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Connecting pyrotechnic igniters in series or in parallel

As most pyrotechnicians know, firing cues can be connected in different ways. Let’s try to understand differences, pros and cons of every kind of configuration.

Connecting in series:

This type of connection consists in linking the firing cues one after the other, kind of old-fashioned Christmas lights.

Here are the most important positive effects that come with this configuration:

  • possibility to run a truthful firing cue test. The firing system is able to test the continuity of the entire circuit, made of all the firing cues and cables.
  • Less amount of energy needed to fire
  • Saving many meters of cable
  • All cable joints are always “head to head” and the connection to the terminal block is with just two cable heads.

And now, the most feared negative effect:

  • Ignition failure of the entire series if one single firing cue or cable of the chain breaks.

Connecting in parallel:

Unlike the connection in series, both cables of the igniter are plugged into the terminal block as if there were one single ignition repeating the process the same way for all the other firing cues.

This is how one single terminal can fit as many wires as the number of firing cues.

The connection in parallel (strongly not recommended), like the previous case, has strengths and weaknesses that we will now analyze.

Pros:

  • In case of breakage of one firing cue or wire, all others will still ignite.
  • Possibility to use different brand firing cues in one same ignition

Cons:

  • Impossibile to run a firing cue test that is true to reality. The firing system shows positive test results even if only one firing cue is connected, it does not notice if all the other are malfunctioning
  • Risk that the “harder to ignite” firing cues will non fire
  • Needs a lot more energy to fire all igniters
  • Big waste of cable
  • Difficulties in connecting numerous cables to the terminals

Conclusion

For complex electrical reasons, that are quite difficult to list briefly, we always recommend our customers to use a connection in series that, although makes the system more “delicate”, guarantees excellent performance.

The firing cue test, which in this connection will be true to reality, allows the operator to quickly repair a possible breakage, restoring the continuity of the entire chain.

In contrast, the connection in parallel is not recommended, unless there is a situation in which you need to use different brand firing cues, like in case of gear already equipped with firing cues.