I get tons of emails asking what classes should be taken if you are interested in becoming a Pyrotechnician. There is no specific answer to this question. The best subjects to take are science and mathematics. There are no classes specifically geared towards pyrotechnics. Continue on this track once you reach college by majoring in science (physics or chemistry) or engineering (mechanical, chemical, electrical or aerospace) if you want to fully understand what your dealing with. Keep in mind, you don’t technically need this background if you want to become a licensed operator. Depending on which state you live in, there are different requirements to obtain a license. I have more information on this at my website: www.pyroinnovations.com Check out the “how to become licensed” pages.
This is a question I receive quite often through email. The answer is: it depends. Ask yourself these questions:
1) Do I have the time (alot) it will take to actually build one?
2) Assuming I have schematics to a trust worthy design, do I have the neccessary soldering/fabrication skills needed?
3) Am I willing to spend the money to purchase all the components and hardware?
4) Why do I want my own system?
Now, a little explaination on each of the questions. For number one, yes, it takes an enormous amount of time to fabricate a firing system. We are talking about your average 400 cue analog firing system. Think about it. That is a minimum of 400 wires you will have to solder. Depending on the type of system, it could be double the number of cues you have. That doesn’t even include the drilling, mounting, painting, etc. that might also be involved. Number two is pretty self explanitory. First make sure you have a schematic of good value. If you don’t have a sound design, very bad things can happen. Also, if you don’t know how to solder properly, your solder joints will be inadequate, which will lower the life of your system, as well as add unneccessary resistance to it. Three, they can get expensive when all is said and done. The most expensive part is purchasing all of your own firing cables. Four, do you really need your own system when most display companies provide you with a system for your show? I built mine for a couple reasons. One, I’m an engineer, so we always think we can come up with something one step better. We are always trying to improve stuff [doesn't always turn out that way :)]. It also adds to the satisfaction of accomplishment at the end of a show. So, take all of these issues into consideration when planning to build your own system.
First there were just fireworks cakes that shot strait up. Then there were ”W-shape” fireworks cakes which shot an entire angled row at once, filling up a wide area with each shot. Then there were “Z-shape” fireworks cakes which quickly gained in popularity due to the ”tracing” effect created by each of thier angled tubes firing rapidly one right after another. Now, the next generation of fireworks cakes, dubbed “X-shape”, has a similiar functionality to that of a Z cake, except it starts from two opposite ends, each end tracing back and forth, which gives a comet crossing effect. This also drastically speeds up the cake, making them very intense. The only drawback is that they don’t last to long…