Sunday, 19 February 2017

Making small Parachutes.. some tips.

So I'm working on a rocket that originally I'd started building with the idea of leaving incomplete for the rocket design workshops I've been running... I cracked and ended up putting it all together a while ago! However I realised to fly it I needed a chute size (50cm diameter) that I didn't have in my collection. So I made a couple of small chutes a while back as experiments out of some superlight ripstop nylon but struggled to cut it with an even edge which would then instantly fray as it cut. My remedy before was to turn and hem the edge all the way round. I wasn't too satisified with the results as the hemmed edge added a little weight (pretty negligible) but also added a lot of bulk when the chute was folded. So after some head scratching I did a few experiments in cutting/melting the nylon with a soldering iron.. brilliant results can be had with the cut both cutting and also sealing the edge instantly.

I found my little battery powered soldering iron the best for this with its fine tip.. my larger irons were too hot and caused a wider melt line whereas this one could create a neat cut less than a mm wide.

 I ended up slightly stretching the nylon over a wooden board and keeping it taught ish with some masking tape. This helped me both mark the circle (pen and a piece of cord swiveling around a central pin) and also helped the cut as I'd noticed if you cut an unstretched piece the melt line thickness can vary.

Added some binding tags to attach the shroud lines too. I made the shroud lines 2.25 x the diameter of the chute (50cm)

All packed up and ready to go... just need some weather (and I actually keep them stored unpacked as they can get a fold memory if you leave them packed and may not deploy correctly!).

Friday, 3 February 2017

Madlab Rocket Workshop

 Had a fabulous night in Manchester last night running my rocket design workshop at the mighty Madlab. It was the first time I'd seen the new (soon to be open to the public) Fablab space they have been developing and its a wonderful space filling up with some amazing kit. We had around a dozen attendees with a good showing of members of the Manchester Space Program . It was a good night and the group were really keen and interested and all really motivated to try out rocket stuff. I was also inspired as they were all really explorative and got onto many interesting subjects such as the feasibility of "rockoons"  (launching rockets of balloon platforms) and thrust vectoring and gimbal mounting motor assemblies... I hope they go on to do some experiments as there was a LOT of expertise in the room.
As ever when facilitating my overexpressive hands take over but hopefully I conveyed some decent stuff and I managed to get the group through laying out and simulating a simple rocket design in the brilliant opensource OpenRocket.

There was a lovely bonus for me last night that I got to see this rocket (picture is only half of it!) This rocket was donated to the Manchester Space people and I knew I'd seen the name before... it is Black Streak which has had at least one launch that I know of and its carbon fibre airframe has been up over 20km.... WOW. Very cool to see it in the flesh.

Finally MASSIVE thanks and props to the Madlab team, Claire, Finn, Tim, Sarah and others whose names I've missed.. you made me darn welcome and made everything really easy. Top.