Very Small Parachutes

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Bruce

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I need a tiny parachute to fit in an 18mm body tube.

We've tried the smallest Estes chutes, but since they are made from the same plastic as the larger parachutes, they don't seem to open reliably.

I'm looking for a ready made parachute in the 4 to 6 inch diameter size range. Does anyone make such a chute?
 

afadeev

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I need a tiny parachute to fit in an 18mm body tube.
[...]I'm looking for a ready made parachute in the 4 to 6 inch diameter size range. Does anyone make such a chute?
For something THAT small, I would go with a streamer.
Streamers take less space and open reliably. As a side benefit, gold and silver mylar streamers are highly visible, and make the rocket a little easier to spot in the sky.


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P.S.: If you are absolutely set on parachutes, a 9" mylar chute will pack smaller than nylon.
 

caveduck

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1/4 mil Mylar chutes will work great in an 18mm (or even 13mm) tube. It's harder to obtain than it once was, but ASP should have some in stock. One caveat on the Mylar is that it's a bit stiff compared to polyethylene and can have deployment issues in cold weather. I used to routinely put 18-22" Mylar chutes in BT-5 for competition, so you will absolutely not have any problems getting it to fit in 18mm BT-20.

You can also use poly dry cleaner bags, which are available on Amazon in various thicknesses. You probably want 80 gauge (0.8 mil) or 100 gauge (1.0 mil). I got this for $20 and now have probably a lifetime supply of good chute material: https://www.amazon.com/HANGERWORLD-Cleaning-Laundry-Polythylene-Protector/dp/B00E77L54M/. This poly thickness is actually pretty close to what Estes used originally, before the CPSC made them change it. Plastic trash bag material of similar thickness will not work - the plastic is different and really takes a set if compressed.

The cleaner bags are clear, which also frees you from the notorious ink stickiness problem. You can color them pretty well with a giant Sharpie marker; the ink is really lightweight and not very sticky. Rod-winding nylon makes fantastic light shroud lines...attach with Mylar or Kapton tape.
 

Bruce

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Top Flight makes parachutes down to 9” for a conventional type and 10” for an X chute https://topflightrecoveryllc.homestead.com/page1.html
They also make nylon streamers which work great for smaller rockets.
So the smallest pre-made parachute is 9" in diameter?

Is there nothing smaller available anywhere?

If that's the case, I may have to have a go at making a Mylar chute like caveduck suggested.

The rocket already has a small streamer. I want to add a tiny parachute too. Visibility is of high importance...
 

AfterBurners

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I need a tiny parachute to fit in an 18mm body tube.

We've tried the smallest Estes chutes, but since they are made from the same plastic as the larger parachutes, they don't seem to open reliably.

I'm looking for a ready made parachute in the 4 to 6 inch diameter size range. Does anyone make such a chute?
Make your own out of a plastic kitchen trash bag. You could use Kevlar thread to cut down on the packing space
 

Bruce

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I did try making a parachute out of a kitchen trash bag, but it didn't open.

I suspect the material is not optimum.

I'm going to try 1/4 mil Mylar next...
 

dhbarr

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So the smallest pre-made parachute is 9" in diameter?

Is there nothing smaller available anywhere?

If that's the case, I may have to have a go at making a Mylar chute like caveduck suggested.

The rocket already has a small streamer. I want to add a tiny parachute too. Visibility is of high importance...
 

rocketace

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Sprinkle some baby powder or talc on the chute. It will help a lot to get it to open reliably. You can also do the same for inside the body tube. I do this on all my minimum diameter stuff where the recovery gear is tight.
 

Scott_650

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So the smallest pre-made parachute is 9" in diameter?

Is there nothing smaller available anywhere?

If that's the case, I may have to have a go at making a Mylar chute like caveduck suggested.

The rocket already has a small streamer. I want to add a tiny parachute too. Visibility is of high importance...
I’ll make the suggestion again - if you’re thinking about a parachute that small a streamer might be a valid choice. I have a couple Top Flight nylon streamers I swap onto smaller rockets when it’s either a bit windy or I’m using the biggest motor that fits - they work very nicely.
 

crossfire

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I need a tiny parachute to fit in an 18mm body tube.

We've tried the smallest Estes chutes, but since they are made from the same plastic as the larger parachutes, they don't seem to open reliably.

I'm looking for a ready made parachute in the 4 to 6 inch diameter size range. Does anyone make such a chute?
Have you asked Top Fligjt Recovery if they would make you up some 6" chutes. I bet they would.
 

Bruce

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I’ll make the suggestion again - if you’re thinking about a parachute that small a streamer might be a valid choice. I have a couple Top Flight nylon streamers I swap onto smaller rockets when it’s either a bit windy or I’m using the biggest motor that fits - they work very nicely.
The rocket already has a small streamer. I want to add a tiny parachute too. Visibility is of high importance...
 

Sooner Boomer

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The rocket already has a small streamer. I want to add a tiny parachute too. Visibility is of high importance...
Replace the small streamer with a longer one. Mainly for visibility, I have a Baby Bertha I fly on a 29mm Estes BP motor, and recover on a 12' crepe paper streamer. You can find all sorts of material, from crepe paper, to mylar, to orange "flagging" ribbon to mark boundry stakes.
 

jbr

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make your own, ripstop nylon is 5-10 bucks a yard
 

tab28682

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Works great for chutes and streamers:


Material flashes in the sun, very visible at higher altitudes.
 

KenECoyote

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If going with mylar chute, I heard one tip is to crinkle it up a LOT to "soften" it so it'll open easily. I never had the patience nor need to, so ymmv.
 

CalebJ

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Does the mylar material not develop a memory of being compressed? I tried a mylar based streamer not long ago, and within a couple of flights it didn't naturally unroll at all.
 

tab28682

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The very thin mil space blanket Mylar I have used did not show that. I do keep it fairly crinkled up and not folded and completely dense packed like a competition style streamer.
 

KenECoyote

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If going with mylar chute, I heard one tip is to crinkle it up a LOT to "soften" it so it'll open easily. I never had the patience nor need to, so ymmv.
Ok, I just remembered the story of how I heard about pre-crinkling mylar chutes. I was building my first TLP and it had a mylar chute which I've never used before. I tried seeing how it would be folded and wasn't happy with how it seemed to remain a ball (almost like mix between plastic chute and aluminum foil LOL!
I found on TRF a post that the OP recounts how he saw an old timer at the launch sitting in a chair busy away at crinkling/crumpling a mylar chute. He asks said old timer "does that really help"?
Old timer doesn't say a word, but holds out his hand, drops the crumpled chute and to the OG's amazement, the chute opens up in the few feet on the way to the ground! o_O
That night I started crumpling my chute! Lol
 

rklapp

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Make sure to tape the edges, this stuff shreds very easily. Tested a few of these products from amazon for a minimum diameter rocket. Aside from that, it does look great coming down!
The end does rip a couple inches but easy to cut off. My Spirit/booster probably went 700ft. The streamer didn’t unroll, just elongated so might need to start folding.

 

BABAR

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The rocket already has a small streamer. I want to add a tiny parachute too. Visibility is of high importance...
If visibility is the issue, I’d say a metallic longer Mylar streamer is going to be much easier to see both in the sky and on the ground than a chute. From an AERODYNAMIC point of view, the 10 to 1 length to width ratio is commonly quoted, which means that you don’t get much if any additional DRAG (rocket recovery slowing) by a length greater than 10-1, but from a visibility standpoint (and given how streamers at least to me pack smaller and are lighter than chutes), for small rockets they are a win, unless you are in a competition I would go as long as can EASILY be packed (if you can’t blow it out with your breath, it’s too tight.). From a visibility standpoint the longer the better.

Plus, since they DO fall faster than chutes (usually! Nothing is carved in stone and reports of “thermallng” streamer recoveries are NOT RARE) they are nice for small rockets on small fields.
 

Tractionengines

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This stuff is VERY FLASHY red and silver, cheap, and easy to get at most Lows. Bird-B-Gone Flash Tape
Screenshot_20210414-000143_Chrome.jpg
I don't use streamers often; but since I found this, it is all I use for them. It helps see while descending, and then find once on the ground.
Make it as long as possible.
 
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