Author Options:

Help with a wireless fireworks igniter and other functions withing it Answered

Hello Everyone,

My name is Glenn and I'm new here. Last year I built a 10 cue fireworks igniter. It was really simple and straight forward. This year I disassembled it and am trying to build a wireless RF igniter. Question 1: I want to make it a 48 channel igniter but all I can find is 15 channel boards, does anyone know how I can overcome this issue? Question 2: I'm using a 12V DC lead acid rechargeable battery and would like to add an internal battery charger with a red charging light and a green charge complete light. I'm definitely electronically challenged so I have no idea how to accomplish this, can someone help? And finally, Question 3: I would like to also add in internal continuity tester but once again, I have no idea how to do it without setting off the firework it's attached to. If someone could help me I'd certainly appreciate it, thanks for reading and I hope everyone has a blessed day.



I can't say I'm aware of any remote control products that would have 48 separate output channels. If I needed that many, my approach would be to use microcontrollers to send and receive commands and turn on the outputs appropriately.

As for the charger, there should be off the shelf solutions for a reasonable price. I have a couple small trickle chargers for 12v batteries, complete with the red and green LEDs that you desire. I think they were no more than about 15-20 dollars US at the battery/automotive department of a local store.

Internal continuity woudl require some electronics, to inject and detect a small current through the ignitors. I assume that you would want to check continuity on each of the 48 channels separately? This could be as simple as a momentary push button that would connect the ignitor leads to battery through a large value resistor to limit current, and using that current to turn on a transistor which would turn on an LED indicating continuity. The exact implemention of this would depend on your setup.

In generally, I would be somewhat apprehensive about initiating fireworks via a wireless remote. If someone nearby with a device operating in the same band interfered with yours, the results could be disasterous.

Hello and thanks for your response! I'm still researching the continuity tester and the RF remote, but you mentioned an off the shelf trickle charger. Can you name a brand or something I can look up? Also, can I use this internally so all I would have to do is set the entire unit in the garage and plug it in for a while, and would the unit stop charging once it reaches 12 volts? Thanks again.

My charger is a Schumacher unit, similar but not identical to the ones here:


I don't know exactly what you mean when you ask if it can be used interally.  If by that you are asking whether the charger can be placed inside some larger unit that also contains the battery and other circuitry, then yes.  One thing to watch out for with a battery inside an enclosure is any possible build up of hydrogen gas.  If you place the battery inside an enclosure, provide some venting to prevent hydrogen from building up inside the enclosure.

You should be able to plug such a setup into an outlet when charging is needed, and the charger will turn off when it detects that the battery has been fully charged.

You are correct, I'll be installing it internally to my fireworks igniter. I like the charger in the link you provided but I'd have to disassemble it to make it work. The plug goes on the outside along with the red and green LED's. I guess what I'm asking is can you point me in the right direction of building one of those? I don't know exactly what that one does but the necessities are the red and green LED's, I only need to charge a 12 volt battery, and I'd rather use a standard PC cord to plug it in (I have a male plug). Thanks.

I couldn't tell you exactly how one of the charges work without dismantling it.

However, I think you could still use one with the setup you describe. By standard PC cord, I assume that you mean the type used on almost all PC towers and monitors. You could incorporate the charger into your igniter unit by installing the mating jack for the cord on the case of the igniter unit. The mating jack should be a common item available for a dollar or two from electronics sites, or you could even salvage one from an old PC power supply. The connections to the back side of the jack are the normal hot, neutral, and safety ground used in any 120VAC household power application. If you cut the plug of the charger unit, you could attach these three wires to the proper conenctions on the jack.

As for the LEDs, you could mount the charger within your igniter box, but with two holes drilled in the proper locations, so that the chargers LEDs would be visible from the outside. That way, you wouldn't have to disassemble the charger itself in any way.

Ok, I broke down and ordered the charger in the link you sent me. Now on to the continuity tester. What do you think would be the best way to set one up? I'm going to have 96 LED's (two next to each switch) that need to light when I flip the switch to either arm or test. I have a two position toggle switch, up would arm the system and 48 red LED's would light up. Throw the switch to the center and the unit is disarmed and no LED's are lighted, and finally, throw the switch down would put the system in continuity test mode, thus lighting the other 48 LED's. I think my problem is going to be voltage. Each LED if I'm not mistaken is 1.8 volts. I'm using a 12 volt DC lead acid battery. My inexperience tells me that I'd need 72 volts but I know that can't be correct. When either arming or testing continuity, 48 lights need to come on at a time (unless there is a break in continuity) without igniting the electric match. Remember, I'm not a professional so I apologize if I'm asking some basic quesions that I should know the answer to, thanks again for your help.

I've attached a schematic showing a possible setup.

When the switch is in the armed position, current flows through R2 and LED2, indicating that it is armed.  If the fire switch is pressed, current will flow through an ignitor if attached to the terminals labeled ingnitor1. 

When the switch is in the continuity test, current will flow through R1 and LED1, through the ignitor, back to the battery ground.  If the ignitor is connected , the LED will light. 

This circuit could be repeated for each circuit in the ignitor box.

I have not actually built this circuit, so it will be up to you to test it out.

I don't know how much current it takes to ignite your ignitors, nor how large a current can be passed through them without risk of unintentional ignition.  The circuit shown will let about 10 milliamps flow through the ignitor for the continuity check.  You'll have to determine if this level of current carries any risk of ignition.


Thanks a bunch for all your help. The actual igniter is a nichrome wire so it won't tak uch to light it up, 12 volts makes it red hot just before it melts. I'll try out the circuit you sent me and I'll let you know what happens. Thanks again for all your help.