cordless drill battery for ignition

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Well-Known Member
Jan 2, 2004
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This may be old news for many of you, but for those looking for a good ignition battery, it may be no farther than your tool bench.

With cordless tools now being more common than tools with power cords, I'm sure many of you have one around (probably two as most tool kits come with a spare battery). Very compact and plenty of oomph for launching modrocs. They always come with a charger, too.
If you already have the tool/battery it's a fine idea. I wonder if its such a deal if you are going out to purchase one specifically for launching models.. they are more expensive, are generally Ni-Cad which develope a memory and have a set number of recharges they will take. I recently bought a 7amp/hr 12v hobbico gel-cell for under $20.00 at a local hobby shop to replace the one i've been using steady every month since 1993.. which I believe cost about 35.00...can't beat that for cost effectiveness unless of coarse you got the battery FREE;)
Originally posted by Micromister
If you already have the tool/battery it's a fine idea. I wonder if its such a deal if you are going out to purchase one specifically for launching models...

No doubt - I'd never suggest going out and buying one if you don't already have one for power tools you already have. If starting from scratch there's cheaper ways to get batteries, as you state.

As to NiCd memory, I'd suggest a google search on "nicd memory". Very educational. BTW, my two NiCd battery packs on my 14.4v DeWalt drill are now going on 4+ years of heavy duty home-remodelling use. Still going pretty strong for all the abuse they've taken.
They hooked one of these up to power the low power pads at one of the MDRA HPR launches. Seemed to work great.
I had considered this idea before building my current system. The problem I came accross, was my battery packs went bad before I actually built it. Replacement packs cost more than just buying a new cordless set, and the new packs were different.

On the plus side, the battery pack could be used as the safety key if you could make a receptacle for the pack.
I bought a cheap 12v cordless drill at harbor freight when they had a sale for $12. I plan to put a lighter plug and cord on the drill to use in the truck and use the battery and charger for a small single launch pad. They also have 14.4V and 18V drills cheap too. At these prices it's cheaper to toss the drill when the battery is no good anymore than buy a new battery.

I may also use the motor and gearbox to operate the gantry on my Saturn V launch pad.

I have been using 12V sealed lead acid batteries and they work great. Got them from and they are about the size of a lantern battery.

I have three of them so that's 36 volts with a lot of amps. One of our small sawhorses for low power had a bracket coming undone so I pulled out the batteries. Hooked up some jumper cables to the batteries and a piece of steel rod and did a CHAD weld on the spot. Hasn't come undone yet. Great things:)

Would a single 9V battery be enough to air-start two Estes motors? Changing it out frequently isn't an issue - it's the size/weight I'm worried about.

Originally posted by Bowhunter
Will it have enough ooommpppp to fire clusters?

I don't know the specific current requirements to shoot off clusters, but my experience would tell me that a 12.5v or 14.4v cordless power tool battery has more than enough to fit the bill (and that's not even factoring in that many tools these days are in the 18v/24v range!)

Most of these tool batteries are NiCd or NiMH based, which are excellent at high current draw applications, due to relatively low internal resistance. These things are designed for high current applications. Admittedly, driving 3" deck screws could probably be considered "abuse" of the average 12-14v cordless drill, but everyone does it anyway and the batteries keep dishing it out.
Originally posted by Bowhunter
Will it have enough ooommpppp to fire clusters?

I've been using a 10+ year old 7.2 NiCAD battery pack in my launch controller that I cobbed out of an R/C truck. It fires three motor clusters like a champ everytime. 20+ sucessful launches without a single failure. I'd say that a 12V cordless drill batt would fire a cluster no problem!:D
My 18v drill battery has fired every ignitor I've put on it. I'm building a launcher box to go over it with 50ft speaker wire to the gator clips.
I've been buying Ryobi 18V ONE+ tools for year now. The ones i bought years back were NiCd, but all the new ones are LiPo now. No memory and a LOT more power! The large ones will run a leaf blower for almost and hour. I can't imagine they wouldn't be able to launch multiple clusters without fading.