How to Make Rocket Igniters (Electric Matches)

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In this project you'll see how to turn matches into electric ignitors, that fire off with the press of a button.

Some quick links to a few of the materials I used:

[✓] Paper matches:
[✓] Scissors:
[✓] Electrical tape:
[✓] 9v Battery:
[✓] Wire Strippers:

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Music By:
Scott & Brendo (“Clever” - Instrumental)

Project Inspired By: My friend Ritchie Kinmont, who said that as a kid, he used to make igniters for his rockets with very thin wire and paper match heads. He's a really smart guy. Check out some of his projects here:

WARNING: This project should not be attempted without adult supervision. These igniters are intended for igniting rockets, and safety precautions should be in place to mitigate any fire hazards. Misuse, or careless use when testing indoors, may result in fires and/or property damage. Be safe and have fun, but always remember that any project you try is at your own risk.

Project History & More Info:

While testing out home made rockets and sugar motors, my friend Ritchie Kinmont ( brought a handful of Estes rocket ignitors so we could launch the rockets on command. We got talking about making igniters from scratch, since the commercial brand was nearly $1 per igniter!

He mentioned that, as a kid, he used to make his own improvised igniters by wrapping very thin wire around paper matches, so that when you'd touch the leads to a battery, it would ignite. Cool concept!

Until recently, I'd been lighting smoke flares and home made rockets with the use of a fuse. While the fuses have proved very reliable, they do pose a few hazards. Firstly, they occasionally fall out, and could catch surrounding items on fire. And secondly, you can't control exactly when the rocket will launch because the timing is always random. So if the wind were to pick up and blow your launchpad over, you wouldn't be able to put out the fuse. That would be a dangerous situation!

So in an effort to gain more precise control over rocket launches, I played around with some ways to make homemade ignitors, also known as “electric matches” to launch my rockets with the press of a button.

In this video I demonstrated that they will ignite pyrotechnics on command as well, which could be useful for 4th of July fireworks! :)

I spent countless hours in my workshop playing and prototyping with different kinds of cords, matches and batteries, to finally develop and confirm a system that does, in-fact, ignite matches 10/10 times.

Although these igniters are one time use only, I'm extremely excited about this idea because they are made from things you probably have around the house right now .. meaning anyone can make them for cheap, or free.

Ritchie and I did a lot of field testing with these ignitors with our home made “Randomizer Rocket”, and proved they work exactly as hoped. Look for that video coming soon :D

You'll see step-by-step how to make these ignitors in the next project video, so keep an eye out for it, and I'll also have tutorials on building the Randomizer Rocket, as well as the Launch Pad, and Rocket Launch Controller in upcoming videos.

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