How Reliable are Estes Igniters?

The Rocketry Forum

Help Support The Rocketry Forum:

What was your sucess rate with Estes


  • Total voters
    33
  • Poll closed .

Yukon@K-9 Rocket Tech

Just a teen who likes building rockets
TRF Supporter
Joined
Jun 21, 2019
Messages
530
Reaction score
119
Location
Georgia, USA
Hi everyone! So I have a bag full of estes ignitors and plugs that have not been used. I have read a ton of stories of them being crappy, and when I tried myself by hooking the leads to a controller, seemed very weak. Videos I've seen seem to show the Estes Igniters take a bit of time till it lights some larger motors. I did not risk using them for my experiments yet, and have stuck to homemade igniters which have never failed ever before (both in testing and on a real motor) it also lights the motor immediately. I use some good old matches, bit of nichrome wire to some all purpose wiring anf held together by shrink wrap.

So the question: How good are the estes ignitors and what experience did you have with it? I don't want to risk a failed test using those and would appreciate your feedback. If they're somewhat ok, would totallybuse on some not serious launches. Thanks you!

P.S. do the poll above to see their sucess chance of working ;)
 

BEC

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 19, 2009
Messages
3,150
Reaction score
266
Location
Auburn, WA
Working on what, exactly? The answer will differ depending on what you're trying to light. Used as intended - Estes BP motors, my personal experience with the new "starters" is ~75%. With the older ones (black tips), it's probably more like 90%.
 

Zeus-cat

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 14, 2009
Messages
4,384
Reaction score
570
When installed correctly and fired by a good battery you should get better than 95% success. The new gray ones are less forgiving than the older black type. You MUST have the head of the igniter touching the propellant with the new ones.
 

adrian

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 19, 2009
Messages
2,394
Reaction score
25
I selected 75% because I wouldn't want to swear that I've had 99%. Then again, I wouldn't want to swear that I had 99% success with the black-tipped igniters either.

Certainly you need to make sure that the igniter tip is in contact with the propellant. Good practice when inserting the igniter, followed up by the appropriate plug for the motor, should give you near enough as good a chance of success as with the old type. The most recent time I had problems with igniting motors, it turned out that the battery in my controller was going flat. Once that was recharged, ignition was back to its usual reliability.
 

shreadvector

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 19, 2009
Messages
9,004
Reaction score
187
Estes igniters = Excellent.

Estes Starters = Good, but not as great as Estes Igniters.

For normal Estes controllers, use a voltmeter to check your alkaline batteries. ONLY use alkaline batteries with 1.5V or greater (brand new alkalines often start at around 1.56V)

Install correctly. Read the instructions. NEVER pre-bend them since it prevents the tip from touching the propellant. USE the plugs since they push the tip against the propellant and hold the starter in place.
 

solid_fuel

Lifetime Supporter
TRF Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Aug 13, 2017
Messages
1,750
Reaction score
242
Location
SEPA
I would say I have better than 75% success but not quite 99% so I picked 75 in the poll. In reality I have more than likely above 90% success with Estes starters. The ones with the white/gray tip
 

Alan15578

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 11, 2018
Messages
319
Reaction score
72
Hi everyone! So I have a bag full of estes ignitors and plugs that have not been used. I have read a ton of stories of them being crappy, and when I tried myself by hooking the leads to a controller, seemed very weak. Videos I've seen seem to show the Estes Igniters take a bit of time till it lights some larger motors. I did not risk using them for my experiments yet, and have stuck to homemade igniters which have never failed ever before (both in testing and on a real motor) it also lights the motor immediately. I use some good old matches, bit of nichrome wire to some all purpose wiring anf held together by shrink wrap.

So the question: How good are the estes ignitors and what experience did you have with it? I don't want to risk a failed test using those and would appreciate your feedback. If they're somewhat ok, would totallybuse on some not serious launches. Thanks you!

P.S. do the poll above to see their sucess chance of working ;)
You should stick with your homemade igniters proven never to fail! Why would you switch to something you have serious doubts about? OTOH, new rocketeers will likely have better results using Estes igniters(starters) than something they cobble together.
 

BABAR

Builds Rockets for NASA
TRF Lifetime Supporter
TRF Supporter
Joined
Aug 27, 2011
Messages
5,951
Reaction score
1,328
My success rate with new ones went up with using a wadding ball to PUSH the tip all the way to the powder versus using the plastic plugs.

I am below 50% with the new starters on cluster ignitions. I just bought some black powder and nitrocellulose glue, I am going to try @hcmbanjo ‘s trick of soaking off the current tip and replacing it with a flammable glue/powder mix.
 

cwbullet

Obsessed with Rocketry
Staff member
Administrator
TRF Lifetime Supporter
Global Mod
Joined
Jan 24, 2009
Messages
25,019
Reaction score
3,075
Location
Glennville, GA
I re-dip the new white tipped ones. I just have not found them to be as reliable.
 

rharshberger

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 13, 2014
Messages
9,415
Reaction score
1,481
Location
Pasco, WA
Me as well, we have a guy at our launches who as a service to the kids will trade the new "starters" for ones that he has dipped, the kids love the fact that their motors light reliably and the club likes the fact that we have fewer "recycles" taking up pads on the next rack.
I re-dip the new white tipped ones. I just have not found them to be as reliable.
 

neil_w

Hunkered down and slowly going crazy
TRF Supporter
Joined
Jul 14, 2015
Messages
9,085
Reaction score
2,410
Location
Northern NJ
Thus far I've had 1 failure with the Estes starters when running on a 12V club system. Not as good using a 9V Estes launcher, but I later found that my battery was weak. Nowadays I only launch with the club so that's all I really care about.

My experience with the old black-tipped igniters is 100% success, but over a much smaller sample size.
 

UhClem

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 6, 2009
Messages
1,564
Reaction score
123
The rate is variable and highly dependent on the user. They work most of the time (>90%) for me but this last weekend I lost count of the misfires a new group of rocketeers (from the local university) had. Even after my igniter speech. As I was demonstrating that on one rocket I also discovered another problem. They seemed to be a little fuzzy on the single use motor thing. :)
 

dpower

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 18, 2009
Messages
1,221
Reaction score
68
Estes igniters are highly reliable. Did you mean to ask about Estes starters? They're very, very picky about installation, and would almost certainly not work for clusters. I've ignited 7 motor clusters with Estes Igniters, using a 12v system. I add a little BP to the starters, but there's still that starch insulator. Haven't tried disolving that off first, I'll do that with the next batch.

Newcomers to the hobby have a lot of trouble with the starters at our launches, and require much more coaching than was needed with the igniters.
 

Wallace

Sponsor
TRF Sponsor
TRF Supporter
Joined
Feb 16, 2017
Messages
2,514
Reaction score
459
What he said.

You can also use eMatches to light BP motors. I lit a few recently just by sitting the eMatch in the nozzle. Worked without being inside the motor.
They'll also light some of the smaller AT APCP motors. Tried it in a pinch and have had several successes since.
 

neil_w

Hunkered down and slowly going crazy
TRF Supporter
Joined
Jul 14, 2015
Messages
9,085
Reaction score
2,410
Location
Northern NJ
This is probably old news but what is the explanation why Estes can't supply proper igniters with its motors, but Quest and Aerotech can?
 

Ez2cDave

Well-Known Member
TRF Supporter
Joined
Jan 18, 2009
Messages
3,624
Reaction score
940
If we have to "rebuild" Estes "starters" to make them work reliably, Estes should just provide bare Nichrome wire, without the "Starch ball" PITA.

Dave F.
 

Mr Rocket

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 23, 2013
Messages
469
Reaction score
20
I chose 99% in the survey because it is closer to the 90%+ that I believe is a more accurate answer, than 75%. I always launch on our clubs 12V launch system, however.

One disclaimer, though, if I forget to bring a spare igniter with me to the pad, the reliability drops to less than 25%:(
 

mbeels

Yes balsa
TRF Supporter
Joined
Feb 9, 2019
Messages
2,096
Reaction score
971
Maybe I've been lucky, but I can't think of having a single Estes starter failure in the past year or two, in several dozen BP motors.
 

Matt_The_RocketMan

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 7, 2019
Messages
719
Reaction score
97
Location
Houston TX
From a rocket man who shoots rockets more that 50 times a month, using standard Estes igniters. I would say the success rate in which I have had with them, is 70%. I would say of the 30% that dont work it is 25% manufactures fault, and 5% human error. I would suggest using a higher output of electricity if you are having issues, always seems to do the trick! PSII controller, or car batteries work great!
 

Nytrunner

Pop lugs, not drugs
Joined
Oct 15, 2016
Messages
6,695
Reaction score
2,108
Location
Huntsville AL
Once I stopped punching the button (instant light with the old black tips) and began holding down the launcher until ignition, my success has been 95%.

Just takes a little patience
 

Ez2cDave

Well-Known Member
TRF Supporter
Joined
Jan 18, 2009
Messages
3,624
Reaction score
940
The problem isn't really single motors . . . It either lights or it doesn't.

The big problem is clusters and lower voltage launch systems.

Dave F.
 
Top