FireHero: Turn Guitar Hero into an extreme sport by adding flamethrowers!

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Picture of FireHero: Turn Guitar Hero into an extreme sport by adding flamethrowers!

So, long ago I  had read about propane fire poofers. They're pretty cool... I mean, who doesn't love fire?! But, no matter how awesome, they could get pretty boring after a while of seeing the same large fireball. I never built one because I wanted something that would be exciting and thrilling every time I fired it up. So, I put the project on hold until I could come up with an awesome idea.

Back in December 2010, I was daydreaming in class about who knows what, when I thought of my fire poofer project. I thought back to this project I had read about a while back on Mikey Sklar's website where he uses an ultrasonic sensor mounted underneath a trampoline to shoot off a fireball every time someone jumps. This is pretty sweet, but it has the potential to get pretty repetitive. After a few hundred jumps, I would imagine I would get tired of seeing the same small fireball and crave something more. (besides, I don't own a trampoline!) I tried to think of ways I could apply a fireball shooter to things in ways that would be pretty awesome. I thought of using a microcontroller to sync the fire to the beat of music - now that would be pretty cool, and the patterns would always be different, so it wouldn't get as boring as fast. Then I thought of the game Guitar Hero, which uses five frets, and I had my idea! Simply interface a Guitar Hero controller to a microcontroller that would power some relays which would in turn fire off solenoid valves on five individual fire poofers! Now this could be cool; a large fire "sculpture" that is playable by anybody. Read on to see how I turned this idea into reality in a week's time!

I figure this is as good a place as any to place a disclaimer about my project. FireHero uses controlled blasts of propane gas to create pyrotechnic flame effects. DO NOT EVEN THINK OF ATTEMPTING THIS PROJECT UNLESS YOU ARE FULLY QUALIFIED AND FEEL COMFORTABLE WORKING WITH EXPLOSIVE GASSES, HIGH PRESSURES, ELECTRICITY, AND OTHER THINGS THAT CAN KILL YOU IF YOU DO NOT KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING.
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DAMN!!!! amazing and funny at the same time

wiglaf7 months ago

OMFG!!! I want one of these for my back yard soooooo bad.

kopaka223 years ago
would be amazing would adapt this system to each instrument in rock band, sorry for the english :)
oswaldonfire (author)  kopaka223 years ago
I have an upcoming project that does exactly that - except it can also interface to real live instruments! It's codenamed Project Vulcan and I've been working on it for over a year - stay tuned to see its release soon! 

Photorealistic Rendering of project Vulcan

We are waiting to see that! Quite cool stuff.

That thing looks almost like a target at a shooting range...
Although come to think of it, that might actually be cool, if you could figure out a way to do it safely. Also, pyrotechnic pinball?
Your guitar hero project, as well as Project Vulcan are both absolutely awesome applications of fire and audio - great job. Can't wait to see it published and entered into one of our contests! Congratulations.
that would be awesome!
aschmidt131 year ago

I love it!


harveymgb1 year ago
Hi, just a quick question: why is it necessary to remove the valve on the accumulator tank? Would it not simply be possible to obtain an unregulated adapter, say a POL to 1/2" screw-in fitting, and attach the accumulator to the system like that? That way, you don't have to go through the tough job of busting the valve off, plus you can then reuse that tank as a normal propane cylinder if you took it out of your project...
MWPxerom1 year ago
I love guitar hero so that makes this project even more awesome!! Very nice work.
Very Sweet!
Shadow13!3 years ago
This is amazing! I can't wait to see the full video of Through the Fire and the Flames.
mblicker3 years ago
Very cool! Wow I want to build one of these for sure! :)
cfleis13 years ago
really awesome, we need to combine this with the wii kart and really create something ridiculous! we were think about figuring out how to shoot turtle shells and bananas...but this is more our style!

nice work!
The videos just make me smile. Such an awesome project. You are deserving of the win. Looking forward to seeing your next project.
Mr.Sanchez3 years ago
Wait until I Pick up my jaw of the floor...AWESOME PROJECT!!...Me quiero volver Chango!!!!
mackerous3 years ago
I saw a large version of this at a regional Burning Man event, Playa Del Fuego. The whole thing was like a big pipe organ and the game was projected in front of the pipes. Needless to say, it was quite epic.
DGW3 years ago
Great idea, innovative. You write and think very clearly, especially for a younger person. Where did you get the solenoids and how much did you pay for them? They are probably the most expensive single parts.
oswaldonfire (author)  DGW3 years ago
Thanks, the solenoids I used are from STC Valves, part # 2W035-1/4. They are around $32 each.
menahunie3 years ago
You mounted on top of the propane tank; looks like it.
THAT is really stupid and dangerous..
Get a backfire and boom.
You blow up..
Not to mention the tremendous heat coming that close from the fire balls...
Use a high pressure propane hose at least 50 feet long and shield the tank.
Another thing Flame thrower unless you some how get a license the law will come and arrest you.
oswaldonfire (author)  menahunie3 years ago
@menahunie - If you read the instructable you'll see that the tank which the flame effects are mounted on is simply an accumulator tank, not a supply tank. Furthermore, there is zero chance of a backfire occurring as long as the system is filled completely with propane vapor, as it will be during normal operation. Believe it or not, propane is actually extremely hard to ignite. Its range of flammability is from around 2.1% to 10.1% - meaning that if there is a mixture consisting of over 10.1% propane gas it will not sustain a flame. Since the operating pressure of my system is several times that of atmospheric pressure, this condition will always hold true and there is actually very little risk. In addition, I specify the additional step of pre-purging the entire system with an inert gas such as CO2 to completely eliminate any explosion or fire hazard.

The heat generated from the flames largely tends to radiate more in an outwards direction rather than downwards. This, in combination with a steady influx of large volumes of cold propane, means that even after an hour of operation the surface of the accumulator tank is hardly warm to the touch.

In addition, you hardly need a Flame Effect Operator's license to operate a small propane-fueled pyrotechnic device on your own time on private property. You won't be arrested for building one of these, and you won't be arrested for playing with it in your back yard (although I can't speak for largely populated areas). The only time you can really get into trouble for something like this is if it becomes a public show - at this point you will need to obtain the proper licenses and permits. The device must be built to satisfy the NFPA 160 standards, which will also need to be inspected by your local fire marshall. If you'd like more details on what is required to show something like this as a public display, feel free to message me for more details.

I don't attempt any project like this until I'm positive that I can do it safely - I enjoy doing this stuff and learning and I want to make sure that I'm around to do more of it next time! :)
Replicator3 years ago
Truly imaginative and very clever, also looks like tons of fun!
pixman553 years ago
yes great ideas you could use fireworks ideas with mineral/metal powders or angle grinders and metal like copper,etc for different colours to burn in flames
t2172653 years ago
MFXPYRO3 years ago
There is another good reason for using 3 tanks rather than one and that is take off rate/freezing. multiple tanks allow you to take off more gas gas quicker and it takes longer before they start freezing (the vapour is boiling off from a much larger surface area of liquid gas). As you point out you have to be careful with copper, personally I'd use flexi armoured propane hoses, you can get them with the POL connector already on them (at least you can in the UK) as they are intended for manifolding cylinders in this way and generally they aren't that expensive. http://www.bes.co.uk/products/067.asp
ArchEnemy#13 years ago
Thats awesome! Since this deals with fire, you should do either through the fire and flames or fight fire with fire. Then make a second one and have guitar battles with someone!!!!!!!!!!
oswaldonfire (author)  ArchEnemy#13 years ago
Thanks! I actually did Through The Fire and Flames with the second version of FireHero - you can see some of it in the preview in the last step. Since there was no way I could play that song perfectly by myself (I know it can be done, but not by me or anyone else I know), I built a complete control system that automated the playing by utilizing the MIDI protocol. I basically turned FireHero into a MIDI instrument, and it can play itself with perfect computerized precision.

I was saving the videos of FireHero 2 playing TTFAM for a huge release of something else that I'm working on, but I'm considering releasing them now :)

And "FireHero: VS" is on the horizon - which will feature two FireHero systems played simultaneously in battle mode.. of course shooting additional flames from whoever is winning!
That would make guitar hero so much more fun than just sitting in your room bored for about an hour just playing some songs. With that I would turn about 1 hour into at least 2-3!!! I can't get TTFAF 100% on expert either but I can survive it and thats good enough for me. You could also use it to cook some hot dogs or something for after you're done playing.
DRH14693 years ago
Well done. What are you qualified in?

oswaldonfire (author)  DRH14693 years ago
Thanks, feel free to check out my website, where you'll find my resume listing all of my skills and qualifications: www.chrismarion.net.
After seeing something similar done with twenty hot air balloons I was thinking about something like this. Never would it have occurred to me to use guitar hero in it. Inspired piece of madness :)
Keigh3 years ago
I saw this done at Burning Man last year! They had a big tv screen in front of it also so you could see the game as well as the flames. It was the first thing we could see from the road, about a mile away.
HickLife3 years ago
This is a great project. But here's an idea for a future one- different gasses. different gasses burn at different colors. So y not have a different gas for each color on the guitar hero controller? Preferably the same color of flame for the button.
I believe you have won the extreme challenge.
Simply put, Rock on! You got my vote.
oswaldonfire (author)  MissouriVillian3 years ago
Thanks!! You, sir, are awesome.
Taimur3 years ago
Really awesome job!!
This could be a good business for parties eheh something like renting it, to be used in private parties!

I'm pretty sure it would be success !!

regards Taimur
oswaldonfire (author)  Taimur3 years ago
Thanks for the kind words, everybody! I've entered this instructable in the Extreme Challenge, the Arduino Challenge, and the Game.Life 2 Challenge. If you like this instructable, please consider voting for it in any or all of the above!

@Taimur - I've since come up with FireHero 2, which I plan on making available for renting out to parties and other events. If anyone would like to have FireHero featured at their private event, they can send an email to booking [at] chrismarion.net.
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