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How To Set Off Fireworks Without Blowing Yourself Up

Setting off fireworks on the Fourth of July is almost a duty or an obligation, part of being American. And fireworks are enjoyable to watch. But they can be dangerous, as we see every year as the July 5th news is full of stories of people accidentally igniting all the fireworks at once, or blowing their fingers off, or worse. If you’re going to shoot off fireworks, learn something about them first. Know your state regulations, plan the time and place, and have some safety factors ready.

If this is your first foray into this realm, the easiest (and probably least threatening) entry point are the ground displays. These are the kinds of mini-fire shows that stay on the ground after you light them, emitting sparks and big fountains of colorful light and gunpowder. Once again, the idea here is to light the thing and run away, unless you have a thing for getting sparked in the face. (This may seem obvious to you as you read this, but it will likely be less obvious in the moment, when you are far more likely to be drunk, so I figured it couldn’t hurt to repeat it now.)

There’s a lot more about fireworks and safety for first-timers, and it wouldn’t hurt experienced pyromaniacs to take a refresher course, at Adequate Man. -via Digg

(Image credit: Jim Cooke)


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just did some googling and you're right you can still get them. you can even get g through J class, though most of these require certification of some sort to order. there was a time when all these e's and f's were unavailable and several of my favorite suppliers shut down because of the change in regulation. evidently things changed again when i wasn't looking. (i havn't done any rocketry since the 70's so we're talking about a 40 year blindspot on my part) i mistakenly assumed that in the post 9/11 america these would all be banned, i was wrong. :) ps- when i was a kid the local hobby shop carried up to D's and an hour's drive or 2 would get you to a shop that carried the E's and F's.
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As you said, you could order them as a kid, and you can still order E and F engines now. Even when I was a kid, the store near me didn't carry anything above a B size, and larger sizes had to be ordered via mail (depends where you live, ymmv, etc.).
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that's certainly how professional displays are done. kinda hard to find rocketry supplies these days for the average joe though. over an hours drive to the nearest hobby shop that carries estes products where i live. then when you get there you find that all they have are 3 or 4 rockets that have premade plastic fin modules tubes that need no sealing or dope and the only engines that are available are wimpy anemic ones that will barely push your craft past 350 feet. when i was a teenager we could order kits and engines from Competition Model Rocketry. they had E and F grades of engines, some had initial thrusts of over 60 lbs and a 7 second burn! some models could break the sound barrier and reach altitudes of a mile or more. those were the days...*wipes little tear from eye
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Unfortunately, in NY state you can't do any of this. It's either go to a fireworks display being held somewhere or get them in Pennsylvania and set them off illegally.
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I used to do model rocketry. We ignited rocket engines remotely using a battery pack wired to an ignitor, sort of like a match-head on a thin wire (all Estes products). Couldn't the same be done for fireworks?

Nice graphic. Yikes.
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