Connecting Electric Matches to Visco (Cannon) Fuse

Written by Harry Gilliam

Topics: Consumer Fireworks, Science

About this time of year we get lots of questions about attaching electric matches to consumer fireworks. That’s because more and more people are using electrical firing systems to fire their 4th of July consumer fireworks shows, even at home.  Here’s how to do it.

The Problem:
Electric matches made using Skylighter’s Electric Match Dip Kit (GN5050) and Electric Match Blanks (GN5040) put out a good amount of fire and can directly light visco fuse when connected end-to-end. Visco fuse is the green fuse used in most consumer fireworks (it is also called cannon fuse).  But just taping the electric match to the visco fuse is not 100% reliable, so the connection technique you use is critical. Here’s a little trick that works quite well for me when connecting electric matches to visco fuse and has given me 100% ignition so far.

Materials needed:

  • Consumer fireworks
  • Electric matches ("ematches")
  • Roll of clear packing tape or masking tape.
  • Roll of quickmatch (GN3001) or Super-Fast Firecracker Fuse (GN1205)
  • Razor blade

materials needed to attach ematches to visco fuse

Assembly:

Cut visco fuse at an angle. Cut the firework’s visco fuse on a sharp angle (as seen in figure A). This will expose more of the fuse’s black powder core. If your device comes with a long visco fuse attached, you may want to cut it down to about an inch to reduce ignition delay.

visco fuse cut at an angle for ematch attachment
Figure A:
Cut visco fuse at an angle

Create a quickmatch sleeve. Using a razor blade, cut a length of quickmatch about 1 inch longer than the fuse supplied with the consumer firework device.

Note: It’s best to cut quickmatch with a razor blade or anvil cutters. Quickmatch can ignite from the friction of scissors cutting through it.

Slide quickmatch over device’s fuse. Carefully slide the device’s fuse into the center of the quickmatch sleeve. Slide the quickmatch sleeve all the way down so it covers the firework’s entire fuse.

carefully sliding quickmatch over a fireworks visco fuse
Figure B:
Slide quickmatch over fuse

Insert electric match into quickmatch. Outside and away from people, hold the device so it is pointing away from you and any flammable material. Insert an electric match into the open end of the quickmatch to a depth of an inch (as in Figure C). You may need to slide back the electric match’s protective plastic cap.

Note: Removing the electric match’s protective cap may make inserting the ematch easier, but can cause ignition by friction. Insert the ematch’s head slowly and gently.

carefully inserting ematch into quickmatch lead
Figure C:
Insert electric match

Tape quickmatch, and electric match to device. Secure the electric match to the side of the firework with clear packing tape covering both ends of the quickmatch, as in Figure D. Add a couple of extra wraps of tape to secure the electric match in place.

The tape serves two purposes:
1) It confines the burning gasses, increasing the burn rate.
2) It secures the ematch in place.

Tip: If you’ve never done an electrically fired fireworks display, just imagine people moving about in complete darkness with dozens of wires all around. It’s inevitable that if you don’t completely secure each and every electric match someone will trip on "that" wire and pull the electric match free causing a misfire.

taping quickmatch and ematch to firework
Figure D:
Tape electric match in place

How does it work?
When the electric match fires, the ematch sparks for only an instant. If the ematch sparks and fire do not directly hit the visco’s black powder core, the electric match may fail to ignite the firework device. The blackmatch inside the quickmatch sleeve prevents this problem by carrying the fire forward, and increasing the amount of fire given to the visco fuse. This ensures that the slightest spark from your electric match will pass fire to the visco. The quickmatch’s outer paper wrap directs the fire downward through the tube like a flamethrower, lighting everything in its path, including the visco.

"But, I live too far away to pick up quickmatch…"
Having quickmatch on hand does make this process faster, but all you need to make this work is blackmatch and a homemade tube to direct the fire. Skylighter’s GN1205 is a great source of blackmatch, unless you want to make your own.

What is GN1205, Super-Fast Paper Firecracker Fuse?
Well it’s our fastest, shippable fuse. It burns at 1 foot per second! It consists of 3 strands of blackmatch with a light tissue paper wrapping. This tissue paper wrapping gives it a controlled fast burn great for chaining candle batteries, adding leaders to homemade festival balls, even chaining up your finale.

Harvesting blackmatch from GN1205. Gently peel the tissue paper off of the Super-Fast Firecracker Fuse as shown in Figure E.

removing black match from Skylighter's GN1205 super-fast paper firecracker fuse
Figure E:
How to remove blackmatch from Super-Fast Firecracker Fuse

Make a thin walled tube. You’ll need a thin walled paper tube to hold the blackmatch, visco and electric match all in place. For this cut a 3 x 3 piece of copy paper, and roll it on a 3/8th inch dowel or anything about that diameter (a Bic pen works well). Use glue or tape to keep it closed.

Insert blackmatch into thin walled tube. Insert 6 strands of blackmatch into a thin walled paper tube (as seen in Figure F). If the blackmatch is long, cut it flush.

inserting black match into a tube
Figure F:
Insert blackmatch into tube

Continue by following quickmatch instructions above.

The preceding tip provided by,
Brian P.
Skylighter



2 Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. Jord Peck says:

    Hello! I’m trying to learn how to make a small confetti launcher. I’ve been searching the www vigorously for hours but with no results! I’m working on a comedy act and I need the effect so when I pull down my tutu and bend over confetti appears to shoot out my bum. The launcher would need to be quite small like those tiny confetti shooters the little kids play with at birthday parties and fourth of July. If you could lead me to a source for this information I would truly appreciate it. Thank you!

    • Rob says:

      Try compressed air instead. Say an unloaded co2 pellet gun with a tube full of confetti taped to the barrel. It might save you burning your ass.

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