Propane cannons in action

A few videos/some background on my propane flame effects - because
"flame throwers" are illegal.

I would love to work with the group and come up with some sort of
crazy trigger system for these. And the infrastructure is already
there - there's an arduino that lives in my control box that talks to
some 5V solid state relays that switch the 120VAC for the solenoid
valves. 4 I/O lines = 4 propane cannons. Sky's the limit. I run
firmata on it so I can use my laptop to act as a bridge between my
phone and TouchOSC. My laptop plugs into the control box and a
Processing sketch decodes the incoming OSC messages and twiddles the
pins on the arduino via firmata.

I've already used the Rock Band Xbox USB Drums to trigger the valves,
it's neat but the combo of firmata and no velocity data from the
joystick emulation of the drums = meh for musicality. I'd love to
work with someone else on a better midi interface.

One of the best things about music + propane is to think of it like a
percussive instrument. The valves can open and close happily at 30Hz,
and they make a really nice PING in addition to the sound of the gas


And a few more videos:
Bumpin with the music -
me on the controls playing "paint it black" - good example of the
"percussion accent" capabilities of flame effects with music:
And more:
lower pressure (tank is almost empty)


This is awesome stuff! Definitely sign it up to get on-board for the Oct. 19 maker faire. We’ll use your inputs for the fire marshall and event insurance purposes.

Go to (link) and fill out as many lines as you can to get officially registered. It is past the deadline, but we want you in and will make space. It does not need to be totally complete. It is a placeholder for the organizers’ planning purposes.

There is word that iSpace has signed on and will bring the Toyoda dancing soccer robots (link). It should be a good event. Maybe we can coordinate flames with their music?


I’m totally jealous.

I can totally choreograph or just do it live with the control box.
That would be a lot of fun! I was going to bring a few (professional)
fire performer friends along too for night time.

The project has been submitted!

Come play some time, I need to repair one of the cannons. It took an
unforunate fall during setup at Kinetic Fire 2013 and needs to be
retested/repaired. I could bring it down to the hive to do the work
and testing, out back would work pretty well. we'll keep the pressure
down so we don't alert the entire neighborhood (I am intimately
familiar with this!)

let me know when you plan to bring the cannon down, i want to check it out.

Is there a list on the wiki of the groups that have signed up for the fair?

Very awesome, can’t wait to see these! There will be a group at the Hive brewing beer tomorrow afternoon (saturday), I’m sure people would be interested if you brought it down to work on it then.
I have a keyboard (the musical kind) that can output midi via a USB adapter…might be fun as a control option…


Mike, I’d like to play with a real midi keyboard (with velocity data?) for darn sure. The valves can do 30-50Hz or so before they can’t keep up - I’d be interested in creating some tonality in the oscilation of the fire, maybe some square wave with duty cycle control triggering.

It was my plan to come down and do SOME work on saturday, probably on my uFlow project. If someone could help me unbork the lift gate on my 4runner i could get the injured cannon down to the hive.

It’s a Yamaha Portable Grand, so more of a practice piano with midi as a bonus rather than a dedicated midi keyboard. The keys do have decent velocity sensitivity, I’m up for bringing it down to the hive sometime to see if we can get it communicating with your software!
I’d be happy to try and help with the lift gate though I don’t have any experience unborking gates…

I’d also be happy to help you with the lift gate - is it stuck closed/open? What is up with it? I have some experience with mechanical car stuff and may be able to lend some assistance.

You can borrow my truck if necessary too… I think it will fit :slight_smile: What part of town are you in?

The cannons are just down the way at the KOI Pound - the injured one is in the garage. The latch on my 2002 toyota 4runner’s rear lift gate is stuck down - if someone had one of those inflatable doohickies they use to pop locks when you lock your keys in the car, we might get it open far enough to release the jam.

and if i roll down tomorrow and someone with a truck/suv can assist, awesome. I don’t have the replacement parts to repair it from mcmaster yet, but we can at least get the busted pieces off and determine what in addition to what i already know has to be ordered.