MIDI controlled fire drums

Using an MSA-T MIDI Decoder from Highly Liquid, [Rob Darman] was able to take the MIDI output of his Roland V-Drums and use that output to control fire shooting cannons, forming a setup that he calls fire drums. As seen in the video above, the response time between the V-Drums and the fire drums is pretty impressive. While this is by far one of the coolest things that we’ve seen controlled by MIDI, we’re naturally thinking about taking this to the next level; MIDI-controlled fireworks, anyone?

You may remember the MSA decoder devices from people wiring up MIDI drums to Rock Band.


  1. PodeCoet says:

    Irresistibly awesome!

  2. Hirudinea says:

    Its like he’s lighting the farts of God!

  3. durp says:

    This is cool but not as amazing as musical tesla coils.

  4. Bill ate a Cat says:

    It’s Ok….. I couldn’t tell if there was a midi lag or the dude had know Idea how to play the drums…

  5. TheFish says:

    hmmmm, i like the idea of midi controlled fireworks!
    gives me an idea for the next 4th of July.

  6. bitSmasher says:

    do a search for “large hot pipe organ”

  7. Phnepsilon says:

    That’s the camp of SMGU (Spank My Glitch Up) at Firefly 2009. Give credit where credit is due :-p

  8. Max says:

    “midi-controlled fireworks, anyone?”

    As I understand it, MIDI does not contain a method of error detection/correction. This makes it unsuitable for life-safety applications.

    Don’t try this at home, etc.

  9. aimo says:

    “midi-controlled fireworks, anyone?”

    I think that a french guy did this already in the 80s, J-M Jarre. There was a pretty good description on how the (simultaneous channels etc) limitations of midi were over-come by using multiple midi-sequencers on individual buses using a common master clock source to drive both the music and the fireworks sequencers.

  10. RDB says:

    rad. from the video it is hard to tell if the response time is good or if the tempo is synced to the lag, i.e. if you knew the lag was 1 sec you could play at 60bpm and it would look perfectly synced.

  11. hogiewan says:

    It looks well synced to me. The fire was coming right between the beats (second 1/8 note of each measure)

  12. Benny M says:


  13. Hopo28 says:

    “DMX512 is unidirectional and does not include automatic error checking and correction, so it is not safe to use for applications involving life safety, such as controlling pyrotechnics or laser lighting display where audience or performer safety is involved. MIDI is sometimes used for this task.”
    from wiki, “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DMX512-A”

    but i agree there is no error correction so this may be dangerous but for homebrew stuff MIDI is a wonderfully versatile protocol

  14. grovenstien says:

    Check out Arcadia, they have done loads of stuff like this in recent years at festivals in the UK Beautiful Daze and Glastonbury. At Beautiful Daze they had an array of 12! Chasing them it was amazing!

  15. bish says:

    I thought MIDI was used for fireworks all the time. Gotta agree with durp, singing Tesla coils are cooler.

  16. Gavin says:

    I was actually there, these things were loud as hell :) They also had it hooked up to a DDR mat at one point.

    Much cooler in person

  17. Scott says:

    Needs more cowbell….

  18. PocketBrain says:

    The trick with fireworks is timing; you can’t press a button and have a starburst appear overhead. You have to think several seconds ahead of time. Even fireworks displays that are synchronized to live music are constantly re-synced during performance. Stage pyro, on the other hand, is pretty quick; you could probably get it to work with a responsive system.

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