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Balsa Machine Services Mighty D Model Rocket Launch Controller Review

Article by Paul Nortness

I have been searching for a 12-volt model rocket launch controller for some time. While Aerotech's Interlock controller and the Go Box by Pratt are great solutions, I don't have the ability to launch right next to my car and carrying a car battery out to my launch site is not an option. This is where the Balsa Machine Services Mighty D launch controller comes in. It is powered by 8 "D" cell batteries. That alone may scare people away, but the fact that I can carry it to a launch site without a forklift makes a perfect trade off.

At first glance, you could easily mistake this controller for an index card box, like your wife might keep her recipes in. It is very small and all the cables are packed into the box while in transit. Balsa Machine Services sells the Mighty D in two flavors, a kit version which I am using for this review and a pre-built version. The kit sells for $40 USD and the pre-built box goes for $65. The box includes all the parts you need to build the controller, including a laser-cut wood panel for the front and all the wiring you need. You will need to provide a pencil, hobby knife, soldering iron, scissors, small pliers, wire strippers, small hammer, glue, sandpaper and the aforementioned 8 D cell batteries as well as a 9v battery.

rocket launch controller

A heat shrink gun is optional for the build. I have never soldered in my life so I picked up an iron from my local Radio Shack and sat down for some self taught lessons. All the connections you need to make are simple wire to terminal connections, so you aren't doing anything requiring vast experience. Although the soldering is fairly simple, I would definitely recommend spending the extra 25 dollars and getting the pre built version. The instructions are tough to read and can be confusing. I had to stop several times through the build long enough to scratch my head and ask myself "What the heck are they talking about?" It all worked out in the end though, but it did provide a few headaches. The other nice thing with the pre built box is they test it before shipping so you know it works. It was a nerve wracking experience the first time I loaded up the batteries to test it, wondering if it was going to turn on.

rocket launch controller 2

Most rocket launch controllers have you hold the box in your hand and depress a key, then the button. The Mighty D is different in that the box stays by the launch pad while a long 20 foot cable extends from the box. At the end of that long cable is a female RCA style plug. The key is a small handle with a button on one end and a wire coming out. This wire has a male RCA plug. In order to launch, you connect the two RCA plugs and press the button after your count down. It's actually a pretty ingenious little system. The nice thing about it is it frees your other hand up in case you want to operate a camera to record your flight. After the flight, unplug the RCA plugs and keep the key in your pocket as you prepare your next rocket.

rocket launch controller 3

The Mighty D controller is powerful enough to ignite the Aerotech Copperhead igniters and will also work with Estes or Quest igniters as well. I successfully ignited a cluster of 3 Estes D12s and it worked great. I have yet to test it with Estes new Pro Series II igniters, but I don't see any reason why they wouldn't work.

I would strongly recommend this rocket launch controller to anyone who requires a lightweight alternative to carrying a car battery around. With it's self contained power supply and the fact that all cables fit into the small case makes this controller a no brainer. You can purchase the Mighty D Launch Controller directly from Balsa Machining Services.

Have fun and happy flying!

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