Last year, Justin and I bought an electronic firework launcher for our annual Fourth of July festivities. The thing absolutely sucked. It was slow and error-prone to set up, and even when it was connected properly rarely lit the fuse. We ended up manually lighting pretty much everything, it was so bad. That night, while we were setting one off, we decided to build our own damned ignition box.
Just under a year later, we realized that we still hadn’t started on the box, and quickly started brainstorming ideas.
We wanted switches. Lots of them. We wanted complete control as to which fuse lit up and when. We wanted it to be awesome.
So I drew this fancy little ditty:
To explain it simply, the idea was to have 3 9v batteries connected in parallel. This would boost the current while keeping the voltage at 9v, thus setting off our model rocket igniters which would lite the fuse.
S1, S2 and S3 are the “Power Switches of Awesomenitude“. A keyed switch, a rocker switch, and an illuminating button. All three would have to be on in order for the box to be armed.
S4 – S9 are the actual ignition buttons. Pushing each one of those would light it’s respective fuse, and then there would be a *BOOM* shortly following.
X1 – X3 are your basic wire terminals that you’d find on the back of a stereo to connect your speakers. Each +/- pair had an 80′ length of wire going out to the firework, connecting to the model rocket igniter, and taped to the fuse. For quick and easy set-up, the igniters would be pre-taped to fuses, so we just clamp on alligator clips and go.
With the concept and design sorted out, Justin, my brother and I got the parts and headed over to Bill’s barn to play with his various tools and build the box as perfectly as possible.
When using a drill press, it is good practice to make sure the object you are using is securely clamped in place. It should go without saying that we laugh at good practice, and used Peter’s hands as a clamp. Shortly after, the box was spinning around as fast as the drill bit, and there were two deep gouges next to his knuckles (minor injury #1).
One of Bill’s friends saw us having trouble reliably holding the box while drilling and decided to try it himself, with similar results. Similar in that he lost hold of the box. Dissimilar in that he managed to cause the one defacement to the box in the entire production of it. Fortunately I was able to carve it out a bit and it’s not very noticeable. He gave it back, laughing, and telling us “Good luck, fellas!” Thanks for the help, mate.
Then a giant bolt of lightning hit a tree or something right near the barn. That was awesome.
We eventually got a different drill bit which didn’t grab the box, and got everything else drilled quickly an easily. Bill accidentally killed the lights in the barn at one point while we were drilling. We thought the storm had caused an outage, but considering the drill was still going, were rather confused and concerned. That was awesome too. Rather than using glue to attach the terminal boards, Bill fastened them with rivets. Highly overkill, yet so awesome.
The completed enclosure!
If you thought to yourself “Jaeson you are the coolest person ever” when seeing this, you are right.