12 Cue Remote Firing System Field Tests
12 Cue Remote Firing System Field Tests
by: Matthew Kleinmann
I have owned one of the 12 Cue Remote Firing Systems for years now, and have had a lot of good experience with it. If you have just bought one, you can read this and take my word for the results of my semi non scientific tests, or better yet try your own! The last thing any of us wants is for you to press the button and have nothing happen!
Before starting the tests you need to find both some stuff, and a good location. If you live out in the country, a large field is great. You need not send anything up. You can just fire e matches or if you want some remote feedback, smoke bombs work well. It helps if the field has parts that are both mowed and unmowed. You will also need fresh batteries, and don’t go and buy the most expensive brand you can find unless you plan on using that brand all the time. Buy batteries that you will likely use so the test results are realistic. Don’t forget the battery in the remote either. You will also need a good supply of e matches. Much like the batteries, buy the brand you intend to use. I have never commenced a side by side test of American made e matches vs imports, but I have heard that the american ones are more sensitive, that is they take less power to go off. So test with what you plan to use if you want realistic results.
The first test I did was simple, and everybody who buys one of these no doubt does it. Connect an e match to one of the pods, turn the pod on, check for continuity, and then fire the match. If you are like me, you are unrealistically close to the remote pod. All you really test here is that the thing can show continuity and pop an e match. Still it gives you some confidence.
The next test I did was to connect 5 e matches in series and connect them to a channel and fire that channel. Again, I was unrealistically close to the pod. I was only verifying that the electronics in the remote pod could fire 5 matches. Mine did that with no problem. Just for good measure I tried 6 e matches and it fired them as well. So, I would consider 5 a very safe number with fresh batteries. I can not recall ever even having 5 devices in series on one channel.
I moved on to distance testing next. I started a bit backwards here for visibility. I put one of the pods with an e match on the porch where I could see it from a distance, and walked out into the mowed portion of the field roughly 250 paces. I pressed the button and I was able to see the e match detonate on the porch. I tried this test a couple of times and it passed every time. So, in clear weather, with a decent line of sight, the remote can do at least 250 feet. For consumer fireworks this is a perfectly acceptable range.
The last test was on the unmowed portion of the field. This time I left the pod behind in the brush and moved back approximately 100 paces, and I fired the e match. I thought I saw a small puff of smoke, but it was not until I walked back out to the pod that I saw the perfectly fired e match. So, again, the system performed well in knee deep brush from 100 feet give or take. Again, for consumer fireworks this is an acceptable range.
The manufacturer states that these have a range of 350 feet and I have read that they have worked at ranges of up to 560 feet. I would not depend on that, but they should be rock stable at 100 feet regardless of weather or vegetation.
I have to admit that I was running out of matches and it was one of the hottest afternoons in the summer that I decided to test this out, so the tests that required walking were not repeated. However, on at least one pro show, we forgot a lighter, and we did have pre show salutes to fire. We e matched them and used the system to fire them, from what we considered a great distance and had no failures.
One last item. For distance testing, if you have a friend, you can fire the module with no e match connected. It will flash the channels LED when it “fires” If you have a friend, you can do distance testing by having one of you watch the LED on the remote and the other one pressing the button and walking further and further away.
Overall I am very pleased with the performance of these devices. With the 3 pods and 4 cues on each pod, they allow you to physically space your show out promoting safety and better effects. And in the bad weather, you can shoot things from the comfort of inside your house.
These systems also have 2 built in tricks of marginal use.
Pressing remote buttons 6 and 8 at the same time will result in a “salvo fire” or all 12 cues going off at the same time. I have also read that holding down buttons 1 and 12 will do the same.
Pressing remote buttons 11 and 12 at the same time will result in a sequential fire, with cues 1 through 12 going off in sequence with about a half second delay between them.
There may be more “easter eggs” hidden with multiple keystrokes. If you find any, please report them!
Matthew Kleinmann Is a professional, licensed pyrotechnician and a staff writer for Mess's Fireworks.