Estes Igniters

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sjh1

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I seem to be having an issue with estes igniters in a recent launch. Never had this problem before. Only getting about 1/2 of my models to light the 1st time. Is anyone else having this issue? Is there an alternative?
 

dhbarr

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It's your power system; not enough volts and/or not enough amps and/or not enough time.

Try switching to LiFeS2 batteries and holding the firing switch for ~3s.
 

les

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The new "starters" no longer have pyrogen on the tip. You need to make sure the tip of the ignitor is actually making contact with the BP.

Also, what are you using as a controller? What batteries (including brand)? If one of the new 9V battery controllers I've heard of people having issues with them.
 

Flyfalcons

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You must be running a good quality 9V battery to get the needed amps to fire the starter. I use Duracell and mine fire nearly instantly, every time. I originally tried a Rayovac and it didn't work at all.
 

TangoJuliet

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I got out of rocketry before Estes started adding the plastic plugs to hold in the igniters, and before the change to no pyrogen tip, but one of the tips I learned while doing competition rocketry was to make a tiny little ball of wadding, and after inserting the tip of the igniter into the nozzle, carefully stuff the ball into the nozzle. It served pretty much the same purpose as the new plastic plugs, but it also held the tip of the igniter against the BP propellent, as well as keeping the igniter leads separated to prevent a short.
 

ksaves2

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The other thing to do is dip the tip in a pyrogen. Can get a commercial "kit" or google alternatives. That will augment the plain wire. In the very early days, they just shipped nichrome wire and instructed one to make a two turn coil in the center on the sharpened end of a pencil and use masking tape to hold the igniter in place. One didn't want to smush the coil and they worked ok as long as contact was maintained. The weight of the microclips could pull the coil away from the propellant sometimes and that was usually the cause of misfires. Wished I had stickier duct tape back then!! I remember doing that when I was in the 3rd and 4th grade. A bit later they came out with a blue pyrogen that had 3 or 4 segments on a single wire. One had to cut the segments apart. They worked nicely. I still have some unopened tubes and some opened with these igniters intact. Sometime later was the bridge wire and black pyrogen. I believe some arcane regulators got on their back that necessitated the change which is extremely stupid. I don't know of any "accidents" that were caused by "unopened" estes igniters. Kurt
 

sjh1

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I was using a club launch system using a car battery so I doubt the controller is the problem. Is there not some other brand I could buy? I really don't want to do the pyrogen dip myself if I don't have to.
 

Rex R

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I would guess that it was people using the 'good' ignitors for nefarious purposes that spoiled for the rest of us. I suppose we should be thankful that the powers that be did not decide that the Cuhead design was the way to go.
Rex
 

Zeus-cat

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I was using a club launch system using a car battery so I doubt the controller is the problem. Is there not some other brand I could buy? I really don't want to do the pyrogen dip myself if I don't have to.
The premier igniters used to be the Quest Q2G2. Sadly, they also switched to the non-pyrogen formula. However, they use much less current than the Estes and even the new non-pyrogen version is more reliable than Estes starters (as they are now called). Even more sadly it seems all Quest igniters are very hard to come by. I believe there was some sort of production issue.

Anyway, as others have said, make sure the starter is touching the powder in the motor. Use a good battery (even club batteries can be run down at a launch). Make sure your wiring is good; my club has had wiring issues too (bad plug caused a lot of igniter/starter failures). If the starter is touching the powder, you have a good battery and no power losses in the system; even the new starters will work fine.
 

KenECoyote

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Some other tips...


  • Other igniters you can buy work better (ex. Quest Q2G2); however they can be costly.
  • Try to find and buy older packs of Estes motors when you can find them (smaller hobby stores/companies; etc., but beware of really old since they may be improperly stored) they often have the old pyrogen/black tip igniters. I found some D12's in my local Walmart with them on clearance last year. Older Estes C11/D12 motor packs come in 3-packs rather than 2-packs and those most likely have the older black igniters. Check local launch vendors and you can usually see the igniter type even when it's in the package.
  • Ensure that when you insert the igniter and push in the plastic plug that you don't crush the tip or have the wires touching together anywhere.
  • Bend a small loop on each end of the igniter wires...it can double the contact point and makes them much easier to clip (also stops the clips from rotating)...
  • Make sure the clips don't touch
  • Make sure the launch clips have clean contact points. If they're rusted, bring along an emery board/sand paper, clip it on and pull out the board/sandpaper to clean the contact points.
  • For my many private lp launches, when removing the spent igniter I make it a habit to *not* carefully unclip it, but instead I grab the clip and yank out the spent igniter - this ensures a cleaner contact for the next launch. After hundreds of launches this year, I haven't yet needed to clean the clips on my personal Estes launch systems.
  • Try to ask an experienced person at the launch take a look...experienced folks have good eyes for what can be wrong, often can give great advice and usually love to help! At the last club launch, one kid's rocket wouldn't launch, I went up to help and later swapped out their igniter for one of my Estes black tip igniters I keep in a small box in my pocket (good idea to do this since it can save you time and walking back to your prep area with your rocket and then having to set up another launch). Launch ended up being great!
  • Final test of the system would be to take one of the igniters and test it on the pads/launch system you're using...just clip the igniter itself to the launch rod (not touching!) with a clothespin and have them "launch" it as a test. I've done this when all else seems to have failed to rule out the launch system being the issue.

Best luck to you!

BTW - What were you launching? :)
 
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Flyfalcons

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When used properly, the new starters have a high success rate. Are your clubs connectors dirty?
 

markjos

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The new "starters" no longer have pyrogen on the tip. You need to make sure the tip of the ignitor is actually making contact with the BP.
This is exactly our assessment, as well, after hosting lots of large group launches since the new Estes igniters (or whatever) came out. Without guidance, visitors have failure after failure, but once we talk about, and demonstrate careful igniter placement, reliability goes up to nearly 100%. Igniter must touch propellant, and folks must be careful when manipulating the igniter and leads. If you want to bend leads, it helps to support them by holding firmly across the paper tape. It's very easy to cause invisible damage to the tip as you move leads, especially once the igniter is in the nozzle with the plastic plug in place.

With care, they're very reliable, despite our initial skepticism. (But I wish Estes had left them alone, too.)

Mark
 

KenECoyote

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I just checked out the Estes website for proper igniter placement and the diagram appears incorrect! The middle pic is missing the igniter! :lol:

How do I properly install my igniter in my Estes Model Rocket engine?

We have included an image below visualizing the steps necessary to install an igniter properly.


These Estes detailed teacher directions
actually have the correct pics on Page 9...the middle one shows a finger pushing down the plug and the igniter already under the plug:

"IGNITER INSTALLATIONFor safety reasons, do not install igniters in model rocketengines until you are ready to fly the rocket. Never connect alaunch control system to an igniter installed in a rocket engineunless the model is on a launch pad. Never ignite a rocketengine indoors.Use scissors to separate the igniters; leave the paper stripattached to the igniter wires. Hold the engine nozzle end up,then insert the igniter into the nozzle as far as it will go. Tooperate properly, the tip of the igniter MUST touch the propellant.Insert the igniter plug into the nozzle and firmly push itall the way in. Be sure to use the correct color-coded igniterplug for the engine to insure proper fit. Bend the ends of theigniter wires back; this provides a larger area for attaching themicro-clips."




 

Flash

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I have better success with the new igniter by pressing and staying on the launch button until rocket leaves the pad. They just don't have the quick flare up like the old ones. So stay on the button, don't bump it but press and hold until motor ignites.
 

rcktnut

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I've never done it, my use of BP motors is seldom to none ,but a friend inserts the igniter into the nozzle and then adds a few grains of BP before putting the plug in. Never seen him have an ignition problem.
 

shreadvector

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The starter has no pyrogen and the old igniter had pyrogen.

To ignite the motor you must transfer heat energy to the propellant face.

With an Estes controller, the tiny wire in the starter heats up and will shine onto the propellant face and transfer heat to ignite the propellant.

With a club controller using a car battery, the tiny wire can melt in half very fast and never transfer enough heat energy to ignite the propellant.

If the tiny wire is touching the propellant it will work better. If it is not touching it will likely fail with a high amperage power source but with a low amp source it can shine for a while and not melt in half - and if it shines for a while it can transfer enough heat energy across a very small gap to actually ignite the propellant.

If the starter is shorted or mangled you will fail no matter what.
 

shreadvector

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I have better success with the new igniter by pressing and staying on the launch button until rocket leaves the pad. They just don't have the quick flare up like the old ones. So stay on the button, don't bump it but press and hold until motor ignites.
Correct. See my previous post for an explanation.
 

terryg

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One of our club members has had good results by dipping them in a CA and black power mixture.
 

ksaves2

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One of our club members has had good results by dipping them in a CA and black power mixture.
Ummmmm, I wouldn't recommend that with straight CA as it can unpredictably "kick off" with an exothermic reaction and burn. If it does while dipping into a small container of BP..... KABOOM!!!

Perhaps foam safe CA could be tried but you know what? A commercial kit is so much safer than using straight BP. I believe you meant black powder mixture and if you meant like 3F, 4F etc that is my angle. I don't recommend it.

If your friend is mixing up his own mixture, formulas are not allowed in the open forum and will justifiably jerk the 'ire of a moderator. If one wants to discuss formulas openly it takes admittance to the research forum.
Discussion is welcomed there.

Kurt
 

Flyfalcons

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.....or just make sure the igniter touches the propellent and you have a good power source with clean clips. Much easier than mixing CA with low explosives.
 

Nantucketdink

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I have found that even the new style Estes igniters are much more reliable than all of the composite igniters combined. I guess BP motors just light easier. New batteries, warm weather, and proper installation of not damaged igniters is key to just about guaranteed success. Clean clips too.
 

milehigh

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I got out of rocketry before Estes started adding the plastic plugs to hold in the igniters, and before the change to no pyrogen tip, but one of the tips I learned while doing competition rocketry was to make a tiny little ball of wadding, and after inserting the tip of the igniter into the nozzle, carefully stuff the ball into the nozzle. It served pretty much the same purpose as the new plastic plugs, but it also held the tip of the igniter against the BP propellent, as well as keeping the igniter leads separated to prevent a short.
Tango - We're showing our age, man. My range box still holds a straightened paper clip on a cord for this precise purpose. To go even further, I actually used this method on one of my recent launches when I didn't have a proper sized plastic plug. Old school rocketry, baby!
20161129_111043.jpg
 
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TangoJuliet

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Tango - We're showing our age, man. My range box still holds a straightened paper clip on a cord for this precise purpose. To go even further, I actually used this method on one of my recent launches when I didn't have a proper sized plastic plug. Old school rocketry, baby!
View attachment 306346
Yep, I just started getting some grey hairs this year, at 45 years old. :wink: Another plus to using the wadding is that it's biodegradable, not so sure about those plugs from Estes.
 

EXPjawa

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FWIW, those plugs are spat out at the pad, so an enterprising individual can recover and reuse a lot of those during club launches. I've seen that on more than one occasion, or someone that needs a specific color that they're lacking digging around in the dirt to be able to prep for launch. Otherwise, someone has to police and dispose of them so they don't litter up the field...
 

apburner

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Got into rockets in about 1970 and the standard for us anyway was a wad of TP and a tooth pic for a jamming device. Back then the only thing you got for an igniter as I remember was a piece of nichrome wire, Nothing else.
 

caveduck

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When the redesigned Estes igniters first came out we had a dramatic spike in misfire rates at club launches, peaking at 40-50%. But that subsided almost as quickly and lately the misfire rates seem only a little higher than before, and they light right up off an 11V 3S LiPo and a carefully wired controller. Makes me wonder if the igniter design got further tweaked along the way. With a 6V system, ignition is definitely not as instantaneous. Personally I dislike the plastic plugs because they are error-prone for kids, who tend to mash them in too hard (or not enough, or use the wrong size) and we are always having to pick them out of the sand at Fiesta Island. The wadding ball and masking tape methods both work fine and are more biodegradable.
 
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