Monday, August 22, 2016

The Current State of Quest Q2G2 Igniters

Yesterday on The Rocketry Forum, on the subject of the Quest Q2G2 model rocket igniter, someone asked "Why is it so hard to get these things now... is this an Aerotech thing or what ??"

The Q2G2, seen above in its current form (they used to be blue), are a popular igniter for model rocketry, and have some high power uses as well. They are particularly useful to rocketeers who like to launch clusters - rockets with two or more motors firing in parallel.

[Edit: according to one of the commenters, Q2G2 always came in blue and red. I have seen pictures of blue ones, but only ever had red ones. Quest in recent years changed how they are made, to conform to new AFTE regulations. While still great, they are slightly slower to fire than they used to be. I had assumed there was a change in color to signify the different formula. Apparently, I was mistaken about this.]

Preparing a 3-motor cluster with Quest Q2G2 igniters

Because they are low-current igniters, and because they have a pyrogen tip, they are very reliable for igniting multiple motors quickly and simultaneously - very important in clusters. You need all motors to ignite at the same time or the rocket may leave the launch pad with unfired motors, which will result in an underpowered flight, or a flight which may veer off in one direction. The Q2G2 is a much better igniter for clusters than the Estes igniter, especially now that the Estes igniters no longer have a black pyrogen tip.

High power rocketeers sometimes like to use the Q2G2 to ignite electronically-controlled ejection charges, in a process known as dual deployment. Rather than using a motor with an ejection charge, which is the standard for model rocketry, in dual deployment, the motor has no ejection charge. Instead, the charges are installed in the rocket by the flyer, and are controlled by an altimeter on board. At apogee, the altimeter sends an electric current to fire an igniter or e-match, which sets off the first charge. This usually deploys a small drogue parachute. It stabilizes the rocket's descent, but doesn't slow it down too much.

Then, at a lower altitude, the altimeter causes a second charge to fire, deploying a larger, main parachute. The purpose of this is to keep the rocket from drifting too far to recover it, especially if it's going to fly to a very high altitude. The Q2G2 makes an excellent and reliable substitute for an e-match, which is why it's popular for dual deployment.

The Q2G2 comes bundled with Quest motors, or can be purchased alone.

But for the last couple of years, Quest igniters and Quest motors have been hard to come by. For a while, rumors circulated that perhaps they were going away.

One advantage of being on The Rocketry Show podcast is that I've made contacts with some interesting people who can answer questions. A while back, we interviewed Charles Savoie of AeroTech, manufacturer of mid power kits and mid and high power composite rocket motors. AeroTech now owns Quest Aerospace. He assured us that, no, the Q2G2 and Quest motors would not disappear. In fact, to make things easier and more readily available, manufacture would be relocated to the United States from China.

But since the question popped up on TRF, and since I've been looking for both Quest motors and igniters for myself for a while, I sent him an email to ask if he could shed some light on the situation.

He replied, "The Q2G2's are still being resolved as we deal with some supply chain issues with China. They had a huge explosion last year that has seemed to have an affect on hazardous materials and how they ship and store them. We are working on a solution now but nothing for sure."

"Are you still planning on moving manufacture of the Quest stuff to the US?" I asked.

"Yes," he replied, "we currently have the new Quest motors in the certification process. Once we get the design settled we will begin production."

This is good news. Although the Q2G2 igniters seem to be in limbo at the moment, with new motors will come new igniters. This kind of transition takes a lot of logistics and planning, so the issue may not be resolved right away. But our patience may be rewarded with wider motor selection for low power rockets, and more readily available igniters for those cluster rockets some of us love.

Part 1 of the Charles Savoie interview on The Rocketry Show can be heard here.

Part 2 is here

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  1. They were available in both blue and red from the start.

  2. They were available in both blue and red from the start.

  3. It's great to get the answer from the source. I'm going to build the FlisKits Tres cluster rocket and had see many online comments that the Quest Q2G2 igniters were highly recommended for clustering. Also nice to hear that AeroTech will be producing Quest motors.

  4. But the REAL question is if they were always available in Red, WHITE and Blue? Hmmmmmm?

  5. Don't use the new ones in clusters. They tend to just burn at the tip and are slower, just like the new Estes Starters. The burned tip syndrome is on the clubs 12V system, maybe they work just fine on a 9V controller with a single motor. The packs I bought looked the same but did not have the straw plugs and the igniters had the thinner, duller heads.