Adept Rocketry

Information on Igniters and Deployment Charges

Copyright 1999, 2005, All Rights Reserved

Some manufacturers and dealers have caused confusion by misusing the term "Electric Match." An Electric Match is a low-current ignition device, or igniter, used by many rocketeers to ignite the motors of single or multistage rockets, or to deploy parachutes. The industry standard is the low-current Daveyfire Electric Match which literally looks like a red-tipped book match with wires added. The wires are usually white. But there is also a version with black leads that are usually used on dimly-lit rock band stages to create special effects. Millions of them are also used in the movie industry in countless ways, including the simulation of machine guns firing from an airplane at people running on the ground. The bullets appear to hit the ground on both sides of the people as they run like crazy. The old standard Daveyfire is a low-current device. Other manufacturers have started to appear who call their medium to high current igniters by the name "Electric Match" in order to avoid shipping problems, or for some other reason.

Just because an igniter is called an Electric Match does not make it so. Be careful. The long time accepted industry standard definition of an Electric Match is a low-current device which is equivalent to the Daveyfire brand in performance. If an electric device is specified to fire flashbulbs or electric matches, then unless otherwise specified, the electric matches in question must be the low-current variety, or the industry standard Daveyfire brand. The industry standard electric match actually requires less current to fire than does a flashbulb. When purchasing igniters or other ignition or deployment devices, be sure to request a copy of the specifications. Necessary information includes the required current to quickly fire the device, and the minimum required voltage (which can be calculated if the device resistance is known).

And now a new complication has arrived. Another Daveyfire product is becoming more common. It is the orange colored match-like igniter with orange leads. It is a fine product that produces more heat than the low-current standard electric match. But it takes much more current to fire, so it can be considered to be a medium-current match. An electronic device designed to fire flashbulbs or low-current electric matches may not be able to reliably fire the new orange Daveyfire. Be sure to always test the device. See if it will fire two igniters in parallel - then you can be sure it will always fire just one. If it will fire three - it should reliably fire two. Always pretest an electronic device., 11-18-05