Reinventing the lightbulb

FirePixels go almost anywhere you would put a lightbulb, LED or other traditional lighting element. Each FirePixel's variable flame control lets you create real-time flame effects, only before possible in the world of lighting. 

Answers to questions most often asked by industry professionals. Please contact us if you don’t see the answer you are looking for.

What are the dimensions of the FirePixels?

The FirePixel in total is 8.25” tall including a 3.825” tall body consisting of a nickel-plated aluminum enclosure and a 3.45” windscreen measured from the top of the body to the top of the windscreen. There's also a connector and cable which can be configured to come straight down or at an angle. The FirePixel body’s enclosure is 2 ½” x 2 ½” square. The windscreen is 2” in diameter.

How much fuel does a FirePixel consume?

Because of FirePixel’s variable flame height their fuel consumption is highly non-linear. With typical use, a FirePixel can run an average of 4-6 hours on a one-pound (camping style) propane cylinder. The maximum operating flow rate is 15 liters per minute of propane vapor at 30 psi. However, an average consumption of less than 10% of the maximum flow is much more representative.

15 LPM (liters per minute) is equivalent to 32 SCFH (standard cubic feet per hour). Propane contains 91,500 BTUs (British thermal units) per pound, or about 2,500 BTUs per cubic foot. So at maximum valve aperture, one FirePixel produces 80,000 BTU/per hour, or 23.5KW (killowatts).*

What is the plumbing configuration for individually-regulated FirePixels?

FirePixels operate on propane vapor regulated to 30 psi. Attach an appropriate certified regulator to a propane supply, set the regulator’s outlet pressure to 30psi and attach the regulator’s outlet to the FirePixel. ¼” self-sealing quick disconnect fittings are recommended. LiveSpark also offers individually regulated turnkey systems.

What is the plumbing configuration for manifold-regulated FirePixels?

A typical manifold configuration is to supply the fuel from central supply tank, or several tanks connected together, to multiple FirePixels. To maintain consistent pressure, a water bath, heating blanket or vaporization system may be required.

To determine the required flow capacity for a multi-unit system, multiply the maximum FirePixel vapor consumption rate of 15 liters per minute, by the number of FirePixels being used (for example, ten FirePixels equals 150 liters per minute). The supply pressure for each FirePixel must be regulated to 30psi (+/- 2psi), and for large installation sub-manifolds serving groups of FirePixels are recommended.

LiveSpark also offers manifold-regulated turnkey systems per specification.

What mounting hardware is needed?

FirePixels are compact and designed to be mounted in a variety of ways. Any clamp fitting a 2 ½” square with a weight capacity of five pounds or greater can be used. For example, a Cardellini clamp attached to truss or pipe using a Half Cheeseborough with a baby receptor that accepts the Cardillini's baby stud.

Explain the LiveSpark ignition sequence.

FirePixel ignition is extremely reliable in a wide variety of conditions. FirePixels have been tested to ignite in up to 50 mph winds (note winds above 25 mph winds may result in sub-optimal performance.) The FirePixel has an eight stage ignition sequence. Each stage consists of a series of gas flows, measurements, calibration, and spark sequence all occurring within a few milliseconds.  If a FirePixel fails to ignite after nine ignition attempts, it will deliver a lock-out signal back to the Controller which is visually represented in our Stage3D iPad app. If a FirePixel enters the lockout state, it requires a manual operator to issue an unlock command which can be sent to the FirePixel by pushing the IGNITE button on the Controller.

Can FirePixels be operated in rain or wet conditions?

The FirePixel connector, cable, and enclosure are sealed and may be submerged in water up to the top of the enclosure. If a FirePixel is fully submerged or operated in weather that causes it to be unable to form an ignition spark, the FirePixel will send a command to the Controller signaling the wet condition and will not operate until the condition is cleared.

What is the maximum height of the FirePixel flame effect?

Maximum flame height is 4 feet. In certain conditions it may be possible to extend flame height by placing the flame within a glass tube or other enclosure. It's also possible to achieve higher flames by combining multiple FirePixels in a vertical orientation. Increasing the pressure will not create a larger flame.

Can FirePixels operate on other fuels besides propane?

Standard FirePixels operate on propane vapor only. FirePixel are tuned for propane use at 30 psi and using any other fuel may cause ignition or operation to fail, and may create dangerous conditions. Please inquire about support for natural gas and other vaporized fuels.

What is the LiveSpark Controller and what does it do?

The LiveSpark Controller is necessary to take input commands from DMX, MIDI or ethernet sources and translate, those commands into LiveSpark's serial data format in order to control FirePixel operation and flame height. The LiveSpark Controller also receives signals back from the FirePixels and allows the user to visualize the performance of the FirePixel system utilizing LiveSpark's Stage3D iPad app. The LiveSpark Controller includes three independent levels of emergency stop or safety shutoff:

  1. Physical single flip-down switch functioning as an E-stop (kills all power to FirePixels)
  2. A push button all-off signal
  3. An external operator presence control which can be supplied to the Controller via a “dead man's switch”, or foot pedal.

What serial data protocol do the FirePixels use?

FirePixels pass their signals using an RS422 transmission protocol — a similar protocol used by DMX light boards, though not directly compatible with DMX. DMX signals are unsuitable to be used with flame effects (as specified by NFPA160.) 

How is FirePixel serial data protocol safer than DMX?

A specific three-byte command sequence is required in order to cause FirePixels to ignite. Upon verified ignition, a separate serial data protocol is used to change flame heights. Additionally, bi-directional data is sent back from each FirePixel regarding ignition failure, obstructions, wet conditions, calibration and performance.

How can I control FirePixels with a DMX light board?

Connect the DMX light board's output signal to the DMX input on the Controller and ignite the FirePixels. The DMX light board's first channel will automatically be assigned to the first FirePixel in the daisy chain. The flame height of the FirePixel corresponds directly to the value of the DMX channel. Moving a single fader up will control the FirePixel height upwards, and likewise, lowering a fader will lower flame height.

Can I operate FirePixels using a MIDI device?

FirePixel flame height can be set by connecting a standard MIDI device such as controller, keyboard, guitar, drum triggers or any other device that outputs a standard MIDI signal. The MIDI note that is designated as zero corresponds (MIDI C-2) controls the first FirePixel addressed in the daisy chain. The MIDI velocity for a given note sets the addressed FirePixel’s flame height.

Can I control FirePixels using Ableton Live?

LiveSpark has produced a free plugin for Ableton Live DJ software. Only the Ableton Live 9 Suite   product version supports the LiveSpark plugin, which use “Max for Live”. When the FirePixel plugin is dragged and dropped into the device view in an Ableton Live set, MIDI tracks that have that device attached will output signals over ethernet to the LiveSpark Controller. No additional IP configuration is required. See Ableton Live plugin user manual for more info.

Tell me about the electrical components.

FirePixels operate at 18-24 volts DC. Each FirePixel accepts one female (input) and one male (output) connected by 18 gauge stranded copper wire capable of conducting six amps. Each cable contains of two wires for data and two wires for power. The FirePixels are connected in a closed loop daisy chain for up to 250 FirePixels with a dedicated power supplied to no more than ten FirePixels in a single daisy chain sequence. Voltage drops occur across each FirePixel in the daisy chain and a FirePixel operating voltage is 24 volts at the power source may drop as low as 18 volts at the final FirePixel in the daisy chain.

* Sources