what is ping pong parachute
Ping pong parachute is an engineering-based event hosted by Science Olympiad where students are tasked to build and test a bottle rocket indoors that deploys a parachute that holds a ping pong ball. The objective to achieve the highest time aloft for the ping pong ball. These concepts also apply to Indoor Bottle Rocket, another event held by Science Olympiad.
In this post, we will outline the basic concepts needed to consider when creating a ping pong parachute bottle rocket and how to optimize those aspects of your device for the best results.
what to consider
In simple terms, the lighter your bottle rocket is, the higher it will fly when it’s launched. Because you are only limited to 60 psi to launch your bottle rocket, you should make an effort to keep your bottle rocket light so that the bottle rocket can reach the ceiling of the testing site.
When most people create their bottle rocket, they usually lack any awareness for the materials used to create the rocket as a whole, but particularly the fuselage. For the rocket fuselage, I would recommend that you use a shortened light tube or roll a balsa wood tube from a balsa wood sheet to make your rocket fuselage. This will allow your rocket to safely hold your parachute while also being light enough to reach the ceiling.
It is best to keep your rocket’s length slightly larger than the the length of your rocket’s parachute because when you launch your rocket, a larger rocket length will prevent any tangling or malfunction of your parachute.
Because you are confined to use a 1 liter bottle the only components that you can truly alter are the rocket fins and the rocket fuselage. For rocket fins, I would advise using extremely thin plastic (between 0.010″ and 0.020″) as it is extremely light but still sturdy enough to survive high pressure launches and hard falls.
The shape of the fins are not as important as the material only because the time the rocket is in the air is not measured; only the parachute time is measured.
The deployment mechanism of your ping pong parachute rocket is the method or process in which your parachute is deployed.
When designing your deployment mechanism, you want to keep everything super simple, because it allows you to identify key flaws in your design and improve upon them in the future. For example, simply placing the center of the parachute on the tip of the rocket, while letting the ping pong ball dangle on the rocket’s side, will provide great results.