Frequently Asked Question:
Why aren't there any really cheap wireless controllers for setting off pyrotechnics?
Because it's not acceptable for stray radio signals to be able to accidentally set off your pyro.
This means that a pyro wireless receiver must be capable of recognizing a unique digital signal, that can only be transmitted by the pyro wireless transmitter it's designed to be used with. The signal must be one that can never be reproduced by any other device, and the pyro receiver must know that it must never fire the pyro unless it receives this one unique signal. (Theatre Effects Wizard Fire II™ products transmit this unique signal 3 times in quick succession, and the receiver must receive all 3 and they must match, or it will not fire.)
Why can't I set off my pyro with my standard lighting or sound controller?
Because it's not acceptable for pyro to be so easily set off by bumpling a switch or fader.
If you would accidentally turn on a stage light at the wrong time, either manually or because your controller lost its programming, that's not generally a big problem. But if you have a pyro effect on that channel then it IS a big problem. Therefore you should only use a dedicated pyro controller for these effects. When this is the case, you'll only be working with this controller when you actually intend for pyro to go off.
There are some expensive show-control, MIDI etc. multimedia systems that can set off pyro, in addition to other effects (fog, lighting, sound). When pyro is involved, these systems incorporate the concept of a "dead man switch". During the time that the pyro is scheduled to go off, a human who has direct line of site to the pyro area must be actually holding down a switch. If the switch is not down at the exact instant that the show controller sends the signal to the pyro effect, the effect will not fire and the show will proceed without it.
Ultratec Mini Pyro Controllers
Affordable 1-channel and 4-channel controllers for bare-wire pyro.