12 Cue Firing System
When testing out the 4 Cue Firing System recently I was very impressed with the performance but couldn’t help thinking that only 4 cues would be a limitation to many displays, even those in the back garden. Well the answer is a system with more cues and the 12 Cue system has three times as many. The retail price is £99.99 and is on sale from the same supplier, Wireless Fireworks.
The 12 cue system
Straight out of the box and this is already a very nice looking piece of kit. Make no mistake about it, even if you forget the batteries and have to hand light your display, you will still look semi-professional just by leaving this on the ground!
The terminals are the same type as the 4 cue system and it also features LEDs to indicate continuity and which cue is firing. An on/off switch is accompanied by a lockable master switch to the right. A large red button, although very tempting to press, is used only for programming purposes. Overall the unit measures 18cm x 14cm.
The remote control is also a bit more advanced than the one for the 4 cue unit. The firing buttons 1-12 are labelled for dual use (eg. firing all of the cues at once) and there is an extra switch on the side to change between sequential and single firing.
Connecting the consumer igniters
Because I’m looking at this from the consumer point of view, the unit has been tested with the consumer igniters although it can also fire clip-on quickmatch igniters and standard professional igniters. The consumer igniters are designed to clip directly over the green safety fuse on consumer fireworks. The other end is simply inserted into the terminals on the base unit. It really couldn’t be simpler and the connection of igniters is illustrated step by step in the 4 Cue article.
Once your igniters are connected you can turn on the unit and it will give you a visual indication of the circuits. As shown above the blue “test” light comes on. Here you can see that LEDs 1 to 7 are illuminated, which corresponds to the 7 igniters connected to the unit. In the case of a loose connection or a faulty igniter you can easily spot this by a missing LED.
A note about wiring
I had no problems connecting the igniters up, either to the firework’s fuse or to the base station. My only observation after taking the photographs above was that I’d been a bit messy with the wiring, a consequence of a background in consumer fireworks rather than with professional systems.
Andy P, a professional firer and moderator in our forum helpfully explains: “It’s obviously vital that none of the bare wires are able to touch any of the others, as that would either stop an igniter firing, or may even cause more than one igniter to fire at once unexpectedly.
“It’s very handy that the insulation has been pre-cut as shown below, so you can just pull it off to expose the bare wires:
“You may be tempted to put them straight into the connectors just like that (as Pyro Pete did in the photos above). But with those wires so close together it’s quite easy for them to touch together if the cable is dragged sideways at all, like this:
“Probably the best way to make it neater and safer is to split apart the first inch or two of the insulated part of the “figure-of-8″ igniter cables, using your thumbnail as shown in images 1 and 2 below. Then trim down the exposed part of the wire, or just fold it in half to make it shorter as shown in image 3. Now, when you put the wires into the connector blocks, it all fits neatly and no part of the bare wire will be left exposed (image 4):
“Just as importantly, you should also make sure that the metal part of the connectors are actually pressing on the bare wire and not the insulation, so they make a good electrical connection.”
Many thanks Andy for these useful tips.
The unit in action
The performance of this unit was excellent. Exactly as found with the smaller 4 cue unit, every igniter went when the corresponding button was pressed on the remote and there were no failures during testing. Using a radio signal rather than infrared (as found on the Launch Kontrol system) has some advantages too; you won’t need to worry about putting the base station in long grass or partially obscuring it with waterproofing.
Having a full 12 cues to play with really does expand the scope of this system considerably. When you consider that the igniters are available in various lengths and can also be extended, there are no situations I can think of for a consumer display which this system would not be able to cope with.
But it doesn’t stop at 12 cues! The supplier advises us that multiple igniters can be connected in series to each cue. This was not the subject of the tests done today but Wireless Fireworks have suggested a maximum of three igniters per cue should all be safely fired. So there is now the potential to fire pairs or groups of fireworks with each press of a button!
The igniters being sold by Wireless Fireworks range from 40p down to 28p for 1m lengths (depending on quantity) up to 92p/74p for 5m lengths.
When tested for range I walked to over 100m away in line of site and it still worked. At that point I was so far away from the base station I’d probably struggle to see the fireworks themselves so it is safe to assume this will have no problems for any consumer display.
And there’s more good news too as Dan at Wireless Fireworks explains in answer to my question about expandability: “You can run loads of these systems side by side without them affecting each other – or you can use the P button to sync one remote to 2, 3, 4 or more systems at once (I don’t think there is a limit!!). When they are all controlled by just one remote the systems will fire simultaneously (button 1 will fire the first cue on each system at the same time etc). This makes for amazing shows when you have a lot of space, having two or three identical sets of fireworks all firing at the same time to give some amazing coverage.”
At last a remote firing system perfectly suited to back garden consumer use without being crippled with an unrealistic number of cues. You have to wonder why the designers of the first consumer units thought just 5 cues would satisfy back garden displayers unless the early units were being restricted by manufacturing costs of course. But this system is free of that constraint not just with 12 cues but also the ability to fire several fireworks per cue and expandability by adding additional systems too. Easy to use, easy to set up and very professional looking, this unit should satisfy most home displayers. Although at nearly £100 this is a considered purchase, the ongoing costs of the igniters is quite reasonable compared to portfires and for me the advantages of this system over multiple Launch Kontrol units for example justifies the extra outlay. Verdict: Recommended.
- 12 cue firing system: £103.99 with batteries, £99.99 without.
- Available from Wireless Fireworks which also has a number of related video clips showing these systems in action.
- Uses radio rather than infrared with a range in excess of 100m during testing.
- Can fire multiple igniters per cue (not tested).
- Expandable by adding additional systems for independent or synchronised firing (not tested).
- Igniters from 28p upwards depending on length and quantity.
If you are looking for a smaller system then see our review of their 4 cue unit.
With thanks to Wireless Fireworks for the review unit and the professional team at Firework Emporium for the visco fuse used to test it.