The Physics of Launching Fireworks From a Drone

Are you able to launch fireworks out of your drone? OK, earlier than I reply this query I’ve my very own query: Why? Guys, why would you wish to put fireworks in your drone? I imply, I get it. Fireworks are cool and drones are cool. Due to this fact fireworks on drones are cool to the facility of two, I assume.

However actually, it is in all probability not a good suggestion to manifest your American satisfaction with this specific model of pyrotechnics. As a PSA, as an example that my official stance is that drones ought to simply be drones and fireworks ought to simply be fireworks.

The physics of pulling off one thing like that is a wholly completely different factor, although. For the sake of science, I’ll level out two concerns you would wish to have for a firework-drone combo.


The very first thing is raise. In case you put fireworks in your drone, likelihood is these fireworks may have mass. The extra large the fireworks, the extra large the growth. However extra mass additionally means extra of a possible downside. It seems that drones cannot simply fly and carry no matter they need. Sure, it’s potential for a big drone to carry some heavy stuff however a small and low cost drone can barely carry something.

The rationale has to do with the way in which {that a} drone flies. (By “drone” I imply one thing like a quadcopter, however this physics additionally applies to actual single rotor helicopters.) In brief, a rotor creates carry by taking air above the rotor and throwing it down under. Since air has mass, transferring air has momentum (the product of mass and velocity). How do you alter the momentum of one thing? You push on it with a pressure. So the rotors push the air down and enhance the air-momentum. Since forces are an interplay between objects, pushing down on the air means the air pushes up on the rotors.

So certainly the carry pressure on a spinning rotor is the same as the change in momentum of the air that it throws down. There are two methods to extend the thrust. First, you may enhance the velocity of the air because it strikes down and second, you may throw down extra air. It seems that almost all rotors type of max out at an air velocity of round 30 m/s—so actually the one possibility is to throw extra air. Meaning greater rotors (these with a bigger radius) give extra thrust. So your tiny drone cannot carry a large load of fireworks.

However wait! It will get even worse. If you wish to take a small rotor and carry extra stuff, it’s important to enhance the velocity of the air. Growing the velocity of air will increase its kinetic power and kinetic power is proportional the sq. of the speed. By rising the speed, you undergo extra air—so in the long run, the speed a drone makes use of power (from the battery) will depend on the 3velocity of air to the third energy (v3). That is dangerous. Quick air makes use of batteries quick.

I assume it would not matter a lot that your battery will not final lengthy, as a result of the drone might be going to explode from the fireworks. In all probability.


If you’ll put fireworks in your drone (and also you in all probability should not), I guess you’ll use one thing like a roman candle that shoots balls of fireplace or one thing. Really, taking pictures balls of fireplace is similar to the carry from the rotor—simply as an alternative of throwing down air, it is balls of fireplace.

The aim of taking pictures a fireball is to take that ball of fireplace and enhance its velocity. Growing velocity means rising the momentum, and sure—altering the momentum requires a pressure. Within the case of a roman candle, the fireball’s momentum is elevated by an increasing fuel within the barrel of the candle (an explosion). This increasing fuel pushes on the drone with the identical pressure for a similar time such that the drone may have the identical change in momentum because the fireball, however in the other way.

What occurs when a drone has a recoil momentum equal to the momentum of a fireball? In all probability not very a lot. A fireball has a really low mass and a velocity of simply “meh.” Come on—we all know these fireballs aren’t actually that quick. So low mass and “meh” velocity means a reasonably low momentum. The drone may have a a lot increased mass so as a way to have an equal momentum, it actually would not need to have a really excessive recoil velocity.

So sure, you’ll be able to in all probability shoot a roman candle from a drone. However you in all probability should not.

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