Parks College Parachute Research Group
The Parks College Parachute Research Group utilizes a number of unique electronic devices,
instruments, and instrumentation systems to enable them to collect data for their various
projects. The following articles and photographs describe some of these devices and systems.
Other information about the specific instrumentation that has been used on a particular
project can also be found the page describing that project. For more information about PRG
instrumentation systems and electronics you can contact Gary Peek at
- Vacuum Chambers (updated December 2008)
Detailed information and pictures describing the vacuum (altitude) chambers built and
used by the PRG and by Industrologic, Inc.
for testing the barograph, Industrologic pressure and altitude
related products, Automatic Activation Devices (AAD's), and altimeters.
Much of the following instrumentation has been superseded or is now available in
newer forms as commercial products from Industrologic, Inc.
or from other companies.
This microprocessor based instrument can record altitudes and freefall speeds during a jump,
and can download this fall rate data from the entire jump to a PC, where a program on the
PC can plot the altitudes and speeds over time.
- Pressure sensor array, circa 1999
The PRG has installed arrays of pressure sensors in a variety of ways. Plastic tubing is
used to locate the point of pressure measurement, and static port openings are used on the
surfaces of the canopy. Wires are finger-trapped into suspension lines to carry signals to
the risers where they are amplified and sent to the data acquisition system.
- Load links (1996 model)
This model of the load link was designed to connect in the middle of two sections of
riser, and included an amplifier within the unit. Strain gauges are glued to both sides
of the link in a manner that eliminates signal from twisting motions while allowing
signals from pulling motions.
- Riser load system, circa 1999
This system consists of custom made load links, their amplifiers, and a data acquisition
system to record the voltages produced by the strain gauges on the links during parachute
deployment. An after-jump picture of Dr. Jean Potvin wearing the riser
- Strain gauge amplifiers, circa 1998
The low voltage signal from strain gauges mounted on the load links is amplified close
to the strain gauges by an amplifier with switch selectable gain to accomodate the study
of parachutes with wide ranges of opening forces. The amplifier is enclosed in a plastic
box and is mounted on the riser.
- Portable Data Acquisition System, circa 1998
This data logging device is based on an IBM PC compatible Single Board Computer
and an 8-channel 12-bit Analog to Digital conversion board. It can collect data up to
5000 HZ using a custom written assembly language program.
- Data download and plotting, circa 1999
Data from the portable data acquisition system is downloaded after a parachute jump to a
file on an IBM PC compatible computer, where viewing the data with a plotting program
verifies successful data collection.