Flat-pack Explosive (squib)

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This is a small electrically triggered flat pack explosive. Commonly called a "squib", it is often used in stage and film to trigger various special effects.

*** WARNINGS:***
  • THIS INSTRUCTABLE INVOLVES HAZARDOUS MATERIALS.
  • OXIDATION HAZARD.
  • EXPLOSION HAZARD.
  • YOU CAN HURT YOURSELF.
  • NOT FOR CHILDREN.
  • FOLLOW DIRECTIONS CAREFULLY, AND USE COMMON SENSE.
**********************

Step 1: Gather Materials

Materials you will need:
  • nichrome wire (for igniter). Failing this, you can use some thin (30 AWG) copper wire
  • medium gauge (16 AWG or so) insulated wire (stranded), for trigger wires
  • normal bond paper
  • cellophane tape
  • aluminum power
  • potassium perchlorate

Tools you will need:
  • wirecutters
  • wire strippers
  • a small scale (capable of weighing small numbers of grams accurately)
  • a metal cylindrical roller
  • an anti-static computer bag

Step 2: Make Fuse

This is the electrical fuse for the squib.

First, cut two pieces of your fuse wire, 1 to 2 feet long. Strip both ends.

Next, cut a small piece of your igniter wire, about 1.5" long.

Twist one fuse wire to each end of the igniter wire.

Double the ends of the igniter wire over, to add mechanical integrity

Straighten the whole thing out.

Step 3: Make Flash Powder

See the other instructable, "flash powder".

Make about 1 to 1.5 grams of flash powder for each squib.

Step 4: Cut Paper

Cut the paper wrapper. Simple: It is a square piece of white paper, about 4" by 4". That's all!

Step 5: Measure Flash Powder Into Wrapper

Lay your igniter across the wrapper.

Pour 1 to 1.5 grams (about 1/2 tsp) of flash powder onto the igniter.

Make first fold about 40% of the way up the wrapper.

Step 6: Second Fold

Fold the top of the wrapper down, and tape in place.

Step 7: End Fold

Fold one end of the wrapper over, including the fuse wire, and tape in place.

Step 8: Final Fold

Turn the open end of the wrapper up, and jiggle the wrapper to settle the flash powder deep into the wrapper.

Turn the wrapper over, and place flat on the table.

Fold the open end across, on the opposite side as the first end you folded. Include the fuse wire in the fold.

Tape in place.

Wrap another piece of tape around the entire squib for good measure, to keep it from spontaneously untaping.

Step 9: Storage

Store until use in a cool, dry place. Best to store in an antistatic bag.

Keep away from children, pets, other chemicals, and sources of ignition.

Step 10: Use

Strip the ends of the fuse wires. Attach to a plug or otherwise so you can put 120 volts AC across the fuse wires. Plug into a long extension cord (at least 25').

To ignite:
  • Step WAY back (at least twenty feet),
  • get hearing protection (it's about as loud as a good-size gunshot),
  • clear the area of bystanders, and post spotters so no one goes near the charge
  • plug it in -- BOOM!!
  • be sure to unplug before picking up the pieces!

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    84 Discussions

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    szechuan53

    10 years ago on Introduction

    i'm 14. teenager, not child, w00t!
    but seriously, i can handle this. i am willing to bet that i am the only one of my age interested in purchasing xenon diflouride and knows where to get it. i can handle a squib.

    19 replies
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    mali77szechuan53

    Reply 1 year ago

    i think you 12 and a chld for telling the inter net how old you are

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    Mad_ReconPerfectPantaloons

    Reply 3 years ago

    If u rly think u r a pro-pyro,make tatp-hmtd-nitro glycerin -nitro cellulose - etn-rdx -comp a3-c4-comp b before reaching 15 y.o.,i did it,it was easy,and I'm alive,but be carefull about these things these are HE and mostly primary explosive

    I think it is a bad idea to dare a kid, (no matter how adept he thinks he is), to develop plastic explosives. Or any other form of high explosive that is potentially unstable in the development of it. Most of the pyrotechnic developments of these instructables are fairly stable, even during manufacturing, but the composition that you suggest requires a greater degree of control and care in handling and preparation. Not that I give a damn... hey kid, go blow yourself up!... I'm just saying, maybe a bad idea to dare him to do it is all

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    Tombiniszechuan53

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    What would you want it for? Fluridation? Anyway Sulfur Hexafluride (SH6) is much more fun 6 times as dense as air and safe for the lungs

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    ekulmeekulKataze

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    i thought air was free? Plus not all 15 yr old teenagers (myself included) have access to a chemical supply or anywhere that will supply them with any sort of bottled gas no matter how harmless. not even oxygen! cmon who doesn't like to see extra oxygen fed to an explosive. Oh i know, the police!

    Your comments illustrate exactly why it;s illegal to provide such materials to teenagers (in the US). Just because oxygen is all around us, and a gas we need to live, doesn't mean it's harmless. Pure oxygen is highly flammable, and burns with an invisible flame. You could walk right into an oxygen flame and not know what happened to you. It would resemble spontaneous human combustion to anyone observing you. Concentrated oxygen could also have toxic effects. 

    oxygen on its own is not flammable... you need some sort of fuel, and yes, any flame when supplied with oxygen become almost invisible... so i get that bit, but a huge bubble of pure oxygen? burning? and someone walking into it? get realistic man! i dunno what planet your living on, but where I'm from, there aren't giant pockets of pure oxygen floating around the atmosphere, i hope that helps...

    Hmmm. You must be from a medically backward region. Where I live, those with lung disease sometimes are prescribed oxygen. My father was one of those, and the oxygen (which is pure) was delivered in pressurized green metal cylinders. Pure pressurized oxygen is also used in wielding. So I do live in a world with "packets" of pure oxygen all around us. You are correct, tho', oxygen on it's own does not burn. It needs fuel, and the fuel is what technically burns. Unfortunately, almost everything can be a fuel when oxygen comes into contact with it. Sometimes explosively. Perhaps you've forgotten, or never heard of, Apollo 1.

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    uhh excuse me, safe for the lungs?
    now helium being lighter than air and inhaled makes your voice sound squeaky
    Now think about sulfur hexafluoride being much dense, your voice will be deeper
    and don't try it at home like what the mythbusters did ( usally its adam )
    he said it "don't try it at home"

    and may I remind you that your lungs need oxygen not SH6
    plus SH6 is very reactive.

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    SH6 may be reactive, if it actually existed...

    Sulfides -2 charge and Hydrogen +1 (-1 in some cases)

    Therefore; H2S = hydrogen sulfide, rotten egg gas
    This is clearly not Sulfur Hexafluride which has a chemical formula of SF6
    SF6 is almost completely stable I will use a quote from the wikipedia page on SF6 to prove this ;
    "There is virtually no reaction chemistry for SF6. It does not react with molten sodium, but reacts exothermically with lithium."

    And may I remind you that breathing in He or SF6 intermittently can be completely safe, the mythbusters only say to not try this at home because of stupid people using it in excess and drowning themselves.
    SF6 is not reactive, and is completely safe if you do SOME REASEARCH

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    szechuan53Tombini

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    maybe for an element sample, as most other available forms of xenon aren't very visual. and, yes, i know what sulfur hexaflouride is. i'm crazy, not stupid.

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    dla888szechuan53

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Don't be too cocky.
    A gunpowder squid you could handle but a flashpowder squib shouldn't even be made. A pile of flash powder will go boom, but you gotta put gunpowder in a case to make it go boom.