WF06 Firing System
First look at a 6 cue, app controlled fireworks firing system from Happiness.
The WF06 is a small 6 cue firing system designed for consumer use. Its special trick however is that it’s app-controlled rather than use a radio remote we’re normally used to with this type of system. But not only that: from the video and screenshots it appeared to be able to offer sequenced firing too! I was intrigued and decided to purchase a unit to test out.
Watch the video
The video below contains an extensive look at the unit and the app. It’s particularly useful to help visualise some of the quirks I encountered with it. You can then scroll further down to continue reading my “first look” review.
Availability and price
At the time of writing, this is not a system that’s available here in the UK, let’s get that out of the way first. I actually found it by accident when browsing the website of Happiness firing systems, who make the popular DB04r units many of us use! Whilst I wasn’t overly interested in the cue count (only 6), I was intrigued by the fact it’s controlled by an app, which also appeared to offer some rather neat sequencing functionality too.
After trying – and failing – to register on Alibaba where it’s listed, I fired off an email to the company itself to see if I could order it direct. They said yes, for $85 USD by PayPal, which converted to £75. Delivery was by FedEx and very quick (10 days or so).
I must stress that I don’t know if Happiness are happy supplying the public at large in this manner, or whether the price represents a “typical” cost for the unit. For example if a UK seller was to buy these in to sell, whether the final price would be a lot higher. A UK importer would need significant discount on this price to be able to sell it on to UK consumers at £75. So if any UK retailer decides to import and sell these, don’t be surprised at a higher price.
I’ll update this article accordingly if any further information comes to light. And if you contact Happiness and don’t get a response, I have to report that getting a quick answer from them has proven to difficult in the past, it’s just how it is when conversing with Chinese manufacturers.
A look around the unit
The system comes built into its own case which is rugged black plastic with four snap-down fasteners. There isn’t a battery compartment as it has a built-in rechargeable battery. The instruction leaflet says this is an 8.4V, 1000mAH lithium battery. I can vouch for it’s great capacity; it came with 100% charge (according to the app) and after two days of firing and testing it was still on 100%. In fact it was only at the very tail end of filming my video above that it finally dipped to 94%. Of course, we are reliant on the app being accurate here.
The unit has a power connector and is supplied with a charging lead. This terminates in a standard USBA plug. No power adapter is supplied, so you’ll need to use an existing one from a mobile or similar.
The terminals are a standard spring connector design. Note: During testing I found it was possible to have what felt like a secure connection with an igniter wire but not actual continuity. I think this is because igniter wires, if pushed too far into these terminals, can prevent the plastic lug from coming back enough to press the wire against the conductor. This can be easily avoided by firmly pushing the lugs back into place rather than simply letting them go.
There’s a master on/off switch and a key switch too. The latter allows you to turn the unit to a live mode for firing, or a test mode. In practice I’m unsure of the point of the test mode since the app still reports back the unit’s status. Also, the key can be removed with it switched to “fire” so it doesn’t form much of a security barrier to the unit being fired. So I left mine switched to “fire” and removed it, but if I am missing the point here please do let me know!
There’s a WiFi status light on the top right which glows green if the unit is connected to your phone.
Finally, I don’t know what the small gold disc to the right of the terminals is, or why it is circled in yellow.
The app, connection and range
The WF06 is controlled by an app called WiFire. At time of writing, this is available to download without issue from the iOS app store. However, I could not see it listed on the Android play store. The instructions say that you need to email Happiness for the Android app and install it manually. I am not sure how easy this is since I am mainly an iOS user, nor what the security implications are either. With the sometimes long delays in Happiness responding to emails (and sometimes not at all), this doesn’t really bode well for Android users. It needs to be available in the Android app store and if I get any further updates or information I will post about it here.
Continuing then with the iOS app on my iPhone: You start by going into your WiFi settings and selecting the unit’s WiFi ID which will start Happiness_ and then entering the password which is 12345678 (both of these can be changed). Then you launch the app and it should connect. I say should as I encountered various issues which I will run through later in this article.
Once connected, your phone obviously is going to panic that you don’t have an internet connection and may nag you about it. I know on my old Android phone this caused a number of issues and it would keep disconnecting from devices as a result, your mileage will vary here but on my iPhone I had an option to tell it to use mobile for data instead, so after that, it all got along fine! This is, however, an inherent problem with using a mobile app to connect to a firing system – I find using my iPad is often a better option.
The manual says that range is 20m on iPhone and 30m on Android. For UK users of Cat F3 with a 25m safety distance, 20m is obviously disappointing. I didn’t drill into range very deeply, but in one test at around 15m line of sight I could not see the unit’s WiFi ID until I moved a little closer. In another test it would not connect until I was around 10m away, but later fired OK from 30m! I think this needs a more detailed test in an area free of other WiFi signals in order to get more data, but this will be a test for another day. It’s nowhere near the range of a radio remote though, or even Ignite (another app controlled system that uses Bluetooth).
The manual states that “one app controls one module” so it does not look possible to extend the system by adding additional modules.
Taking a look around the app’s main features then and referring to the image above:
Battery and WiFi status: Shows green when connected to your app and gives a readout of the battery status.
Master toggle: This sets that cue to be active or not and is used on conjunction with the “Fire all” feature.
Continuity status: This should show green when an igniter or bulb is connected, black if there’s no continuity.
Time delay: This is the sequencing time (see below). It’s only applicable when using “Fire all”. If you have a delay entered here but press that cue’s manual fire button, it will still fire immediately.
Fire cue: Press this to fire that cue immediately.
Fire all: This will fire all cues which are “on” and observe the timing delays you have entered. If all cues show zero time and are toggled on, then all six cues will fire together.
For manual firing of specific cues it’s as simple as pressing “fire” next to the one you want to let off.
Multiple firing and sequencing
This is where the WF06 gets interesting! A combination of cue toggles and timing options gives this system quite amazing flexibility in how it fires cues.
Let’s look at firing multiple cues together, for example in pairs. This is simply a case of toggling the ones you want to fire to “on” and the rest “off”, then hitting the “Fire all” button. Only those cues toggled to “on” will fire, meaning you can fire any combination of cues together. The logic is: Fire all cues which are toggled to “on”, ignore cues toggled to “off”.
As an example, to manually fire 1 and 2 together, then 3 and 4 together, then 5 and 6: Toggle all cues to “off”. Then toggle 1 and 2 to “on”, press “Fire all”. Toggle 1 and 2 to “off” then toggle 3 and 4 to “on” and press “Fire all” and so on.
Note: Zero must be entered into the timing boxes to fire those cues immediately when you press “Fire all”.
For sequencing, the unit works through cues 1 to 6 in that order when you press “Fire all”, obeying any time delay entered into that cue’s box.
The best way to get your head around this is to consider that cue’s timing as a wait time until it fires, with zero meaning “fire immediately”.
If you entered 1 second in each cue, when you press “Fire all” it would wait 1 second to fire cue 1, another second to fire cue 2, and so on. To fire cue 1 immediately you would need a zero time.
To fire cues together within this sequence, you need to add a zero to the next cue in the sequence you want to fire with it. So if you put 0 in for cues 1, 2 and 3, a 10 second delay for cue 4 but zero for 5 and 6, the following would happen: Cues 1, 2 and 3 would fire immediately (as zero wait time) then nothing would happen for 10 seconds, after which time cues 4, 5 and 6 would all fire.
The resolution and minimum delay of the system is 0.1 seconds, so it’s possible to fire quite fast chase sequences.
This is demonstrated in my video above which is probably a better way to see it in action and understand how it works.
Niggles and issues with the iOS app
During testing I ran into a number of niggles with the app. I have let the factory know but have not had a response at the time of writing. I am hoping it’s just a case of them doing some debugging of the app and issuing an update. They’re all shown in the video above, but to summarise:
1. Unit showing offline but online anyway. Here the app says the unit is offline but the unit’s WiFi LED is green which means it’s connected. There’s no continuity showing for any of the cues. But I was still able to fire the unit! Sometimes, firing would “wake up” the app and it would then show online with the correct continuity status, sometimes it would not. In all cases, adding or removing bulbs or igniters would wake it up, in other words a change of continuity status. I could replicate this issue easily as it happened about 1 in 10 times I opened the app.
2. App correctly showing online but no continuity status shown (or incorrect information shown). This only happened outside during live testing and could not be replicated indoors. The only thing I can think of here is that screen recording the app (which I did for live firings) was causing a glitch with the app’s graphical display and it was not showing the right continuity.
In all cases where the app was launched and clearly something as wrong, force-quitting it and restarting it did fix the issue. There was no point when cues fired when they shouldn’t, or any safety concerns.
Firing multiple igniters per cue
For this first look review I did not attempt to fire multiple igniters per cue. This is something I will consider doing if the unit becomes widely available.
However the manual states the following: For ematches you can fire 4 in parallel or 8 in series. For Talon/clip-on igniters you can fire 2 in parallel (never wire these in series).
Be advised that igniter brand, length of wire and adding extension wires to igniters will significantly alter the number it can fire.
First look: Conclusions
There’s lots to like about this system: It has six cues, plenty of firepower and the sequencing options in the app are quite incredible. The latter, for me, are what piqued my curiosity and I was not let down. Firing multiple cues and firing in timed sequences was so easy to do. It’s a shining example of how an app can offer significantly more functionality over a “dumb” remote.
On the subject of the app however, the lack of an Android app in the Play Store coupled with the apparent bugs and niggles with the iOS app mean this does need some more work before I would consider the system “robust”.
The limited range is also a shame, as is the apparent lack of expandability. The consequence of this is you’re stuck with just 6 cues and all fired from the one app. You can’t trigger a sequence from another system for example, or add another WF06 to get to 12 cues. This might limit the potential use-cases for this system.
If you don’t need the sequencing options I should also point out that Happiness’s own DB04r 4 cue systems (at around £30 each in the UK) offers much better value, much better range from their radio remote and easy expandability only limited by the number of modules, remotes and batteries you’re willing to juggle with.
If you want more than 6 cues but to still fire from an app, the popular, robust and mature Ignite firing system would be a better option, albeit at a significantly higher price (around £200+ and with 18 cues). What Ignite lacks in manual fire mode compared to the WF06 – there’s currently no options to connect or sequence cues – it makes up for with a show designer for automatic firing (so you can sequence as part of that), expandability, significantly better range and prompt US-based support.
A final verdict on the WF06 then would be conditional on some app updates and knowing a more realistic retail price for UK consumers. That aside, the WF06’s implementation of manual firing is a huge step forwards and a clear benefit to using an app over a basic remote.
The Happiness website (warning, it’s often very SLOW) and product page for the WF06 is here. Please note that I purchased the system with my own money, I do not sell firing systems and this is NOT an affiliate link, so I would appreciate it greatly if you mention “UKFR” should you make an enquiry or a purchase: WF06 page.