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Old 10-22-2020, 11:13 PM
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Default Quest/Estes igniters/controller compatibility?

Hello Doctor,

This week I started the process of brainwashing...er, introducing my Physical Therapist's grandson to model rocketry. Before the regular Monday PT session, I gave her a care package containing an Estes Tandem-X Launch Set, a Quest Payloader ONE kit, and a few other Apogee Rockets, ASP, and Estes kits, along with Estes and Quest wadding, an Odd'l Rockets RAISE Spring, Stuart Lodge's and G. Harry Stine's handbooks, and a few packs of Estes 13 mm--and Estes ^and^ Quest 18 mm--motors with igniters (the Quest motors were A3-4 Q-Jets, whose packaging helpfully suggested, "Compare to [or with] A8-3"). My question is as follows:

When launching a rocket that's loaded with a Quest Q-Jet motor (with its included FirstFire Micro https://www.questaerospace.com/2-Pa...5_18338149.aspx igniter type installed), will the Electron Beam launch controller in the Estes Tandem-X Launch Set https://estesrockets.com/product/00...m-x-launch-set/ allow a normal continuity check of the Quest igniter, or will it fire as soon as the safety key is installed? (It's okay if that happens some or all of the time--I'll let them know; I just want to avoid possibly-unpleasant surprises.)

Many Thanks in advance for your help.
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Old 10-23-2020, 12:33 PM
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Jason,

The FirstFire micro is safe to use with current Estes launch controllers (which have had an LED for continuity indication for several years). These are the red Electron Beams (and they are even Q2G2 safe).

I thought I checked FirstFire Micros for incandescent continuity lamps (so ~150 mA current) and found them OK when they were first introduced....but right now I'm not sure if I have, so maybe I should go do that again.

How recently was that Tandem-X launch set made?

Added: we have flown Q-Jets off our club launch system, which has an incandescent continuity indicator and which will launch a model with a Q2G2 in it as soon as you check continuity. After a couple of really cautious first uses, we don't worry about them any more. So I would say they are safe with even older incandescent-lamp-equpped Electron Beams (black or yellow or blue ones).
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Old 10-23-2020, 12:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BEC
Jason,

The FirstFire micro is safe to use with current Estes launch controllers (which have had an LED for continuity indication for several years). These are the red Electron Beams (and they are even Q2G2 safe).

I thought I checked FirstFire Micros for incandescent continuity lamps (so ~150 mA current) and found them OK when they were first introduced....but right now I'm not sure if I have, so maybe I should go do that again.

How recently was that Tandem-X launch set made?

Added: we have flown Q-Jets off our club launch system, which has an incandescent continuity indicator and which will launch a model with a Q2G2 in it as soon as you check continuity. After a couple of really cautious first uses, we don't worry about them any more. So I would say they are safe with even older incandescent-lamp-equpped Electron Beams (black or yellow or blue ones).
That sounds reassuring. Maybe Quest modified their igniter slightly (not fundamental changes; maybe just more of the tip-dip "whiskers" to make it conduct enough to handle an Estes controller's continuity check without firing). I don't know when that Tandem-X Launch Set was manufactured (I'd ordered it from AC Supply earlier this month), as I passed it along to my Physical Therapist on Monday.
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Old 10-23-2020, 01:49 PM
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The igniter used in the Q-Jets is really a very small version of what Aerotech uses in some of their larger motors....I don't think it's descended from the Q2G2.

I went back thorugh my emails to Karl at Aerotech and confirmed that we've flown Q-Jets from our old club launch system. That one has a continuity current at least as high as an incandescnent-lamp-equipped Electron Beam or Solar Launch controller (or, really, any Estes controller that used an incandescent lamp) and we did not have any fire-on-continuity-check issues.

So even if that's an older Tandem-X set, it will be fine.

Be aware that the 4s delay in those really IS 4 seconds, it's not short as is often the case with Estes motors. No way that motor should be used in the Amazon from that set. But it will be OK in the Crossfire ISX.
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Old 10-23-2020, 03:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BEC
The igniter used in the Q-Jets is really a very small version of what Aerotech uses in some of their larger motors....I don't think it's descended from the Q2G2.

I went back thorugh my emails to Karl at Aerotech and confirmed that we've flown Q-Jets from our old club launch system. That one has a continuity current at least as high as an incandescnent-lamp-equipped Electron Beam or Solar Launch controller (or, really, any Estes controller that used an incandescent lamp) and we did not have any fire-on-continuity-check issues.

So even if that's an older Tandem-X set, it will be fine.

Be aware that the 4s delay in those really IS 4 seconds, it's not short as is often the case with Estes motors. No way that motor should be used in the Amazon from that set. But it will be OK in the Crossfire ISX.
I haven't used Quest motors for so long that one or two igniter "iterations" came and went without my seeing or using them; I'd only used the Tiger Tail ones. I wasn't considering the A3-4 being used in the Amazon (I got a pack of its lowest-impulse "B" motors for it). Does the A3-4 use a "Blackjack"-type propellant?
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Old 10-24-2020, 01:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blackshire
I haven't used Quest motors for so long that one or two igniter "iterations" came and went without my seeing or using them; I'd only used the Tiger Tail ones. I wasn't considering the A3-4 being used in the Amazon (I got a pack of its lowest-impulse "B" motors for it). Does the A3-4 use a "Blackjack"-type propellant?


I think they call it "Fast Jack". Yes, black smoky exhaust, and a muted sound. Very different from the Quest black powder motors, especially those made in China.

I have seen but have never used the Tiger Tail igniters. Since then there have been the Quest Q2 igniters, which were similar to the Estes Solar igniter in appearance and behavior. Then came the much-prized-for-clustering Q2G2s. These were supplied with the Chinese-made black powder motor. These are a blob of black conductive pyrogen on the end of fine blue or red-insulated wire and are the ones that will fire on a continuity check if the check indicator is an incandescent bulb. 150mA will light them every time. But that same characteristic made them popular for cluster use (and drag races). They came with a small red "straw" (actually, I think, a short length of a small-diameter plastic coffee stir stick) for retention. I never found that to work very well.

I still have a stash of Q2G2s from buying bulk bags of the Chinese B6-4s (which also outperformed their Estes counterparts by a significant margin, helping me win B Cluster Altitude at NARAM-56). For single-motor use, an Estes igniter/starter, held in with a ball of wadding or an orange plug intended for 1/2A/A3 Estes motors, works fine in them.



The Q-Jets are a completely different animal and handle like the small composites that they are.

In my own experience a Q-Jet A3 is a little weaker than an Estes A8 and a Q-Jet B4 is on a par with Estes B4/B6 motors, based on altitudes reached (measured by altimeter) in a given typical sport model.

The C12s significantly outperform Estes C6s (and the new C5-3) and are my favorites of the Q-Jet line by far. The D16 is a C+, really.

To get back to your original question: the "FirstFire Micro Initiators" are safe on Estes controllers, and work just fine on them. They will even work with the little 9V battery-powered Astron II controller (so they should also work with the little pistol-grip-style Quest controller, though I've not actually tried that). The igniters are kind of fragile, and especially on the As require some care to get all the way into where they need to be inserted, as they ignite the motor at the top of the propellant, up against the delay, just like larger composites. There's a lot of empty space in the As (the propellant is short, but up towards the top of the case) so getting the igniter into the slot in the grain takes a little care. There's a bit of black shrink tube on the igniter that will be quite close to the nozzle opening if the igniter is fully inserted.

I have found that if one of these igniters is damaged and the pyrogen is knocked off the bridge wire, they will still fire a Q-Jet just fine as long as the bridge wire is not broken and they are properly installed.
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Old 10-29-2020, 10:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BEC
I think they call it "Fast Jack". Yes, black smoky exhaust, and a muted sound. Very different from the Quest black powder motors, especially those made in China.

I have seen but have never used the Tiger Tail igniters. Since then there have been the Quest Q2 igniters, which were similar to the Estes Solar igniter in appearance and behavior. Then came the much-prized-for-clustering Q2G2s. These were supplied with the Chinese-made black powder motor. These are a blob of black conductive pyrogen on the end of fine blue or red-insulated wire and are the ones that will fire on a continuity check if the check indicator is an incandescent bulb. 150mA will light them every time. But that same characteristic made them popular for cluster use (and drag races). They came with a small red "straw" (actually, I think, a short length of a small-diameter plastic coffee stir stick) for retention. I never found that to work very well.

I still have a stash of Q2G2s from buying bulk bags of the Chinese B6-4s (which also outperformed their Estes counterparts by a significant margin, helping me win B Cluster Altitude at NARAM-56). For single-motor use, an Estes igniter/starter, held in with a ball of wadding or an orange plug intended for 1/2A/A3 Estes motors, works fine in them.



The Q-Jets are a completely different animal and handle like the small composites that they are.

In my own experience a Q-Jet A3 is a little weaker than an Estes A8 and a Q-Jet B4 is on a par with Estes B4/B6 motors, based on altitudes reached (measured by altimeter) in a given typical sport model.

The C12s significantly outperform Estes C6s (and the new C5-3) and are my favorites of the Q-Jet line by far. The D16 is a C+, really.

To get back to your original question: the "FirstFire Micro Initiators" are safe on Estes controllers, and work just fine on them. They will even work with the little 9V battery-powered Astron II controller (so they should also work with the little pistol-grip-style Quest controller, though I've not actually tried that). The igniters are kind of fragile, and especially on the As require some care to get all the way into where they need to be inserted, as they ignite the motor at the top of the propellant, up against the delay, just like larger composites. There's a lot of empty space in the As (the propellant is short, but up towards the top of the case) so getting the igniter into the slot in the grain takes a little care. There's a bit of black shrink tube on the igniter that will be quite close to the nozzle opening if the igniter is fully inserted.

I have found that if one of these igniters is damaged and the pyrogen is knocked off the bridge wire, they will still fire a Q-Jet just fine as long as the bridge wire is not broken and they are properly installed.
GOOD...the black, smoky exhaust of the “Fast Jack” propellant would be scale-realistic for flying scale models of the British Skylark sounding rocket (see: http://www.sat-net.com/serra/skylar_e.htm ), especially the earlier variants that flew from 1957 (such as ASP’s kit: https://www.asp-rocketry.com/ecomme...rent=8&navPanel ; the 18 mm A3-4 Q-Jet could be used in place of the 13 mm motor mount) up until at least the mid-to-late 1960s, and possibly beyond. Here (see: http://galacticjourney.org/january-...ounding-rocket/ ) is material on the earlier Skylark versions. The 17.25” (438 mm) diameter Raven rocket motor—several “Marks” of which powered the single-stage, two-stage, and three-stage Skylark vehicles over this sounding rocket’s long career, between 1957 and 2005—was nicknamed “Smoky Sam” because of its black smoke exhaust trail, ^and^:

This short film on ESA’s website (“Skylark: Sounding Space” [25:12], see: https://www.esa.int/ESA_Multimedia/..._Sounding_Space ) was produced in 1967 by BAC (British Aircraft Corporation), which manufactured the rockets (later BAe took over this work, followed by Matra Marconi—the 441st and last Skylark, a two-stage [Goldfinch II/Raven XI] Skylark 7, flew from Esrange in Sweden on May 2, 2005: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/4504623.stm [the Brazilian VSB-30 sounding rocket https://www.google.com/search?sxsrf...&sclient=psy-ab , which was designed as a direct Skylark replacement, is now flying with existing Skylark cylindrical payload modules and nose cones, just as Aerobee 350 and other rockets’ payload modules fly aboard other U.S. sounding rockets, such as the Terrier-Improved Malemute, today]). Also:

The BAC motion picture shows several launches of single-stage Skylarks (and at least one static firing of a Raven motor; interestingly, it too was less loud than one would expect), which were very smoky, as well as firings of two-stage (Cuckoo-boosted; the Cuckoo used double-base propellant, while the Goldfinch and Goldfinch II burned composite propellant) Skylark vehicles. The final variants were the single-stage Skylark 5 (powered by a Raven XI motor), the two-stage Skylark 7 (it used a *finless* Goldfinch II first stage motor [and three optional Imp spin motors, to reduce impact dispersion on small ranges]; the Skylark 7 was the most-used variant), and the three-stage (Goldfinch II / Raven XI / Cuckoo IV) Skylark 12. As well:

Thank you for the further confirmation regarding the compatibility of the Estes and Quest igniters and launch controllers. (The launch controller in the Estes Tandem-X Launch Set--in my "care package"--is a red Electron Beam one, which uses four "AA" batteries [for a total of six volts, rather than nine volts].) I don't think I ever had or used any Quest Q2 igniters, but the long-lead Q2G2 ones sound familiar, although I don't recall using any Quest igniters other than Tiger Tails and--once--their earliest-type MicroMaxx igniters (to launch a Tomahawk Cruise Missile RTF rocket, which made a perfect flight and landing...on the flat roof of a storage building across the street from my old house, down the street :-) ).
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Last edited by blackshire : 10-30-2020 at 05:21 PM.
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Old 10-30-2020, 01:13 PM
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I keep thinking they call that black smoky propellant used in the Q-Jets "Fast Jack" but Gary calls it "Black Max". See new packaging picture here: https://www.oldrocketforum.com/show...66&postcount=77

Either way, it's a black smoky exhaust that's not very noisy.
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Old 10-30-2020, 05:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BEC
I keep thinking they call that black smoky propellant used in the Q-Jets "Fast Jack" but Gary calls it "Black Max". See new packaging picture here: https://www.oldrocketforum.com/show...66&postcount=77

Either way, it's a black smoky exhaust that's not very noisy.
I see--yes, he used the same propellant nomenclature as for the Aerotech-labeled motors, although I think that in the Aerotech-labeled motors with that propellant, it's called "Black Jack" (the other Q-Jet pack in that picture identifies its motors' propellant as "White Lightning," which I've also seen printed on some Aerotech-labeled motors). Do any of the Quest Q-Jet motors use their third propellant type (Blue Thunder)? (As well as being scale-realistic for some models, such as the Skylark, their Black Max propellant, burning more quietly, would be useful for flying in places where neighbors aren't far away.)
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Old 10-30-2020, 07:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blackshire
I see--yes, he used the same propellant nomenclature as for the Aerotech-labeled motors, although I think that in the Aerotech-labeled motors with that propellant, it's called "Black Jack" (the other Q-Jet pack in that picture identifies its motors' propellant as "White Lightning," which I've also seen printed on some Aerotech-labeled motors). Do any of the Quest Q-Jet motors use their third propellant type (Blue Thunder)? (As well as being scale-realistic for some models, such as the Skylark, their Black Max propellant, burning more quietly, would be useful for flying in places where neighbors aren't far away.)


So far, no. The Black Max Q-Jets are the ones that have been around since mid 2018. The White Lightining Q-Jets are not-yet-released, though they will be soon. I've flown some beta WL Q-Jets. They are NOT quiet. Rather the opposite.

I have no idea if there are long term plans to do a Blue Thunder or other Aerotech propellant variant of the Q-Jets. That's a question for Gary Rosenfield or Karl Baumann I think.
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