Unsuccessful Ignitions

John_lennon

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 21, 2021
Messages
147
Reaction score
68
Hi guys,
I finally had some quality time with my grandson, I purchased one of the RTF kits by Estes the Riptide. I got the kit because it came with the launch stuff as well as a rocket to be able to fly while we were building our first kit together. Him being a 9yr old impatient kid it was a great idea. I'd built a few kits when I was a kid at camp but never dealt with the pre flight of setting up the engine, ignitors, or launch pad. So we brought the rocket outside and I proceeded to insert the ignitor then plugged it. I then attached the banana clips, I then walked over to let him press the button after countdown. The ignitor burned but didn't start the engine on two different occasions. I then tried another ignitor with just an engine on the ground & it lit. I wasn't shorting the system out because they first two did ignite and melt the plug. After I lit the engine on the ground I tried again with another engine and after screwing with the damn thing for 10mins we had a successful ignition, flight, chute deployment. The recovery is another story it ended up in the trees. Which stinks because it was the one kit that was ready to fly as is, just insert another motor and go. What are the tips to insuring the ignitor is in properly to get successful ignition, banana clip placement. Do I leave the little paper tab on the ignitor wires? I had a hell of a time with the first and last engine flown in the Riptide. Whatever I did the clips wanted to keep resting on the blast plate. How much wind is too much, I've got a fairly large park behind my house, I truthfully thought it'd return to the ground so we could recover it properly. The wind was 6mph with gusts up to 10mph. I read somewhere that 20mph was the cutoff. What am I doing wrong. I need help badly. Thanks for any wise words of wisdom from the group. I'll shoot some pics of the Viking kit build and how I'm doing on that first real build we're doing together. I already started another thread about it but I didn't upload pictures and may need to scrap it anyway. I really don't want to discourage my grandson since we just started down this road together. He was a big help reading the directions and with some help and guidance making the necessary measurements for hash marks with lines. Thanks for listening,
Confused Grandpa, Dyl
 
Joined
Oct 2, 2016
Messages
9,182
Reaction score
8,342
Location
Hawaii
Welcome to the forum, Dyl.
Since I recently built and flew a Viking I'll start the ball rolling.
The ignitors you have that came with the launch set are probably the ones with the white coating (top of picture).
They need to be in contact with the propellant to ignite it. Estes just came out with newer ignitors with a gray coating (bottom of picture). These are more energetic and only need to be in close proximity to the propellant to ignite it.
0812212038[1].jpg
So push in the ignitor into the motor until it contacts the propellant, then install the plug. Make sure the wires are not crossed. The paper tape can be removed if it's in your way.
To make things easier when clipping up the controller leads, I use a clothespin as a standoff. This elevates the rocket above the deflector and makes attaching the clips easier. It also lessens the chance of damage from exhaust gas bounce back to the rocket at launch.
You can also use a second clothespin to pin your controller wires to the rod. That way the weight of the wires will not pull on the ignitor and plug, separating them from contact with the propellant. Also keeps the clips from shorting on the deflector.
I conveniently had the Viking and launch pad/controller close by so I set them up in the living room and took a picture:
0812212109a[1].jpg
Excuse the groady looking blast deflector, I haven't had a chance to clean it from the last launch yet.

How much wind is too much? That depends. If you have a big enough field wind drift would not be much of a concern. Personally, I don't launch in anything over 15 mph. But we have a smallish field. You can set up your launch pad in a part of the field closest to where the wind is coming from and the wind will carry the rocket to the far end of the field. Or you can compensate for wind drift by angling your rod into the wind (no more than 30 degrees per NAR rules). Experience is your best teacher. Subbing a streamer for a chute will also cut drift, but may increase the chances of landing damage. Same thing with reefing shroud lines or cutting a hole in the chute.
I'm sure other members will chime in with their own suggestions.
Great that you're spending quality time with your grandson!
Cheers.
 

teepot

Well-Known Member
TRF Supporter
Joined
Dec 7, 2019
Messages
3,114
Reaction score
3,127
Location
Pahrump, Nevada
You said that the plug melted. I think the only way to do that is if the motor lit. Was the plug ejected from the motor, I have never seen a plug melt. How old are the motors. I going to guess new. Are you using the recommended motor. Probably. Was the igniter all the way in until it stopped. If the igniter was in contact with the BP and it burned I can't imagine how the motor didn't light. To gauge wind direction try a golf method. Throw some grass or dust in the air and see which way it goes. There are several ways to get your rocket out of the tree. One way is to get a about a 2' or 3' piece of PVC pipe. Attach a length of surgical tubing at the top and push the loop down the tube. Get a dowel or arrow and attach a cord to it. Shoot it into the air and try to go over the branch the rocket is on and pull it off. A bow and arrow would work with a cord attached too. There is video on here somewhere that shows how it is done. This method can shoot the projectile quite high. Home Depot sells the kind of tubing that will work. It's kind of a light brown color and very elastic. Another way is get some long pieces of PVC and some couplers and make a pole long enough to reach the rocket. Put some kind of hook on the top to grab the rocket. Of course it depends on how high it is up. Good luck. And we have all lost rockets to either trees or they go up and don't come down.
 
Joined
Oct 2, 2016
Messages
9,182
Reaction score
8,342
Location
Hawaii
You said that the plug melted. I think the only way to do that is if the motor lit.
teepot, it's happened to me as well. If the ignitor and plug have pulled away from the propellant, then the ignitor can light and melt the plug without firing the motor.
I'm glad to see the new upgraded ignitors coming to the market from Estes.
 

OverTheTop

Well-Known Member
TRF Supporter
Joined
Jul 9, 2007
Messages
7,681
Reaction score
5,874
Location
Melbourne Australia
Welcomecto the forum.

Yep. Contact with the fuel is crucial. I gently bend the wires so they push sideways on the fuel after the plug is inserted.

I keep the tape on as the igniters are quite fragile.
 

John_lennon

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 21, 2021
Messages
147
Reaction score
68
Guy's I can't thank you enough for your speedy responses, the plug didn't totally melt but yes the tip was melted some. It was only after I went to the launchpad and pulled the motor to put another igniter in the rocket that I found this melting. I didn't know if it was a faulty motor, faulty igniter, or user error I'm going with the ladder there. I did push the ignitor all the way in till it bottomed out. I couldn't see the propellant in the motor all I could really see was the nozzle material. The motor I used was a B-4-6 I believe I bought them from the hobby shop a couple months ago when I originally purchased the rockets and other build stuff. I thought it a win win since the same size motor fit in the Viking I had bought to start our actual "Build" experience. I appreciate the idea of the clothespins where do you attach it to exactly. I was thinking to myself I need some type of spacer to lift it up some. Especially when I had the most horrible time trying to get the clips away from the blast shroud plate. The 1st two times I set it up I don't remember it being that much of an issue. But the 3rd time it was a terrible time for sure. I'd love to know more about the spacing techniques kuririn. Thanks, Dyl
 

John_lennon

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 21, 2021
Messages
147
Reaction score
68
Kuririn,
now that I'm looking at your picture a little more of the clothespins placement I think I get it but would love a close up without a rocket if you could get one I'd appreciate it. Last night I checked out the Apogee website and there's all types of igniters has anyone had any luck with others? Also I know there's a few other companies out there making rocket kits who do you guys really like? I've already contacted a local group in my state well not so local it meets about an hour away from my house but it's doable. I guess they could help me a bit with my issues. It's just lining up my grandson and work schedule along with their once a month meet schedule. To say the planets would need to align would be an understatement. Lol.. Thanks, Dyl
 

John_lennon

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 21, 2021
Messages
147
Reaction score
68
Thanks Tigerhawk,
Yes I was looking for this type of option with longer leads too. I'll have to order a couple boxes to see how they work. Thanks, Dyl
 

hcmbanjo

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 18, 2009
Messages
2,408
Reaction score
287
Hi John,
Some quick tips:
Bend your igniter wire ends into a tight "U" shape so you get two contact points when held in the micro clips.
Enlarge the picture in the second post showing the igniter in a Mosquito.
Be sure you have new, name brand Alkaline batteries in your controller.

Here's a few more blog posts with igniter tips:
 

samb

Lifetime Member
Joined
Jan 22, 2009
Messages
4,429
Reaction score
876
Location
Plano, TX
All good advice given but please know that your experience with ignition is not that uncommon, unfortunately. It's not just you ! But following the tips given, and a little perseverance will be rewarded.
 
Joined
Oct 2, 2016
Messages
9,182
Reaction score
8,342
Location
Hawaii
Here you go Dyl.
Controller wires pinned to rod.
0813210418[1].jpg

Second clothespin for a rocket standoff.
Use the flat portion of the clothespin, the rod will slip through the round part.
0813210419[1].jpg

Alternative: Use an expended engine casing for a standoff. Widen the nozzle with a screwdriver or drill and slip it over the rod.
0813210419a[1].jpg

Some people also use masking tape on the rod for a standoff.
Just wrap some masking tape around the rod so the launch lug cannot slip through.
You can also tape the wires to the rod, I find a clothespin is easier and less messy.
After a few launches there will be exhaust residue and rust buildup on your rod and igniter clips, as you can see in the photos. Clean the clips with an emery board or sandpaper, and clean the rod with a kitchen scrubber pad or sandpaper. You can then coat it with a film of silicone spray or WD-40. Wipe off excess. This is for carbon steel rods, stainless will just need a wipedown for residue removal.
0813210438[1].jpg
0813210442[1].jpg
Note the shiny clean metal on the inside of the clips where it contacts the ignitor.
This will ensure good electrical contact.
Hope this helps!
Laters.
 

John_lennon

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 21, 2021
Messages
147
Reaction score
68
Kuririn,
Exactly what I was thinking there needs to be more space in between the bottom of the rocket and blast plate shroud. Allowing the clips adequate space to not short out on the plate. I just didn't know if the proximity of the nozzle to the blast plate was necessary to create better lift gasses. Somehow creating better propulsion being closer to each other.
Thanks, Dyl
 
Joined
Oct 2, 2016
Messages
9,182
Reaction score
8,342
Location
Hawaii
Kuririn,
Exactly what I was thinking there needs to be more space in between the bottom of the rocket and blast plate shroud. Allowing the clips adequate space to not short out on the plate. I just didn't know if the proximity of the nozzle to the blast plate was necessary to create better lift gasses. Somehow creating better propulsion being closer to each other.
Thanks, Dyl
Nope, doesn't need to be closer to each other to have something to push against.
That's why a rocket motor can still accelerate the vehicle in the vacuum of space.
Have fun!
 

boomtube-mk2

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 6, 2014
Messages
2,290
Reaction score
2,003
Once Upon A Time Quest had the best, off the shelf, igniter made for black powder motors.

Naturally you can't get them anymore.
 

John_lennon

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 21, 2021
Messages
147
Reaction score
68
Next question are there any hobby shops that readily carry other brands of rocket stuff other than Estes products? Or is every other company web based and requires you to order items to be shipped? Thanks, Dyl
 

TigerHawk

Reliving the good ole days
Joined
Jun 19, 2021
Messages
1,419
Reaction score
823
Location
Tennessee
Kuririn,
Exactly what I was thinking there needs to be more space in between the bottom of the rocket and blast plate shroud. Allowing the clips adequate space to not short out on the plate. I just didn't know if the proximity of the nozzle to the blast plate was necessary to create better lift gasses. Somehow creating better propulsion being closer to each other.
Thanks, Dyl
Another option is a non-metallic blast deflector,
 

neil_w

OpenRocketeer
TRF Supporter
Joined
Jul 14, 2015
Messages
14,505
Reaction score
7,992
Location
Northern NJ
Hi John,
Some quick tips:
Bend your igniter wire ends into a tight "U" shape so you get two contact points when held in the micro clips.
Enlarge the picture in the second post showing the igniter in a Mosquito.
Be sure you have new, name brand Alkaline batteries in your controller.

Here's a few more blog posts with igniter tips:
Here's a slight alteration. The pink in the picture represents the paper tape.
ignitor_clip.png
 

UhClem

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 6, 2009
Messages
2,052
Reaction score
431
Bend your igniter wire ends into a tight "U" shape so you get two contact points when held in the micro clips.
This has been in the instructions enclosed in every Estes motor package for it seems like forever. Not that anybody reads them. :)
 
Joined
Oct 2, 2016
Messages
9,182
Reaction score
8,342
Location
Hawaii
Once Upon A Time Quest had the best, off the shelf, igniter made for black powder motors.

Naturally you can't get them anymore.
Yeah, I had a stash of Q2G2 igniters that I kept exclusively for cluster launches.
All gone now.
Next question are there any hobby shops that readily carry other brands of rocket stuff other than Estes products? Or is every other company web based and requires you to order items to be shipped? Thanks, Dy
Can't answer that, depends on your area.
Call or check out what your local hobby shops have.
I know that all the hobby shops in my area carry only Estes kits and motors.
Because of their limited selection, I do all my rocketry related purchases online.
 

hcmbanjo

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 18, 2009
Messages
2,408
Reaction score
287
This has been in the instructions enclosed in every Estes motor package for it seems like forever. Not that anybody reads them. :)
At club launches, first timers never bend the igniter wire ends in a "U" shape.
Most don't understand the reasons why.
 

OverTheTop

Well-Known Member
TRF Supporter
Joined
Jul 9, 2007
Messages
7,681
Reaction score
5,874
Location
Melbourne Australia
I have used eMatches successfully lately. They won't fit into the nozzle but if you just sit them in the nozzle as far as you can they are a reliable ignition source. Significantly better than the Estes igniters.
 

Sandy H.

Well-Known Member
TRF Supporter
Joined
Mar 20, 2009
Messages
1,935
Reaction score
1,340
Also, you can use blue tape (or darn near any other non-metallic tape) to stick on the leads, the blast deflector or whatever you think might touch. Even if it looks perfect when you get the rocket on the pad, as soon as you turn your back to walk to the controller, the wind will blow and your carefully positioned clips will now be touching the blast deflector 100% of the time. Kind of like putting a USB key in a computer. It always takes 3 tries: 1st- wrong, flip over and 2nd -wrong, flip over and 3rd fits. . .

I haven't used the new Estes igniters yet, but either using a 12V battery or new batteries for the included controller was helpful in the past. Nowadays, I agree with the 'name brand' battery comment from above - I wouldn't try Harbor Freight batteries. . .

Keep at it and you'll inadvertently teach your grandson one of the most important lessons in life - perseverance!

Sandy.
 

SharkWhisperer

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 27, 2021
Messages
577
Reaction score
400
This has been in the instructions enclosed in every Estes motor package for it seems like forever. Not that anybody reads them. :)
Can they even? I'm sure my eyes aren't the only ones that need a magnifying glass to read that microprint package insert.

They should also stuff a 10-year-old in every package of motors to read the instructions to ya!
 

BEC

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 19, 2009
Messages
4,868
Reaction score
1,682
Location
Auburn, WA
This has been in the instructions enclosed in every Estes motor package for it seems like forever. Not that anybody reads them. :)

Can they even? I'm sure my eyes aren't the only ones that need a magnifying glass to read that microprint package insert.

They should also stuff a 10-year-old in every package of motors to read the instructions to ya!
They are also in every kit's instructions, at rather larger than microprint size....

Look the bottom of the first page of the Riptide instructions:
Here's a screen shot of the salient bit:
Screen Shot Riptide.png

Lots of good advice here. One point I didn't see made (I may have missed it)—put the ignitor/starter straight into the motor's nozzle as shown in step 4 in the screen shot above, preferably with the rocket nose down so you can just drop it in, put the plug in, THEN do any lead bending you want to do, including the U-shaped ones (step 7).

Note that that Riptide kind of makes this harder than normal because the twist-on motor retainer sticks out behind the motor a good bit and the paper tape holding the igniter leads may prevent you from getting the tip of the igniter as far in as it should go. In that case I usually fold the paper tape back over itself so that the igniter/starter can get in deeply enough. But you could also remove it. (This is also the situation with some two-stage models where there is a thin motor block at the aft end of the booster.)

@teepot I have seen plastic plugs melted without ignition. The igniter leads can get hot enough near the bridge wire to melt into those polypropylene plugs even if the bridge wire isn't in contact with the fuel and therefore doesn't do its intended job. I've seen lots of yellow plugs (A8/B4) in particular pulled out of nozzles after misfires where the plug is melted by the igniter leads at Scout launches and such.
 
Last edited:

Back_at_it

Well-Known Member
TRF Supporter
Joined
Jul 16, 2019
Messages
1,422
Reaction score
1,374
Location
Chicago Burbs.
I'll throw my .02 in here. First is the stock Estes igniters are not that great. I've heard that there is an improved version coming but I haven't seen or used them yet. Honestly, I have literally hundreds, maybe a thousand of the current igniters to use so I needed to find a way to make them useable.

You will find people talk about adding black powder, melting ping pong balls etc etc etc. and dipping the igniter into it. The simplest solution I have found is regular old Testors silver model paint. Simply dip the tip in it and set it aside and let it dry. Since the paint will be thick, it will need a couple of days to fully cure.

After that it's really a matter of getting the igniter into the motor correctly. I like to do this out of the rocket.

- Check that the wires on the ignitor do not touch until they meet at the tip.
- insert the igniter completely into the motor until you feel it bottom out.
- Insert the correct plug into the motor and push it down until snug. It doesn't need to be all the way in. Just tight enough to keep the igniter from falling out.
- Insert the motor into the rocket. If the fins of the rocket extend down past the body, I like to place one wire from the igniter on each side of a fin. This keeps the wires separated.
- If your launch controller still has the stock alligator clips with the smooth jaws, cut those off and replace them with the type that have teeth. Most hardware stores carry small ones for around $1 a pair.

Other than that, just make sure that the wires don't touch the blast plate and you're good to go.
 
Top