General Meeting- 7PM April 7th, 2014

The Art and Science of Display Pyrotechnics
Bob Saltzman, WB2ARK


This computer-based slide and video presentation explores and demystifies the basic art and science of display fireworks – providing a behind-the-scenes look at how pyrotechnics are constructed and function, and how they are used to create a beautiful professional fireworks display. Various inert demonstration aids are used to enhance the presentation.

Also included are sections on electronic ignition systems and computer controlled choreography that might be of particular interest to amateur radio enthusiasts.

A native of White Plains, NY, Bob earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Union College, in Schenectady, NY, in 1969, and a Master of Science degree in Computer Science from the same institution in 1976.

Bob was a senior computer systems architect at General Electric Global Research in Niskayuna, NY, where he was responsible for Internet and intranet-based World Wide Web systems architecture, digital streaming multimedia, collaboration, and computer network security. He participated in the development of a computer-controlled secure radio dispatching system for several large metropolitan police departments, as well as developing the graphics system for GE’s first Computed Tomography (CT) medical imaging scanner. He retired in 2014 after almost 45 years with GE. Bob has two adult children, both involved in the medical field.

Bob has been involved with display pyrotechnics since 1983 and has been associated with Empire State Fireworks Manufacturing Company, Inc. of Duanesburg, NY, during that time. He has also worked with Fireworks by Alonzo of NY, Telstar Fireworks of NH, and Pyrotechnico of PA. Along with his pyrotechnic colleagues, he has participated in presenting hundreds of fireworks displays:

  • Fourth of July celebrations, including Albany’s Empire State Plaza
  • Niskayuna’s annual Niska-Day celebration
  • Saratoga Casino and Raceway (voted best display in the Capital region by Metroland Newspaper readers)
  • Numerous city, town, and village celebrations
  • Community events, including Jumpin’ Jacks, sports leagues
  • Fundraising events
  • Weddings and private displays

Bob participated with the Syd Howard Fireworks International team, helping Australia to win the Montreal, Canada International Fireworks Competition Bronze Jupiter Award in 2000.

Bob specializes in fireworks electronics and computer control, and pyrotechnic safety. He is certified as a pyrotechnician by, and is a member of the Pyrotechnics Guild International.

He also participates in a worldwide Internet-based pyrotechnics mail list, and has attended and lectured at, several international pyrotechnic conventions, where he has been responsible for fire, medical and safety preparedness.

Bob has expertise with personal computers and computer security, photography, and music, and has been an FCC licensed amateur operator since 1960 (now advanced class). He has been a researcher and expert on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, a topic on which he has lectured nationwide for over forty years. He is a trained firefighter and has been a New York State certified advanced emergency medical technician-paramedic since 1979 (now retired).

If Niskayuna High School cancels evening classes and activities the SARA meeting will normally also be cancelled and possibly rescheduled. Listen in on the SARA 147.060 repeater for meeting status information and whether it is to be rescheduled.

The SARA meeting is held in the Little Theatre of the Niskayuna High School on Balltown Road. Attendees should enter the school through the cafeteria entrance located on the side of the school, adjacent to the Nott Street Extension school parking lot.

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