Remote Model Rocket Ignitor




This project is an ignition system for estes model rockets. It is powered by a 9V battery, so the rocket engine has a 99% probability of igniting correctly. It has a safety switch, an armed LED, and a launch button. It closely matches the safety specifications of the commercially available ignition system. this project is relatively easy, takes about 1 day, requires drilling, and soldering is optional.

disclaimer: I will not be responsible for any damage, personal injury, or death resulting from the use of this ignition system. always use the correct rocket, engine, launchpad, and recovery system. never allow anyone within 15 feet of the rocket when the ignition system is armed.


Step 1: Get the Supplies

Here is the list of supplies. They are all available at radioshack.
momentary-on pushbutton switch (launch button) Catalog #: 275-644 2.69
red LED assembly catalog # 276-270 $1.99
SPST lighted safety toggle switch Catalog #: 275-601 $4.99
9V battery clip (only 1 needed-pack of 5) Catalog #: 270-325 $1.99
9V battery Catalog #: 23-875 $3.99
5"x2"x2.5" project enclosure Catalog #: 270-1803 $3.69
4:40 round head machine screws (2 of the 1" length needed-pack of 42 assorted lengths) Catalog #: 64-3011 $1.99
4:40 hex nuts (6 needed-pack of 30) Catalog #: 64-3018 $1.99
#4 flat washers (4 needed-pack of 100) Catalog #: 64-3022 $1.99
#6 spade tounge connectors(2 needed-pack of 10 #6 and #8 connectors) Catalog #: 64-3044 $1.99
45 feet of 18AWG solid wire Catalog #: 278-1223 $5.99
Mini 1-1/4" Alligator Clips (2 needed-pack of 12) Catalog #: 270-380 $2.79
total cost: $36.08
wire stripper
electrical tape
drill with 1/4" and 1/2" bits(

Step 2: Prepare the Project Enclosure

drill two 1/16" holes through the front of the project enclosure as shown in the second picture for the ignition terminals.
drill a 1/4" hole in the middle of the top of the project enclosure and two 1/2" holes halfway between the middle hole and the ends of the project enclosure as shown in the third picture.

Step 3: Install the Components in the Project Enclosure

install the the safety switch in the bottom hole, the LED in the middle hole, and the launch button in the top hole. install the scews with the heads on the outside, washers, and nuts in the front holes as shown in the sixth picture.

Step 4: Wire the Components

wire the components as shown in the seventh picture. twist the wires that go to the rocket around the screws between the two nuts on the inside of the project enclosure. use the component leads and only as much of the wire as necessary. save the extra wire. connect the battery clip to the battery and secure the battery inside the project enclosure with electrical tape.

Step 5: Check the Wiring

turn on the safety switch ensure that the wiring is correct. if the wiring is correct, the LED on the safety switch and the armed LED will turn on. turn off the safety switch and close the project enclosure. secure the project enclosure closed with the screws.

Step 6: Make the Launching Wires

make 2 long wires of identical length using all the remaining wire. they must be at least 15 feet long. crimp the spade tounge connectors onto one end of the wires and the alligator clips onto the other end.
construction is completed

Step 7: Launching the Rocket

read the manual of your rocket. clip the alligator clips to the leads of the igniter in the prepared rocket on the launchpad. fully extend the wires and make sure that all people (including you), animals, and flammable objects are at least 15 feet away from the rocket. connect the spade tounge connectors to the screw terminals. turn on the safety switch to arm the rocket. press the launch button to launch the rocket.



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    50 Discussions


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    I think that one battery would be good for at least ten ignitions. A rechargeable battery should be fine.


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks, I'll try to get a rechargable one, I've got a charger that has two 9V battery ports


    5 years ago on Introduction

    hi can you make it without the illuminated toggle switch
    if so could i have a rudimentary drawing


    5 years ago

    You should make one with a key for safety like the commerciall ones. Nice ible tho :)


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Hi how are you? Love the instructable. I am building it tomorrow. Do you know how much current is needed to ignite the engine? I'm just curious is all. I see that if you buy the ignitor from Estes it needs 6v and your version has 9v. Which is fine. It's the needed current i'm confused about. Thank you in advanced for reading this confusing comment.

    2 replies

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    I haven't specifically measured the current involved, but my understanding is that my version uses a 9v battery to apply more energy (higher voltage) to the ignitor than the standard version and reduce the probability that it fails to get hot enough to ignite the rocket engine.
    One 9v battery is also easier to mount and connect to the circuit than 4 AA or similar batteries.


    Does the LED show Continuity for igniter or just power on? I know the cheap Estes controller has light that comes on for testing. I am trying to find plans/ideas for a 12V controller with battery near launch pad and relay control (so can use "speaker wire" in hand for mid power launches. Continuity could be tested at pad before moving back to safe distance for launch. Any thoughts?

    1 reply

    On this project, the LED only indicates power. Continuity testing was not a primary consideration in its design.
    The regular controller presumably does continuity testing by passing a small amount of current through the igniter. I don't know how small that would need to be to not actually ignite the rocket engine.


    i think it is funny, they say never allow anyone withing fifteen feet of the rocket, but they give you about 9 feet of cord on the ignition.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    The model rockets are ignited by specialized igniters that are available nearby model rockets in stores. Each igniter contains some conductive material with very high resistance. When current is passed through an igniter, it heats up enough to ignite the propellant.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    A picture of one is here:

    It connects a wire to something else, in this case a screw.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    ohw..i get u make a vid in testing this??email me for some WORK BY THE WAY!!


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Unfortunately, the device has been disassembled for a while so I can't make a video of it.