Ah, Fourth of July. The joys of smokebombs and explosives. The delight of shooting off rockets. Who wouldn’t want their toddler to participate? To see his shining face as there is a boom or a shower of sparks at the press of a button?
I planned to use a model rocketry ignition system to create a safe way for the youth mentioned above to participate. Unfortunately I had given all of my model rocketry equipment away in an effort to increase usable space (and to get it in the hands of budding rocketeers). Commercial options were available, but they were relatively expensive, and frankly lacked visual appeal. Engineer’s audacity (not hubris, though) may have had something to do with it.
Initial research / Functional Specification
I started with a fairly clear idea of what I wanted and how I wanted it to work. The launch box itself should look like something a government scientist or military agent would carry – aluminum box, black briefcase, field com box or similar. It should have large functional switches and buttons (power, arm, and ignition), various LED indication (power, safe, ready, continuity, armed), and a removable safety key that disarms the launcher. The last is a feature of every commercial hobby rocket launcher I have seen, and is doubly important when you are on the launchpad and there is an excitable toddler near the controls.