Nail Board Firing System



A nail board is the simplest type of electrical firing system, consisting of a series of open circuits than can be closed in a desired order, resulting in the ignition of fireworks (or clusters of fireworks).  As can be seen in the picture, it is nothing more than a piece of wood – such as a 2x4 – with a series of nails pounded into it.  Shooting wires connect the fireworks to the nails via alligator clips.  Using a 12-volt battery, the shooter can simply can touch a nail to fire a cue.  While such a system is crude and contains many exposed electrical components, it is durable and takes just minutes to make.  It’s a good firing system for a beginner or for somebody that doesn’t wish to spend the time or money to build or buy a more complex system.

Click image to enlarge


- a battery and power cables
- shooting wire (2-conductor wire, 22 gauge)
- alligator clips
- a small piece of scrap wood
- nails                                                                        


I’ve found that the best way is to pound a straight row of nails into the wood.  Use one nail for each cue you wish to have, plus one extra nail to serve as the common ground.  Thus a 5-cue nail board will have a total of 6 nails.  I recommend separating the common ground nail from the others by a large gap to make it easier to recognize during the set up and wiring of your show.  Number the nails by writing on the wood with a marker.

Cut as many pieces of the 2-conductor as you need (they should be at least 50 feet in length), then separate the two wires from each other by about 6 inches from either end.  Attach small alligator clips to each one.  On the “fireworks end” of the shooting wires, connect the alligator clips to nichrome filaments or ematches (discussed in depth elsewhere on this page).  On the nail board end, connect one alligator clip to the appropriately numbed nail, and the other to the common ground nail.

To use the system, connect the clamp of one end of the negative power cable to the battery and the other to the common ground nail.  Then connect the positive clamp to the positive post of the battery.  To fire each cue, simply touch the clamp of the other end of the positive cord to each numbered nail.  As shown in the diagram, touching each nail completes a circuit to a given cue, igniting the igniter.




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