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Hints and tips for Australians


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#1 mike_au

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Posted 09 April 2008 - 07:05 AM

I am just starting out in pyrotechnics and living in Australia I am having some trouble finding relevant information.

There seems to be a few aussies on this forum so I'm hoping some of them might be able to offer some helpful tips.

Personally I have some experience with model rockets so I intend to start with BP or KNO3+sugar rockets. The first problem I have hit is finding bentonite clay (neither bunnings nor any of the craft stores I have tried carry it). Next step is looking at kitty litter, so can anyone recommend a supplier, a suitable brand of kitty litter, or an alternative?

I would also be interested in making coloured rockets, but all of the chemicals people talk about with regard to colours seem to be used purely in pyrotechnics. Are there any colouring compounds made out of things available at the local hardware store or similar?

And I'll just throw it open, does anyone AU have any hints or tips that might be of interest specifically to australians?

Thanks

#2 WarezWally

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Posted 09 April 2008 - 07:17 AM

For bentonite clay go to Coles and grab a bag of 'homebrand' kitty litter, the bag will feel like it is filled with small rocks - this is the one you want. Its pretty much pure bentonite, it will need to be processed (reduced to powder)

If you want, go to a pottery supplier and buy it there, its dirt cheap there and will be already processed plus you can pick up some carbonates.

Colored rockets are quite difficult and require funky chemicals which are hard to find.

Go to a farm supply / fertilizer store and buy a bag of KNO3 there, should be about $35 for a 25kg bag. Should be able to get a bag of sulfur there as well. You will most likely need to grind up the potassium nitrate as it will come in prilled form, just grab the cheapest coffee grinder / blender you can find.

For charcoal, I suggest pine for rockets and poplar for BP. You will probably want a ball mill :)

Need any help, feel free to ask. PM me and ill direct some quality information your way to help you get off the mark.
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#3 WarezWally

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Posted 09 April 2008 - 07:22 AM

And I'll just throw it open, does anyone AU have any hints or tips that might be of interest specifically to Australians?

Remember, you are breaking the law. Don't do anything stupid and its a good idea to keep your new hobby to yourself.
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#4 mike_au

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Posted 09 April 2008 - 06:31 PM

I've already got my kno3 (powder, 99.5% according to the msds) and sulfur (95%).

I've made a couple of small batches of BP using charcoal from the bbq and a mortar and pestle, it worked OK considering it wasn't very fine and wasn't very well mixed.

I rolled a few tubes last night (it is harder than I expected to get a decent one).

I will go grab some kitty litter tonight.

What are the carbonates for? I have just done a bit of reading and they seem to be used for colouring. You said coloured rockets are hard, are the carbonates only good for stars or something?

I've started collecting parts for my ball mill, I've got a motor, some pulleys, a belt and some rollers. A mate is grabbing me some bearings and my mum has some fairly solid pine that I'm going to use as a base (I'll grab some extra bits to cook into charcoal). I hope to have it put together within a week or two.

On the topic of legality, I noticed someone posted their ISP email address (which could easily be traced back to them) in the intro thread, does anyone know how much effort is put into looking for people making fireworks? or am I only likely to get found out if someone complains about noise etc?

#5 nick2354

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Posted 09 April 2008 - 08:51 PM

I would safely say, that law enforcement officals arent going to track you down for making fireworks, maybe HE's though?

Warezwally: I use the same Bentonite as you. It comes in a 15 litre bag and only costs 3.95, it should last me a lifetime. I disagree with the statement "it needs to be powdered", as I have made only a *FEW* rockets with it powdered and as it came out of the bag, and it seems to produce a harder nozzle when rammed as it came out of the bag.

Mike_au: Make Newspaper charcoal as it is easy to find and is quicker to grind and burns very fast

(This is discussed in http://www.apcforum....topic=81&st=580 pages 29-31)

Also, Hardware stores in Australia are useless, to a pyros perspective. The only thing i've found in them was sulfur with 99.9 purity.

Good luck, and let us know how you get on.
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#6 Gunzway

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Posted 10 April 2008 - 04:19 AM

Go to a farm supply / fertilizer store and buy a bag of KNO3 there, should be about $35 for a 25kg bag. Should be able to get a bag of sulfur there as well.

Warezwally that would not be the smartest idea to purchase KNO3 and Sulfur in the same shop. Especially if you plan to buy from that shop for the rest of your pyrotechnic career. Even though it's unlikely for you to be found out from purchasing Sulfur and KNO3 in the same purchase. It really ain't worth the chance.

I am not saying you will be caught. I am just saying if you could buy your KNO3 and Sulfur from separate shops it would lower suspicion. Buying both items will cause a lot of curiosity and they will most likely ask more questions.

I have found the following stuff is Australia. I have not yet looked around for much yet. But I'll keep you guys up to date with what you can get.

-KNO3 (Agriculture shops, Hydroponic Shops, Sometimes Chemists. Mostly "Compounding Chemists".
-Sulfur (Agriculture Shops) Also (Hydroponic Shops)
-Charcoal (Various places) I saw some from an art kind of shop. Supermarkets also sell it. Though I personally make mine.
-Bentonite Clay
-Aluminum Powder. (Art and crafts shop) .
-I have seen Magnesium at a Boat Shop. Though I did not buy it.

Really the list is very limited. But basically it is the basics of what you need. It just shows that with a little of searching around and finding your closest Agriculture/Hydroponic stores that these chemicals are obtainable in Australia.

#7 WarezWally

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Posted 10 April 2008 - 05:54 AM

I don't see the issue with buying sulfur with potassium nitrate, if anything it makes your purchase look less suspicious compared to buying a bag of fertilizer straights. Sulfur is not even mentioned on any watch list (and why would it be?)

Remember, the people working in these places are fairly clueless. They don't know that your using it for BP, the only thing they know is that maybe nitrates can be used by baddies. I always pick up a few things anyway, bag of manure, ammonium sulfate, lime, potassium chloride etc

Just asking for a bag of nitrate straights is very suspicious.

#8 mike_au

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Posted 10 April 2008 - 06:30 AM

Gunzway: thats basically the list of what I've got :)

I only have a tiny bit of aluminium (grinding alfoil) and my magnesium is in a block but hopefully that should be enough to get started.

You would probably be unlucky to get someone who recognised that you were trying to make black powder, but I as only know of one place to get kno3 (I spent a while tracking it down), I wouldn't be keen to risk tipping them off.

Plus sulfur is available all over the place.

My tubes are coming along nicely (I think they are a little thin though ;) )

Hopefully this weekend I will make some more BP, some blackmatch and make a start on the ball mill.

#9 WarezWally

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Posted 10 April 2008 - 06:37 AM

I have a decent supplier for 250 mesh aluminium powder, think its about $20 a kilo

They also have brass, iron, copper, and bronze. I also managed to import a few pounds of indian flake :)

#10 MilkyJoe

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Posted 10 April 2008 - 06:59 AM

-Aluminum Powder. (Art and crafts shop) .


Gunzway I would be interested to know the name of the art shop and the mesh/price if you wouldn't mind sharing =]

I was also wondering, has any Aussie found a good source for fuse? I hate being stuck with sparklers/Black Match and other crappy homemade substitutes.

#11 Gunzway

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Posted 10 April 2008 - 03:57 PM

I don't mind Black match. There's a fuse called a Slow Match. Fairly simple to make but I do not know the quality. I take it is slow. :P
http://www.pyroguide...itle=Slow_match
But better yet. Might as well take a look at the whole list.
http://www.pyroguide...=Category:Fuses
I personally use: Black Match and E Match.
Possibly in October I might make a Visco Fuse Machine.

I would tell you where I bought the Aluminum. But it is fairly close to myself. I don't know the name of the shop. When I go back for more I'll check it out. The shop ain't like colorful with signs and stuff. Really you wouldn't notice the Art shop only if you knew it was one. So it wouldn't be a branch of these shops seems to be the one shop. The mesh is 250. Personally I am going to ball mill mine for a better effect for the D1 Glitter. I bought it for $17 a kg.

Does any Australian know where to find Titanium?

#12 InRainbows

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Posted 10 April 2008 - 04:14 PM

Gunzway, slow match is usually a thick cord that smolders VERY slowly to light muskets, I think your implying about touchpaper. Touchpaper is pretty much tissue paper that was soaked in KNO3 solution to burn as fuse. The same can be done to string, would probably work just as good. I would go with KNO3/sugar instead, would probably be better as fuse.
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#13 MilkyJoe

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Posted 10 April 2008 - 05:32 PM

I've made touch paper for testing my batches but I wouldnt use it as a fuse. And as for kno3/sugar soaked string, its dreadfully slow and doesn't seem to burn through fuse holes.

I guess I will have to improve my blackmatch, anyone got any ideas how to stop sparks jumping and igniting further down the fuse?

I was thinking a NC lacquer.

#14 Mumbles

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Posted 10 April 2008 - 05:34 PM

NC lacquer would actually make the problem worse. Makes it much more energetic and fast burning. My best recomendation to stop it from jumping ahead is to wrap it TIGHTLY in aluminum foil. Even with this, you will likely get a few jump aheads. Probably the easiest and most practical way is to just use a long piece of BM, a foot or so on shells isn't unheard of due to the jumping problem.
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#15 nick2354

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Posted 10 April 2008 - 10:22 PM

I was also wondering, has any Aussie found a good source for fuse?

Yes I have.

PlanetPyro.com, they export fuse to Australia and other countries. Their fuse seems quite expensive but their is no other choice, to my knowledge.

This is off topic but, I wanna mention it.
I have succesfully milled alfoil down to dark flake Aluminum. It will save me buying and importing it.
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#16 mike_au

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Posted 10 April 2008 - 11:42 PM

I made some slow match like stuff back in high school.

I used kno3 & sugar soaked into a thick-ish wick (the wick was from a small citronella burner). It was OK, definitely not great. I tried again recently with calico (white cotton material) and the results were even less impressive.

There is a company in NSW called "Aldax" that sells Al powder for cold casting (mix metal with some sort of binder, pour it into a mould and you have a "metal" statue without messing with hot things).

http://aldaxstore.co...al-powders.html

Mumbles: wouldn't wrapping BM turn it into quick match? or is that where the "TIGHTLY" comes in (to stop the hot gasses/sparks from being able to move)?

Is fuse considered a controlled substance/explosive/etc? If so, I suppose importing risks having it seized by customs, but if not, maybe there is a legitimate fireworks supplier who would be willing to ship it without being a licensed pyro. Perhaps someone in NT or ACT where the laws seem to be a little more relaxed than the rest of the country?

#17 rocket

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Posted 11 April 2008 - 12:31 AM

Iím not to sure if it is controlled. In the Dangerous Goods (Explosives) Regulations it just states where it should be stored. Iím pretty sure no fireworks supplier would sell it to you though without a licence. I know there is a gun shop in Australia that posts it canít remember what itís called though.
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#18 Gunzway

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Posted 11 April 2008 - 12:33 AM

Yeah, It might be a bad idea to import fuse.
Has anyone bought fuse from that place and got it shipped to Australia and didn't get the Police over?

#19 Mumbles

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Posted 11 April 2008 - 01:07 AM

Yes, the tightly does contain the sparks for the most part. If there is no room for them to shoot or spray, they can't light it farther down the line. Like I said, it's not 100%, but it can be made usable.
Just so you guys quit asking, here is the link to the old forum. http://www.xsorbit2....forum/index.cgi

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#20 nick2354

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Posted 11 April 2008 - 01:20 AM

I bought 1.8mm Chinese waterproof fuse from Pyroplant.com, and it was shipped to Adelaide without ANY problems!
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Stewie Griffin




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