An new issue with Estes starters

The Rocketry Forum

Help Support The Rocketry Forum:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.

bjphoenix

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 3, 2011
Messages
2,916
Reaction score
2,250
I was helping a new family this past weekend and we had 2 igniter failures. They had recently bought a pack of A8-3 at Hobby Lobby, with the new gray igniters. I didn't pay so much attention at first but the way the igniters are made there is a bit of bridge wire sticking out each side as you can see in the photo below. When you push this igniter into the nozzle these little bits squeeze the 2 wires in and they can touch inside the nozzle at or below the plastic plug. If you do a lot of monkeying with these igniters to prevent that you run the risk of breaking the bridge wire. I pulled out my box of spare igniters and looked. Some of my gray igniters have this, some don't. I have a few of the black igniters and they don't have this. I don't have any of the white igniters left.

I was thinking rather than messing with the igniters to try to remove this bit of bridge wire, or trying to bend the wires after installation of the igniter, maybe it would be more effective to paint one of the wires just above the gray coating to provide some insulation then it doesn't matter if they touch or not. Any other ideas:

DSC_0102r.jpg
 
Is it possible snip the extra without excessively damaging the igniter?
The are very small. It might be possible to put the starter on a flat piece of metal and use the tip of a hobby knife to cut off the extra. I also wondered if it would be possible to use small needle nose pliers to get the extra to fold down flatter against the main lead. Maybe if you could hold the starter with some pliers and touch it to a spinning grinder wheel, or maybe that would ignite the coating.

On small nozzles I've also noticed those whiskers giving a false sense of when the igniter is fully inserted.
I noticed that too, particularly with the smaller nozzle of the A motors. Using more force to push the starter in is probably when the wires get bent.
 
I would just squeeze that extra bit back in with a needle nose plier (as suggested just above) if it really is an issue. But really all you need to do is separate the main leads a bit before putting the thing in the nozzle. If you crack the pyrogen doing that, it's no big deal.

The Startechs are made on the same machine(s) that have been used to make these for a long time...probably since Solar igniters were introduced in the 1970s, so I don't really think this is something new or something that is Startech Starter-specific...but maybe a small adjustment in how the bridge wire is trimmed after it is spot welded to the main leads. I'm sure I've seen "whiskers" like this on the straw-colored starters and also on Solar igniters.

But I can see where, especially on the tiny nozzle in 1/4A3, 1/2A3 and A3 motors, having the ends of the bridge wire stick out like that would make it hard to get the igniter in far enough.
 
The are very small. It might be possible to put the starter on a flat piece of metal and use the tip of a hobby knife to cut off the extra. I also wondered if it would be possible to use small needle nose pliers to get the extra to fold down flatter against the main lead. Maybe if you could hold the starter with some pliers and touch it to a spinning grinder wheel, or maybe that would ignite the coating.


I noticed that too, particularly with the smaller nozzle of the A motors. Using more force to push the starter in is probably when the wires get bent.

Why not just cut them off with a Side Cutter?

https://www.amazon.com/Hakko-CHP-170-Micro-Cutter/dp/B00FZPDG1K
 
As I wrote above, this is NOT a "new issue". It didn't take me long to find examples of older Estes igniters/starters with this same "issue". The black ones are Solar Igniters, these circa 2005, the light ones are Solar Starters, circa 2018/2019 (that's what the date codes are on the motors in packages from which they came). They came out of some motor packs I was storing more efficiently from that fellow who was selling a bunch of C6-5s recently:

IMG_8488.JPEG

If the bits of bridge wire sticking out the sides bother you, crimp 'em down with some small needle nose pliers. Otherwise, just ignore 'em. Or, as I said before, spreading the main leads a bit before putting them into the nozzle, even if it cracks the coating, is not a problem.

Three is no "R&D" being done by the customer.
 
I’ve also found during a recent test that the pyrogen produces a good-sized flame and even a little pop. It’s more akin to a match than a light bulb. I doubt it needs to be in direct contact with the propellant the way the corn starch ones need to.
 
I have seen these igniters a lot recently. The way i deal with it is simply selecting a different igniter out of my box of igniters if it looks like the head on one is too big to fit the nozzle of the particular motor I'm prepping.
 
Back
Top