Hacking with Fire Hack Chat

Brice Farrell will be joining us in the Hack Chat to talk about Hacking with FIRE!

Friday, September 14, 2018 12:00 pm PDT - Friday, September 14, 2018 12:30 pm PDT Local time zone:
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Brice Farrell will be hosting the Hack Chat on Friday, September 14th, 2018 at noon PDT. 

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Brice has been interested in the art of fire his entire life, and has taken his amateur passion semi-pro.  He is a PGI certified pyrotechnician, an electrical engineer, and an ice carver - which surprisingly involves a fair amount of fire!  This year, he appeared on BattleBots where he built the flame system for Battle Royale with Cheese.

This chat will start with a quick review of safety concerns, and will then be steered by the questions received. Potential topics include fireball shooters of all sizes, ignition techniques, and fire in combat robotics. Don't try this at home - at the very least go out in the parking lot first.

In this chat we will discuss:
 - Fire Safety
 - Fireball Shooters
 - Ignition Techniques
 - Fire in Combat Robotics

  • Hacking with Fire Transcript

    Stephen Tranovich09/14/2018 at 20:02 0 comments

    Stephen Tranovich12:05 PM
    Okay, it is time! Let's get started!

    Stephen Tranovich12:05 PM
    A HUGE welcome to @brice.farrell for joining us today and talking about FIRE!

    brice.farrell12:05 PM
    Thanks Stephen. Hello Everyone! I'm Brice Farrell - I built Shorter Pounder and helped (re)build Battle Royale with Cheese on this season of BattleBots, I've done a lot of propane boofers for ice carvers (and because they're fun), and I shoot professional fireworks on the weekends :)

    ZiggyInKC12:06 PM
    I've got my matches ready

    Stephen Tranovich12:06 PM
    hah, Ziggy!

    Stephen Tranovich12:07 PM
    Okay, let's not dilly dally and dive right into things!

    brice.farrell12:07 PM
    Matches are great for little matchstick rockets. Which are harder to do well than the youtube videos make them look. Still a lot of fun if you get some friends together and start experimenting

    Stephen Tranovich12:07 PM
    The first question that is on everyone's mind: How do WE not catch on fire when building flame systems?

    brice.farrell12:08 PM
    Humans are decently flame-resistant, so the main concern is making sure that nothing ON you catches on fire, and then transfers that fire to you. I personally avoid liquid fuels, since they can get on you and then you catch on fire...

    brice.farrell12:10 PM
    The other thing to watch out for is your clothing. Most of the synthetic clothing out there will melt, become a liquid fuel, and then stick to you while it burns. For shooting pyro we are required to use natural-fiber clothes. I personally go with a leather jacket and jeans. Cotton or flannel are also good choices - while they can catch on fire you can pull them off and they won't stick to you.

    Cameron12:10 PM
    what about wool?

    RRSapp12:11 PM
    Wool burns

    Thomas Shaddack12:11 PM
    nomex is the best.

    brice.farrell12:11 PM
    Apart from that, it's mostly a matter of being cautious - have a few safety switches, keep muzzles pointing away from you, ask yourself "what is about to go wrong" and have some extinguishers / hoses around you.

    brice.farrell12:12 PM
    Wool is ok, but it's typically already 90* F when we're shooting pyro so wool would be quite warm.

    Stephen Tranovich12:13 PM
    Do you have a safety checklist you use or give newer people to your projects? Something people in this chat who want to try their hand at fire hacking should keep with them to be safe(r)?

    brice.farrell12:13 PM
    Nomex is the best, but it's expensive and we don't need that level of protection, since any exposure to fire should be momentary in most of our applications

    Arsenijs12:14 PM
    Checklists are cool

    RoGeorge12:15 PM
    OK then, fire at will!


    t.w.otto12:15 PM
    *anything* can burn given enough motivation

    Thomas Shaddack12:15 PM
    chlorine trifluoride. motivates well.

    brice.farrell12:16 PM
    I don't have a general fire checklist... I have a couple for pyrotechnics? But generally: Natural fibers, eye protection, fire extinguisher, and work your way up during testing

    Arsenijs12:16 PM
    work yor way up?

    Thomas Shaddack12:17 PM
    cutoff valves?

    Arsenijs12:17 PM
    are there special cutoff valves that detect fire?

    brice.farrell12:17 PM
    So for example, with propane stuff, I'll test it with 10, 20, 30, 50 psi of pressurized air first to check for leaks, then I'll switch to propane and start down at 5psi. If that goes well I'll go to 10, then 20 psi of propane

    Arsenijs12:17 PM
    like, a GFCI, but for fire

    RoGeorge12:17 PM
    acetylene fire arrestors

    Thomas Shaddack12:18 PM
    @Arsenijs a normally-closed electromagnetic valve with electronic control (gas sensors for leaks, fire/smoke sensors...) and fusible link as backup?

    brice.farrell12:19 PM
    You can use solenoid valves as cutoffs, and there are parts that you can get for furnaces that detect fire - they use them to cut the fuel if the pilot light goes out. Everything I build is...

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t.w.otto wrote 09/14/2018 at 19:17 point

for profireworks what certs or licenses do you need to stay legal?

Also what do you use for your magazine? 

  Are you sure? yes | no

Arya wrote 09/14/2018 at 19:11 point

What are the maybe-obscure safety precautions when working with pressurized containers of gas? I know there's little chance of them exploding because of gas pressure being more likely to create a fire jet than an explosion (correct me if I'm wrong, PLEASE), and you need the right air+gas mixture for things to explode and not just burn, yadda yadda. However, is there some obscure (or even non-obscure) scenario where a pressurized container of [propane (non-damaged) poses an explosion risk when doing, say, a flamethrower device? some kind of gas leaks, like leaking solenoids, over a long period of time in a confined space? Something else?

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Joshua Young wrote 09/14/2018 at 19:10 point

Any recommendations for a good ignition system for a potato gun.

 My repurposed BBQ ignitor is more miss than hit.


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Arya wrote 09/14/2018 at 19:07 point

What do you think about Elon Musk's flamethrower? Is it anything that could be used for fun purposes?

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Arya wrote 09/14/2018 at 19:07 point

I've seen simple flamethrower devices built in neighbour countries' hackerspaces - pressurised gas container + solenoid + igniter. Anything else that's as low-effort (or similar) but stands out? We've built a Rubens tube last year, for example, it's not exactly low-effort but it's simple enough.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Thomas Shaddack wrote 09/14/2018 at 19:06 point

What are the best igniters (and how "best" depends on application)? Spark? Hot surface? Pilot flame? Pyrophoric agent added to the fuel? Others?

  Are you sure? yes | no

Cameron wrote 09/14/2018 at 19:05 point

How do you become a PGI certified pyrotechnician?  It it just a test, does it have prerequisites, etc.?  What does it allow you to do that someone that isn't certified wouldn't be allowed to do?

  Are you sure? yes | no

Arya wrote 09/14/2018 at 19:04 point

Which spark generators do you use for lighting the gas up, say, when you're making a flamethrower kind of thing? We did have to jerryrig a 555+IRF840+ignition_coil contraption recently for our flamethrower bicycle, wondering if there's something better.

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Lutetium wrote 09/14/2018 at 19:03 point

What electronic and mechanical components have you found pair well with fire ignition systems, and fire systems in general?

  Are you sure? yes | no

t.w.otto wrote 09/14/2018 at 19:02 point

as said in the chat room, would like to know how to not catch on fire 

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