What’s your favorite igniter for Estes D through F motors?

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Tyler P

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They're delicate, have had decent pyrogen replaced with kaka cornstarch/glue, and are overpriced. That said, they "usually" work, and oftentimes failures are due to operator error. But there are failures, product failures, too. Which is why they give extras in motor packages (some, no longer).

And they often take several seconds to fire a rocket (or not), especially with the trainer 6V junk systems (and weak batteries). As a dual model rocketry enthusiast and pyrotechnician/fireworker, guaranteed positive ignition is a critical safety factor that is deeply ingrained in me. I push a fire button and it better fly or explode, instantly. Every time.

I do not expect many on this forum (all HPR folks excluded) have such strict expectations or requirements for launch devices--who cares if it takes an extra second of button pushing to ignite your LPR/MPR? Who cares if you need to use one of Estes "extra" igniters because of a failure? I do.
I get it. I think the majority of issues people have with them is using the junk AA cells. I manage a hobby shop, so I've seen people come back with their launch system on occasion. Every time someone has had issues it was with cheap batteries from the Dollar Store. I always used decent quality cells even when I was using the basic controller and never had an issue with them igniting quickly enough. I took the family out one day and launched 25 different rockets without one failure.

Of course, now I use the ProSeries launch controller with a 3S LiPo in it, so it's immediate ignition every time on whatever kind of engine I'm flying, unless I've managed to damage the igniter (which I have done on several occasions on my composite motor igniters).
 

dr wogz

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that, Tyler, is the key. With a strong enough battery, the wire itself is likely hot enough to light the motors!
 

BEC

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I get it. I think the majority of issues people have with them is using the junk AA cells. I manage a hobby shop, so I've seen people come back with their launch system on occasion. Every time someone has had issues it was with cheap batteries from the Dollar Store. I always used decent quality cells even when I was using the basic controller and never had an issue with them igniting quickly enough. I took the family out one day and launched 25 different rockets without one failure.

Of course, now I use the ProSeries launch controller with a 3S LiPo in it, so it's immediate ignition every time on whatever kind of engine I'm flying, unless I've managed to damage the igniter (which I have done on several occasions on my composite motor igniters).
This is exactly right - in both cases.

I bring an early 1970's Solar Launch Controller (the one that was introduced with the Solar Igniters and was the first to use 4 AA cells) with me when I go to Sixty Acres to fly. It has been used to bail out several families who come to the field with the box the launch set came in as their field kit and who cheaped out on the AAs.

To answer the original question - the supplied igniters, and a PSII controller with a 3s LiPoly (or even the stock six C-cells—of decent quality) in it.
 

icyclops

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Had multiple duds due to igniters burning but not igniting the motors. They were. Carefully seated. Estes igniters and motors. Are there other brands? What’s your favorite?
I take a very thin strip of magnesium and shove it up the engine hole. Light it with a small torch...works every time...
:) Just kidding, I use the Estes igniters or Jr igniters.
 

drgarymartinez

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I love reading comments about how bad Estes igniters are. And then I wonder, what are you doing wrong to make these claims? I have boxes full of Estes igniters just from the extras they give in the motor packages. Mine always work unless I've managed to break them or accidentally short them out. Hundreds of perfectly successful launches on their igniters. I've had worse luck with composite motor igniters due to them being brittle.

I just don't get it.
I happen to agree with you. My high school rocket club has been using nothing but Estes motors and igniters on every rocket and every launch. And unless the igniter is shorted or broken by the student, we have never had a “bad“ igniter. Now that we are moving to HPRs, we will be using e-matches.
 

Tyler P

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I happen to agree with you. My high school rocket club has been using nothing but Estes motors and igniters on every rocket and every launch. And unless the igniter is shorted or broken by the student, we have never had a “bad“ igniter. Now that we are moving to HPRs, we will be using e-matches.
I just ordered a pile of e-matches for my supply for my composite motors. The ones they include with motors when you buy them I find to be very brittle. I'd be tempted to coat them in clear nail polish just to keep the tips from cracking and failing.
 

Back_at_it

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Standard Estes igniters dipped in Testors Silver paint. Never had an issue after doing this little trick.
 

boomtube-mk2

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What's MY favorite igniter for black powder motors?

The one that's no longer available.
 

neil_w

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Video, please, preferably at a frame rate that we can see the flame front and particulate characteristics. Tx!
Well, I did my test today, and was in the process of putting together a video, but realized there's no point: the Testor's Aluminum-dipped igniters didn't do anything different from the un-dipped igniter. Like, identical. This could mean any of three things:
  1. The igniters didn't get hot enough to ignite the paint: Seems unlikely, since they did glow and smoke and the nichrome wire broke.
  2. There wasn't enough paint on the igniter: Also seems unlikely; if it was gonna burn it should have burned; a lesser amount of paint should simply have burned for a shorter period of time.
  3. The aluminum paint doesn't burn: This is probably the winner. I'm going to toss the ones I dipped.
Oh well!
 

SharkWhisperer

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Well, I did my test today, and was in the process of putting together a video, but realized there's no point: the Testor's Aluminum-dipped igniters didn't do anything different from the un-dipped igniter. Like, identical. This could mean any of three things:
  1. The igniters didn't get hot enough to ignite the paint: Seems unlikely, since they did glow and smoke and the nichrome wire broke.
  2. There wasn't enough paint on the igniter: Also seems unlikely; if it was gonna burn it should have burned; a lesser amount of paint should simply have burned for a shorter period of time.
  3. The aluminum paint doesn't burn: This is probably the winner. I'm going to toss the ones I dipped.
Oh well!
There's not a lot of Al in that paint to start with, and the metal is coated to keep it shiny, which impairs ignition. And acrylic (Testors) burns like crap anyways and stinks. Go put a torch to a slab/chip of acrylic. Meh. If you insist on dipping in the cheapest formulation possible, then go to the dollar store and buy a $1 bottle of silver fingernail polish, but read the label. Many are NC lacquers (of variable quality), and will say so, which will dry and burn (though not extremely vigorously), though I would not trust the pigment to do all that much extra, if anything. A little added "perchy" oxygen and real metal might ramp them up some, but I prefer to create quality instead of repairing crap.

Just dip them in a true pyrogen--I've detailed their construction (in vague "research" terms) on several threads here, for both BP and composite motors. I get 100% ignition unless I screw something up (shorted wires at nozzle usually, but that's my carelessness). I am happy to discuss details via PM, and am a fireworker so have an appreciable assortment of relevent chems... And also have an absolute requirement for reliable and vigorous ignition--the danger factor is often much greater than a G motor CATOing on the pad (this might be considered a boring firecracker).

Dont toss the ones you dipped. Use an appropriate solvent for acrylic paint and start over.
 
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