Launch Controllers

Launch Controllers

If your starting out building rockets and don’t want to rely upon the ground equipment your club provides then you are going to have to get your own and as usual, there are lots of option to buy and you can even build your own so let’s start with what you can buy off the shelf and we can touch upon the self-build option later.

Launch controllers come in different shapes and sizes and for a good reason to but the one thing they all have in common is safety in the form of a key to arm and disarm the controller. This is considered the most important feature and when your controller has the key inserted there will be a light to let you and others know that it is armed and therefore the area should be clear for launch and you should be alert as there is the protentional for danger.

To ensure that there is no accidental ignition there is a secondary arming button in the form of a spring-loaded key or additional button that you need to hold down. when the key is inserted and the secondary key/button is being held down you are ready to press the launch button and that’s the moment you get to see if your rocket will fly.

Entry-level launch controllers are really only entry because they provide lower currents and therefore are only capable of starting single ignitors. If you want to launch motor clusters you will have multiple ignitors and will need a more capable controller with bigger batteries.

There are some features that you will also find in more expensive launch controllers that may be handy like multiple rocket capability or connection continuity test but in essence, you need the right controller to match the type and number ignitors your using for your rockets.

If you start with one that delivers a greater current then you will pay more but this may save you from buying an entry-level one then a more powerful one later.

Self Built Launch Controllers

if you are electrically competent, like to tinker and want to save some money then the self-built option may be appealing. There are lots of guides online right now on how to do this but please be aware that your club has rules about controllers so ask them first and no matter what ALWAYS BUILD THE RIGHT SAFETY FEATURES INTO YOUR CONTROLLER. It would be a shame to put in all that effort only to have the Range Safety Officer (RSO) or Launch Control Officer (LCO) stop you from using it on your visit

I am happy using my club controllers right now as it is saving me money and when my skills and rockets get more advanced I will consider a controller.

you don’t really want to be messing around with controllers on the day as the real fun is launching

I hope this helps you with your model rocketry experience and am happy to answer questions if you have them. please feel free to leave a question or comment below.

Happy landings or at least have some fun trying

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