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Igniters for clustering with Ester Motors

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rcode

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What’s type of igniters can someone suggest for me to use. I’m trying to cluster three Estes (2 C’s and 1 D) at the same time. I’ve upgrades my controller to a 12V system, also tried dipping the standard ignites the come with the Estes motors with “quick dip” but they are not firing at the same time. Any suggestions would be great.
 

dhbarr

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How are you wiring them together?
 

Zeus-cat

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The old Quest igniters were best for clusters, but they are no longer being made.

It would help if you describe your launch system. My guess is that you are losing too much power through your wires and/or your battery is not sufficient to power three Estes igniters at once.
 

rcode

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I have a 12volt system powered off my car's battery with 15' cable to controller and then 30' to pad. Then I have a clustering system with 2 transitions of 3 alligator clips connected to the a 4th so the ignites are wired in parallel.cluster adapters.jpg
 

Zeus-cat

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There is always the flash pan technique. I have never done it myself, but I have seen it used on at least 7 motor clusters and all the motors lit.
 

mwtoelle

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It would help if you built a relay launcher and put launch battery out by the pad. Also, try extending the leads on the igniters a bit and twist them together. That way you can use only two clips to hook up all of the igniters. You could try finding 2012 or earlier packs of Estes motors with the black-tipped "solar" igniters before they started using the white-tipped starters. If you find any solar igniters, save them for clusters.
 

UhClem

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What’s type of igniters can someone suggest for me to use. I’m trying to cluster three Estes (2 C’s and 1 D) at the same time. I’ve upgrades my controller to a 12V system, also tried dipping the standard ignites the come with the Estes motors with “quick dip” but they are not firing at the same time. Any suggestions would be great.
Before dipping the new Estes igniters remove the stuff that is on them. A quick soak in distilled vinegar loosens it up nicely.

The old Estes solar igniters needed at least 4.15A to light reliably in a timely fashion. For a cluster of 3 that meant over 12A. You may not be able to deliver that through a long length of wire depending on its size. A new Estes igniter with quick dip may require more or less current than that. Testing would be required to know for sure.
 

rharshberger

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Before dipping the new Estes igniters remove the stuff that is on them. A quick soak in distilled vinegar loosens it up nicely.

The old Estes solar igniters needed at least 4.15A to light reliably in a timely fashion. For a cluster of 3 that meant over 12A. You may not be able to deliver that through a long length of wire depending on its size. A new Estes igniter with quick dip may require more or less current than that. Testing would be required to know for sure.
I have dipped the new igniters with Firefox's Non-Conductive E-match dip and they worked fine without removing the clearish white crap on the Estes igniters (regular LPR type igniters).
 

neil_w

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Are the plain old Estes igniters workable with a powerful club launch system?
 

neil_w

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Yes, no problem.
Good, that's what I was hoping. I've had 100% success so far with those igniters at the club launches. I still have a modest stock of the old black-tipped Estes igniters, but maybe I'll save those for my own launches, where I don't have a 12V system.
 

rstaff3

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Good, that's what I was hoping. I've had 100% success so far with those igniters at the club launches. I still have a modest stock of the old black-tipped Estes igniters, but maybe I'll save those for my own launches, where I don't have a 12V system.
I have had excellent results with the new igniters on the NARHAMS club's system and am generally using them there. I save the older ones for MDRA where the clips live in the weather between launch days and are often not as pristine. After my Q2G2's are gone, the old ones will be used in clusters. I have never done more that three motors with them but know of one guy that used them on a X8cluster. IIRC he might have had one of eight that didn't go. That was also on a 12v club system and he hand twisted long pigtails on each. At MDRA, we have a Cluster Buck, which is a battery system that sits at the pad and that will help A LOT.
 

jrkennedy2

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One thing that might be helpful is to tape the leads up (on another rod?) next to the rocket so if motion starts before all 3 fire, the leads can "follow" the rocket for a short distance while the slow one lights-off. It does require a lighter-weight cable / whip-clip or the little plugs may come loose at the onset of motion and the igniter may fall out. Oh yea, keep that go-button pushed until it leaves the rod...

follow.jpg
 

rstaff3

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One thing that might be helpful is to tape the leads up (on another rod?) next to the rocket so if motion starts before all 3 fire, the leads can "follow" the rocket for a short distance while the slow one lights-off. It does require a lighter-weight cable / whip-clip or the little plugs may come loose at the onset of motion and the igniter may fall out. Oh yea, keep that go-button pushed until it leaves the rod...

View attachment 324555
Using individual pigtails made from spent HPR igniters does about the same thing. I always keep a stash of them around. On my 11 motor Chesapeake Sea Monster, I went as far as to solder the whole igniter assembly up.
 

dhbarr

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Using individual pigtails made from spent HPR igniters does about the same thing. I always keep a stash of them around. On my 11 motor Chesapeake Sea Monster, I went as far as to solder the whole igniter assembly up.
Long lineman splice + solder jacket?
 

rstaff3

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Quickmatch works great too if you can find it. You gotta love the fireball when a big flash pan goes off :)
 

Micromeister

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mrcluster here:
Remember the rule of thumb with old estes igniters is 2amps per igniter. For simple 2 & 3 motor clusters one can get away with simply twist all leads into 2- single strands for use with a GOOD heavy gauge 12v system with a high amp/hr battery.

Always a better way is to go with a Relay Ignition System. this moves the battery from the controller side to the Launcher making a much Shorter power run from battery to igniters. Always leave a coil of lead under each igniter to allow the models first motion to lift the wires with the model allowing a bit longer for any lagging igniter to lit.

OBTW: New Estes igniters can be re-dipped in nitrocellulose lacquer made from 3- ping pong balls dissolved in 8oz of Acetone. or simply re-dipping in a pyrodex/acetone dip. I've been making my own 1ns APCP cluster igniters for decades with either alum powder or Mg metal powder. They are a bit slower then BP or pyrodex mixtures, but that work perfectly with BP motor clusters up to 12 motors.

As previously mentioned if you really want to know what is happening in those first few milliseconds after you push the button on a clustered motor model and what to see what things are absolutely necessary for "RELIABLE" cluster ignition then Please go to www.narhams.org look in the left hand menu for the library section, go to Tech-Tips. look up and down load Tech Tip-006 "clustering BP Motors". I've recently Updated this Tip with new info and included the Range Box Relay diagram.

A simple "Range box relay" can be built for under 20 bucks from easily found parts and a simple DPDT 10amp/contact relay & socket. Diagram is printed below.
the parts list is from Radio shack but I'm sure they can be easily crossed over to any of the on-line electronic supply houses.

Hope this helps with your cluster motor flying

RangeBox Relay-a2b_Rev Drawing & Wiring_01-31-96 Rev.06-23-10.jpg


Cluster Wiring Diagrams-2b_Dwg (Revised)_09-17-12.jpg


Range Box Relay-a_system & magneium-AP igniters_01-31-96.jpg


Range Box Relay-d_Inside the Box_09-16-05.jpg


1.5v-a_ Pocket Continuity tester & diagram_04-25-04.jpg


1.5v-e1_2 igniter continuity Testers AA & AAA_11-16-09.JPG


Relay Clip-Whips-sm_8m St-Stl microclip lead_03-09-91.jpg


404-p20b_Remaining 3 APCP igniters forinstallation_09-18-09.JPG


Cluster Motor Wadding Capped_13,18 &24mm_08-31-05.jpg
 

qquake2k

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Are the new Estes igniters that bad? Would they be reliable enough for a 2xD cluster?
 

r12ski

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Quake: Yes they are that bad. I have had multiple failures on club systems with them just using a single motor. Someone usually tells me it’s because I don’t have the starter all the way down touching the propellant but I’ve been flying Estes motors for 25 years and the few times I ever had a bad igniter it was most likely because it was old and brittle. After one of the last club launches I went to, I came home and dipped every new one I had in Quickdip. Fortunately, I have a large stock of old ones and even a few q2g2s. The answer to your second question is how much are you willing to risk only one motor lighting?

Kramer: I’ve heard many times about flashpan. I’ve never actually seen one used. Any pictures?
 

Micromeister

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No they are not that bad. Once you understand the New Starters do not have a pyrogen coating, they are instead coated with NC Lacquer. That means these starters MUST be in direct contact with the motor propellant. They are just fine for single motors and if you are careful 2 motor clusters, I would not trust them on any larger cluster.
If you want to enhance these "Starters" they can be dipped in a NC Lacquer & pyrodex powder mixture. They are then fine for just about any BP Cluster up to 5- D12's.

The most important thing to do is CHECK, CHECK, CHECK, each and every starter or igniter you plan to use before installation, After installing in the motor, and one last time with the model on the launchers.

It is also very important for ALL clusters over 2 motors to use a RELAY Ignition system. This Moves the battery from the controller side of the circuit to the Launcher connecting the Battery to the clips by the shortest and heaviest stranded wire practice for your system.

Since switching to relay ignition systems for my clustered models I've have very near 100% ignition on rockets with 2 to 12 motors since the early 1970's. Thousands of Rockets.

NC-Lac-b_Nitrocellulose-Lacqure Solution_10-28-2008.JPG


1.5v-e1_2 igniter continuity Testers AA & AAA_11-16-09.JPG


1.5v-d2_Revised Pocket Continuity Tester 3pic_09-06-05.jpg


12V Gel-Cell-b_ Batteries & Adaptor Charger(128dpi)_11-05.jpg


Range Box Relay-c1_5pic photos. dwg & parts_06-23-10.jpg


View attachment RangeBox Relay-a2c_Rev Drawing & Wiring_01-31-96 Rev.06-23-10.pdf

View attachment Cluster Wiring Diagrams-2c_Dwg(Revised)_09-17-12.pdf
 
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Zeus-cat

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Kramer: I’ve heard many times about flashpan. I’ve never actually seen one used. Any pictures?
Someone using the flash pan technique starts at 1:29. Not that informative, but you get to see it done.
[video=youtube;zUosO78OlzQ]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zUosO78OlzQ[/video]
 

Len B

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^^^ That's pretty much what I've seen as a flash in the pan ignition. Fun to watch and it worked when I saw it.
There are some more sophisticated approaches to flash in the pan. I hope to try one of them. It involves making a device to channel the fireball upwards towards the cluster of motors.
I'll try to find the link. It was provided on the NAR Contest Rocket email list. I'll edit this post when I find it. I also have some drawings somewhere.

I found it. https://meatballrocketry.com/pvc-spider/ ****NOTE**** If you want to use the Spider, please read it fully. It does not use BP. Use of BP could create unsafe conditions.

I built a model with a cluster of 7 18 mm motors. I want to use this technique to launch it.
 
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BigDuphis

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+1 to everything Micro said. I'll use the "starters" for 2 motor clusters, being very careful that it's fully inserted and touching the propellant. I use the old school piece of wadding method instead of the plugs, and usually a small piece of tape over that to make sure it can't wiggle loose when you're hooking up. I've played with dipping the starters with mixed results. Some of them I've had just pop the pyrogen off without actually igniting it. As my supply of q2g2's are running out, I'm starting to work on refining my own nichrome/dipped igniters for clusters. I built a pad relay based on Micro's plans that I use for all my clusters, and I think I've had a total of 2 motors that didn't ignite, but the igniters did, so it was likely igniters that wiggled away from the propellant.
 
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