6th January 2012, 02:34 AM
Estes Sonic Igniters
There's been some mention of the igniter that Estes will be including with their relabeled AeroTech motors. It has been named the 'Sonic Igniter'.
Several clubs/NAR Sections have received some of these igniters for 'real world' testing.
One of those Sections was SCRA in Los Angeles.
I was attending one of their December launches and asked Fred Shecter about the Sonic Igniter samples. He gave me one of the igniters to use. The only composite motors I had with me used Blue Thunder propellant and I wanted to test the igniter with a more demanding propellant.
My opportunity came at the San Diego NAR Section DART launch on Saturday, December 31st. I chose my Initiator as the rocket to be flown and an AeroTech F20-4W White Lightning motor. I was thinking of using an E15/E20 White Lightning motor but the pyrogen head of the igniter was too large to fit through the nozzle throat.
The Initiator was prepared as usual and I used the yellow rubberband from the F20 motor to hold the Sonic Igniter in place.
After a five count, I pressed the launch button. Smoke came out of the motor within a second or two followed by the typical flame and roar of a White Lightning motor.
The motor and rocket performed nominally with the Initiator recovering within twenty feet of the launch pad.
From all indications the Sonic Igniter worked fine. If I had a second one of these igniters I would have tried igniting a BlackJack/Black Max propellant motor with it as this is a more difficult propellant type to ignite.
Attached are some before and after pictures of the igniter. The yellow loop in the 'after' pictures is the rubber band used to hold the igniter in place.