5-Chamber Parabolic Bracing

Mon 4 April 11

We are hoping that our new 5-chamber cell with parabolic bracing is going to revolutionize the way canopies fly. But if not, we’ll pray to SkyGod to bless us with the inspiration to keep making cool shit.

It all started when we asked the powers that be (Julien, our Aerodynamics engineer) what we needed to do to make our already awesome canopies even better, and he told as all this stuff about nice aerodynamic performances and getting close to a proper airfoil. We took that to mean that we needed to make something with even less drag, and a solid shape. Duh.

This means the soft pillow-shaped parts of the chambers when a canopy is inflated and the zigzag distortion between ribs pretty much have to go. We could go on about bulge distortion and tell you that it reduces the span and surface during flight and makes the canopy breathe in and out as the pressure inside changes….so we just did.

To get rid of all those problems and the increased drag they cause we can increase the number of ribs and lines to support all of them. One small problem. More lines equal more drag. So the goal then becomes moving most of the structure inside the canopy, where it doesn’t produce any drag. This is achieved partly with normal crossbracing, as in the JVX.

However the 5-chamber cell or parabolic bracing pushes the same logic further and lets you have four ribs – or in fact, as many as you want! The technology allows us to build five chambers, with four non-loaded ribs per cell. And we don’t have to increase the number of lines at all.

The 5-chamber Cell is composed by several pieces of fabric which form a parabola, a curve naturally designed to bear an evenly spread load. For example, a parabola is the shape a piece of string takes if you hold it by both ends and it is commonly used by engineers on cables for suspension bridges.

At the moment we are only using parabolic bracing on a prototype called “Sunshine”. She is just a concept canopy at the moment, but we hope the new design will help her fly more efficiently with less drag. Basically faster, better smoother and longer – by far!

Of course, it might turn out that it’s just more hassle. It could be a pain in the arse to debug, or it might not work at all! Or it could be brilliant!

We first released news of our design at the PIA Symposium in Reno in February. We currently have a patent out on it, and it’s definitely in the pipeline for a potential future product.

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