How To Use Copperhead Igniters

The Rocketry Forum

Help Support The Rocketry Forum:

tfrielin

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 28, 2016
Messages
119
Reaction score
28
I'm new to composite motors, after using Estes black powder engines---A through E---since about 1965.

But now, I've built the Nike Smoke, got three Aerotech F26-6FJ motors and a new launch controller for F and G composite engines.

And I'm at a loss as to how to use the Copperhead igniter. I get the part about inserting the head of it with the igniter stuff on it into the engine.

But then, the wire at the other end---what do I do with that? It seems insulated--both wires in one. Do I just attach the micro clips to it? Or do I separate them? And do I strip the insulation (or what I take to be insulation) from them for the micro clip?

Or do I do none of the above, just attach the mirco clip (one or two clips?) to that other end and press the launch button?

Sorry to be so uninformed, but the instructions don't really seem to be all that helpful----at least for someone used to the old school nichrome wire igniters of old where you have two wires for two micro clips.

Thanks for advice...
 

eggplant

L3 | NAR 93664, TRA 17791
Joined
Jan 5, 2011
Messages
1,723
Reaction score
190
Copperheads were made to be used with a clip that Aerotech manufactures that allows you to connect each side of the igniter to your ignition system's clips. It looks like this:


Not wanting to spend the $4 or so that it costs, I used masking tape to serve a similar purpose. I would put a small square of tape on opposite sides of the copper strip about a half of an inch apart. By attaching the alligator clips onto the Copperhead on the taped spots, each lead would only be connected to one side of the igniter.
 

cbrarick

Wildman CT
Joined
Jan 23, 2009
Messages
2,597
Reaction score
318
I've always found the best way to use them was to toss them aside and use a real igniter. There's a fair selection that won't plug the hole including the estes solar. Wish quest would make theirs again (sigh)
 

tfrielin

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 28, 2016
Messages
119
Reaction score
28
Ok, thanks.

But on further examination of the Aerotech F26FJ engine package, I found a second set of instructions for a "Firstfire" igniter which tells me to strip the insulation off of about one inch of the insulation and attach the micro clips to that---pretty much like am old school igniter. So, I guess that's what I'll do when I get it on the launch pad???
 

eggplant

L3 | NAR 93664, TRA 17791
Joined
Jan 5, 2011
Messages
1,723
Reaction score
190
Aerotech has phased out the Copperhead, so hopefully you got motors new enough to include the same Firstfires that they provide with their larger engines. They are much easier to use and also more reliable, so it's great that they are now the standard for MPR engines.
 

ksaves2

Lifetime Supporter
TRF Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Nov 25, 2009
Messages
6,095
Reaction score
370
Location
Central Illinois
Take a match or scarf a cigarette lighter from your smoking friends. Heat the end that the pyrogen ISN'T on and the copper foil with separate. Attach standard clips to each side and good to go. Kurt
 

qquake2k

Captain Low-N-Slow
Joined
Jan 26, 2010
Messages
13,573
Reaction score
38
Even though they're phasing them out, Copperhead igniters are still out there. I've used them a lot and had good success with them. The keys are a minimum of 12 volts, and lots of amperage available. One of my clubs, LUNAR, has launch systems with the batteries at the pads. Lots of power available that way.

There are several ways to use Copperhead igniters. My favorite is the piece of card stock with a hole or slit in it. But I've used the other methods, too. They all work.


01_copperheads.jpg


02_copperheads.jpg


06_interlock.jpg


08_interlock.jpg


09_paper.jpg


10_paper.jpg


11_tape.jpg


12_lighter.jpg


13_lighter.jpg
 

fyrwrxz

latest photo
Joined
Jun 6, 2011
Messages
6,584
Reaction score
63
+1 on Jeff+Old school tractor feed paper strips-still in my range box!
 

Wayco

Desert Rat Rocketeer
TRF Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Mar 23, 2011
Messages
3,648
Reaction score
629
Location
Goodyear, AZ
I have several of the interlock clips:
https://www.hobbylinc.com/htm/aro/aro89341.htm
and they work well enough, just a little hard to feed the copperhead into them. Sharon bought a bunch of E18 reloads that have a small nozzle opening, so we are still using the copperheads for that. Now First Fire has a "Mini" igniter:
https://www.asp-rocketry.com/ecomme...el-Rocket-Igniters.cfm?item_id=1138&parent=86

It's a little pricey, but much easier to work with. Since the copperheads are being phased out, it might not be worth it to get the clip, the "hole in the cardstock" method works fine too, just make sure the alligator clips don't have sharp teeth...
 

FredA

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 19, 2009
Messages
2,186
Reaction score
357
+1 on just melting the end and splitting the two conductors apart.
Do that as prep and you don't need to remember to take anything special to the pad.
Or more importantly, no need to go retrieve that special thing from the pad after the launch.
Even that piece of paper will be cause for you to go back to the pad right after launch instead of heading for your rocket.

Also -- when did they phase out copperheads? I didn't know. What did they replace them with? Has to be small to fit some of those c-slot motors.
 

RocketFeller

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 15, 2009
Messages
1,185
Reaction score
72
I also burn the end to separate the copper strips. I've never done it any other way and I've never had one fail (yet!) after dozens of flights.
 

PhlAsh

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 9, 2011
Messages
974
Reaction score
58
Or wrap it over one clip and use the other clip to hold it in place...
 

tfrielin

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 28, 2016
Messages
119
Reaction score
28
Thanks for all the input and advice.

What I think I learned here is:

1) My engines came with Firstfire igniters, not Copperhead igniters
2) What I need to do is cram it up into the engine all the way and separate the two wires on other end. Then scrape off about an inch of insulation, exposing the wires.
3) Then attach the microclips as if it were a regular Estes igniter.

Have i got that right?

Sounds like I should do all that before I'm out in the field---at least the removing the insulation part.

Man, sounds like a pain---sort of a throw back to the '60s when you had to take a length of nichrome wire, wrap it around a pencil tip to make that loop in it. Geez...
 

ttabbal

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 19, 2009
Messages
1,082
Reaction score
22
The insulation is easy to remove. Your fingernail should remove it without much pressure. Some of the ones I've received were scored already, so you just had to pull the insulation off. I only remove maybe a half inch, then clip. I can split the leads and remove the insulation in less than 30 seconds without feeling rushed. Far nicer than the copperheads.

Separate and strip the leads, insert till it stops, use a bit of tape to hold it in place. For low/mid power motors, it's generally acceptable to have the ignitor installed before heading to the pads. I usually don't, as it only adds a couple seconds at the pad to install them, unless it's for really small nozzles that you can't fit the ignitor through when assembled. That's usually only the case on a few small reloads like the 18mm.
 

tfrielin

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 28, 2016
Messages
119
Reaction score
28
Ok, thanks. I'm sure I'll get the hang of it. Only hope my rocket (Estes Nike Smoke) doesn't just soar out of sight, never to be seen again. But, I've gotten used to that since my first flights circa 1965 (using smaller engines, then of course!!).
 

ttabbal

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 19, 2009
Messages
1,082
Reaction score
22
That's always a risk, but I think you'll be alright with the F26.
 

Zeus-cat

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 14, 2009
Messages
4,623
Reaction score
830
And a word of warning; some composite motors make a crap ton of noise. They can be much, much louder than a BP motor. Not all of them, but some of them.
 

The_Lone_Beagle

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 11, 2014
Messages
716
Reaction score
3
The insulation is easy to remove. Your fingernail should remove it without much pressure. Some of the ones I've received were scored already, so you just had to pull the insulation off. I only remove maybe a half inch, then clip. I can split the leads and remove the insulation in less than 30 seconds without feeling rushed. Far nicer than the copperheads.

Separate and strip the leads, insert till it stops, use a bit of tape to hold it in place. For low/mid power motors, it's generally acceptable to have the ignitor installed before heading to the pads. I usually don't, as it only adds a couple seconds at the pad to install them, unless it's for really small nozzles that you can't fit the ignitor through when assembled. That's usually only the case on a few small reloads like the 18mm.
This is good advice!

I don't think you can go wrong doing a dry run in advance (maybe the night before) the first time you do this, as sometimes field conditions aren't ideal (blowing wind, freezing temps, etc.). When you are comfortable and familiar with it, then doing it out in the field isn't a problem.

My other advice for composite motors is, when you are shoving the igniter up the motor nozzle, sometimes it will stop/get hung on something before it is all the way up. (I think this is due to a) the igniter not being 100% straight after unfolding it, and b) the propellant grains sometimes not being 100% aligned inside). Just make sure you get that igniter *all* the way up there, and (if you are doing pre-prep ahead of time) maybe mark the igniter so you can remember how far to shove it in when you are doing it for real.
 
Top