From: John DuBois <>
Subject: Innaugural Message
Date: 1 Mar 90 10:28:54 GMT

     Hello!  Welcome the pyrotech mailing list.  I set this up because there
is no newsgroup appropriate to these discussions, and for that matter some
people have no access to usenet.  I've enjoyed the occasional threads on
pyrotechnic matters in sci.chem, rec.models.rockets, etc. but they seem to
be discouraged.
     I'm interested in rockets, explosives, mortars, illumination flares, and
just about everything else pyrotechnic, and have been for as long as I can
remember.  Some of the most memorable moments in my life, both good and bad,
have been a result of this interest.  I think I was about 12 years old when I
began looking forward to the 4th of July more than Christmas.  Of course, I 
have had my share of accidents (including one expensive hospitalization), 
mostly due to acts I should have known better than to carry out, and there are
many things I stay away from now, but altogether I think this interest has made
my life much richer.
     What should you write about here?  Practical experiences with
pyrotechnics.  The underlying chemistry.  Questions about the preceeding.
Interesting experiences.  What should you *not* write about?  As I stated in
the Usenet posting, I do *not* want discussions about illegal acts of
destruction.  If you're the type to blow up someone's car over a bad drug deal,
or tape an M80 to someone's window, I'd rather not have you on this list at
all, but of course there's no way for me to know.  So, please, at least don't
talk about it.  On the other hand, if you're on a demolitions crew, feel free
to tell us about it!  Or if you have, at some point in your life, carried out
some experiment that might not be entirely in accordance with the law... well,
I'd advise you not to incrimitate yourself, but I won't stop you from relating
     A disclaimer: the net is a place for open discussions.  I'm sure that 
occasionally there will be information posted here that would, if used
incautiously, incorrectly, or perhaps if used at all, be dangerous to the life
and limb of yourself and others.  This list is not intended to distribute
information that will allow you to produce pyrotechnic items.  It is, in part,
to increase your knowledge, which may have the benefit that if you do ever
decide to experiment, you'll have a bit better fundamental background.  The
information is NOT to allow you to hurt yourself or anyone else!  
     Whatever you do, regardless of where you get your information, excercise
the utmost in safety.  There are lot of things that can go wrong.  I *KNOW*. 
The worst I ever hurt myself was a result of a) forgetting a safety precaution
that, as far as I know, I had never forgotten before (connect ignition leads to
engine *before* plugging the other end of the cable into the ignition system,
so you'll be a cable-distance away from the thing!), b) the ignition system
itself failing, and putting current through the ignitor before the button was
pressed (the moment I clipped the cable onto the leads hanging out of the
engine); and c) the engine my friend had built (polyurethane + ammonium
perchlorate) turning out to not be an engine at all, but instead a rather
powerful explosive.  We later found that there were, in fact, any NUMBER of
things that could cause the "engine" to explode.  Anyway, don't think it can't
happen to you! The probability of all three of those things going wrong was
undoubtedly rather small, but it happened, and I have a 1/2" square piece of
metal in my hand that the surgeon missed to remind me of it when I might get
careless again.
     On another note, I hesitate to even say this, but if you relate
experiences, please be sure they actually happened!  I wouldn't bother with
this caution except that many of the postings I've seen on the net, and others
that have been described to me personally, are patently fictional to anyone
who's actually experimented in the field.  Some pyrotechnic scheme that someone
told you he tried may sound perfectly plausible, but don't say you did it
yourself or you're liable to end up sounding rather inane.  (Of course, none of
this has anything to do with *you* :-)
     All of that said, don't think I don't think pyrotechnics should be fun. 
It is. I'm into it in significant part because of an "academic" type of
interest, but mostly because of the enjoyment I get from trying something out,
or just doing something even if I've already done it a hundred times before.  I
like a nice shock wave, a rocket flame, a flare lighting up the beach from on
high!  It has been an important part of my life, and oft combined with my other
interests... electronics, chemistry (obviously), and, in particular,
photography; I have about 800 slides that I've saved out of several thousand
     So, let's hear it.  Do you have any interesting technical information or
experiences to relate?  Cautions?  Questions?  Does anyone out there actually
work in a pyrotechnic-related field?