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Drop Streamers That Really Work!
These might just save your bacon or at least your glider and maybe your vacation or flying trip.
Album by NMERider. Photos by NMERider. 1 - 28 of 28 Total. 116 Visits.
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Drop-streamer-01
Vinyl and aluminum drop streamer that I mount every time I fly whether I think I'll land out or not. I have had to use it when landing locally and none of the windsocks was light enough to show me what the wind was really doing. You just never know.

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I attached these using 4 lightweight rubber bands mounted on the outside of my left or right downtube with the rubber bands below the front wires and above the rear wires so thy point into the wind.

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To deploy, I just grab it from the outside and break the rubber bands. I hold it in my hand until I think I am above the point where it will drift to the location where I want to land. It's better to have more than one since they can wind up in trees or on roofs, etc.

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The most difficult material to find is this cheap vinyl tablecloth that I get from my local 99 Cents Only store. Be sure to buy the rectangular cloths. 54" x 108" or 1.37m x 2.7m

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If you can't find this brand, then look for the lightest vinyl tablecloth you can find. 4 sheets = 0.006" or 1.5mil thick per sheet or 0.04mm per sheet. That's nearly tissue thin. Heavier material will not work because in light wind it will just bunch up into a little pile and not lay over or blow around. Never use aluminized Mylar streamer material because it can trigger an electrical arc and start a fire or kill somebody, including you. Everywhere I fly and land there are naked powerlines.

NO ALUMINIZED MYLAR PLEASE!!!!!


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Total weight for a 4" 102mm wide streamer is ~37g

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This aluminum bar weighs ~24g so the streamer weighs ~13g. Consider that it's 18' long x 4" wide (850cm x 10cm) and weighs so little, it can drop very quickly but stop in mid air and still drift over with the breeze.

A short, conductive aluminum bar is unlikely to bridge two live wires. For extra security why not wrap the bar with a few layers of electrical tape or heat shrink tubing?


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Lay out one panel of vinyl film

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If space is limited fold up the excess.

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Apply a layer of transfer tape. This is the tape that is just adhesive and has no film. You can also use a thinner strip of Seamstick tape or other, tackier double-backed tape. If the tape is too stiff or too strong it will damage the vinyl film which is extremely fragile.

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Lay out the contrasting panel of vinyl and hold in place with drafting tape or other gentle removable tape. Otherwise when you go to peel away the basting tape the vinyl will get damaged.

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I try to be careful when I mate the two layers vinyl. Be certain the vinyl extends past the double-backed tape of the streamer will get fouled when you try to deploy it.

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I was doing okay up to this point and then....

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...I botched up the last bit and had double-backed adhesive exposed that I covered up with some lightweight Scotch tape. Doh!

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The whole 18' long banquet-size, cheap vinyl table cloth.

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I There is no perfect method to proceed from here. I do a series of Z-folds.

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More Z-folds.

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One more Z-fold

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Then I roll it the rest of the way.

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I have some extremely sharp sewing shears and can cut through all the layers at once. Use can also use a straight-edge with a fresh utility knives or a quilter's rotary cutter and a self-healing cutting mat. Use whatever works for you.

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This batch will be made a little bit wider at 4.5" per streamer.

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I can cut these out very quickly like cookie dough with my eBay special industrial sewing shears.

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Next I need to open up each one just enough to be able to roll it into the yellow portion. I use red for the outside and yellow for the inside. Use a color scheme you can remember so you know which end is upwind or downwind.

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All rolled up and ready to store until I have the aluminum cut and smoothed.

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Looks like sushi.

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Stored away until I have the weights cut.

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I use 1/8" x 1" aluminum from the hardware store. Different countries may have different stock sizes. The bar should weigh at least what you saw earlier. The most critical thing is the streamer material which much be as lightweight as possible. See the weight shown earlier. Denser material will cause failures. You can compensate for heavier material by making the streamer longer. You will have to test it when you don't need it to make sure it will serve your needs.

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Use double-backed transfer adhesive if you can find it. Otherwise use a mild double-backed tape. If it's too strong it can damage the thin vinyl. Note the smoothed edges and radiused corners.

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