A list of frequently asked questions by new and existing COBRA customers.
I am having trouble syncing my systems in firmware version 3.0.3+?No problem! We have put together the following 3.0.3+ sync video to help.
My 18M is showing Er2, please help!The most common occurrance of this is the voltage mode being incorrect on the 18M. During the start-up process, you should see 9.0 display after the address and before the battery levels. If you don't see this and see either 12.0, 14.8, 18.0, or 24.0, then your voltage mode is incorrect. To fix this, allow the 18M to display the error code Er2. Then, press TEST and CH+ or TEST and CH- to toggle the voltage mode until you see 9.0. Once complete re-start your 18M and the error code should no longer display. The other occurance of this is a low firing cue battery. Please replace your 2P firing cue batteries to solve the problem. If this still does not solve the problem, please contact Scott Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or 518-222-7410.
How many e-matches or igniter clips can I fire per cue?Each cue produces up to 3 Amps at 18 Volts to fire up to 10 series-wired or 4 parallel-wired e-matches per cue. You can also fire up to 4 parallel-wired consumer igniter clips. We recommend Talon brand igniter clips for reliable performance. COBRA also fires some home-made igniters, however, depending on the current requirements, it is recommended you perform testing to ensure the system will fire accordingly based on the brand and power level of the batteries you are using.
If I am firing e-match and Talon igniter clips on the same module, what mode do I use?Set the 18M to Talon mode by pressing SYNC and CH+ at the same time on the 18M. This will display 2.0 on the channel display. We also suggest a minimum two second delay between cues. The risk with firng e-match in Talon mode is if the e-match becomes a shorted circuit (a.k.a. ghost match) after firing, it will draw full current from the battery as a direct short. Since Talon mode fires cues for a full two seconds, if two e-matches are fired in a two second time period and the first e-match has shorted, the 2nd e-match won't fire. This is a rare event, however to avoid this we suggest having a full two seconds between cues.
I'm new to e-firing, how does the system actually ignite a firework?If you are new to e-firing, you'll want to check out our Talon Igniter Clips. These are the most reliable igniter clips on the market and are very simple to use. Simply use the clip like a clothes-pin and clip it to your fuse like a clothes line. At the other end of the clip is a wire you press into the terminal clips on the COBRA 18M firing module. You can hook up to 4 clips into the same cue to fire 4 effects at once. For any questions on the basics of e-firing, feel free to call Scott Smith at 518-222-7410 and I'll walk you through whatever questions you have, no matter how basic.
Do I need to replace the batteries for every show?No. The 18R handheld remote AA batteries will last for 15 hours in active mode, and about 72 hours in sleep mode before replacement is required. The firing module has three 9v (PP3) batteries. The single 1P 9v battery (see below) powers the system operations (radio, LEDs, 7-segment displays) will last for 6 hours in active mode and about 24 hours in sleep mode. The double 2P batteries (see below) only fire cues and will commonly last 5-10+ shows before replacement is required. Both the 18R remote and 18M firing module have power conservation features. This allows you to setup and power-on your firing modules in the field before the show. If the 18R remote is powered-off, the firing modules will automatically fall asleep after 60 seconds and conserve power. Once the remote is powered-on, the modules will automatically wake up into active mode where they are alert and ready to perform.
What types of batteries does COBRA recommend?For non-rechargable batteries, COBRA recommends standard Energizer or Duracell 9v Alkaline batteries. DO NOT purchase brands such as Eveready, Rayovac, or no-name dollar store / cheap-o brands. These batteries have very low mAh ratings, have low peak current ratings, and don't show accurate battery levels. For re-chargeable batteries, COBRA recommends the Hi-tech 9v Lithium Ion batteries for the 1P power source ONLY. These are 600 mAh batteries, will last longer than standard Duracell or Energizer.
Can the COBRA be fired from a PC for automating their fireworks show?The new COBRA 18R2 has a USB port for loading up to 100 pre-defined scripts using a simple text file format or Finale Fireworks Pro, a powerful visual choreography software for designing firework shows. The 18R2 also provides a full range of manual and semi-auto firing functions to support a wide range of pyrotechnic and SPFX applications.
Can I set multiple modules to the same channel?Yes, you can set unlimited modules to the same channel. When firing a cue on the remote, any module set to the same channel will fire the same cue. For example, you can have 10 firing modules set to channel 01. If you set the remote to channel 01 and fire cue #1, all 10 modules will fire cue #1 at the exact same time.
What is the range of the COBRA18?COBRA advertises a 1,500+ ft. (500+ m) direct line of site range, however the maximum range is 9,000 ft. (3,000+ m) direct line of site (see below). Both the 18R remote and 18M firing module have built-in signal strength read-outs. The read-outs are between 0 and -100. This is a -dBm reading and anything between 0 and -75 will ensure reliable firing. Anything greater than this could produce a non-fire situation. Using the remote you can view the signal strength of modules on each channel. If you are using the 18R and there is more than one module on the same channel, it is recommended you read signal strength directly from the module since the remote will display a random signal strength reading depending on which module on the same channel it last received communication with. If you are using the 18R2, you can repeatedly press the SYNC button to cycle through each module's signal strength. If a poor signal is reached, simply release the SYNC button to display the module address to which the signal strength is associated.
Although COBRA advertises a 1,500+ ft. range, the MeshConnect Extended Range ZICM2410P2 RF Module used by COBRA is advertised over 12,000+ ft. (3,000+ m). This is a manufacturer's spec and is based on the RF Module having the possibility of receiving a command. For pyrotechnics, we depend on guaranteed firing and not possibilities. Therefore, we don't advertise this range although the system can transmit this far. In extreme range tests, we successfully fired cues from over 1.7 mi. (2.7 km) in over-water conditions.
It is important to note that when pressing any fire button on the remote including individual 1-18 fire, STEP fire, or SEQ fire, COBRA will send out 12 redundant firing command pulses. This ensures that if one command is missed, the 2nd, 3rd, 4th etc... will be received. If your signal strength readings are beyond the recommended -70 value, the system will fire, however it is recommended that you hold the firing button down until you see visual confirmation. This is because the remote sends about 40 redundant firing commands a second when held.
Why are the COBRA enclosures clear?The COBRA enclosures are made of a 3mm thick impact resistant clear ABS plastic. This material is just as strong as if it were black or any other color. The reason we chose clear was to eliminate the need to have holes in the enclosures that introduce micro-gaps that can allow dust, moisture and other corrosive elements into the enclosure. Every hole including the key switch, cue strips, and buttons are all sealed with custom rubber gaskets. In addition, the PCB boards are all Humiseal coated over gold-plated PCB traces which provide long term corrosion protection, especially in salt-air environments for years on end. We want your systems to last.
How does COBRA perform in cold weather?The COBRA system will perform in cold weather, but depending on how cold determines the loss of performance, specifically with how many e-matches or Talon clips you can fire in parallel. As a general rule of thumb, we recommend the following as the quantity you can fire in parallel drops with colder temperature.
Greater than 32F, 4 in parallel
Between 0 and 32F, 2 in parallel
Less than 0F, 1 in parallel
Greater than 0C, 4 in parallel
Between -18 and 0C, 2 in parallel
Less than -18C, 1 in parallel
When firing a cue on one module, the cue LED stays on longer than the other?The 18M has two firing modes: Talon and e-match. Talon mode fires the cue for 2 seconds in order to provide enough current to fire a Talon brand igniter. In e-match mode, the cue fires for only 0.1 second. To toggle a module between e-match and Talon mode, simply press SYNC and CH+ to toggle to Talon mode, or SYNC and CH- to toggle to e-match mode. When toggling to Talon mode, 2.0 will display. When toggling to e-match mode, 0.1 will display.
Why am I getting Er3 when syncing my 18R or 18R2 to my 18M?Don't worry, nothing is wrong with your systems. The Er3 code is the stuck button test that occurs automatically by the 18M when powering on as part of the self-test. When you sync the 18M and remote, the 18M will automatically re-start and if your finger is still on the SYNC button, this error code will display. To resolve, simply power off your 18M and power it back on. It will be synced as you don't have to re-sync. In the future when syncing, if you let go of the SYNC button once you see the 18M re-start, you won't see this error code display.
How does the pre-fire and lift time columns function in COBRA Show Creator?The pre-fire and lift time values are subtracted off the event time when exported to the cobra.csv script file. For example, if your event time is set to 1m 0s and you have a 0.5s pre-fire and 3s lift time, the exported event time will export to 56.5s (1m - 3s - 0.5s). The pre-fire value is the time between when the Talon igniter or e-match fires and the first effect begins. For Talons, this is commonly betweeen 1-2 seconds. For e-match, companies will commonly use anywhere from 0s to 0.2s.
How does the script / audio alignment feature work?During a scripted show, the user has the option of aligning the script by 1/10th second increments by a max of 10 seconds in either direction.
Pressing - will cause the 18M to fire later by 0.1s increments (if the pyro is firing too soon)
Pressing + will cause the 18M to fire sooner by -0.1s increments. (if the pyro is firing too late)
While pressing - and +, the total relative shift will display on the 18R2. For example, if you press - three times, -0.3 will display on the 18R2. If you adjust this at a later point, for example, in the other direction, -0.2 will display. The 18R2 stores and displays the current position of the script to the audio at any time. You can shift later or sooner by a total of 10 seconds in either direction.