Skycat parachute launcher for Drones

Dear reader,

We are now live at The development project continues, and updates are added to this blog in random intervals.

We have parachutes launchers available in many weight ranges; optimal 1 - 6 kg and these could be extended with higher impact level up to 11 kg. For larger up to 23 kg multicopters we have XL - series with pilot chute principle.

For those who wants to digest all information available of products, we have left this blog as it is. This blog follows closely main steps we have gone through while developing parachute launcher. Blog might feel like Do It Yourself kind and to be honest, in the beginning it was.

After hundreds of hours thinking, designing, prototyping and testing our patent pending launcher turned to be the most reliable parachute launcher for professional use. We have searched all possible boundaries of technology and from this blog you'll find results of these successful tests but also not so successful tests.

You never know where The final limit of technology is without experiencing it. That's the reason why we have done tests for scenarios which might not be even realistic on flight.

For production versions of Skycat we could proudly to say that we have experienced zero mishaps, never failed a single eject and parachute has deployed every time. This includes rescue scenarios with every imaginable scenario copter could face in air. Check this out as one sample of our test sessions! 

Skycat parachute launcher has been tested beyond all imaginable abuses copter possibly could experience in flight. We have sink it to water, it has been heated hours to 90°C and exposed to extensive moisture, we have frosted, defrosted and frosted it again, it has been in mud and snow and still it has worked. Same overshooting tests we have done also for electronics. This is not promise you can use our products outside of submarine but we have tested it so :)

This blog will still be updated as well our Facebook pages and Twitter at

Fly safe - Let's keep our copters flying!



DJI Inspire 1 / Skycat X55-CF parachute integration by






Other documentary videos:

Skycat Twin test session

OPENTX for parachute eject and 6POS switch

DUAL spring loaded switches - single RC channel for parachute eject, OPENTX

Brake enabled SimonK firmware

Ground eject demonstration in slow motion 

Water test

Aerial test No 2 for Opale Paramodels 2.5m^2 parachute 

Aerial test No 1 Opale Paramodels 1.8m^2 parachute 

A moment of deploy

Tower test 3

Tower test 2


Manufacturers contributed to this project:




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  • Gene,
    I have one question realated to your parachutes. Hopefully you are here. How high stress or even overstress your parachutes would handle if parachute is installed to heavier multicopter than it is recommended?

    In general you manufacturers recommend parachute which slows descent to about 5m/s max. It is good speed for saving hardware but will cause parachute weight to be about 10% of copter weight. One option is to have smaller parachute which slows descent to about 10m/s and have weight about 5% of copter weight. This speed will be still much better than free fall and and risk of injuries is lower anyway. Also minimum deploy altitude will be much lower.

    Worst case scenario could be like this: free fall for instace 50m/s, copter weight 8kg, parachute designed as 5m/s - 4kg and eject. Based on some internet calculators descent speed would be something between 8-11 m/s but would your parachute survive from deploy impact?

    I've heard that real pilot chute would give 70kg drag for pulling main chute from bag.
  • Updates:
    New parachute is coming from Opale Paramodels. This time it is 2.5m2 and is rated to maximum 4kg copter. Parachute in earlier flight test video were 1.8m2 and rated to max 3kg copter. I'm planning to try this 2.5m2 chute with same tube than 1.8m2 by doing a little longer tube. This would allow use of dual 4kg parachutes on heavier cameracopters. Advantage doing it like this is that deploy time is short. Pilot chute is not needed and deploy should be possible to do below 10 meters. I'll try this in few weeks and as usual let you know what happened.

    Tube for 6m2 (7kg) parachute is also on the way to here. CNC parts are designed and are waiting for proper time for manufacturing.

    Cameracopter is disassembled and I'm rebuilding it with fresh knowledge. Thanks to Jani Hirvinen from Jdrones. He gave good tips last summer what I should buy/try before attempting to large cameracopter. This copter has waited on table since that. Cameracopter is now going to be hundreds of grams lighter than earlier. This copter will be secured with either 2x2.5m2 or 1x6m2 parachutes. I'm so confident with this new eject system that I'm planning to do drop test with cameracopter also, without camera gears. Camera don't like shaking.
  • First flight tests were finally done in year 2013.

    There is now complete video at header of this thread from last Sunday flight test. 

    Happy new year 2014 to all!

  • Nice work guys!  Is that the Opal chute, which looks a lot like our Iris chutes?


  • First flight test day is behind. I used those all 5 hours of almost day light what we have in here at this darkest time of year.

    Every drop were consistent with each other and went as should. Only broken part was aluminum leg of the copter and eventually all of them bent. I bent them back to almost original shape and tests continued. Drops I did today were from approx from altitudes of 25m, 20m, 15m, 10m, 9m, 14m and 11 meters. 9 meter drop shows that about 5-7 meters is minimum opening altitude for Opale 1.8m2 parachute from standing copter.

    Although impact was sometimes bad looking and copter even flipped upside down when hitting ground, I'm sure it is a lot better like that than impact from free fall. This parachute is rated to 3kg max. and  this copter is 3.2kg. If parachute itself is strong enough I would attach this even bigger copter if plans are not to drop copter everyday. It is much better than nothing.

    We had one camera aboard and one on the ground. I'll post video to Youtube once it is edited. Here is one collage shot from 14 meter drop. Forgive poor image quality. Sigma f1.4 didn't give better results in this lightning condition we had today at the hands of 9 years old cameraman.


  • One drop is done.

    Everything worked as planned and chute opened quickly. Landing speed was not too bad eventhough this tank copter weighs 3.2 kg totally. Only problem was that copter hit to concrete well cover on 6-9m/s sidewind and resulted a bent leg.

    So far everything's good and few more dropping is planned to do today.
  • Weather forecast for tomorrow promises some possibility to fly.

    Id like to have last confirm about the APM code: Is there any exceptions when camera shutter is not activated?

    For instance free fall, copter upside down, zero throttle or any abnormal condition for aerial photography.

  • Copter and deploy tube is now fully assembled and eject is tested on the ground several times. I used A9 with Darlington transistor and it worked fine.

    I have now two obstacles to overcome before flight. First is weather, it is very poor in here and will be several days. Another is that APM do not arm with 3.1 firmware. I was trying to measure motor brake time/trigger optimal timing but I couldn't make propels to spin.

    I get message: Prearm: Bad GPS pos. It is obvious message because copter was indoors. I tried to get rid of it the by disabling both of these parameters:ARMING_CHECK and GPSGLITCH_enable.

    Still copter didn't arm and didn't give any other message.

    I have had very poor GPS fix almost all the time I've played with APM and has flown mostly without GPS fix. 

    I could downgrade to 3.01 but first if there is something worth to try, I would like to test it. This problem is posted also to new APM forum but for some reason my approved message didn't appear to forum.



  • Hi all, Looking over the discussion here and I wanted to make sure folks have visibility on our various UAV recovery bundles:

    For multi-rotor products the CO2 Recovery Bundle systems are ideal have no problem forcefully shooting a large chute a considerable distance without any special tricks.  Our Iris chute is US made, high quality , strong, compact and light weight.  We have our systems designed into many UAV manufacturers and defense systems products.  If you have questions you can contact me through the website contact forms.


    -Gene Engelgau


  • Henri - I'm suggesting late ---

    Have a smaller tube within your launch tube. This is what you will pack your parachute into. This interior tube will be what you shoot out of your launcher. The spring and launch tube should be able to be made smaller in length and diameter. The smaller tube is attached to the main launch tube and will both launch the parachute and help deploy. Since it will be ejected with force it flies away from the launch tube and the parachute is also then pulled out from this tube since it is attached to the copter. At the end the parachute will be deployed. The smaller tube will fall and dangle from its string attached to the copter and the copter floats down. The tubes could be made from lacquered toilet paper, paper towel rolls, wrapping paper rolls, etc. --- Your system does look good. Good Job!

This reply was deleted.


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