Quickplug Breakout Boards for Cobra and IGNITE

Review of the Cobra series and parallel breakout boards allowing up to 5 igniters per cue.

If you want to fire multiple igniters from one cue using a quickplug-based system like IGNITE, the obvious problem is that you only have one plug per cue.

One way around this – and the only way if using third party igniters ending in stripped copper wire – is to cut, strip and connect the required number of igniters together, on to an existing quickplug (say, from a previously fired IGNITE igniter). You can either simply twist the wires together, or as shown in my Firing Multiple Igniters video on YouTube, use ready-made connectors such as those from WAGO.

The other way, which is simpler, quicker and neater – but can only be used with igniters ending with quickplugs, is to plug them into a small accessory sold by Cobra (the company behind IGNITE) known as a breakout board. These inexpensive boards turn one cue into five and are available in series and parallel versions.

  • Currently priced at $4.99 for the parallel version and $9.99 for the series version.
  • You will also need to buy a connecting cable ($1.99).
  • UK-availability is poor at present. I bought mine direct from Cobra (thanks Roger in my Forum for letting me tag on to his Cobra order!). I will update this if stock availability changes. In the meantime buying direct is likely to attract VAT, import duty and postage.
  • Please note that if you’re firing clip-on consumer igniters, such as the official IGNITE clip-ons, you should only fire these using the parallel board. They are not suitable for use on the series board. The latter can be used with standard ematches however.

Video review of the quickplug breakout boards

If you prefer, you can watch a video version of this review below, from my YouTube channel. Otherwise keep reading for my written review and photos.

Series Cobra quickplug breakout board

This is the largest of the two boards, though even so it only measures 5.5cm by 3cm.

You’ll need a connecting cable that runs between your module and this board. I used the official Cobra 30cm “Quickplug harness” for this review. It would also be possible to connect two used quickplug igniters together so each end finishes with a quickplug, if you wanted a longer lead.

There are six sockets on the board. One is the input and the other five are outputs. Unlike the parallel board, each socket has a corresponding switch which must be changed from “no igniter” to “igniter” if you have one connected. Igniters plugged in but switched to “no igniter” will not fire, but it does not matter in what order or on what sockets you connect to. So, as an example, you can plug into sockets 1, 3 and 5 and fire those together.

Be careful not to switch any empty sockets to “igniter”. Because this is a series board, this will break the circuit and none of your igniters will fire.

Quickplug series breakout board Cobra
Front and back view of the series breakout board and its switches.

I did one field test with the series board and my IGNITE system, using all five sockets and firing five ematches together. They all went off immediately and without any problems.

Parallel Cobra quickplug breakout board

The parallel breakout board is even more diminutive at 4.8cm by 1.5cm.

Like the series board it has one input plug and five outputs, and needs to be connected to your module or IGNITE system using a suitable cable, such as the official Cobra quickplug harness.

There are no switches on this board because of the parallel configuration; simply plug in the required number of igniters. This board may be more useful to people than the series board since parallel firing is compatible with both clip-on igniters and standard ematches. It’s also considered by some as a better way of firing since any issues with one specific igniter won’t break the circuit and affect the other igniters on that cue.

I fired five official IGNITE clip-on igniters all together using this board and they all fired without problems.

Quickplug Parallel Breakout Board Cobra
The front and back of the quickplug parallel breakout board.

Conclusion

One of the selling points of the quickplug system in general is how it makes setting up quicker and less prone to shorting out wires. So a way of keeping in this ecosystem when using multiple igniters is certainly very useful, compared to cutting, stripping and manually connecting wires.

The end result with both boards was a neater setup with minimal fuss. They both “did exactly what they said on the tin” to use a well-known phrase.

For US customers these are a no-brainer given the low cost ($4.99 or $9.99 and $1.99 for the cable). For UK customers especially all of us excited new IGNITE owners, it’s a little more complicated. No-one at present seems to be stocking these items and I don’t think I would order direct from Cobra in the US for such a small order value, given the VAT, import duties, shipping and other seemingly random but crippling charges that seem to be slapped on anything imported!

Until we get a UK stockist or two, one option is to ask a professional UK fireworks company making a Cobra order if you can tag on a board and cable. This is exactly how I got mine (thanks Roger at Heritage Fireworks). I did this through my Fireworks Forum, so feel free to keep an eye on it for any posts along the lines of “Ordering from Cobra if anyone wants to tag anything on” (it’s completely free to access my forum and read posts without registering). If you’re a new or unknown member though don’t be offended by a polite no or a requirement to pay up front.

One final word. As you will see in my video above, I found the patch cable’s plugs to be much less of a snug fit in either my IGNITE system or the breakout boards than the igniters are. Be careful on your firing site to ensure they cannot be accidentally pulled out.