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  1. #1
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    Cool Lasers with a cobra firing system

    Hello, I am a backyard pyro enthusiast and recently contacted my buddy Scott at Cobra asking for an insight on a laser system that would work with the Cobra firing system. I use the system for my pyro musicals each year and would like to ad laser effects this year. Does anyone know of any laser systems that would work by cue with the Cobra system and audio box?
    thanks
    david

  2. #2
    APPROVED MEMBER pyroboy1der's Avatar
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    Re: Lasers with a cobra firing system

    Hey Leda,

    Welcome to PyroFan.

    Let me give you the quick answer:
    Lasers are really hard to get to work with Pyro and the types of lasers that have a chance to actually work OK are extremely expensive and require training and expertise beyond what most people can achieve. I've seen shows where people have tried (I've tried) and the time and expense were absolutely not worth what was gotten out of it. Don't do it. It opens you up to lots more failure points and more liability for not much effect. Don't bother with lasers.
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    APPROVED MEMBER pyroboy1der's Avatar
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    Re: Lasers with a cobra firing system

    Here's the longer answer:
    This is a question that comes up at least a few times a year. Lots of people see big rock shows with lasers, Pyro, and lights and want to do the same thing in their backyard. The problem is that a concert hall, stadium, or city dome is a way different venue than your backyard. For one, the audience is (hopefully) much further away in your back yard. Second, the concert probably has a roof and 4 walls. Third, the concert has an astronomically larger budget than you do.

    Being outdoors is the biggest challenge. How bright fireworks are is the second one. It might not seem like it when we test things out in the daytime but fireworks are actually REALLY bright. Light follows what's called the inverse square law. Meaning that the light intensity decreases related to the square of distance. Intensity=1/Distance^2 (I'll explain) Lets say that you have plenty of brightness from your laser when you're 50ft away. When you double that distance to 100ft the brightness ISN'T half of what it was, It's one quarter. When you go out to 150ft it's ONE NINTH the brightness compared to the 50 ft mark. That means you need to start with an incredibly powerful laser to even have something noticeable a few hundred feet away. You can get yourself a big powerful laser but they are EXTREMELY expensive, require training to even be able to purchase them, and often require more than a standard 120v to operate. Once you've gone through all that cost and troubles it's hard to want to chuck that multi thousand dollar piece of gear in a field and blow stuff up around it. And even then the effect isn't that impressive.

    In order to use a laser (any laser not just a high power one) outdoors you need to get permission from the FAA to shoot lasers out into space. That way they can warn pilots about them and they can avoid flying into that space. If you're near a busy airport getting that permission may be very difficult. Concerts usually don't have that problem because of the walls and ceilings. They can terminate into un-occupied spaces in the room and not worry about the FAA at all. Outdoors you don't have that option and at minimum you'll need to tell the FAA where you're shooting. Start and end times, and maximum angles for your laser. And as always, they can say no if it's going to cause problems.

    Perhaps the biggest and simplest hurdle for Lasers is cost vs value. You absolutely can go out and solve those other problems. If you give the FAA enough time and you're in the right place they absolutely will give you the OK to terminate into space. I've know a guy near me who does it all the time without issues. And yes, you can go spending MANY thousands of dollars on a high quality, high power laser system and training. But at the end of the day it's just not that impressive. My 2 cents is that the 10-15 thousand dollars you would spend getting an adequate laser system is probably better spent improving your firing system, building out your PA, getting Showsim or Finale, and buying better product. You'll get much more impact for your dollar running a few really cool comet chases than you would trying to integrate lasers into your show.
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    but to answer your original question most high quality laser systems can take timecode.
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    Re: Lasers with a cobra firing system

    Another point to consider is whether your state requires an operator's license for lasers. This would be in addition to the fireworks license and permits. NY does require a certificate of competency for lasers.
    PGI and CrackerJacks
    BATF Type 20
    NYS Certified Pyrotechnician

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    APPROVED MEMBER pyroandy's Avatar
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    Re: Lasers with a cobra firing system

    In order to use a laser (any laser not just a high power one) outdoors you need to get permission from the FAA to shoot lasers out into space. That way they can warn pilots about them and they can avoid flying into that space.
    You can not just shoot Lasers into space! They need to terminat someware safe. If you are within 25 miles of an airport you must notify them.

    The biggest problem with lasers is they need particles in the air to see them. Weather its smoke or fog, but the wind may blow it away.

    Lasers have there own control protocol and cannot be directly controlled from a firing system. You can however run timecode to a laser controller. This will be part of my presentation at Cobra Con.

    It does look cool though when it works. Check out the pic from one of our shows on our FB page. https://www.facebook.com/CelFire/
    Last edited by pyroandy; 02-12-2019 at 08:59 PM.

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    Re: Lasers with a cobra firing system

    What laser effect are you looking for? Straight, static lines of light might be done with fiber optics. You can get lasers that "dance" to sound/music like in a club that aren't that expensive and aren't tied to precision firing cues. The smoke from fireworks would provide plenty of particulates. But, you still need a low angle that terminates against a building or trees or similar. At Halloween, we have a double laser with random patterns that runs about 15-20 feet overhead against some evergreen trees with a smoke machine below. It's not precision, but looks cool and varies with the music being played. It's the beams on the smoke we are after anyway. It can be controlled by DMX but we haven't done that. As far as I know, you don't need an operators license for it in most places. We don't. These aren't multi-watt lasers that you see at large venues. They are milli-watt lasers. I imagine you could use the same running above the crowd if the "liquid sky" effect is what you are after. Look into DJ lasers for info. There's probably some way to come up with a start / stop / on / off using DMX driven somehow by Cobra cues. Someone else would have to answer that part.

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    APPROVED MEMBER pyroandy's Avatar
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    Re: Lasers with a cobra firing system

    Quote Originally Posted by rbarbourbisfx View Post
    What laser effect are you looking for? Straight, static lines of light might be done with fiber optics. You can get lasers that "dance" to sound/music like in a club that aren't that expensive and aren't tied to precision firing cues. The smoke from fireworks would provide plenty of particulates. But, you still need a low angle that terminates against a building or trees or similar. At Halloween, we have a double laser with random patterns that runs about 15-20 feet overhead against some evergreen trees with a smoke machine below. It's not precision, but looks cool and varies with the music being played. It's the beams on the smoke we are after anyway. It can be controlled by DMX but we haven't done that. As far as I know, you don't need an operators license for it in most places. We don't. These aren't multi-watt lasers that you see at large venues. They are milli-watt lasers. I imagine you could use the same running above the crowd if the "liquid sky" effect is what you are after. Look into DJ lasers for info. There's probably some way to come up with a start / stop / on / off using DMX driven somehow by Cobra cues. Someone else would have to answer that part.
    Unfortunately, the low power lasers will be worthless in an outside setting, they just are not bright enough to see from any distance. DMX presets can be controlled by timecode, but there is nothing that I know of that will go from Cobra cues to DMX directly.

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    Re: Lasers with a cobra firing system

    The DJ lasers don't have to be distant like the fireworks. They can be near the audience. They work fine outdoors at my place for about the effect I like for about 100 feet. The green light goes all the way across my property above my Halloween visitors as long as the smoke machines work. I've been using it for 3 years. I haven't tried it with pyro generated smoke. There are DMX recorders that can be triggered by a single contact kind of like a sequencer. You record the show earlier and it's stored on an SD card. The playback is triggered by 12v input. I'm not a DJ and I'm not familiar with time-codes or DMX. Probably not what the OP intended. But, it is a laser effect option. Personally, I don't think it would add to a pyro show that is already well done. I agree with the earlier statements that the same money and time might be better spent building a better show with special pyro effects and execellent scripting.

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    Re: Lasers with a cobra firing system

    If you do end up getting a laser system, note that COBRA does (not on our website) have SMTPE time code input today. We have a lot of clients using this to accept the same feed that is going into 3rd party systems such as DMX or I am sure specific laser systems also support time code inputs.

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    APPROVED MEMBER pyroandy's Avatar
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    Re: Lasers with a cobra firing system

    There are DMX recorders that can be triggered by a single contact kind of like a sequencer. You record the show earlier and it's stored on an SD card. The playback is triggered by 12v input.
    I would be interested in seeing that. Do you have any more info for something like this?

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