For those caught between a centuries-old tradition of bursting fireworks and its devastating environmental impact, here’s a zero-vapour emitting, reusable win-win.
Diwali has always been labelled as the “festival of lights” but it also encompasses a fair share of sound works too. History reveals that recreational pyrotechnics existed in India as far back as the ancient times with mentions of recipes for gunpowder in the Arthasastra. However, with a significant rise in air and noise pollution, concerns about the widespread use of fireworks during Diwali are also legit. Social media influencers and celebrities may well be exhorting the general public to “be a phataka and not light one”, but striking the right balance between tradition and eco-friendly practices is far from easy. In a move that seems to tick all the right boxes, the International Institute of Information Technology Hyderabad (IIITH) has come up with an innovative solution that uses electronic circuits to make all the light and sound.
Light And Sound In A Circuit
Dr. Aftab Hussain, Associate Professor at the Center for VLSI and Embedded Systems Technology (CVEST) at IIITH explains that his e-cracker is compact, rechargeable and reusable. He says,” The primary charm of fire crackers is the creation of light and sound, which can be created using electronic circuits. To design the cracker, we studied the light and sound outputs of the chemical fire crackers and created a circuit that can approximate that output. The key engineering challenge was the distribution of power to the circuit using a small lithium ion battery.”
The solution came with the creation of an LED matrix and a set of several speakers to increase the light and sound output. The working prototype includes a microcontroller, battery management system, amplifiers, speakers and the LED matrix, all contained in a small 10x10x10 cm box. The LED matrix was made using flexible PCB so that It can be placed as a dome on top of the device to distribute the light in a wider viewing angle.
Advaita Saxena, PhD student at IIITH who has been working on this device for the last eight months, says, “Being an engineer, it made me wonder if we could put technology to good use and come up with a solution to combat the hazardous emissions of fireworks.” With firecrackers typically producing light and sound of the order of 1000-5000 lumens and 100-140dB respectively, they wanted to create something that was easy to use, portable, eco-friendly and gave the effect of a firecracker. “For this, we looked for components that best suited our specifications and then designed a circuit for it. The circuit has been designed such that it can store sound files of multiple firecrackers and these can be played through the microcontroller which has a manual switch as well as Bluetooth control”, she explains.
Wireless Phataka FTW
When the firecracker is switched on, it emits sounds of the crackers bursting while simultaneously making the LEDs flicker, producing an effect similar to that of a chemical firecracker. The entire setup is placed inside a box designed such that the circuit on hardboard PCB is concealed, revealing only the 4 speakers on 4 faces and a flexible PCB with the LEDs on top in a dome-like structure. Transistor and resistors are used for setting the voltage while capacitors are used for noise filtering. Additional features such as choosing the type of cracker sound as well as the ability to burst the e-cracker from a distance with the help of Bluetooth make it more attractive. With zero vapour emissions, the e-cracker is a reusable, pollution-free, handy device that can be connected multiple at a time for a greater effect. It can help in reducing the current pollution problem and also serve as a replacement at occasions like weddings and huge gatherings. For those who believe in going all out and bursting the ‘garland’ crackers or the ‘ladis’ as they are known, Dr. Hussain offers, “Because we can use wireless technology to control the bursting of crackers, we can create a pattern of bursting using a large set of the crackers creating a much larger sound/light effect.”