Launch Pad & Controller

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Well-Known Member
Jan 8, 2004
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being new to mid power, and having just finished a nice Estes 4" V-2 [that i am still waiting to get some digi shots back to share with everyone in my mid power forum thread], humorously enough i still don't have any launch equipment. i was planning on finding a good deal on the Aerotech Initiator package (non-RMS motor version) to use for my V2 on F21s, my soon-to-be-built Estes Honest john modified also for AT Es and Fs, and also a couple older lower power Estes rockets, like the Phoenix that launch with a 3/16" rod.

i also spoke to someone from the mid power forum who built his own launch system out of PVC pipes and just drilled a hole with a retention bolt for the launch rods. seems like a good idea but could i buy a launch controller separately to use with a custom-built pad?

any suggestions as to launch systems out there other than the AT Initiator system? any thoughts on anything would be great.
I would suggest 1st doing a search here in TRF as this question has been answered in various ways before, and if that doesn't answer your question I'm sure people will provide more info resources for your consideration....

In answer to your question can you use a custom launch controller with a homamade launcher, the answer is yes you can... I had a friend of mine built me a PVC pad for up to LOW HPR for approx $25... now all I need to do if get him to build a launch controller for it...I am currenly planning on using my Estes launch controller till then

I am mechnaically and electrically challenged........
thanks for answering shock. i too have my old launch controller from my Alpha III starter kit, but with AT F engines you need a diferent volt rating, i.e. 12 instead of 6 i believe it is, so it wouldn't work for my purposes. i've heard a lot of people coupling two controllers together, but not sure of all that myself yet. a

s you said, a lot of things are always answered on TRF, so yes i will do the search. guess i should of done that before, but oh well people are always willing to help, even if it means repeating things since new issues/concepts can arise.

Here's a good place to go if you want to "home brew" a launch pad and/or controller.

If you watch eBay, sometimes you can find a good launch pad for sale. If you use the plans and build it yourself you'll save a lot of $$$.

As for the can also build a simple one yourself using a motorcycle battery (12V). I've got a Pratt Surefire2 controller that has never let me down. The Surefire2 is a 12volt relay controller with rechargeable batter...perfect for lighting off anything Estes and all but the largest composite motors.

Hope that helps,
at someone's suggestion that i found on another thread, i found this controller which seems to be a solid build & very nice (includes continuity button with safety key & light) & at a fair price. Pratt Hobby's similar controller, the "Go Box" (slightly less at $25) has only a single launch button and not the best safety precautions built in - i enjoy knowing there are lights, buzzers, and keys! ;-) buildling my own would be fun as well, but still looking for some plans for a basic Radio-Shack build.

anyone have any experience with this:
The advice I always give on this one is study your estes launch controller, learn how the circuit works, and build your own with parts from rodeo shark and the hardware store.

You don't need to be fancy and use a relay if you don't want to. The simple estes circuit works with 12 volts. You can even use your existing estes controller by wiring a set of battery clips to connect to a car battery in place of the batteries, and replacing the bulb with one rated at 12 Volts. The simplicity of it is you don't need to worry about polarity. It'll work no matter how you connect it to the battery.

Good plans can be found in the "infocentral" section of

You will be much happier with something you've built yourself. It's not much different from building a rocket. You'll spend less than 20 bucks if you build it to work off of the battery that is already in your (or your parents) Car.

good luck and have fun.