Wireless Firework Igniter




For all you pyrotechnics out there, here's a simple solution to keep you a little safer, and maybe save a hand or two! For this make, all you need are some simple components, a breadboard, and a Basic Stamp 2 along with knowledge on how to program it, as well as some method of programming it. And since it uses infared, it is (coincidentally) perfect for use in the dark!

Be sure when using this device to take proper safety precautions, as well as using it appropriately. I am not responsible for any injuries caused because of the improper use of it.

Step 1: Parts List

1) 2x Panasonic PNA4601M Infared detector
2) 1x 7805 5V Voltage Regulator
3) 2x 220-Ohm Resistors
4) 2x 1K-Ohm Resistors
5) 1x Red LED (or any color you wish, and the value doesn't matter; just use one that is 1-3.5V)
6) 1x White LED (preferably white; you can use another color, but make sure it is bright because you need to be able to see it from a distance. same values as above)
7) 1x 5V Buzzer
8) 1x Toggle Switch
9) 1x 9V Battery and Clip
10) 1x Breadboard with Binding Posts (you will need the binding posts for holding down the cables going to the igniter in case they get yanked)
10) 1x Basic Stamp 2 Microcontroller, as well as some method to program it (e.g. parallax's found HERE and the microcontroller HERE)
11) 2x Alligator Clips
12) Estes Rocket Engine Igniters OR Nichrome Wire (the same stuff Estes uses) NOTE: it is definitely more cost-effective to buy a spool of nichrome wire than to spend five bucks on a pack of Estes rocket engine igniters for the same cost as the spool of 10 feet of it)
12) Some Wire

Step 2: Tools

1) Multimeter
2) Computer
3) Wire Strippers
4) Glue Gun

Step 3: Putting It All Together

This is the schematic. Putting it together is self-explanatory, but interpreting the schematic, in some cases, is not. For all you who are not completely sure how to interpret a schematic, the below picture has notes on it that will help you. Read this first:

-The view of the BS2 in the schematic is looking at it from ABOVE, with the top (yes, there's a top) facing up
-This was my first time working with Eagle Cad (schematic-making software), so I couldn't quite figure out how to label the pins on the BS2 (maybe you can't?), so they are as follows:
PIN 1: Sout (ignore)
PIN 2: Sin (ignore)
PIN 3: ATN (ignore)
PIN 4: Vss (ground)
PINS 5-12: pins 0-7
PINS 13-20: pins 8-15
PIN 21: Vcc (ignore)
PIN 22: Rst (ignore)
PIN 23: Vss (ground)
PIN 24 Vin (+)

Notes: Make SURE you use a 7805 5V Voltage Regulator. If you don't, you WILL damage or even destroy your BS2 module if you hook up more than 5V, and that's $50 down the toilet!! You can hook up 6 to 35 volts DC into the regulator (as long it is a 7805; I don't know about other ones), and it will be fine(obviously there's no mention here about a wall wart because it would be inconvenient to use one for this application).

(Vss is ground (negative, -), and Vdd is positive (+) )

Step 4: Add the Alligator Clips

For the alligator clips, I used some from the wiring section of Lowes, simple because Lowes was more convenient. But you can just as well get any from RadioShack, Mouser, Digikey, etc. If you go to Lowes and check their wiring section they should have them. All you have to do is run the wire through the plastic sleeves, strip the ends, and crimp the wire down on the screws. Once you have them finished, make sure you use the binding posts on the breadboard to hold them down as opposed to just sticking them into one of the breadboard's sockets. This way, if there is any force on the wire (i.e. someone steps on one of the cords, or they simply fall out), they won't get yanked out. It's okay to connect one to the ground binding post where everything else connects; it won't affect it.

Step 5: Secure Everything

If you use a PCB switch, then you won't have to worry about securing down the switch, but I just used that certain switch because I thought it looked nicer. Otherwise, glue it down onto the backing of the breadboard. Also, glue down the 9V battery onto the backing, too so it doesn't fly off. The nice thing about hot glue is that you can easily remove something you glued, while it's strong enough to hold anything otherwise. So if you ever need to replace the 9V battery, then you can just pop it off and glue a new one on.

Step 6: Program It!

Lucky for you, the source code is right below! Aren't you glad I saved you the pain? You will need parallax's BASIC Stamp Editor to program it. You can get it HERE. If you would like to view it another way, you can just download it and view it with notepad.

Step 7: Using It


Once it is finished, get the Estes rocket igniter tabs OR some nichrome wire, hook it up to the alligator clips, wrap it around the end of the fuse on the firework you want to light, Then back away. Next, all you have to do is point an ordinary TV remote (or any other kind of IR remote for that matter) at it, and push any button, and PRESTO! You've got a firework lit, and from a safe distance!

Notes: The 'signal LED' and the buzzer are simply indicators (and as a warning) that the signal from the remote has been received, and the firework is being lit. You don't HAVE to have these, but they are good to have as a safety precaution, and they make it look cooler.

Further expansion ideas: add multiple igniter leads for neat, timed fireworks displays with multiple fireworks; expand software to do so.



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    16 Discussions


    5 years ago on Step 7

    Have you measured the range? For my purpose I need at least 100 ft., preferably 200-500 ft. I will probably need multi inrared LEDs and lenses, right?


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you!  You named it correctly! One of my pet peeves is the clueless folk who incorrectly call such devices "detonators." (As though they're setting off high explosives.)   It's called an ignition system or a firing system, or for rockets, a launch system.

    As suggested elsewhere, if you could make the device RF rather than IR, the problem with premature ignition would go away, and the range could be extended significantly.

    One great thing about a microcontroller in this application is that you have the potential to install one or more (software and/or hardware) safety interlocks to make ignition impossible until you're really, really ready to light the sky with beauty.

    As you mentioned near the end, a multi-channel device would be excellent!  One of the drawbacks of commercial wireless firing systems (besides the cost) is the number of different items that can be ignited.  When I do a small, family fireworks show, I have to work with just ten channels.  A lot of people would love to see a device with 20-50 channels.

    Good job!  Keep plugging away!!

    2 replies

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Check out my instructable (https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-make-an-expandable-professional-pc-contro/). I recently made a pcb for this which means all you need to do is order one and slap in some components (all thru hole) for 3s shots and stack them on top of each other for multiples of this, up to 250 shots (could be expanded by changing some code). Its also pc controlled so It could be done via wifi/bluetooth or changed to use an xbee shield for the arduino.

    The PCB is listed here http://www.batchpcb.com/product_info.php?products_id=89346&check=b350c5bbd3311b9c47fb5adb70ba0d60 for order (I make 0 profit off this, I'm not selling anything of mine) or contact me for the gerber files


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Looking back, there's a lot wrong with this instructable...

    You need some sort of transistor between the BS2 and the nichrome wire, or you'll just blow out the pins on the microcontroller driving the high-resistance nichrome wire.

    The BS2 has an on-board regulator that will accept a voltage as high as 15V.

    The sun will not really affect this device.

    Heed warning!


    8 years ago on Step 6

    your link for the BS2 file seem to redirect to: https://www.instructables.com/files/orig/FCN/68A1/F6B7T1QG/FCN68A1F6B7T1QG.tmp


    10 years ago on Step 1

    Or you could just hack a 150' wireless doorbell... Just hope there are no stray radio waves around to trigger it... lol


    10 years ago on Introduction

    my idea is a lot simpler --- estes model rockets are set off through an electrical igniter, so instead of the big box with long wires and everything --- open up a usb cable and access the 2 power wires. hook these up to the igniter u need a laptop with an ir control, cuz those r the only ones that can actually turn it on and off (hp) turn off the laptop or hibernate -- then turn it on and watch ur rocket go ir whatever u want to set off... it might be better to still use longer wire and keep the laptop about a foot away from the fireworks...


    11 years ago on Introduction

    The simple "IR Interference" problem can be countered by using an IR detector that filters out all but one frequency (say, 38Khz, like THIS ONE from RadioShack). Then use a remote that sends out that frequency only (Sony remotes use that frequency), and you're set!

    1 reply
    The Real ElliotRPisces

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    The 38KHz filter is good to make sure that plain light doesn't trigger it, and is certainly an improvement. While it ups the complexity significantly, you might seriously consider something that detects a code string to fire, whether you're using IR or radio. I'm pretty sure that's how the big boys do it.


    11 years ago on Introduction

    the debug commands in the program are kind of pointless unless you have a computer near your fireworks......


    11 years ago on Introduction

    Interference from a garage door opener or something might make it considerably less safe. This is why very few professional pyrotechnicians use these. That and they get expensive

    1 reply

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    By the way, garage doors NEVER use IR- they use RF. Although, yes, IR can interfere with this device, BUT, usually when you are lighting fireworks, you are far away enough from any sources of infrared (TV remotes, etc.). You could use and RF transmitter for this, but it would be ridiculously expensive. Or, you could (there must be a way...maybe?) program it to only receive a certain frequency, then use a remote (or develop a transmitter) that uses the same frequency.


    11 years ago on Introduction

    One question if I'm a pyro am I really going to spend my time building something like this and not blow something up? Besides that the instrucable was clear and I felt well writen.