From a Church Roof in Cirencester.
We have owned FireTEK for two months and having worked perfectly over the Bonfire Night Season, we were sure this location would test the wireless communication side of the system. Anyone who has experienced wifi signals and their limited range through brick walls and trees will be aware that 2.4GHz is not the best frequency for range or penetration through solid objects. It’s totally fine for Line of Sight (LOS) operations but this location doesn’t have any LOS. The display which is fired from a church roof seven meters square would be well within the capability of FireTEK but this year we had a second roof much lower down and the requirements to get the signal to a sound stage 100 meters away at the ground level. Each roof is made of lead sheet over oak and the walls were solid stone. This would be a good test and on the day, the whole setup was in wind and heavy rain.
The display was built around four FireTEK FTH-48s interfaces and two FTM-99s remotes. One remote was in Audio-B mode at the sound stage and this would play the music for the display from a WAV file in its internal 4Gb memory. The second FTM-99s would act as the master with me on the top of the church tower with two 48s interfaces to fire eight rails of firework product. Each FireTEK rail has 12 ports and with 4 rails per interface giving you a total of 48 ports to work with. The remaining two FTH-48s interfaces were on the lower roof with seven rails of product. In total 124 igniters in a duration of 2:25.
Setup was fast once the product was lifted up the spiral staircases to the roofs. Although it was raining and the fireworks had been wrapped in plastic, the FireTEK rails that the igniters were connected to were left in the rain. These rails will work when submerged in water so a bit of rain wasn’t going to harm them.
Now I mentioned that the firing positions over different heights would in my previous experience of 2.4GHz wireless cause problems for the wireless network. FireTEK creates a wireless mesh network between all the interfaces at power up and we are using an FTM-99s as the master. FireTEK can also use the CAN bus with a single pair wire connected between all the interfaces and the master. We came prepared to drop a wire from the church tower down to the lower roof just in case of wireless signal issues. I was also ready to hang one of the 48s interfaces over the top wall of the church to create a line of site signal path to the lower roof.
None of this was necessary. The FTM-99s master remote was turned on followed by all the FTH-48s interfaces and the FTM-99s in Audio-B mode at the sound stage. The two interfaces next to the master appeared in the network after 15 seconds. It took a further 40 seconds for the interfaces on the lower roof to appear along with the Audio-B remote. To be honest, I was quite surprised and this was during heavy rain. 2.4GHz is crap in water. Even more surprising was that all the interfaces were showing full signal strength in the upper 90% with only one showing a signal strength in the low 80%. I can live with that as I expected to have none at one of the firing locations.
Layouts like this over different heights with thick stone walls and horrible weather are always a worry but seeing a firing system that we are still learning, fire in the nasty conditions gives you a lot of confidence in its capabilities.
The display itself was a success. The music started when commanded and the fireworks fired when commanded. You cannot ask for better than that.
Thanks FireTEK for producing a system which is easy and quick to setup and just works. I have big plans for using FireTEK in our displays of 2016.