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Thursday, February 7, 2013

How To: Enjoy fireworks safely

The festival of Diwali brings in joy and fun for family, friends and all your close ones. You will see lights everywhere as people of all castes and creed are seen celebrating the festival of light. Lighting firecrackers is associated with the festival, and all age groups have fun lighting small bombs, rockets, flowerpots and various other types of firecrackers. Lighting a firecracker, though simple, can be very dangerous and we all know that. Igniting a bomb, rocket or any firecracker for that matter, requires you to move up to the location, light up the fuse and run away in time. If the fuse is too small or if you are not out in time, you could get hurt or cause serious injuries to others too. You have to run away to a safe distance just in time before it explodes near you. So how do you do that? 

Watch it in action
Play safe this Diwali

Igniting fireworks using a super-simple electronic circuit is the safest way to enjoy Diwali with friends, family and kids. We shall show you how you can make one of these igniters within 10 minutes. All the parts are available at any hardware and electric store around your house; the only tool you would need is a screwdriver to build it. Before we get started, here is a list of the requirements.

A powerful enough battery, some wires and a switch.
A powerful enough battery, some wires and a switch

1. A screwdriver 
2. A two-core electrical wire, approx. five metres
3. A bedside electric bell switch
4. A battery
5. An electrical two or three-pin plug
6. A nichrome wire heating element 
Any power plug, nichrome heating element.
Power plug, nichrome heating element

The parts should not cost you more than Rs 75 (except the battery) in total and can be even cheaper since most households would definitely have a screwdriver, some spare wires and an old two or three pin electrical plug. The batteries you would need here should be powerful enough to at least pump out around 1A of power to heat the filament. We suggest a motorcycle battery or a pair of 18650 cells from an old laptop battery pack. You can optionally use a 1A or 2A 6V to 12V power adapter if you have a main power outlet nearby, but you would need longer wires in this case. The bedside switch can be any switch; even an old electronic toggle switch from a toy would suffice. What needs to be bought is a nichrome heating element. This element is a simple springy wire that is used in most of the electric cigarette lighters. You can easily get it from any local hardware and electric store. Ask your local cigarette retailer or paan walla where you can get them or simply buy one from them itself. 

The concept here is very simple. We shall create the circuit in such a way that the nichrome wire is connected to the battery via a switch. Once you hit the switch, the wire will heat up and become super-red hot and will burn up anything that touches it. All you need to do is place the fuse of the fire cracker on this wire and “BOOM”, you know what. Wire up the circuit using a screwdriver in the circuit diagram explained below.
You can build this simple circuit in less than 10 minutes
You can build this simple circuit in less than 10 minutes

Connect the battery to the plug using the wire and attach the switch in between, near the battery side. The wire needs to be sufficiently long (around 5 metre of wire is recommended). You could use more wire if you want to ignite the crackers from a very long distance. 

Now for the final assembly—the heating element. We are using a simple plug point, as the terminals have grooves or a cut that will help in firmly attaching the nichrome wire to it without any tools. The idea is to make the circuit as simple as possible so that it can be easily assembled outdoors and without the need for any tools. Now cut around 0.5 cm of the nichrome wire and attach it to the plug’s terminals. See the pic below and you will get an idea of how it is attached. 
The nichrome wire gets red hot when powered up.
The nichrome wire gets red hot when powered up

Once you are done with the wire attachment, your circuit is ready to light up your firecrackers. However, before you do so, you should test your circuit. Press the switch and check if the coil heats up. If you are using a longer coil, you would need more battery power. If the coil is heating up too much, it could burn out and break. Either reduce the battery power or increase the length of the heating element by 0.5cm or 1cm accordingly. Now place a small piece of paper on the coil and fire up the circuit. You will find the paper starting to burn up. Success! The nichrome wire heats up quickly and cools down within seconds too, therefore, it should be safe to handle it after around 10 seconds of use. It’s time to get the circuit in action. Get on the field, place your firecracker at a safe distance, lay down the long wire and place the fuse on the coil. Once you are ready, hit the power switch and you will see the fuse of the firecracker burning and later “BOOM”. If you are using it to ignite powerful bombs, you should try peeling the upper layer of the cracker’s fuse and then lay it on the coil. This will make the fuse burn slowly, giving you time to pull the ignition circuit away from the cracker so that the blast’s impact does not destroy the coil. Using the circuit, you can also ignite flowerpots, rockets and most types of fireworks. Go ahead and have fun with your new safety device. Wishing you all a safe and happy Diwali and a prosperous New Year. 

Season’s greetings from the entire HRJ Tricks 

Do this at your own risk. Always wear safety goggles when igniting fireworks. Do not try this inside your house. Adult supervision and consultation required if you are a minor. 


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