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Member Since 07 Mar 2006
Offline Last Active Jun 08 2016 08:35 PM

Topics I've Started

AGM 2015 Evening Meal

08 May 2015 - 12:04 AM

As the venue restaurant is unable to provide catering after 5pm, I shall be booking a table at a nearby Indian restaurant for arrival between 9.45 and 10pm.


Saffron Lounge
32 Carlton Road
S80 1PH


They would like an idea of numbers, so if you would like to attend, please add your name to the list below and repost - I shall call them Friday night around 11pm to confirm.


If you happen to be reading this after Friday at 11pm and would still like to attend (I realise this post was a little last minute and not everyone will see it in time), don't panic, the numbers are a rough guide to the restaurant and they are well aware that they could change.



Paul (pyromaniac303)

OpenFire - Open source firing system

12 January 2014 - 02:41 AM

Just gauging interest and collecting some thoughts on a project I have been working on for a long time:


I have been developing a modular firing system using an automotive 1 wire comms interface (LIN bus). It supports up to 128 units each with 20 cues, it reads a script file in .csv format (editable in excel) from SD card, and has a minimum cue to cue time of 0.1 seconds. Each unit can be polled for connectivity, and each cue can be continuity tested and reported back to an LCD on the master.


I'm hoping to release the master software as open source for the Arduino platform, possibly sell a shield to make construction simpler, and sell the slave units (these are PIC based and all surface-mount, so would be awkward to build for the non-technical). This way I hope to get around some of the liabilities incurred with selling a complete system, i.e. what happens if someone were to accidentally fire a cue and cause damage or injury.


The slave units are mounted in a waterproof diving box approx 200mm x 120mm, the panel has speaker terminals like the ones pictured, however the PCB will take up the entire box and the edges will be silicone sealed (current prototype is MDF to save PCB costs during development).


The components will all be located on the bottom side of the panel, and conformal coated to prevent moisture damage if it does somehow get past the silicone. Each unit will have 2 panel mounted 3.5mm headphone-style connectors, which will be plugged with a rubber bung when not used, for ingress protection. The 3.5mm connectors will carry +12V, ground and signal to each unit, and they can be daisy chained. The great thing about these cables is that you can buy them very cheaply (i.e. £2 for 20m from eBay), and each unit has a fairly large capacitor therefore cable resistance does not become a problem on normal firing sites of less than 40 metres, this is the guaranteed working limit of the LIN system anyway. The capacitor charge time over 40 metres of poor quality cable is still less than the 100mS between cues, so if someone had shorted an output connection by mistake and the unit went into reset, it would be 'alive' by the next command and would not miss a firing instruction.


Each unit has to be bought with an address in mind, so for most users 1, 2 and 3 would be appropriate for 3 point firing, though for those that always mirror the left and right sides they may wish to buy 2 of address 1 for the outers, and 1 of address 2. The alternative to this would be that the user buys a PICKIT2 for around £30 and uploads their own code into the slaves via the test points.


The key thing with this has been to keep it within reach of hobbyists, so I am hoping to sell these slave units around the £100 mark, this would include support in getting the master that you'll have built yourself working successfully. I envisage the master shield to cost around £60 including LCD and card reader but have not done cost calculations on bulk purchase yet for this.


I will be placing a sample order for 100 sets of parts in the near future, and would like to see if I have missed any crucial features / obvious improvements I could make at little or no extra cost. I would also like to know if people think that the price is acceptable for the slave units.


Pictures of prototype unit - note that the final build will be all FR4 PCB top panel rather than MDF, so the connectors will be soldered directly in rather than wired. The 3.5mm sockets will also be panel mounted rather than loose on wires.

Attached File  openfire_prototype3.JPG   85.28KB   114 downloads

Attached File  openfire_prototype2.JPG   112.97KB   111 downloads

Attached File  openfire_prototype1.JPG   142.42KB   107 downloads


Sorry for the gigantic post but I would appreciate any questions or comments you may have.





Valencia 2013

26 September 2012 - 09:57 PM

This came up in the board meeting tonight, and we we're wanting to get a picture of how many people are likely to be going to Valencia next year for Las Fallas, so that we could perhaps plan to meet up or stay in the same hotel.

So... Who is planning on going? Where are the best places to stay?

As a starter, I will very likely be going for the final 4-5 days, and looking to stop in the Holiday Inn, very close to the park / dried up river bed where a good majority of the madness takes place.

Events for 2012/13

11 June 2012 - 09:12 PM

Over the past few weeks, the UKPS staff have been discussing various options in the conference call that we would like to see happen in the next year.

This is your chance to vote on what you would like, and perhaps suggest other ideas we haven't already thought of.

Also, we are planning to attend the firework championship event at Eastnor Castle, so volunteers to help recruit members at this event will be much appreciated!