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Estes's Ignitors and the Plug

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jrap330

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Yesterday, I tried my 1st launch since Aug. I had 2 out 3 ignitors fail. Removal of the ignitors revealed they broke. Now when I did my 1st launches in July and Aug 3 ignitors failed. So out of 5-6 launces I have had 5 ignitors failure. Yet as a BAR 15-20 years ago I had maybe 3 failures (broken) in 2 dozen flights. Now I know as an engineer wire will not degrade over time, unless you use it/bend it etc. I installed all ignitors at Home, Engine vertical on a bench, being careful and insuring completer insertion. Is it the Plug? When a newbie had issues earlier this year, one response was to forget the plug and tape,. I defended the plug by saying they are great and very few issues. So much for that opinion. These are the old black pyrogen ignitors and I hate wasting them. 2nd Question- since most clubs use car batteries has anybody just gone back to nichrome wire (Black Powder motors), make a loop in the wire, insert and use wadding or tape to hold. Nichrome works perfectly on 12v lantern batteries. If yes any idea of the gauge?

Estes, please ship redesign ignitors as promised.

Unrelative topic...my one flight was a Black Brant II on a B6-4 engine...beautiful flight to over 300 feet (guess). The B4 engine I tried in July....was underpower. So go built a BB II and fly it on B6's and maybe a C5 and forget what used to be said.."Launch it and lose it"...on a D engine.
 

UhClem

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The reliability of Estes igniters (new or the old Solar w/pyrogen) appears to depend on the user. For some of us it is very reliable. It still fails occasionally but I wouldn't go back to having to form a loop in nichrome wire or the even more fiddly Centuri Sure Shots.
 

BEC

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I am one of those who has very little trouble even with the current pyrogen-free “starters” though I do manage to short one from time to time. I’m not sure I’ve ever broken one installing it unless it was a really old one with some evident rusting at the weld between the leads and the bridge wire (this would be old ones with pyrogen on them).

This is a longshot....and I almost hate to bring it up, but you are taking the little bit that separates the plug off before you’re installing them, correct? I’ve seen folks at group launches (like Scout groups) try to use the plugs with that separator bit still on them. I can see where leaving it on would lead to igniter damage, not to mention the plug wouldn’t want to stay in unless you really mashed it down.

They should look like the one on the left, not the one on the right, when you install them. It also helps to use the correct one for the motor (yellow ones in B4s, pink ones in B6s, etc.)

0F4D4739-2AE2-4641-A88B-DE3AFE09E973.jpeg
 

BABAR

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I originally was not a fan of the new igniters. Then I read this tip from der MicroMeister. If you don’t know who he is, he’s the guy responsible for most of the MicroMaxx forum, although @kuririn seems to have picked up his mantle. Der MicroMeister passed away not long ago. By the way, if you launch a rocket recently and it never comes down, it’s a good bet he grabbed it.

Problem is not the igniters. It’s the plugs. Ditch ‘em.

Use wadding.

Start with about a 1x1 inch square for B or C. (1.5x1.5 inches or thereabouts for an A or D motor)

After rolling into a ball, taper on side a bit so it “fits” a bit into the nozzle

Gently widen the “V” of the igniter. Careful not to break the thin wire, just spread enough to the main wires don’t cross and short circuit in the nozzle

Insert igniter into nozzle. I TRY to remember to hold the rocket with the launch lug or buttons TOWARD ME, so when I am done I can bend the wire AWAY. That makes it easier to access the wires on the pad as they face away from the rod or rail.

Because you widened the “V”, the wires will be wider than the bore, they will flex medially to accommodate the bore, keeping the leads on opposite sides. You will feel a “thunk” when the tip hits the propellant.

Drop in your wadding ball, with the taper down so it fits into the nozzle (not much at this point.)

Tamp down with a semi-sharp object, I find the cheap mechanical pencils with the lead retracted work perfectly for 13 mm through 24 mm motors.

The ball of wadding will push the igniter tip toward the exposed grain (should already be touching it anyway) and keep the igniter wires spread apart so they don’t short circuit.

Feel free to press hard. For small to medium LPR rockets, I can generally GENTLY support the weight of the rocket by the igniter leads after tamping.

Bend the wires AWAY from the launch lug or rail buttons.

If I am not launching immediately, I stick a square of tape over it to hold everything together.

I am pretty close to 100% success with this.

Straight trails!
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jrap330

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I am one of those who has very little trouble even with the current pyrogen-free “starters” though I do manage to short one from time to time. I’m not sure I’ve ever broken one installing it unless it was a really old one with some evident rusting at the weld between the leads and the bridge wire (this would be old ones with pyrogen on them).

This is a longshot....and I almost hate to bring it up, but you are taking the little bit that separates the plug off before you’re installing them, correct? I’ve seen folks at group launches (like Scout groups) try to use the plugs with that separator bit still on them. I can see where leaving it on would lead to igniter damage, not to mention the plug wouldn’t want to stay in unless you really mashed it down.

They should look like the one on the left, not the one on the right, when you install them. It also helps to use the correct one for the motor (yellow ones in B4s, pink ones in B6s, etc.)

View attachment 446543
yes I take the connecting plastic off.
 

jrap330

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I originally was not a fan of the new igniters. Then I read this tip from der MicroMeister. If you don’t know who he is, he’s the guy responsible for most of the MicroMaxx forum, although @kuririn seems to have picked up his mantle. Der MicroMeister passed away not long ago. By the way, if you launch a rocket recently and it never comes down, it’s a good bet he grabbed it.

Problem is not the igniters. It’s the plugs. Ditch ‘em.

Use wadding.

Start with about a 1x1 inch square for B or C. (1.5x1.5 inches or thereabouts for an A or D motor)

After rolling into a ball, taper on side a bit so it “fits” a bit into the nozzle

Gently widen the “V” of the igniter. Careful not to break the thin wire, just spread enough to the main wires don’t cross and short circuit in the nozzle

Insert igniter into nozzle. I TRY to remember to hold the rocket with the launch lug or buttons TOWARD ME, so when I am done I can bend the wire AWAY. That makes it easier to access the wires on the pad as they face away from the rod or rail.

Because you widened the “V”, the wires will be wider than the bore, they will flex medially to accommodate the bore, keeping the leads on opposite sides. You will feel a “thunk” when the tip hits the propellant.

Drop in your wadding ball, with the taper down so it fits into the nozzle (not much at this point.)

Tamp down with a semi-sharp object, I find the cheap mechanical pencils with the lead retracted work perfectly for 13 mm through 24 mm motors.

The ball of wadding will push the igniter tip toward the exposed grain (should already be touching it anyway) and keep the igniter wires spread apart so they don’t short circuit.

Feel free to press hard. For small to medium LPR rockets, I can generally GENTLY support the weight of the rocket by the igniter leads after tamping.

Bend the wires AWAY from the launch lug or rail buttons.

If I am not launching immediately, I stick a square of tape over it to hold everything together.

I am pretty close to 100% success with this.

Straight trails!View attachment 446548View attachment 446549View attachment 446550View attachment 446553View attachment 446554View attachment 446555View attachment 446556View attachment 446557View attachment 446558
Do you ever try just tape?
 

Scott_650

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Per Babar’s pictorial on using wadding in place of the plugs - one step that I also always do is to widen the “V” - seems to help even with the plugs, which I use 99% of the time. Like BEC I’ve had good results using Estes starters since I started back up with rocketry roughly ten years ago but I picked up a PSII Launch Controller pretty early on in place of the Electron Beam controller - the extra “umph” from 6 NiMH “C” cells does make a difference.
 

rklapp

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I didn't have luck with the wadding technique. I seem to break the glue everytime.

I switched to using two 9v batteries in series which will create an appreciable flame with the starters/igniters. Of course, it burned out my continuity bulb so will replace along with a 1k resistor to protect the LED (which was only meant for 12v). I bought Lipo batteries but haven't used them yet (or found a reason to).

Inserting the starters in the field is a pain. When I tried to preinstall at home, I found that the wires would jostle and touch causing a short so I insert in the field. Next question is when is the best time to prepare the chute recovery...
 

jrap330

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I didn't have luck with the wadding technique. I seem to break the glue everytime.

I switched to using two 9v batteries in series which will create an appreciable flame with the starters/igniters. Of course, it burned out my continuity bulb so will replace along with a 1k resistor to protect the LED (which was only meant for 12v). I bought Lipo batteries but haven't used them yet (or found a reason to).

Inserting the starters in the field is a pain. When I tried to preinstall at home, I found that the wires would jostle and touch causing a short so I insert in the field. Next question is when is the best time to prepare the chute recovery...
Not sure what you mean about break glue do you mean the adhesive strip attached to ignitor?? As for chutes, you have more experience than anyone...you launch every week...but I sure you stated this also. Install chute at the launch pad to avoid the "sticky" plastic. I like you, use small chute chutes or the 18 incher mostly "tied/twisted" together so I can recover in my small field. The wadding/dog bawf is installed at home so I can get in and out quickly since it is a public park.
 

BABAR

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I didn't have luck with the wadding technique. I seem to break the glue everytime.

I switched to using two 9v batteries in series which will create an appreciable flame with the starters/igniters. Of course, it burned out my continuity bulb so will replace along with a 1k resistor to protect the LED (which was only meant for 12v). I bought Lipo batteries but haven't used them yet (or found a reason to).

Inserting the starters in the field is a pain. When I tried to preinstall at home, I found that the wires would jostle and touch causing a short so I insert in the field. Next question is when is the best time to prepare the chute recovery...
I think gently spreading the igniters and then sinking them in the nozzle before putting the wadding keeps me from breaking the thin wire, but everybody has to find what works for them.

Agree a good power source helps for ANY type of igniter. I use Pratt Go-Box and a battery jump starter with a cigarette lighter adapter.

As for “best” time to prepare a chute, if “best” means “most likely to deploy correctly”, for plastic chutes it’s definitely right before launch. That’s the LEAST convenient time, especially if it’s windy, hot, humid, or cold.

My “stuffer” tool is a great help when I need to pack wadding (I use the Estes treated TP squares) and chutes or streamers.
2F12E953-907E-485A-B091-CF464BC8D32B.jpeg
 

BEC

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yes I take the connecting plastic off.
I figured you probably did....I was just reaching for some explanation for installing the plugs actually breaking igniters and that's the only one I could come up with.

I've had good luck with the ball-of-wadding approach....that's really the old-school way to do it back when we were using coils of bare nichrome. But the ball needs to be the right size and it needs to be well installed. Back in the day, the method was to use the end of the Estes launch key to tamp it into place. These days I use a bamboo skewer that's had the point cut off, leaving an end a little less than 1/16 of an inch in diameter as a press-in tool. This is how I installed the Q2G2s in my B Cluster Altitude models at both NARAM-56 and NARAM-60 (five motor clusters). They used a mix of Chinese Quest and Estes B motors, and there is no Estes plug that's exactly the right size for the Chinese Quest B6s.
 

BEC

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I didn't have luck with the wadding technique. I seem to break the glue everytime
If you mean the coating on the bridge wire - this is not a problem. As long as the bridge wire is not broken (i.e. you have continuity when you hook it up) it will be fine. Spreading the leads a bit near the bridge wire as BABAR suggests (something I often do as well) will break that coating, but is of no negative consequence.

I have nothing to add to his about when to pack the 'chute.
 

rklapp

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It was rhetorical (like asking which glue is best) but appreciate the responses. :D

I found it frustrating. :p

 

Philip Tiberius D.

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I just dip Estes igniters tips in a bit of pyrogen from Apogee. I had low igniters from Ray Frankum but ran out months ago (just have his HP - fab stuff), shot a Mk IV DoorBuster off a few weeks ago... 24mm motors - took 6 Estes igniters before I went and dipped the 7th in pyrogen. I’ll be sending 💵 to Ray for more LP soon.
 

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As a recent BAR with hiatus of 30 years, I taped as a youth as the plastic plugs did not exist. The tape wasn't that great.

The plastic plugs are great. I remove the casting burrs from the plug, spread the wires a bit, put the ignitor in and *gently* push the plug in. (Perhaps you push too hard?)

I use the regular cheap estes controller and it works great even below freezing. The trick: Energizer AA Lithium Batteries, Ultimate Lithium longest lasting works in extreme temperatures.

I ordered thin mil chutes so I am hoping they work below freezing as plastic chutes even if packed on the frozen lake with frozen fingers do not work.
 

jrap330

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Again anyone just us
As a recent BAR with hiatus of 30 years, I taped as a youth as the plastic plugs did not exist. The tape wasn't that great.

The plastic plugs are great. I remove the casting burrs from the plug, spread the wires a bit, put the ignitor in and *gently* push the plug in. (Perhaps you push too hard?)

I use the regular cheap estes controller and it works great even below freezing. The trick: Energizer AA Lithium Batteries, Ultimate Lithium longest lasting works in extreme temperatures.

I ordered thin mil chutes so I am hoping they work below freezing as plastic chutes even if packed on the frozen lake with frozen fingers do not work.
As I stated did not have issues years ago when I started as a BAR, now first time back 5 breaks out of 6 or 7 flights. I will try wadding or dog bawf as I did as a kid. Again anyone have an idea on nichrome gauge used back before pryogen?
 

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Just in case someone is doing this: DO NOT insert the plug between the two wires of the Estes Starter or Igniter. It is designed to be inserted NEXT TO the two thick wires.

Modern B6 motors have almost no "centerbore" and therefore the fragile tip of the Starter is much more prone to being crushed and broken when you insert the pink/purple plug.

Tape is horrible because you press it against the Starter/Igniter and then it pulls the Starter/Igniter tip away from the propellant. MASSIVE failure rate for most people.

Wadding ball is OK, but (AGAIN) do NOT inset it between the two wires or it will break the bridgewire.
 

jrap330

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Just in case someone is doing this: DO NOT insert the plug between the two wires of the Estes Starter or Igniter. It is designed to be inserted NEXT TO the two thick wires.

Modern B6 motors have almost no "centerbore" and therefore the fragile tip of the Starter is much more prone to being crushed and broken when you insert the pink/purple plug.

Tape is horrible because you press it against the Starter/Igniter and then it pulls the Starter/Igniter tip away from the propellant. MASSIVE failure rate for most people.

Wadding ball is OK, but (AGAIN) do NOT inset it between the two wires or it will break the bridgewire.
That could be my problem, I insert ignitor than plug and then bend leads 90 degrees so it, the plug, is being inserted between leads at least some times.
 

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I miss the old Estes ignitors from the 1969 - 1970 era with the heavy gauge nichrome that was milled thinner in the center and the flexible blue pyrogen coating. The only misfire I ever had with them was when my father prepped the motor for me. The only thing I can figure is that he didn't have it inserted far enough. They were held in place with a bit of wadding, never tape. Anybody know what the pyrogen was?
 

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I'll add in my anecdotal experience here. In my just over 100 launches since becoming a BAR, I've only experienced 3-4 igniter failures, using the current white-tip ones, which I mostly attribute to an imperfect insertion into the nozzle. The big difference is that I decided to purchase the Estes Pro Series II controller and I am powering it with a 3s, 1000mAh Li-po battery. Every successful ignition is near instantaneous when I press the go button. Yes, it's not as ideal as just using the standard AA-powered controller, but the trade-off is I don't need to fuss around with dipping igniters, or any non-standard way of insertion like using a small ball of wadding. I use them as-is, out-of-the-package with the plastic plugs.

For what it's worth, my method for igniter insertion is to drop the igniter into the motor until I can feel it touch the propellant. I then force the plug in with the igniter as is, resting in the motor. Only after that do I bend the leads so that they are easy to clip on to and don't touch the blast pad when the rocket is on the launcher.
 

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I just tried something remembered from centuries ago when I started in rocketry... a few inches of 32 ga nichrome. Wind the middle of the nichrome around a 1/16" drill bit shank, almost (but not quite) two turns, the loops separated slightly from one another to avoid shorting. I touched the ends of the nichrome to a 9v battery and the coil got orange-hot. The rest of the nichrome got hot too, but not nearly as much as the coil. Insert the coil so as to touch the propellant grain, and poke a small wad of recovery wadding in the nozzle with a pencil to keep the two leads separate. I'm pretty sure that if the coil touches the propellant it'll ignite, no pyrogen necessary. (A few grains of 4F BP dropped in the nozzle first should ensure ignition.)

Best -- Terry
 

jrap330

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I just tried something remembered from centuries ago when I started in rocketry... a few inches of 32 ga nichrome. Wind the middle of the nichrome around a 1/16" drill bit shank, almost (but not quite) two turns, the loops separated slightly from one another to avoid shorting. I touched the ends of the nichrome to a 9v battery and the coil got orange-hot. The rest of the nichrome got hot too, but not nearly as much as the coil. Insert the coil so as to touch the propellant grain, and poke a small wad of recovery wadding in the nozzle with a pencil to keep the two leads separate. I'm pretty sure that if the coil touches the propellant it'll ignite, no pyrogen necessary. (A few grains of 4F BP dropped in the nozzle first should ensure ignition.)

Best -- Terry
That is what I did used a pen point.Centuri was just Nichrome wire around 1970 to 1973.So good you remember the gauge...well that is my backup plan provided it can be still be purchase.
 

shreadvector

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See attached. I have several miles of the good (rust free no-iron) NiChrome wire in 30, 31 and 32 ga.

Club uses a car battery which makes the NiChrome turn into molten metal - starting at the tiny loop/coil. VERY reliable.
 

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prfesser

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That is what I did used a pen point.Centuri was just Nichrome wire around 1970 to 1973.So good you remember the gauge...well that is my backup plan provided it can be still be purchase.
Actually I don't remember the gauge, I just happened to have some 32 ga around. Finer wire might have a little trouble with the clips staying on the wire.
 

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I am one of those who has very little trouble even with the current pyrogen-free “starters” though I do manage to short one from time to time. I’m not sure I’ve ever broken one installing it unless it was a really old one with some evident rusting at the weld between the leads and the bridge wire (this would be old ones with pyrogen on them).

This is a longshot....and I almost hate to bring it up, but you are taking the little bit that separates the plug off before you’re installing them, correct? I’ve seen folks at group launches (like Scout groups) try to use the plugs with that separator bit still on them. I can see where leaving it on would lead to igniter damage, not to mention the plug wouldn’t want to stay in unless you really mashed it down.

They should look like the one on the left, not the one on the right, when you install them. It also helps to use the correct one for the motor (yellow ones in B4s, pink ones in B6s, etc.)

View attachment 446543
I still say that if the igniter itself was formed around and in this plug, there would be no igniter difficulties.....
 
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