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Need help for a sci-fi novel scene where pyrotechnics are involved

pyrotechnics author writer help

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#1 kaygeeguardia

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Posted 27 August 2014 - 02:05 PM

Hello! I just joined this forum hoping that someone with experience in pyrotechnics might advise me on a scene I'm writing in a sci-fi novel.

 

Two of the characters need to create a diversion and are planning to create something that would issue a loud report but no real damage in order to lure people out of a building. Ideally, this would be something they could create fairly quickly. 

 

Is there anyone who would be willing to help? Greatly appreciated if so. Thanks!



#2 BurritoBandito

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Posted 27 August 2014 - 07:19 PM

How about a carbide cannon?
A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new. - Albert Einstein

#3 Shadowcat1969

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Posted 28 August 2014 - 10:58 AM

What kind of materials will the characters legitimately have access to?  Are they in a chemical warehouse, medical building, etc?



#4 Arthur

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Posted 28 August 2014 - 12:00 PM

Probably it's better if it's not actually a viable device, but a likely device. It's a sci fi novel not a terrorist training manual. What fits the book is governed by the make up of the characters, what would they have in their pockets. Are they armed? With? There needs to be a lead up to this some chapters back when they pick their kit to do a job, and surprise surprise it comes in useful later, It's not likely that they will have a kiloton nuclear weapon after shopping at Maceys!



#5 schroedinger

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Posted 28 August 2014 - 01:56 PM

Did you think about ballons filled with hydrogen and oxigen? Ignite them for a really god report (if it is sci-fi give the character a microwave gun for ignition (don't try with your home microva as it will be blown appart)).
Or fill it with acetylene and oxygen from a welding unit, will give a similar result maybe let em also use a plastic bag they found on building site close by).

#6 Arthur

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Posted 28 August 2014 - 03:25 PM

Even in Sci Fi characters don't just happen to have "flashbangs" or hand grenades or thunderflashes, it's how they acquire them that's the issue. I like the gas balloons idea, other rubber containers exist!



#7 BurritoBandito

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Posted 28 August 2014 - 03:26 PM

Schroedinger, acetylene and oxygen would be very destructive. Read this article.
A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new. - Albert Einstein

#8 Arthur

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Posted 28 August 2014 - 03:30 PM

I think that was an error of scale, 100ml of acetylene will make a loud but sociable bang 100litres of acetylene will cause injury and damage.



#9 Bobosan

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Posted 28 August 2014 - 03:42 PM

Everyone has aluminum foil and toilet cleaner in the house.  Try a little hydrogen gas.



#10 BurritoBandito

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Posted 28 August 2014 - 03:44 PM

This video claims it was a 10" balloon. I don't know what the actual volume of the balloon was, but I would guess well below 100 liters.

Edit: This seemed relevant to the conversation. I'm not sure why the quotes aren't showing the usernames of the posters?
KinneticEnergy:

Please don't try to use oxy-acetylene! While visiting my grandmother in South Dakota, I learned the power of this stuff through my uncle. He used an acetylene torch to fill a balloon partway with the gas, then put in pure oxygen, he then tied the balloon to a yard stick. He then took a torch and touched it to the balloon... Not only did I FEEL the concussion wave from 15 feet, but my ears were ringing for around 20 seconds after(not to mention my uncle).

Mumbles:

Well, that would be your fault for being a moron and being so close. You probably would have felt the concussion from 100 feet.

I'm not trying to be condescending, but think it's important to point out the dangers involved. Sorry if I came off as a prick or know it all. Arthur, I believe you're undoubtedly much more experienced than I am, but I don't want some reader to think it's a good idea to play with acetylene oxygen mixtures.

Edited by BurritoBandito, 28 August 2014 - 04:33 PM.

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A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new. - Albert Einstein

#11 schroedinger

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Posted 28 August 2014 - 03:54 PM

Well as he is just writing a scene it is either for a book, there you could do a what ever you want as long as it sounds beliavable, if it is for a movie then i hope he got someone who knows what he is doing and someone for special effects. So you can make a movie of a small test and implement this into the movie by enlarging the image or similar.

This is never to be tried without the proper preparation.

#12 a_bab

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Posted 28 August 2014 - 04:06 PM

How 'bout this: the character fills a baloon with farts. Once set on fire, it will certainly make lots of noise providing he has the methane producing bacteria in the guts. Obviously a few days of bean-based food will be needed prior to the act.

Even without using any flame at all, while looking like a tame baloon it will still be a device from hell. If released in a room it will be an effective self-propelled chemical weapon, able to set people in panic mode. This will certainly be a good way to do a diversion.

 

Now on the serious side of things - why don't you just pick up your favorite detectives/action movie where the suspect is able to blow a huge hole in a concrete wall by mixing some innocent looking cleansing products, all within minutes? If it works for multi-million budget movies it will likely work for you novel I'm sure.



#13 Arthur

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Posted 29 August 2014 - 12:30 PM

 ...but I don't want some reader to think... From Burrito Bandit is why I said ...not actually a viable device... and should have followed that with "a likeable device".

 

Only the author can tell how likely or likeable something is, but a real description of "how to make a real device" may get your book out of circulation quite quickly in the present security climate.



#14 AzoMittle

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Posted 29 August 2014 - 08:56 PM

If this is for a work of fiction (*especially* a sci-fi novel) it is much simpler, more effective, and generally gives a better read to write around this.

 

No one wants to read a page and a half about a character mixing up a perfectly technically correct explosive; this is technical material, not entertainment. In fact I can not think of a single instance in either film or print where the science was even remotely logical or possible. The only exception being Fight Club, and there it was only the book and not the movie that contained an ounce of information.

 

On top of that there it is much more important, as others have said, what the context of your novel is. You're actually writing a novel correct? What about? What matters is who the characters are, where they are, when they are, what they have access to, why they have access to it, why they know how to do so, why they are doing so, what the consequences are (immediate and down the road), and what inevitably goes wrong with their plan.


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Oh lente lente noctis equi!
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Perfection does not exist, but that does not mean you cannot work constantly to attain it.
 
The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day. . . . The only thing that's capital-T True is that you get to decide how you're going to try to see it. You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn't. . . . The trick is keeping the truth up-front in daily consciousness. -David Foster Wallace


#15 schroedinger

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Posted 30 August 2014 - 01:31 AM

AzoMittle: Did you see Breaking Bad? The way they are making the mh there is actually working and right in science (Actually the DEA had to tell them what to let out, to not make a tutorial out of the series).
And what is your problem with fight club, i the movie they always just talk about how they make glycerine from fat, but never how to make the actuall explosiv from this.

#16 Arthur

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Posted 30 August 2014 - 08:03 AM

ALL the knowledge of how to make a terror device is out there already, BUT it's no sci-fi author's remit to publish it again. 



#17 rogeryermaw

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Posted 30 August 2014 - 08:39 AM

There will always be some hermitic geek living his mom's basement trying his best to poke holes in your theoretical tech no matter how closely you adhere to the science of it. The plus side is he had to buy your book to do so. Flip the coin and you get the drooling masses that fell for mcguyver every week... So much so that "McGuyver" became a household word. Make your story as fantastic as you want. If the story is deep, rich and well thought out, minor scientific inconsistencies will ultimately be forgiven or unnoticed altogether.
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#18 Arthur

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Posted 30 August 2014 - 08:45 AM

...Make your story as fantastic as you want. If the story is deep, rich and well thought out, minor scientific inconsistencies will ultimately be forgiven or unnoticed altogether.

 

Well said.

 

Bond films are all the same -Bond, girls and gadgets but the characters can be well made so we accept some inconsistencies. And see every film!



#19 AzoMittle

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Posted 30 August 2014 - 01:23 PM

There will always be some hermitic geek living his mom's basement trying his best to poke holes in your theoretical tech no matter how closely you adhere to the science of it. The plus side is he had to buy your book to do so. Flip the coin and you get the drooling masses that fell for mcguyver every week... So much so that "McGuyver" became a household word. Make your story as fantastic as you want. If the story is deep, rich and well thought out, minor scientific inconsistencies will ultimately be forgiven or unnoticed altogether.

This is EXACTLY what I meant, very well said.

 

AzoMittle: Did you see Breaking Bad? The way they are making the mh there is actually working and right in science (Actually the DEA had to tell them what to let out, to not make a tutorial out of the series).
And what is your problem with fight club, i the movie they always just talk about how they make glycerine from fat, but never how to make the actuall explosiv from this.

Good point, I forgot about Breaking Bad. As far as Fight Club that is what I meant, maybe I phrased myself poorly; in the 1st edition of the book IIRC they go through the full technical process, in the movie they just show some "glycerine from fat" as you said. Funny little aside, the scene where they are drunkenly hitting golf balls at the truck, they were actually drunk.


Terminat hora diem; Terminat author opus.
The hour ends the day; The author ends his work.
 
Oh lente lente noctis equi!
Slowly, slowly run oh horses of the night!
 
Perfection does not exist, but that does not mean you cannot work constantly to attain it.
 
The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day. . . . The only thing that's capital-T True is that you get to decide how you're going to try to see it. You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn't. . . . The trick is keeping the truth up-front in daily consciousness. -David Foster Wallace


#20 AzoMittle

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Posted 30 August 2014 - 01:26 PM

Anyways to get back onto topic, Kaygeeguardia is there something specific we can help you with? If the most information you can give us is "they need a distraction that is easily made" I would look into the acetylene/air (NOT OXYGEN!!!!!) cannons.


Terminat hora diem; Terminat author opus.
The hour ends the day; The author ends his work.
 
Oh lente lente noctis equi!
Slowly, slowly run oh horses of the night!
 
Perfection does not exist, but that does not mean you cannot work constantly to attain it.
 
The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day. . . . The only thing that's capital-T True is that you get to decide how you're going to try to see it. You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn't. . . . The trick is keeping the truth up-front in daily consciousness. -David Foster Wallace






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