will.
As in many things, it depends on how big the streamer is (or how big the alternate parachute is), how heavy the rocket is, and a few other parameters.

You can use a streamer that is large enough to produce the same descent rate as a given parachute, if you want. I think the basic reason for using streamers for sport rocketry is to get a higher descent rate (to minimize drift) than a chute but slower than a simple break-up recovery system. If you want the rocket to come down fairly fast but not to get beaten up at touchdown, you may need to go to some dual-deploy system like the high-power rocketeers use---you could deploy a streamer at apogee and a big chute at a lower altitude?

The main reasons that I like streamers is they are very visible in the air (especially silvered mylar streamers) and are also easy to spot on the ground.
 

jflis

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Originally posted by missileman
I just wanted to clear up a misconception I have seen here on TRF.
I have heard it sayed that streamers don't slow descent and just make it easier to see the rocket. WRONG
Ditto! You can't really appreciate this until you see a competition model on a streamer drop to within 5 feet of the ground and **hang** there for another 30 seconds... (this years NARAM had a couple like this :) )

Also, as for suffering more damage with a streamer... ...Yep, the risk is greater, but my philisophy has always been, easier to repair a fin than replace a rocket (lost due to parachute drift)...

jim
 

DynaSoar

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Originally posted by missileman
I just wanted to clear up a misconception I have seen here on TRF.
I have heard it sayed that streamers don't slow descent and just make it easier to see the rocket. WRONG
Streamers do indeed slow the descent and properly sized streamers will slow it quite a bit more than you may have guessed.
The 10 to 1 ratio on streamers is for a reason.
Streamers flutter or wave as the rocket descends, this adds more drag and slows descent. Over a 10 to 1 ratio tends to dampen this effect and renders your streamer less usefull.
I have several rockets I use streamer recovery on and they can and have drifted for quite a long ways.
I even had one recently land on asphalt with only very minor cosmetic damage.
The 10:1 ratio is the result of some NAR R&D contest entries (and MIT, IIRC). There are others that show a 20:1 to be better. There have been far more in depth studies of turbulence, structures and materials than what NAR has produced. If the material is pleated to maximize drag, the maximal surface area with the minimum edge is theoretically best. That means square. The efficacy of a streamer is going to depend on the system, which means the configuration of streamer to nose to body, mass and density of the parts. etc. I've flown rockets whose configuration was such that the nose and streamer fell alongside the body, which descended horizontally -- the streamer didn't actually do anything. I've also had some classic 10:1 streamers come to nought because the rocket fell first in front of it and disturbed the airflow to make it less efficient.

The "best" streamer depends on the rocket it's attached to (and how), what you want it to do, and the surface it'll land on. For very light models, launch them once with no streamer or chute where they're guaranteed to land on soft grass. It may come down so soft that you don't need one. I have several rockets that use none at all by design, and more by testing and choice. If they don;t need one, then having one will probably slow it further as well as make it more visible. For visibility I use aluminized mylar. OTOH, on birds with none at all, shiny metallic paint does the same.
 

TheRadiator

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If you use the streamer that comes in the package, the Antari drops like a rock. I see that several guys have already mentioned crepe paper streamers and 3" caution tape. I think someone else mentioned mylar party streamer (like Squirrel Works' streamers), which I like. It helped slow my Antari's decent to the point where I didn't worry about the BT crumpling on impact. The fin unit on the back of the Antari seems to be a dead weight, as each one I've seen tends to fly at the ground tail first. Hope this helps.
 

JRThro

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Originally posted by TheRadiator
If you use the streamer that comes in the package, the Antari drops like a rock. I see that several guys have already mentioned crepe paper streamers and 3" caution tape. I think someone else mentioned mylar party streamer (like Squirrel Works' streamers), which I like. It helped slow my Antari's decent to the point where I didn't worry about the BT crumpling on impact. The fin unit on the back of the Antari seems to be a dead weight, as each one I've seen tends to fly at the ground tail first. Hope this helps.
That sounds like the specific practical experience with the Antari that I was looking for. Considering that the Commander comes with the same streamer as the Antari, I think I'll go with a parachute for the ultra-long-super-duper Commander.

Thanks!
 

Fore Check

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Originally posted by JRThro
That sounds like the specific practical experience with the Antari that I was looking for. Considering that the Commander comes with the same streamer as the Antari, I think I'll go with a parachute for the ultra-long-super-duper Commander.

Thanks!
It should be noted that there are several other factors that will affect this recovery speed. The shape of the fins and overall drag coefficient of the rocket with no streamer or parachute attached being an example. Maybe a drag-to-weight ratio would be a more appropriate thing to consider in what I'm getting at here.

To more succinctly say what I'm getting at - not all rockets of the same descent mass will descend at the same velocity if the recovery devices are otherwise equal.
 

JRThro

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Originally posted by Fore Check
It should be noted that there are several other factors that will affect this recovery speed. The shape of the fins and overall drag coefficient of the rocket with no streamer or parachute attached being an example. Maybe a drag-to-weight ratio would be a more appropriate thing to consider in what I'm getting at here.

To more succinctly say what I'm getting at - not all rockets of the same descent mass will descend at the same velocity if the recovery devices are otherwise equal.
That's true, too.

Surely the bottom line of all this isn't "Try it and see what happens," is it? ;)
 

powderburner

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I don't think it will be quite that random---
If you use a moderate length of streamer material your rocket will *generally* descend more quickly than when using a moderately-sized chute.
If you step up to a really big, low-aspect-ratio, creased & folded competition streamer then your rocket might never come down.
It depends on what you launch.
 

JRThro

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Originally posted by powderburner
I don't think it will be quite that random---
If you use a moderate length of streamer material your rocket will *generally* descend more quickly than when using a moderately-sized chute.
If you step up to a really big, low-aspect-ratio, creased & folded competition streamer then your rocket might never come down.
It depends on what you launch.
Then for the Antari, I might try the stock streamer first and then try a wider/longer one to see what happens. Assuming a bigger streamer will fit in the body.
 
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