Schools & Pyro
I want to make my own pyro firing device, how should I go about it?
This is an area where if you don't know what you are doing, you shouldn't do it.
Pyrotechnics are dangerous and numerous safety precautions are needed in a firing system.
You may wish to read this forum thread regarding a DIY Pyro controller.
Can I use DMX as a control protocol for my electronic pyro controller?
DMX512 and DMX512/1990, with their lack of error detection, is NOT appropriate for some applications - such as pyrotechnic control and scenery automation. The new standard does allow for error detection, but specifically states "DMX512 is not an appropriate control protocol for hazardous applications."
A safe control protocol will have guaranteed 100% fire/no-fire (meaning that it will always fire when you press the button (at least electronically, that does not guarantee the pyro will launch though), and will never fire when you don't). To have this 100% F/NF you need error checking to be an integral part of the protocol - this does not necessarilly mean that the firing rail has talk back to the controller (although it is highly recommended and likely that it will), just that there is some way to know whether the data transmitted has been distorted, and that all data has been recieved.
Do I need certification to fire pyro?
In the UK, no, but you do need to be over the age of 18 to handle, purchase or fire pyro.
Where can I get trained to launch pyro?
What is the difference between smoke, fog & haze?
The simplest distinction - Smoke is a visible effect, where as Haze is meant to be invisible to the naked eye and used to make beams of light visible.
Haze as a general rule is cracked oil, however there are some water based haze fluids and hazers available and are often called "Crackers"
Smoke machines can also be oil or water based, and are often called Foggers/Fog Machines. Low lying fog is made by either cooling the fog rapidly after it exits the machine, or by using dry ice.
A number of cheap hazers are in fact fog machines with a fan.
What do I need to know about the Storage and handling of pyro?
Will smoke or haze set off fire alarms?
Usually yes. Many types of sensors will detect haze or smoke as used in the entertainment industry. The risk of false alarms must be taken seriously especially where the fire alarm is connected to the local fire brigade.
Can we switch off our fire alarms for a performance so we can use smoke/haze?
Switching off a system entirely is rarely practical but you may be able to isolate certain sensors or zones leaving only the call points active in the performance area. The method for doing this, ensuring any sensors are reactivated after the event and any fire during the performance is detected quickly will need to be thoroughly planned and documented in you premises fire risk assessment and you may also need to contact your insurers.