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San Diego's Fireworks Show Over In 15 Seconds

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the san-antonio's-went-right-to-plan dept.

Bug 241

First time accepted submitter fotoguzzi writes "Garden State Fireworks is investigating how the entire Fourth of July show was launched after a signal was sent to the barges that would set the timing for the rest of the show after the introduction. Can anyone suggest how such a trivial step could go so disastrously wrong?" It's not the first time such a thing has happened, either.

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241 comments

Wasn't there... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40552993)

But what an awesome 15 seconds that must have been!

Just Like My First Time (5, Funny)

eldavojohn (898314) | about 2 years ago | (#40553035)

But what an awesome 15 seconds that must have been!

Yep, just like my first time ... she didn't seem to think so though.

You shouldn't have made her pay for parking (n/t) (0, Offtopic)

pem (1013437) | about 2 years ago | (#40553093)

I said, n/t.

Re:You shouldn't have made her pay for parking (n/ (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40553263)

Ugh.

Don't do that. No one reads the comment subjects. When you stick the whole message there, you just look like an idiot.

Re:You shouldn't have made her pay for parking (n/ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40553369)

I read it.

Re:You shouldn't have made her pay for parking (n/ (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40553729)

Leper! Outcast! Unclean!

Re:Wasn't there... (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 2 years ago | (#40553141)

Well.. it's better than reading the idiot comments about it on Twitter...

Re:Wasn't there... (2)

frosty_tsm (933163) | about 2 years ago | (#40553425)

But what an awesome 15 seconds that must have been!

Awesome 15 seconds, but 30 minutes of driving, 15 minutes to find a parking spot, 30 minutes of waiting, 1 hour of fighting traffic to leave... (the better viewing places get overwhelmed with people on the 4th). I'm sure some people were bummed even though It would have been awesome to see. I bet there's a few people who were looking the wrong way too.

Re:Wasn't there... (3, Insightful)

sarysa (1089739) | about 2 years ago | (#40553541)

The people who think a fireworks display is worth all that wasted time would probably be fine with such a once-in-a-lifetime spectacle, being laid back as they must be.

Re:Wasn't there... (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about 2 years ago | (#40553493)

But what an awesome 15 seconds that must have been!

Plot for new Hollywood thriller - Gone In 15 Seconds

Re:Wasn't there... (5, Informative)

Adult film producer (866485) | about 2 years ago | (#40553529)

Watch for yourself

http://youtu.be/lrPCEubDZ9A?hd=1 [youtu.be]

Re:Wasn't there... (2)

localman57 (1340533) | about 2 years ago | (#40553725)

It actually isn't all that great, at least on the video. Part of the magic of the fireworks is how they move and expand. With that many going off that close to each other, it just turns into a bright pink blur. The beauty of the motion is gone. Fifteen seconds of a really good finalle seems better to me than 15 seconds of really bright blur.

Much more entertaining, I thought, was the CNN video of a fireworks stand that caught fire. [cnn.com]

I can just hear the cops on the side of the road... "Move along people... move along... Nothing to see here..."

Re:Wasn't there... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40554029)

> I can just hear the cops on the side of the road... "Move along people... move along... Nothing to see here... [youtube.com]

Re:Wasn't there... (5, Informative)

milbournosphere (1273186) | about 2 years ago | (#40554223)

I was, up on the hill at USD. The sound-wave alone was AWESOME. Probably far more memorable than the actual show would have been.

maybe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40553037)

they were using Windows 95 to control the display?

Re:maybe (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about 2 years ago | (#40553565)

they were using Windows 95 to control the display?

I think even Microsoft will avoid direct blame in this one. Expect 11 months of finger pointing, half-assed investigation, incriminations, recriminations, punishment of the innocent and promotion of non-participants.

Re:maybe (1)

IAN (30) | about 2 years ago | (#40554059)

they were using Windows 95 to control the display?

Or maybe Vista?

(This [youtube.com] seems oddly appropriate.)

I think we call that... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40553049)

...premature Californication....

Re:I think we call that... (2)

jamiesan (715069) | about 2 years ago | (#40553549)

The only problem with instant gratification, is that it's too slow.

Nothing unique....so I hear (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40553061)

I hear that happens to every fireworks show at some point in its life. It just needs to relax, take some stress off and not worry about how it performs. Just enjoy the show.

Re:Nothing unique....so I hear (1)

Ukab the Great (87152) | about 2 years ago | (#40553217)

So you're saying that the pyrotechnician should have put on a second condom before starting the show.

Re:Nothing unique....so I hear (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40553843)

no, we're saying you should stop attempting funny posts and stick to sucking at Informative and Interesting.

What are people complaining about? (3, Insightful)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about 2 years ago | (#40553063)

The idea sounds awesome. The videos look awesome. They've all had probably a once in a lifetime experience. And the one guy in the article was complaining about having to pay for parking?

Re:What are people complaining about? (3, Insightful)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | about 2 years ago | (#40553413)

I took your word for it and went to watch the video.
Can't really see what was so awesome about a big cloud of glowing smoke.

It might be awesome into you're into seeing things get blown up or are easily impressed with anything that goes boom. But when entire families spend their day camped out on the waterfront after a drive of who knows how long and paying the exorbitant parking fees, you can bet your ass they'd be upset.

They were expecting an artistically choreographed fireworks show -- not a Redneck BBQ.
The only once in a lifetime experience I see here is that they can fondly look back at the year the 4th of July was a complete ripoff.

Re:What are people complaining about? (5, Insightful)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about 2 years ago | (#40553589)

They can see an artistically choreographed fireworks show next year. They probably saw one last year. Around here they do one every Thursday, all summer. How often do you get to see what happens when all the fireworks go off at once?

"The only once in a lifetime experience I see here is that they can fondly look back at the year the 4th of July was a complete ripoff."

Strange how people getting a fireworks show for free can feel ripped off. Quite the sense of entitlement, hey?

Re:What are people complaining about? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40554187)

Strange how people getting a fireworks show for free can feel ripped off.

This. Strange how people think hundreds of thousands of dollars in explosives, timers, permits, and insurance equals free.

Quite the sense of entitlement, hey?

At the risk of claiming No True Scotsman, you must not pay taxes here in the USA, where we tax payers expect to celebrate the birthday of our nation with - PAID FOR WITH TAXES - fireworks shows.

I would go on, but the first three letters of your handle are CEO. I'm going to take a stab in the dark and suggest you are merely upset that the panem et circenses didn't suppress the Serfs to your satisfaction.

Re:What are people complaining about? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40554319)

How do you know they were paid for with tax money, and not sponsored by local businesses?

I'm not saying it's impossible but shouldn't you find out first?

Re:What are people complaining about? (1)

Grizzley9 (1407005) | about 2 years ago | (#40554317)

I did think it was awesome! So it doesn't matter if it lasted 15 seconds or 15 minutes. And I say that coming from a city that boasts one of the top 10 firework displays in the nation. Ours lasted 30 minutes exactly and the finale was similar to that 15 seconds (though slightly longer). I'd prefer it be slightly shorter b/c you do get tired of the routine after a while.

Common problem... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40553069)

Now I know how my wife feels.

Re:Common problem... (5, Funny)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about 2 years ago | (#40554251)

You give her 15 seconds of fireworks so intense they can be seen in the next state?

I don't think you need to worry about her cheating on you.

SMPTE timecode (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40553095)

One possibility is that the show was run by SMPTE timecode and someone mistakenly either started the code at a late point in the show causing the firing system to "catch up". Another possibility is the timecode was played back at fast forward instead of normal speed.

Re:SMPTE timecode (1)

tiberus (258517) | about 2 years ago | (#40553323)

Anyone know which firing system was being used? Was any part of it wireless? Were the barges tethered to tugs with their radars on?

Even if you go with the assumption that the show was programmed and loaded correctly, there are a number of things that could have gone wrong both internal to the system and environmental that could have caused this. I'd be very interested to hear what the findings are of the 'investigation'. My money would be on being they never find out what caused the show to go all at once.

Re:SMPTE timecode (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40553473)

I'll take: "Dumbass hardware engineers that think they know how to write software and didn't put any checks, verifications, safeties in place."

I'm betting it was even properly debugged by checking the edge cases. Engineers are notorious for writing code like that. All engineers think they can be programmers, very few do it well.

Seems the test procedure went wrong.... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40554089)

I have designed the electronics and software of a fireworks firing system for a company that does regular shows here in Catalonia/Spain.

Believe me, experienced people are very cautious in everything they do, but unexperienced people can make big mistakes if they are overconfident in a black box system that will do everything for them.

In one point specifications said:

-The firing system must make an autotest for each circuit for the team to check all connections are in place.

They test the firing circuits of the fireworks several times before the show to fire all the material. In our case it was done exciting the fuses (sorry I'm not native english) with a safe very low current to see if the fuse is electrically present, and the inspections does a check of a circuit every 0.05s, so you can check the entire show in a few seconds.

For me this seems the check was done with full current on the circuits which fired all the fireworks during this test procedure.

It's quite surprising to have someone design a system that lets this happen from my point of view, in our case we made the circuits impossible (due hardware to redundant hardware switches and circuits) to excite to fire during the test (there are various physical limiter).

So... it seems someone who had not enought experience with fireworks managed to build his system and convince this people to use it... but its surprising, it's a pretty conservative people, at least the ones I know.

How is that not better? (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | about 2 years ago | (#40553133)

FIreworks displays always run too long, that one sounds like it would have been great.

You could set them off over a period of 15 days, or 15 hours, or 15 minutes, or 15 seconds. How does is not get better as the time reduces?

Re:How is that not better? (0)

Hatta (162192) | about 2 years ago | (#40553171)

You could eat a 20lb sack of potatoes over the same timeframes. How does that not get better as time reduces?

Re:How is that not better? (5, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 years ago | (#40553215)

You could eat a 20lb sack of potatoes over the same timeframes. How does that not get better as time reduces?

The shorter the time frame, the more entertaining it is to watch someone try and devour 20lb of... well, anything.

Otherwise, why bother timing eating contests?

Re:How is that not better? (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | about 2 years ago | (#40553471)

Because enjoyment from eating isn't a function of quantity consumed per unit time. Whereas enjoyment of explosions is a function of energy release per unit time.

Now obviously there are other factors, but that didn't come close to reaching the point at which there's enough bang per unit time to make more time better than more bang.

Re:How is that not better? (1)

SomePgmr (2021234) | about 2 years ago | (#40553373)

I think a white ball of fire and smoke seems a bit boring. And judging from the youtube videos, it was.

There's craft in doing a good show that's exciting enough, but also long enough to be impressive.

You're right though, some try to spread too few fireworks over too long a show by choreographing it all really thin.

Re:How is that not better? (4, Interesting)

tiberus (258517) | about 2 years ago | (#40553387)

Not always. Most customers (the folks who pay for the shows) want the longest show for the least money. I've worked show where we were launching one shell every three seconds in order to meet the show duration requested by the customer. Think this turned a nice 5 minute show into a painful 30 minute experience.

How does is not get better as the time reduces?

As time reduces you approach what we call a sky puke. Okay it's a lotta boom but, you really don't get to see much.

Disappointing (1)

Aditya88 (1941500) | about 2 years ago | (#40553135)

It should be very disappointing to all the people who can to see a spectacular show..... small mistake costed a lot ..

biznat3h (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40553137)

on m7 Pentium Pro is dying.Things for membership.

Orban, UK (3, Informative)

Ginger_Chris (1068390) | about 2 years ago | (#40553139)

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-15611160 [bbc.co.uk]

I'd rather watch these short ones than be stood out in the rain (England) for hours.

Re:Orban, UK (3, Funny)

craigwilkie (586704) | about 2 years ago | (#40553609)

Which bit of "scotland" in the URL you posted did you not understand?

Re:Orban, UK (1, Funny)

localman57 (1340533) | about 2 years ago | (#40553853)

I can read it just fine. It's usally when the Scotts try to talk that I can't understand...

Since I was a child, I've always wanted... (4, Informative)

BMOC (2478408) | about 2 years ago | (#40553147)

...for fireworks to be like that, just constant rockets and explosions non-stop for 10-20 minutes. Why do fireworks shows limit their bursts to a Grand Finale?

Put me in charge of destroying money like this, and I'll create a number of bursts that keep you watching for the entire show, leading up to a ridiculous ending worthy of shore shelling from the Iowa.

Re:Since I was a child, I've always wanted... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40553219)

Watch the show in Austin, TX. It is a good thirty minutes of what most places consider a finale.

Re:Since I was a child, I've always wanted... (1)

toxonix (1793960) | about 2 years ago | (#40553261)

Agreed. I get bored unless I'm the one lighting them. Even then I'd rather see them go off all at one time in one big massive fireball.

Re:Since I was a child, I've always wanted... (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 years ago | (#40553271)

Debris and smoke

Re:Since I was a child, I've always wanted... (-1, Troll)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 2 years ago | (#40553333)

...for fireworks to be like that, just constant rockets and explosions non-stop for 10-20 minutes. Why do fireworks shows limit their bursts to a Grand Finale?

Put me in charge of destroying money like this, and I'll create a number of bursts that keep you watching for the entire show, leading up to a ridiculous ending worthy of shore shelling from the Iowa.

Fireworks shows are shows, and multi-media experiences. Which mean it's not all just boom-boom-boom like some bad rap song, but carefully choreographed visuals in time with music.

In fact, the timing of the explosions with the music is an extremely precise art - fireworks aren't that precise, but being able to take into account that and producing a good show overall is extremely competitive. Especially with other pyro that doesn't necessary fly up and explode.

Then again, it's the US. Finely crafted pyro shows? Who gives a damn - people just want to see big loud booms and call it a night. (And yes, they do make mortars whose sole purpose is to just make big loud booms...).

Re:Since I was a child, I've always wanted... (1)

BMOC (2478408) | about 2 years ago | (#40553445)

Then again, it's the US. Finely crafted pyro shows? Who gives a damn - people just want to see big loud booms and call it a night. (And yes, they do make mortars whose sole purpose is to just make big loud booms...).

Yes, well, in large metropolitan areas, 90% of the people watching your fireworks can't hear the music. So all that choreography is about as valuable to the viewers as the signature on a famous painting. However, 2-3 blocks away on a hill, I can hear your loud booms, and I'm hoping to.

Re:Since I was a child, I've always wanted... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40553671)

At every major fireworks show I've been to, a local radio station was playing the music in sync to the firworks, so 99% of the people watching the fireworks can listen to the music if they care to.

Re:Since I was a child, I've always wanted... (1)

BMOC (2478408) | about 2 years ago | (#40553989)

If they did this in LA, they would run out of Radio Stations

Re:Since I was a child, I've always wanted... (4, Informative)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about 2 years ago | (#40553375)

Depends on the show. Those that are simulcast to music might have limitations on when/if they burst. Also I've done/seen shows that does ground effects at different times.

Generally the budget I've seen is for a small city, one minute == $1000. Depending on the pacing at least one shell is being launched every 3rd second. That's 20 shells minimum if there are no multiples firing at the same time. $50 per shell including labor materials, other costs, etc. is what it boils down to. For a 30 min show, that's 600 shells.

Re:Since I was a child, I've always wanted... (1)

tom17 (659054) | about 2 years ago | (#40553487)

Stand at the top of Olympiaberg in Munich at midnight on NYE.

The *entire* city is lit up with fireworks from pretty much every street, and it goes on for almost an hour.

Beats *any* display I have ever seen or heard of, it's truly awesome.

Re:Since I was a child, I've always wanted... (1)

BMOC (2478408) | about 2 years ago | (#40553521)

I live in Los Angeles, all you need to do is find a hill. There's so much civil-disobedience around here w.r.t. lighting off rockets/mortars on the 4th that I'm suspecting most law enforcement is starting to just give up trying to cite people.

Re:Since I was a child, I've always wanted... (1)

SoothingMist (1517119) | about 2 years ago | (#40554077)

Indeed. Our local military base set theirs off all at once without even waiting for dark. It was a grand taxpayer-funded DoD display of "shock and awe". :) What happened was that a vicious storm was approaching and they did not want to leave all those explosives out in the open.

No Sound (1)

David89 (2022710) | about 2 years ago | (#40553159)

The video in TFA has no sound...

Re:No Sound (1)

David89 (2022710) | about 2 years ago | (#40553179)

My bad... Didn't fully RTFA

Re:No Sound (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 years ago | (#40553309)

Scroll down. there's another video with sound.

Decimal Poine (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40553163)

Ok! Ok! I must have, I must have put a decimal point in the wrong place
or something. Shit. I always do that. I always mess up some mundane
detail.

Re:Decimal Poine (1)

hey! (33014) | about 2 years ago | (#40554055)

That'll teach you to write system control code in archaic Fortran, a language which has both auto-declared variables and space intolerant keywords. That's the only language where you can write (do10i=1.100) (assigning new float variable "do10i" a value of 1.1) when you meant "do 10 i = 1,100" (repeat line 10 with i taking values from 1 to 10).

Milliseconds instead of seconds? (4, Interesting)

PRMan (959735) | about 2 years ago | (#40553235)

Maybe the timings were in milliseconds instead of seconds (or a new version of the software suddenly thought they were). Now, 30 minutes of fireworks gets done in 1.8 seconds. But since fuses take a couple seconds and some are longer than others, you get a total of 15 seconds.

Metric system people! (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40553631)

If people would just convert to the metric system, this whole disaster could have been avoided.

Re:Milliseconds instead of seconds? (1)

Idbar (1034346) | about 2 years ago | (#40553823)

You just need to keep up... fast times we're living in!

They probably sync them all [youtube.com] through a blasting fast cloud computer!

Re:Milliseconds instead of seconds? (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 2 years ago | (#40553981)

Or perhaps it just demonstrates the well-known fact that concurrent programs are hard to debug.

Re:Milliseconds instead of seconds? (2)

Locutus (9039) | about 2 years ago | (#40554157)

from what I read, they uploaded a configuration right before the show which sets the timing sequence for the entire show. On 3 out of the 4 launch systems which received the upload the control system immediately launched everything at once. The originating timing software could have saved a sequence file with incorrect seconds timing but what is obvious is that they do not test or validate the sequence file before accepting it. At the very least they don't check for out of bounds events like launching more than X number of mortars in Y seconds without validation.

They can blame it on the "device" but it looks like a software glitch and hopefully it's at the application level and not something like an OS BSOD. Wouldn't it suck if the uploaded sequence file crashed the app _and_ the OS and garbage went out to the trigger unit causing the simultaneous launch.

LoB

Ponderings (1)

Shamanin (561998) | about 2 years ago | (#40553239)

I wonder if you were able to slow the playback of the audiences ooooohhhhhhs and aaaaaaahhhhhhhs, counted them, would they have been perfectly synchronized and in lock step with each burst?

NOT NEWS (0)

bananaquackmoo (1204116) | about 2 years ago | (#40553245)

This is seriously not news. This kind of accident happens all the time with fireworks shows. How this got on to the front page of Slashdot I'll never know.

Re:NOT NEWS (2)

jovius (974690) | about 2 years ago | (#40553439)

Outsourcing?

Killjoy. It was awesome!!! (1)

Picass0 (147474) | about 2 years ago | (#40553463)

There's tons of great video and it's funny as hell. Nobody was hurt except the profession reputations of the fireworks people.

Your sense of humor. Go work on it.

Re:NOT NEWS (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40553465)

This is seriously not news. This kind of accident happens all the time with fireworks shows. How this got on to the front page of Slashdot I'll never know.

So what's it like working at Garden State Fireworks?

Re:NOT NEWS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40553679)

I can tell by your UID that you're new to Slashdot. If this crosses the line for you, may as well leave now. It's clearly tech related, and I thought the story was hilarious. It's the first time I've laughed so hard I cried in a long time. It's one of the biggest fireworks shows in the country. They had buses and shuttles to handle the crowds (hundreds of thousands of people). Hotels even had special rates so that people could watch the show from their rooms. This is a comedy gold mine, but KillJoy McGee over here wants to bitch.

More stories like this, and less about fucking Obamacare.

I can explain that (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 years ago | (#40553259)

People make mistakes, and nothing is perfect.

Next.

Re:I can explain that (2)

jd (1658) | about 2 years ago | (#40553469)

The easy solution is to have 30x as many fireworks and then run it at this speed all the time.

Three words... (1)

NeroTransmitter (1928480) | about 2 years ago | (#40553275)

Big Red Button!

Blame it on faster than light neutrinos . . . (2)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 2 years ago | (#40553319)

. . . or it was an Imperial Units / Metric System mix up again.

Metric System: meters per second.

Imperial Units: furloughs per fortnight.

I always buy Metric System fireworks . . . that go up to 11.

Re:Blame it on faster than light neutrinos . . . (1)

gawaino (1191849) | about 2 years ago | (#40553641)

I think you might mean furlongs (approx 1/5 km) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FFF_system [wikipedia.org] Although with some business cost-cutting measures, "furloughs per fortnight" as a metric doesn't sound that far-fetched nowadays.

Saw it happen once (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40553321)

When I was in college I saw something similar. It was a sticky hot 4th of July evening. Just as the show was starting a big thunderstorm moved in. When they shot the first couple of rockets up, big flashes of lightning arced through the clouds in response. It was pretty impressive. They decided to shoot everything off at once, one after another; fireworks, thunder claps, lightning, all at once. It was totally awesome. Then it started to rain and all the braless coeds in tee-shirts had to walk back to campus. One of the better displays I've ever seen.

Re:Saw it happen once (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40553539)

Cool story bro.

Re:Saw it happen once (1)

Translation Error (1176675) | about 2 years ago | (#40554337)

One of the better displays I've ever seen.

Which part?

Terrorists (1)

master_kaos (1027308) | about 2 years ago | (#40553351)

This was clearly an act of terrorism, trying to ruin a joyful event of 1/2 million people. 1/2 million people * 18 minutes = 17 years. They just wasted 17 years worth of time! FUCKING TERRORISTS

It happened here, too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40553363)

The same thing happened in Edmonton (a capital city), Alberta (Canada) a few years ago.

Thing to remember is that fireworks are typically triggered electronically...o RIGHT electronics never fail. What was I thinking.

Lots of WTF in that story (5, Informative)

slashmydots (2189826) | about 2 years ago | (#40553377)

San Diego fireworks show exploded in 15 seconds, ruining show

Well.....

Best part about #bigbayboom fail is that EVERYONE has always wondered what would happen if all fireworks went off at once," tweeted @richandcreamy.

There we go. That's more accurate, lol. I think "ruining the show" is a bit harsh :-P

By the way...

"I waited 3hrs in the cold and payd $12 for parking & got one little explosion?" tweeted @aj521z.

What ****ing planet is this person from?! It is NOT COLD in San Diego at the moment at any time of day.

Re:Lots of WTF in that story (2)

TheCarp (96830) | about 2 years ago | (#40553835)

> What ****ing planet is this person from?! It is NOT COLD in San > Diego at the moment at any time of day.

answer: San diego

I assume you don't know many people in hot climates. I used to chat with some people in Florida. Every year they would be talking about how cold it is and needing to "bundle up" because its so cold..... then I would check and it would be just under 70 F down there... while I am going outside with the wind whipping 20 F air at me.

Plagiarism in summary (2)

fotoguzzi (230256) | about 2 years ago | (#40553501)

(Submitter here.) I should have put quote marks around the portion of the sentence about signals and introductions. I meant to, but after multiple previews I still forgot. It took me fifteen seconds to submit this story....

bad translation in hardware maybe (1)

v1 (525388) | about 2 years ago | (#40553591)

Launch All Zerg

Testing Circuit Failure? (5, Insightful)

weiserfireman (917228) | about 2 years ago | (#40553651)

Electric matches on the circuits take 5 milliamps to ignite them.

After the fireworks are loaded and wired up, testing is done to identify matches that aren't wired up right. Is there a chance that the testing process failed. On computer systems, it is pretty automated and happens fast. If the test resistor wasn't in the circuit properly, it might look like that.

Notes
I am a BATF licensed pryotechnician.
I assist with a small show every year (our last night went flawlessly)
I have never worked with a computer fired circuit

Re:Testing Circuit Failure? (5, Informative)

PPH (736903) | about 2 years ago | (#40553943)

Electric matches on the circuits take 5 milliamps to ignite them.

That's a bit low (see: http://www.pyromate.com/Basics-of-Electrical-Firing.htm [pyromate.com] ). 5 mA sounds like the test current.

It's going to be an interesting investigation. Most modern pyrotechnic controllers incorporate a shorting system to keep the squibs from being fired inadvertently by static electricity or single point control failures. To fire each circuit, the safety shunt must be removed and then the firing voltage applied. That's two failures at the lower level of the controller. And on every circuit simultaneously. I doubt it.

From the video, it appears that the fault was common to three separate sites. They almost certainly used (at least) one controller at each location, tied together through somee communications network to a central control unit handling the timing. My money is on a software failure at that central point.

Re:Testing Circuit Failure? (3, Interesting)

CatBandit (866637) | about 2 years ago | (#40554263)

Agree on this. This is a test procedure with firing currents instead of test currents.

I designed the electrical and sofware part of a Firing System, and the matches needed much more than 100mA to fire, the 5mA seems on the test range.

In our case our circuit tested the whole show in just a few seconds like this (each match every 0.05 or 0.1s). So if firing current (>>100mA) was applied a faulty test would do this.

But because of this (this is also an economical disaster for the company), the test procedure is hardware forced with low current, with redundant circuits that block that disable the firing current by two or more ways by different systems, that means, that software and hardware must enable the fire.

As this fired at the three places at the same time, this seems a completely software plattform with no apparent HW securities... bad idea.

Re:Testing Circuit Failure? (2)

CatBandit (866637) | about 2 years ago | (#40554305)

Just add that this is an economical disaster, but more important a security disaster, imagine someone near the fires looking for the cabling when they did the test.

Re:Testing Circuit Failure? (3)

91degrees (207121) | about 2 years ago | (#40554393)

But nobody was, and this isn't surprising. Pyrotechnics people have a very belt-and-braces approach to safety. If you're going anywhere near the explosives, the power is off.

Oh, That was the GROUND wire! (1)

FurtiveGlancer (1274746) | about 2 years ago | (#40553689)

Voltage exerted on a ground wire can do silly things to pyrotechnics.

The real explanation (4, Funny)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 2 years ago | (#40553759)

Meriadoc Brandybuck, and Peregrin Took - I might have known!

Shit! I always do that. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40553913)

I must have put a decimal point in the wrong place or something. Shit! I always do that. I always mess up some mundane detail.

California must really be broke (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 2 years ago | (#40553915)

They're crowdsourcing the investigation on Slashdot?

Save dogs, don't do fireworks (-1, Troll)

kthreadd (1558445) | about 2 years ago | (#40553929)

All of you who use fireworks can burn in hell.
Thank you.

Not surprised (4, Funny)

csnydermvpsoft (596111) | about 2 years ago | (#40553963)

Among the accomplishments [gardenstatefireworks.com] listed on the Garden State Fireworks (pyrotechnics company responsible for the show) web site:

Statue of Liberty Bicentennial Celebration

That time, they managed to shoot off the show a whole century early!

Human error (0)

bhlowe (1803290) | about 2 years ago | (#40553973)

Almost certainly operator error... I bet one of the operators thought it would be a good idea to do a last minute reboot (sync the clocks one more time?), hit a "reset all" button, or even made a last minute tweak to the control software. The vendor says they are looking into it, but there is at least one dude who started swearing after their mistake.

Huge bummer for those with kids.. (My kids are too young to stay up late so we watched a few high-def YouTube videos of fireworks on the TV.)

Software bug maybe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40554053)

What is the controling software?
Windows, Linux, or Apple based?

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