Cable Cutter by Archetype Rocketry

cable cutter
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Product ID : cablecutter
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The Cable Cutter is a product to replace conventional tethers. Most tethers use black powder to release one or multiple quick-links attached to the recovery systems. 

The Archetype Rocketry Cable Cutter, however, takes a different perspective on the tether by making its use much more flexible by shearing a plastic cable tie, which can be used to hold a large number of recovery components. One of the most beneficial aspects of the Cable Cutter is using a single parachute as both the drogue and the main! This design has been in the works for over three years, and it's the best it's ever been. 

The Archetype Rocketry advantages over other devices are numerous!

 Small size - approx. 1.8" long and 0.375" diameter! 

Light weight - Only ~10 grams! 

No external components - No more parts to crash into the sides of your tubes! 

Multiple configurations - Recovery methods are only limited to what you can imagine! 

Able to be prepped ahead of time - Organize your recovery prior to the launch and load the energetics as the last step! 

Safest device on the market - All internal components and specific loading makes the device fire away from you in the rare case of a severe accident! No flying pieces - Entirely contained and ties to any component to ensure safe recovery of the unit! 


There are countless applications in which the Cable Cutter can be used. 

Just to name a few: 

Releasing a Bound Chute: A very simple method of dual deployment from a single tube can be achieved by using a single parachute. The parachute is folded and wrapped in a protective cloth such as Nomex. The chute is then bound shut by a cable tie that passes through our Cable Cutter. When the chute deploys at apogee, the cable tie is binding it shut, keeping it from inflating, which effectively acts as a drogue. When your altimeter or timer fires the e-match, the Cable Cutter shears the cable tie and releases the parachute from its grasp, which then inflates and allows the rocket to descend under desired conditions. 

Reefing Shroud Lines: Similar to the above, the cable tie can be used to reef shroud lines, again binding a parachute from opening fully. This method, however, allows the chute to inflate partially, which would have a greater drag than the bound chute method, effectively making your drogue size larger and thus, your descent from apogee slower. Again, when the Cable Cutter is activated, the parachute can then fully inflate. 

 Releasing Quick Links: Just like you are used to, the Cable Cutter can bind together multiple recovery connection points. Bind a quick link to a U-bolt, or multiple quick links to each other, or any other combination you see fit! Don't worry if you are using this inside your rocket's body tube, there are no externally moving parts, so nothing will damage your tubes! NOTE: The cable ties supplied have a tensile strength of 18 pounds. This method is only suggested on mid-power or very small high-power rockets. 


I highly recommend using redundant devices on all parts of your recovery - including Cable Cutters. I have great trust in my Cable Cutters but there have been times when an altimeter will fail and a secondary altimeter/Cable Cutter combination successfully fires and deploys the recovery equipment.  Two Cable Cutters should be placed on the same cable tie, that way if one fails, the other can cut the cable. 

Assembly Instructions 

Assembly of the Cable Cutter is fairly straight-forward. 

It was designed to be the as safe as possible during preparation and use - in case of an accidental ignition of the black powder or pyrodex, the piston fires forward into the device, rather than out at the user. Also, the recovery setup using the Cable Cutter can be prepared before loading any energetics. 



Setup your recovery as planned (roll all parachutes/streamers/shroud lines and be sure to protect from ejection gases with a fire resistant cloth such as Nomex). 

Slide an O-Ring into the bottom of the Cable Cutter to act as a bumper for the piston. 

Position your Cable Cutter next to the recovery gear desired. 

Insert cable tie through the hole of the Cable Cutter and wrap the cable tie around desired recovery gear. Be sure that if the tie is securing the parachute or shroud lines that it is tightened securely. Trim excess cable tie (May want to sand any sharp edges created from the cut). Double check to ensure everything is set up how you want! 

Insert shearing piston. 

Insert black powder or pyrodex (we use and recommend 0.1mL of Pyrodex as measured from the provided centrifuge tube). Pyrodex is recommended because it offers an effective but less energetic discharge in comparison to BP, which helps extends the life of the piston. 

Note: From this point on the device is live. Treat it with care. Be sure to keep the device held vertically so no black powder/pyrodex can fall out. 

 Insert E-match. Important: You may need to add some of the small included o-rings onto the ematch along with the screw cap to create a seal so the black powder cannot leak out of the hole! See below. Slide Kevlar thread loop over threads of screw and attach the other side to your provided connection point on the rocket. Slide hex screw over E-match leads and screw into Cable Cutter (ensure that it is seated all the way - no threads should be exposed!). 

Attach E-match leads to any altimeter or timer and you are ready to fly! 

Note: If you are using the Cable Cutter in a method where it will stay attached to a dangling chute or shroud lines, be sure to allow at least two times as much length in the e-matches as there is slack in the shock cord. This allows the wire to bend freely and not snap under tension. 

Note that these are typical steps we use to assemble the Cable Cutter. Every flight is unique and should be treated as such. Please be sure to ground test all designs and recovery schemes. 

 Be sure to clean the Cable Cutter body and the shearing piston after every use. You can use soapy water or some type of solvent, such as rubbing alcohol or white distilled vinegar. We recommend our cleaning kit (plastic bottle for your solvent of choice and a nylon brush). 


 Important note on Black Powder leakage 

Depending on the brand of E-matches used, the fit of the wire through the screw cap can be quite loose. This can lead to black powder leaking out of the screw cap, which can cause the unit to fail to fire. To combat this, slide a small O-ring around the E-match behind the head and test to see if that seals completely. If not, you may have to use an additional one or two O-rings. Be sure that the E-match cannot be pushed in causing the black powder to leak around the edges. If you are using Quest Q2G2 igniters, please be aware that the wire diameter may lead to problems. The best tip I have heard was to slide the igniter through the screw and hot melt glue it into place. This can be done ahead of time (by ordering a few extra screw heads) and then just assembled on the field to save time and stress. Then after firing, simply use a pair of pliers or similar to pluck the hot melt glue out of the screw head, clean the parts, and you are ready to prep it for its next flight!


Youtube Videos:


General Assembly Video


Test Firing


In Flight Slo-Mo Firing


Black Powder Leakage Issue Resolution

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