How to cause a fiery explosion

I’m getting all the parts together to build an electronics bay for my first high power rocket. Totally winging it here.

An electronics bay in a rocket, capable of dual deployment of parachutes, requires a couple of things: a flight computer or some similar electronic chip; a battery to power the chip; an electric match or igniter; and some explosive black powder. And, of course, some additional cords and pieces needed to wire everything together properly.

The basic idea is that the flight computer activates a “pyro charge” at the appropriate time. This electrically ignites the match, which in turn creates a spark inside some very tightly packed black powder. Which explodes – with some real verve.

It’s not as crazy as it sounds. The explosion and resulting expansion of hot gases causes the rocket body to separate at a pre-planned location, and a parachute deploys, assuming all goes well.

Firewire initiator, aka electric match
red end goes bang

This is a “firewire initiator” from MJG Technologies. In other words, it’s an electric match.

Apparently the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (“ATF“) generally regulates electric matches and igniters, but this is the only non-regulated version on the market. It’s made specifically for rocketry.

I previously uploaded a quick video of me testing one of these, but the real fun will be combining it with the compressed black powder, for one of your more vigorous explosions. Stay tuned for more ground testing.

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