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Estes Solar Ignitors = ?
#1
Okay I am almost "officially" frustrated now!

Trips to launch rockets:  2 (one by myself and one with my two son's to show them the "joy" of rocketry)

First trip:
# of attempts to launch:  12
Successful launches:  2
# of "failed ignitors:  10

Second trip:
# of attempts to launch:  10
Successful launches:  1
# of failed igniters:  9

Both times I:
  • put a new (literally took it out of the packaging at the field) Duracell 9Volt in the launch controller
  • Ensured the igniters (Estes Solar igniters with the clear tips) were seated correctly
  • Used either the plastic plugs included with the motors (first trip) or balled up wadding (second time)
  • Didn't cross the alligator clips
  • bent the wire back on itself so there would be more contact between the clips
AUUGGGGGGHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

At this point I am considering:
  1. build my own launch controller 
  2. buy the "Mighty D" from BMS
  3. Getting out of the hobby altogether (again)....Not really, just frustrated.
Has anyone else expreinced this rate of failure's?  Are the Quest igniter's more reliable?
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#2
I haven't used tons of the new clear tip "starters" yet but my success rate with them has been >90%. But that's using club launch systems, powered by 12V car batteries or the like. And for a couple of recent cluster launches, I used Quest Q2G2s in one rocket and older black tip Estes igniters in the other.

You can go broke fast buying Q2G2s, though. Whereas if you put a few bucks into a better launch controller, it'll last you forever. 9V batteries are not very good at delivering current.
Rich Holmes
Camillus, NY
Secretary / newsletter editor
Syracuse Rocket Club

http://richsrockets.wordpress.com
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#3
(08-14-2015, 04:55 PM)Rich Holmes Wrote: I haven't used tons of the new clear tip "starters" yet but my success rate with them has been >90%. But that's using club launch systems, powered by 12V car batteries or the like. And for a couple of recent cluster launches, I used Quest Q2G2s in one rocket and older black tip Estes igniters in the other.

You can go broke fast buying Q2G2s, though. Whereas if you put a few bucks into a better launch controller, it'll last you forever. 9V batteries are not very good at delivering current.

Thanks for the info!

That is what I was thinking too (12V > 9V)

Want to work my way through the NARTEK skills program but kind of hard to do when you can't get off the pad!  Confused
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#4
I have has 100% success with the new Estes igniters. I have to admit I have only used one  Smile  One of the benefits of flying large BP clusters is that I had lots of their old igniters stashed.  I tried one new one just for kicks.
Member of MDRA, NAR and NARHAMS;
Level-2 certified but mostly fly G and under;
Volunteer compiler of manufacturer's news for ROCKETS Magazine.
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#5
I agree with Rich, I reckon the 9v battery is the problem. It's not the lower voltage but the current they can supply. What most people dont realise is a 9v battery is actually made of 6 tiny little 1.5v cells squeezed into a tiny package. I hate the things and consider most things designed to use them as a poor design, there are a few exceptions.

I use a little 12v 1.2Ah lead acid battery (It's about the size of a packet of cigarettes) and have yet to have a starter failure. Instant ignition every time.
Lead acid batteries are known for their low internal resistance and high current delivery.

A 3-cell(11.1v) LiPo(Lithium Ion Polymer) battery for model planes would also work well as they also have low internal resistance and high current and are now very cheap and reliable with a proper charger. It will be my next solution when the lead-acid eventually dies.
AMRS #54
WARS #24
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#6
I save the older black tipped igniters for schoolyard launches if using my older 6 volt Estes controller.
I use the new clear "Starters" when I go to club launches where there is a 12 volt system.
The Starters can light an engine with 6 volts (with the recommended battery) but are slower to ignite.
The (quick) Quest Q2G2 igniters are reserved for clusters.

The BMS Mighty D would certainly help. 12 volts, a relay and the batteries right next to the launcher.
I use my Might D controller quite often.
Unless you have some experience with soldering, I'd recommend getting the pre-assembled Mighty D controller.
I have some experience with these, I drew up the instructions for BMS.
Hans "Chris" Michielssen
Old/New NAR # 19086 SR
www.modelrocketbuilding.blogspot.com

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#7
(08-15-2015, 11:04 AM)hcmbanjo Wrote: I save the older black tipped igniters for schoolyard launches if using my older 6 volt Estes controller.
I use the new clear "Starters" when I go to club launches where there is a 12 volt system.
The Starters can light an engine with 6 volts (with the recommended battery) but are slower to ignite.
The (quick) Quest Q2G2 igniters are reserved for clusters.

The BMS Mighty D would certainly help. 12 volts, a relay and the batteries right next to the launcher.
I use my Might D controller quite often.
Unless you have some experience with soldering, I'd recommend getting the pre-assembled Mighty D controller.
I have some experience with these, I drew up the instructions for BMS.

Thank You for the info Sir!  I have some experience with soldering but will probably buy the pre-assembled one none the less so I can get out and use it for its intended purpose!

I read your blog everyday as well.  You have taught me much from your writings.
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#8
You can modify your existing Estes controller to hook up to an external 12 volt battery (I use a car jumper pack, works terrific and is highly portable-- can launch all day and STILL boost off a Chevy Suburban that the kids left the doors open all day and killed the battery with the dome lights). I rebuilt my old Estes Pola-Pulse controller and Electron Beam controller with heavy duty lamp cord launch leads (instead of the supplied dinky bell wire Estes uses, which has higher resistance and reduces available power to the ignitor (sorry, "starter" as they're called now to placate the gubmint jackbooted thugs)... also dumped the dinky flashlight bulb in favor of a pair of LED indicators from Radio Shack (or any online electronic supplier or auto supply for that matter)-- one to indicate a good external battery connection (via various means including various plugs like cigarette lighter plugs, RC battery pack "banana plugs", etc, or battery charger clamps) and the other replacing the dinky flashlight bulb for continuity indicator when the key is installed. Also replaced the steel keys with one made from copper house wiring, which conducts like ten times better than steel and doesn't corrode like steel. I use a lamp cord leadout from the old battery compartments of the controllers to a pair of battery charger clamps/clips that attach to the car jumper pack, but one could use any number of power sources, including RC electric vehicle battery packs, cordless drill or tool battery packs, motorcycle/ATV batteries, etc. IMHO the good old car jumper battery pack is still best, from a portability and versatility standpoint. RC packs are smaller, but usually require special chargers, which adds to the cost. Car jumper packs are readily available at most big box stores, and can easily be recharged from the vehicle cigarette lighter plug or a built in or wall-wart plug in charger at home, and unlike RC plane or RC car batteries, can serve double-duty in your vehicle in case you need a boost at some point, and they can power other things at a launch besides the launch controller and still have plenty of power. I've posted the relevant drawings and pictures around here on the forum many times in various threads on modified launch controllers, which should be fairly easy to find with a search... If not, I can post them again if you like...

Remember too that the new "starters" do not have any pyrogen in them to produce a "burst of flame" to help ignite the motor like the old black-tip Estes ignitors... therefore, clean, direct, unobstructed DIRECT CONTACT with the propellant is an ABSOLUTE MUST to achieve ignition with them. The old pyrogen ignitors were MUCH more forgiving in this regard, as the "puff of flame" from the ignitor was usually enough to burn through any contamination on the surface of the motor propellant dimple or bridge any small gaps between the ignitor tip and the propellant itself to produce ignition. Basically these new "starters" have to be treated just like the old bare nichrome ignitors of 40 years ago... they MUST be in DIRECT CONTACT with the propellant to ignite it.... be sure to inspect the propellant dimple in the back of the motor and ENSURE that you can see a clean, clear, direct path to the black propellant dimple above the nozzle exit on the motor before installing the "starter", and make sure that it is inserted deeply enough to be seated tightly against the surface of the propellant in the dimple and HELD SECURELY THERE by whatever method you lock the starter in place (plastic plug, tape, or ball-o-wadding, etc), and that it CANNOT MOVE when the leads are clipped to the starter. If there is any visible "crud" blocking the black powder of the propellant dimple, such as stray bits of clay or dust or crud from the nozzle/motor pressing process, be sure to "pick it clean" with a wooden skewer or other suitable (nonsparking) tool to ensure NOTHING blocks DIRECT CONTACT between the starter tip and the black powder propellant grain dimple.

Best of luck and hope this helps! OL JR Smile
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#9
(08-15-2015, 03:01 PM)luke strawwalker Wrote: You can modify your existing Estes controller to hook up to an external 12 volt battery (I use a car jumper pack, works terrific and is highly portable-- can launch all day and STILL boost off a Chevy Suburban that the kids left the doors open all day and killed the battery with the dome lights).  I rebuilt my old Estes Pola-Pulse controller and Electron Beam controller with heavy duty lamp cord launch leads (instead of the supplied dinky bell wire Estes uses, which has higher resistance and reduces available power to the ignitor (sorry, "starter" as they're called now to placate the gubmint jackbooted thugs)... also dumped the dinky flashlight bulb in favor of a pair of LED indicators from Radio Shack (or any online electronic supplier or auto supply for that matter)-- one to indicate a good external battery connection (via various means including various plugs like cigarette lighter plugs, RC battery pack "banana plugs", etc, or battery charger clamps) and the other replacing the dinky flashlight bulb for continuity indicator when the key is installed.  Also replaced the steel keys with one made from copper house wiring, which conducts like ten times better than steel and doesn't corrode like steel.  I use a lamp cord leadout from the old battery compartments of the controllers to a pair of battery charger clamps/clips that attach to the car jumper pack, but one could use any number of power sources, including RC electric vehicle battery packs, cordless drill or tool battery packs, motorcycle/ATV batteries, etc.  IMHO the good old car jumper battery pack is still best, from a portability and versatility standpoint.  RC packs are smaller, but usually require special chargers, which adds to the cost.  Car jumper packs are readily available at most big box stores, and can easily be recharged from the vehicle cigarette lighter plug or a built in or wall-wart plug in charger at home, and unlike RC plane or RC car batteries, can serve double-duty in your vehicle in case you need a boost at some point, and they can power other things at a launch besides the launch controller and still have plenty of power.  I've posted the relevant drawings and pictures around here on the forum many times in various threads on modified launch controllers, which should be fairly easy to find with a search... If not, I can post them again if you like...

Remember too that the new "starters" do not have any pyrogen in them to produce a "burst of flame" to help ignite the motor like the old black-tip Estes ignitors... therefore, clean, direct, unobstructed DIRECT CONTACT with the propellant is an ABSOLUTE MUST to achieve ignition with them.  The old pyrogen ignitors were MUCH more forgiving in this regard, as the "puff of flame" from the ignitor was usually enough to burn through any contamination on the surface of the motor propellant dimple or bridge any small gaps between the ignitor tip and the propellant itself to produce ignition.  Basically these new "starters" have to be treated just like the old bare nichrome ignitors of 40 years ago... they MUST be in DIRECT CONTACT with the propellant to ignite it.... be sure to inspect the propellant dimple in the back of the motor and ENSURE that you can see a clean, clear, direct path to the black propellant dimple above the nozzle exit on the motor before installing the "starter", and make sure that it is inserted deeply enough to be seated tightly against the surface of the propellant in the dimple and HELD SECURELY THERE by whatever method you lock the starter in place (plastic plug, tape, or ball-o-wadding, etc), and that it CANNOT MOVE when the leads are clipped to the starter.  If there is any visible "crud" blocking the black powder of the propellant dimple, such as stray bits of clay or dust or crud from the nozzle/motor pressing process, be sure to "pick it clean" with a wooden skewer or other suitable (nonsparking) tool to ensure NOTHING blocks DIRECT CONTACT between the starter tip and the black powder propellant grain dimple.

Best of luck and hope this helps!  OL JR Smile
Thanks for taking the time to reply!  I really appreciate the information/help!
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#10
We launched today. Our system uses a 12v marine battery. One of our guys burned through 5 'starters', 2 (blackhead) ignitors and a Q2G2. We finally stuck a new motor in it and he launched it with a 'starter' on the 1st try. I took my mini-Leatherman and (lightly) scraped out the nozzle to get the sooty burnt crap off, put it into another guy's rocket and it launched just fine on a 'starter'.
Phill Ash
Secretary - SouthEastern Virginia Rocketry Association (SEVRA)
2015 Tot Impulse: 1398.8 Ns (L2, 45 Flights, 57 Motors)
2016 Tot Impulse: 190.3 Ns (L2, 14 Flights, 16 Motors)




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