Network-controlled fireworks launcher

rpi-fireworks-launcher

[Thomas] and his friends wanted to ring in the new year by setting off some fireworks. To keep a safe distance and have a little fun they built this network controller launcher (translated).

the image on the left shows the build in its unused and pristine state. But by the end of the celebration it look a bit melted and burnt. Still, for the first revision of the system it ended up working pretty well.

We’ve seen several remote fireworks launchers that burn up resistors to light the fuses. But this system is much more reusable. The image on the right shows the heating elements which light the fuses. Younger readers might have no idea what they’re looking at, but every automobile used to come with at least one of these electric cigarette lighters. Just drive 12V through them and they get burning hot relatively quickly. That’s where the car battery on the base comes into play. It is connected to the lighters using some mechanical relays.

In the food container attached to the side of the launcher you’ll find a Raspberry Pi which provides the web connection for the system. [Thomas] wrote code which uses a webpage with some bomb icons as buttons. Check out the video after the break to see him demonstrate how fast one of these lighters will glow red after pressing a button on his smart phone.

Comments

  1. st2000 says:

    Really really cool. But honestly, of all the things to network! I hope the software security of this thing rivals that of a bank.

    • lwatcdr says:

      One would hope that they have a master switch arming switch that isolates all the firing circuits physically and that it is not networked.

    • Ryan Voots says:

      Doesn’t need to be that secure. It’s a wired connection that doesn’t have to be world accessible. Just hook up to a laptop on site, no publicly accessible network to worry about. That said I’d agree with lwatcdr that they need some kind of master enable switch (heck could even use a switch on a switch!).

    • Bradley says:

      Oh, this is a a neat system. I’ll throw some commands at it. Type, type, type…. Hey Honey, it looks like the neighbor is setting off fireworks in their garage!

  2. TheAlchemist says:

    Why? Is it even imaginable that some malicious entity is going to focus on figuring out their public IP, breaking in, and waiting for the moment when the thing is actually set up so they can take control and blow somebody’s fingers off?

    You either have a skewed perception of how many villains are prodding at our firewalls looking for custom built networked devices to commandeer or too many enemies. Either way, you should probably slow down a bit.

    • lastchancename says:

      Sadly, @TheAlchemist – you have a very skewed perspective of modern attack strategies.
      Stay flipping burgers while the rest of us protect you from yourself.

      • TheAlchemist says:

        I’m not a network security professional, it’s true. I am aware, though, that a little security discipline pretty much takes care of all reasonable attacks. It would help if you dispensed with the ad hominem faux-superiority you’re rolling with though and think about the problem rather than merely proposing something like “The internet is scary, if it touches the internet, it’s as good as in the hands of people that are going to do bad things unless you take extraordinary measures.” Ryan Voots above covers the point more or less exactly; if it’s a closed system behind a firewall, what exactly is there to worry about? It stretches credulity that people with the wherewithal to build such a thing have a network that is exposed to general attack, populated by computers infested with malware. So again, what’s the problem?

        • M4CGYV3R says:

          There is nothing ‘faux’ about his superiority. He clearly understands networks and network security far better than you do.

          “If it’s a closed system behind a firewall, what exactly is there to worry about?”

          You, sir or ma’am, are a hacker’s wet dream.

          • TheAlchemist says:

            Please, my mother is a hacker’s (and probably yours, since we’ve resorted to base assault) wet dream. The fact that neither of you (hey, maybe one of you is a sockpuppet!) have actually addressed the points (people who build stuff like this aren’t idiots, paranoid extremes are nonproductive, risk assessment/management) and instead decided to go with “Tut, tut look at him. He’s a fool.” suggest you don’t actually have anything else to go with.

            Good day to you, unless you can actually produce something of substance.

          • junkbox says:
      • lordastral says:

        Do enlighten us o person of great knowledge. What is the modern day attack strategy against a raspberry pi behind a firewall or possibly only speaking over an ad-hoc wireless network that probably has encryption?

        What horrible hacker within the maybe 100 foot radius around the raspberry pi is going to suddenly hack in with their genius hackiness and set off all the fireworks while there are any fireworks or batteries connected to the contraption.

  3. fred says:

    …wait, so now hackers can actually trigger a missile launch from the network? :D

  4. RandyP says:

    Jeez. Easy on the snark, folks.

  5. static says:

    Never dawned on me that automotive cigarette lighters would have place in my junk boxes. Perhaps I should have pulled them out of all the vehicles that I have sent away for scrap. Oh well; that more shit for my family to sort through when I kick the bucket.

  6. UBERKron says:

    Nice project, i have used cig lighters before, the residue left behind seems to destroy the element by corrosion, and the time response is poor, but it is very reliable.

    As for security, leave the battery disconnected. The various security fiends are crazed loons. Sit back, enjoy the fireworks.

    • Thomas says:

      As the builder of this project, here are my takes on the cig lighters:
      The day after use (after taking the picture of the lighters with residue) I have rinsed the lighter with water – lots of water. Then I connected them to the battery and let them glow until they were dry.

      For security: Of course the battery is only connected when the launcher is supposed to be in use, the Pi also gets its power from the battery, so the only risk is when we were outside at the launch site, do not be so stupid and put rockets in the lighters indoors, glowing lighters is a good enough indicator to a working setup.

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