Pyrodigital Auto Fire


pyrodigital triggerPyrodigital Auto Fire

What is Auto Fire Mode?
Autofire mode allows you to exploit the unique possibilities of using a computer to fire a show. It can fire shots with extreme precision synchronized to music. It can fire consecutive shots much faster than someone using a pin board type of firing system to achieve spectacular comet chaser effects, among other precise hits to a soundtrack. We are going to discuss the two types of auto fire, namely, internal clock and time code.


Internal Clock Mode
The Pyrodigtial (PD) system has an accurate internal clock that it can shoot your pre-programmed script to. This is typically used when the distances or logistics do not allow for a time code signal to be sent. In order to sync up the PD field controller to a musical soundtrack which the show was scripted to, certain steps must be taken. First off a "Pre-Roll", typically one minute worth, must be incorporated into the soundtrack. A pre-roll being defined as a short segment on the music soundtrack which there is no show music on. In other words, the show music (and fireworks cues in the data table) do not start until one minute into the CD. So your first cue in the script will shoot at 00:01:00:00 instead of at zero. This pre-roll allows for the operator and audio technician (or who ever is running the CD player) to match the time on the CD to the internal clock of the computer via voice communications, over a radio or cell phone. This is shown in the example below.



Time Code Modes?
There are a few different types of time code that the Pyrodigital system accepts, such as SMPTE (Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers) time code which is the standard in the movie industry, and more importantly, a unique Pyrodigital Frequency Shift Keying (PD FSK) time code. We shall mainly concentrate on PD FSK, since that is most commonly used at your typical PD show. This time code is unique in the sense that the computer can sync up at any point in the soundtrack without having to be restarted. This is due to each "time" having a unique code. See our advanced section for more information on how time code works.

A short explanation will be given, followed with step by step instructions on using both internal clock and time code auto fire. Make sure you watch our training video to the right which shows an actual show being sync 'd up in internal clock mode.


Auto Fire (Pyrodigital FSK Time Code Mode)
Here are step by step instructions on how to use the Time Code Mode of the Auto Fire function. This example uses "PD FSK" time code.
  • Turn power on by switching
  • pd button  
  • Plug in your firing cable and the "dead man" remote switch.
  • Then you need to press
  • pd button.
  • Turn arming key to arm
  • pd button.
  • Then you need to press
  • pd button to select "Pyro Digital FSK".
  • Make sure you are holding down the "dead man" remote switch, which should turn off the "hold fire" light on the front panel.
  • Then you need to press
  • pd button to start the firing process.
  • You are now in the Auto Fire mode and will see "Wait Code" on the LCD screen (assuming time code has not started coming through).
  • Have your audio technician start sending time code.
  • After a few moments of hearing the time code coming through, you should see "in sync" displayed on the LCD screen.
  • You should see your show clock running as your show is now firing as pre-programmed in sync to the soundtrack.
  • Exit this mode by pressing
  • pd button


    If you are receiving poor quality time code with a lot of errors, you will notice the display says "sync find." This means it sees the time code coming through, but it can't read the noisy signal. During this time the FC is firing off of its internal clock. If for some reason the FC looses sync during the show, or the time code gets cut off completely, the FC will automatically switch to "internal drive" and will be firing from it's internal clock. If you get the time code signal back somewhere later on in the show, the computer will re-sync to the time code. This feature makes shooting with time code ideal in the case of dealing with a short in the middle of the show. More on debugging a short can be found in our advanced Pyrodigital section.

    Auto Fire (Internal Clock Mode)
    Here are step by step instructions on how to use the Internal Clock Mode of the Auto Fire function. This example assumes the need to sync the FC to a soundtrack, that you have a one minute pre-roll, and that you agreed with your audio technician to sync at 30 seconds.
  • Turn power on by switching
  • pd button

    Training Video!

    Internal Clock Sync-Up

  • Plug in your firing cable and the "dead man" remote switch.
  • Then you need to press
  • pd button.
  • Turn arming key to arm
  • pd button.
  • Then you need to press
  • pd button to select "Internal".
  • Make sure you are holding down the "dead man" remote switch, which should turn off the "hold fire" light on the front panel.
  • Then you need to press
  • pd button to start your show clock.
  • Then you need to press
  • pd button when your show clock reaches 30 seconds.
  • The audio technician should now start his CD at 0 seconds..
  • Once his CD reaches 25 seconds, he shall start to count 25, 26, 27, 28,29,30 over the radio.
  • At 30 seconds, you press
  • pd button to start your show clock from 30 seconds (where you had it paused).
  • Your show clock should now be in relative sync with the soundtrack (the clock on the CD player).
  • Exit this mode by pressing
  • pd button


    One disadvantage to doing an internal clock sync instead of using timecode is that if a short is encountered during the show, to re-sync would be unpractical in most cases. To learn more about debugging a short, see our advanced section.