A timer in the animation field is a person who examines each scene in an animation and decides on the amount of exposure needed to balance the color with the other scenes.

This writeup will describe how to make a timer to set off a Pyrotechnics device.

How timers can be useful

In general, using timers when working with pyrotechnics is not a very good idea - the timing of performances is rarely accurate, and if a performance is aborted, the prop is still active. Also, if an actor is too close to the prop, you can't stop the prop from igniting. bad idea. Using radio or remote controlled detonators makes a lot more sense.

How to make a timer

The easiest (and cheapest) way to make a timer is to get one of those cute little digital kitchen timer clocks - the kind where you punch in a number of minutes and press start, and it starts beeping after X minutes.

What you do, is that you pick the clock apart, and remove the (usually a piezo-ish) speaker that makes the sound. You now want to get the cables that went to the speaker-thingie (if there are none, solder on some - this might be a little tricky, depending on the timer) Then, hook it up as follows:

             | +--------+ |
             | |        | | 
             | +--------+ |
             |            | 
             |KITCHEN TIME|
  --------       |               
   9V     |------T--------------+   
 Battery |                      +--+------------ 
          |------------------------+Electronic fuse
  --------                         +-----------

Usually, your kitchen timer alone will not deliver enough power to set off the fuse by itself, but this can be resolved by using a simple transistor

That was it, really! No ticking clocks, no big bars of dynamite.. With some practice, you can fit this whole mecanism (and a load of actual explosive material) in a box the size of a regular coke can.

A word of advice

This, like the Motion Detonator is a self contained system. That means that if you decide not to use the prop, you are in trouble - if there is less than a minute left untill the timer goes off, it is a bad idea to go close to the prop. At the same time, some timers have the bad habit of going "beep" when you start the timer. Usually (i.e when you use the timer for what it's intended) this is annoying. If the "beep" sets off an explosion between your hands, it's more than just annoying. Make sure that your timer doesn't go "beep" when you press start.

Usually when I make these kinds of props, I include a safety loop. In other words, add a switch and a LED. The LED is coupled straight to the battery, and lights up when the switch is on. This way, you can easily determine if the prop is "armed" or not. This also allows you to use timers that say "beep" - you just start the timer, and then flick the switch.

In any case, as mentioned, timers are a bad idea.

Back to the node on pyrotechnics
Please read the disclaimer. Also, make sure you have read the Pyrotechnics safety tips. SAFETY FIRST

TiMER (2009)

What stops us from loving the people we want to love, when we want to love them? What are we afraid of? Why can't we just tell them how we really feel? It seems foolish not to, and yet we don't. Wouldn't we all be better off if we could just know for sure and ahead of time exactly whom we should love and whether they will bother to love us back?

TiMER, a "science fiction romantic comedy" (of sorts), dares to ask these questions. And answer them. With a brutal ferocity that is for the most part charmingly concealed behind the trappings of a conventional Hollywood rom-com.

The premise is that at some point in the near future (*very* near, apparently, because the characters don't even have smartphones), a company called "TiMER" invents, well, a timer, which gets embedded in your wrist and counts down the days, hours, and seconds until you meet your one true soulmate and live happily ever after. The catch is that you have to pay $79.99 for the device plus a monthly fee, forever, and that your timer only works if your one true soulmate shells out for a timer as well. Ah capitalism...is there any problem it can't invent and then solve?

Emma Caulfield (of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame) plays Oona O'Leary, a woman having a mid-life crisis of sorts because she is about to turn 30, but whereas all of her friends have "zeroed out" and found their soulmates, she cannot find hers, or even know if she ever will, because her Mr. Right (whoever he is) hasn't manned up purchased a goddamn timer yet. Essentially, amidst the TiMER world of perfect safety and security and perfect knowledge in matters relating to love, Oona is still living in the world that we all live in, a world with no guarantees, and she is desperate to get out.

Backed by a loving step-sister with problems of her own (a sassy Michelle Borth), and amid give-and-take with an overbearing but caring mother (an effervescent JoBeth Williams), Oona starts falling for an unlikely suitor who is also outside the logic of the timer, except by choice - he actively rejects the system.

This movie is a delightful puzzlebox of deep philosophical questions hidden behind friendly banter and winning yet nuanced performances by talented actors. The script (by first-time writer and director Jac Schaeffer) is a true gem - every line felt totally natural and true-to-life and yet there were several genuinely laugh-out-loud moments. Truly a testament to the notion that we need to let more women write and direct these kinds of films.

In the end however, the movie constructs a trap for itself. Namely, the movie hates the very idea of the timer and all that it represents, and wants you to hate it just as much, and yet within the internal logic of the film, the timer actually works, goshdarnit, all of the time, bringing real happiness to everyone it touches. In the end, there are only two ways out of this trap - to either take a hard right turn into the land of saccharine cliche, or else subvert the entire genre of the romantic comedy from within.

Let's just say that I'm glad that this film did not escape entirely from the trap. Ambiguity in a romantic comedy? How unexpectedly refreshing!

Amazingly, this quirky, endearing, low-budget treasure never even made it into wide release, but the reason why is rather obvious: the male characters are little more than props and eye-candy for a story that's mostly about three women. Now, you and I might agree that turnabout is fair play, but even after all these years, Hollywood just isn't ready for a film that very nearly passes the Bechdel test. That this wonderful, deeply though-provoking film has been so thoroughly ignored and overlooked is a true tragedy, but fortunately one that you can help rectify by watching this film as soon as you get a chance.

Tim"er (?), n.

A timekeeper; especially, a watch by which small intervals of time can be measured; a kind of stop watch. It is used for timing the speed of horses, machinery, etc.


© Webster 1913

Tim"er (?), n. (Internal-combustion Engines)

In electric ignition, an adjustable device for automatically timing the spark.


© Webster 1913

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