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High voltage power supply for Nixies, CFL, Neon-Glow-Bulbs etc. for my steampunk objects

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Hi everybody

This instructable is also a summary of my own experiances in constructing funky light objects using the electronic from a disposal camera, as the knowledge of other projects and constructive ideas from the internet.
So it was my aim to write an clear DIY :-)))))) tutorial which can be followed by everyone who tries to do it for him- (her)self.

Before I started my instructable career, I was looking severeal times in the internet and found a lot of similiar projects which worked with this electronic. There was only one problem to me because nearly all of them had one common mistake: You never saw where to solder exactly the last wire to finish the project successfull!

That´s why I sat down and tried to find out my own best solution. I have to say that I´m not really good in working with electronics and I also can not draw the circuit of the used electronic from the disposal camera but I can show you now exactly where you have to solder your wires to light a flickering candle bulb, a cfl-tube , NIXIE-tube or a Neon Glow Bulb with only using a 1.5 Volts battery. I tested a lot of different disposal camera types (Agfa, Kodak, Fujii) and came to the conclusion that the ones from Fujii work best. Since then I always use only the electronics from Fujii-disposal cameras.

And now here comes my solution in which way I use to work with and I hope that will answer most of your questions about it.
If you follow carefully myt really detailed step by step instructabble, you should get an impressive result.
Before you start please notice two things:

First: There exist two different types of disposal camera s from Fujii which I used: One is driven by an AAA-battery and the other one uses an AA-battery. I call them the "AA-Type" and the "AAA-Type".

Second: Don´t wreck your health and please obay the follwing advices:

***Disclaimers***This instructable works with voltages in excess of 250V. This is more than enough to give you a potentially fatal electric shock if handled incorrectly. If you are unfamiliar with how to work with high voltage, please refrain from performing this instructable. Exercise caution throughout the following steps to avoid electrical dangers and also use insulated tools like pliers and screwdrivers and so on.
If you choose to undertake this instructable, you do so at your own risk.

Please obey that most of the gasfilled CFL-Tubes also contain some Quicksilver (Hg). Dont break them!!!

This instructable involves soldering. A soldering iron becomes very hot during its use, to the point where it can cause instant second-degree burns. Exercise caution throughout the following steps to avoid burns. If you choose to undertake this instructable, you do so at your own risk.
 
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LoneGinger8 days ago

I found a 2.5v 500 ma dc output adapter at a local second hand store and have been using it now for 8-9 days straight with out failure. I have it in open air currently but will be putting it in smaller and smaller enclosures trying to force failure from elevated temperatures. The power supply I found has three outputs allowing me to power three circuits and three individual bulbs with in one lamp. Very excited for the possibilities, plasma cadelabra being one. Pics to come as soon as I work out some of the finer details.

also the adapter is 2.5v but is reading 3.9+v at the circuirt board. So I this circuit has been running with almost 4v for 10 or so days now.

Radioguy331 month ago
Help! Even with a 100ohm resistor I am getting over 600v. My wires are exactly where they should be for DC too.
Junophor (author)  Radioguy331 month ago

This is quite normal with 100 Ohms resistor. But you will find only some milli amperes. So if you use a cfl light or nixietube or another neonlight bulb etc. it will run without a problem(too less power(milliamps)). The lamp regulates the voltage down to110 to 200 volts you will see!

Hope this answer your question

Aeon Junophor

Radioguy331 month ago
I'm getting 606v on the DC line without a 100ohm resister. Is that normal? That seems really high!
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MadMuz3 months ago
Haha my friends and used to run around shocking each other with these disposable cameras. 1 time my mates zapped this dude silver necklace in the shoppibg center, he bloody screamed amd chased my mate wanting to turn his face into mush. Hahahah nostalgia orgasm!
harbourkevin4 months ago

Just for interest sake. The CFL lamps in South Africa have a 12volt transformer in them. Is it the same in your country and if so did you remove it.

Junophor (author)  harbourkevin4 months ago

Hi

I really don´t know wether the transformers of cfl in germany runs with 12 Volts because in my projects I onlyuse the glasstube and fire them with the pcb from the disposal cameras.

greetings

Aeon Junophor

I have a kodak disposable camera circuit and it's so different than the one used here, in general what you did there is that you placed the capacitor with a ( light bulb or anything ) and you made the circuit to continuously charging and the bridge always closed?
Junophor (author)  • The Inventor •6 months ago

You are right with it! And you can use the HV either as DC or AC as youcan see;-))

Greets Aeon Junophor

dudes7 months ago

is it possible to make a schematic of the camera circuit and the modifications?

i'm no electrical type person, but i believe the warning about dangers of this devise are highly over rated. the first part is that it is warned that the devise creates 250 volts. however it is not voltage that kills or hurts, it is current. and it is powered by at most, two AA batteries. the curent provided by both is not enough to even feel.... and since you removed the capacitor, there is no store of energy that can be released. also, because the bateries have 1.5, or 3 volts depending on configuration, and you crank that up to 250 volts, you are actualy making the devise less dangerous, because voltage and amps are inversely dependant.

correct me if i'm wrong.....
(also, i've used these circuits as tasers to mess with friends and the worst it's ever done (with the capacitor intact....) was burn alittle. (.... it hurt too. >>. but removing the capacitor makes this circuit almost harmless as far as i can tell)
dudes badideasrus7 months ago

while the current IS what kills, we must remember ohm's law, at high voltages the body has less resistance and therefore more current is able to pass through it.

Finally, apply voltage to certain parts of the body and it will still be fatal even well below pain levels. Your electrical signals from the brain are modulated voltages not amps so a shock that feels harmless can (in rare instances) disrupt the electrical pulses from your brain or simulate a 'fake pulse' causing your heart to beat early, seize, or fail if the shock is close enough. Lets not talk about a shock to the brain too.

Tasers rely on a complete system overload, they are much more powerful than your own bodies signalling neurons so easy for your organs and brain to discern from neuronal signals. Small shocks not so much. Stay safe man. :)

You are wrong. The input voltage is fine and below danger levels, but the capacitor is still very much able to give you quite a shock especially if it is disconnected before the charge is released in the camera flash. It's not going to seriously hurt as the amperage is low, but it's plenty enough to mess with, or even short out a pacemaker and thus the warning is still very necessary.

Even though we remove it from the circuit, for the short term (a few days) a capacitor acts like a battery and stores charge without a circuit so it is still a hazard.

rexxxdavid1 year ago
can i step up the ac out witha step up transformer?
i've rubn the double aa unit with a stanrd nin volt battery w/o problems
nerd74731 year ago
I took apart a camera once
Ok, love the instructable. I did this on several flash units that I had from old disposables. I took an AC reading and it was 570v ac..that's a lot of voltage. I was wondering if I would need to put a resistor in place to hook it up to one of the cfl bulbs since they are normally running on 120v (at least here in the U.S. I know enough about electricity to have a healthy fear of such voltages...any and all feedback would be appreciated.
Awesome instructible! FYI for anyone trying this..those large capacitors can hold a charge for years. I was taking the flash electronics out of several of these cameras from my wedding 3 years ago and a couple of the capacitors gave a pretty loud snap when I discharged them with a screwdriver. Even if you're working with old electronics, be careful around those large capacitors!
GrissleFist2 years ago
Pretty amazing! Going to try it out tonight. If you see a bright flash in the sky, it's just me. I am pretty new to electronics and your work is inspiring. Thank you.
ZaneEricB2 years ago
wHY ARE YOU SO AWESOME. Thanks...and now to the drawing board!
Effluxmind2 years ago
Enjoyed your instructable, found it very clear and informative. You need not be able to draw a schematic of the circuit to clearly convey your information. I am not an engineer, have worked in electrical/electronic areas for years and can both draw and read schematics. You succeeded at a very high level where reliance on schematics was made unnecessary. You also hit a very sensitive point on others not showing clearly or at all exactly where to make connections to the circuit for outputs for a particular project. I also found that a very frustrating point in researching this subject. Yes, I can power up a board and investigate with test equipment and trial and error until success is achieved. But man does not advance by continually reinventing or rediscovering what has already been accomplished. It is much more productive to research a topic and work from a good resource. I have found many resources for this topic and many have a very high level of technical expertise on the topic, some with schematics, but you have beat them all. Thanks for the knowledge.
Junophor (author)  Effluxmind2 years ago
Hi Effluxmind

Thanks for your kind words. Yes you hit the point why I left the schematic. I could have shown a drawing too (I am able to do so), but what for? Such a schematic might be very helpful to only a small group of electronic engineers, technicans, home constructors or electronic freaks but I thought that it was much better to show the circuit directly so that nearly everyone could follow....

I experienced that a lot of people worked with this instructable successfully (and of course told it to me) and that was my aim!!

Cheers Aeon Junophor
Roryfkl2 years ago
Hi I'm building a bike powered cfl headlight and I could only achieve full brightness on a (AAA-Type circuit) when I bridged the HA(+) ac/dc and the adjacent resistor (directly below HV+ in your picture). Although full brightness was achieved a slight buzzing resulted as well. Any thoughts why this works and will it cause problems in the future for the circuitry? By the way fantastic Instructable! Very thorough and great pictures!
Junophor (author)  Roryfkl2 years ago
Hi Roryfkl

Very nice idea.

I will try to test your new grip of HV bridged in the described way.

I think there will be no further problem for the circuit to do it in this way but you may test it with one AAA-batterie and let it run down to see what happens. Then you can tell us your result




ebend122 years ago
Well your tutorial tells how to do it, but how does it work? What is actually taking a Low V high Amp DC to a High V low Amp AC?
the_don1252 years ago
You totally stole the disclaimers from my similar instructable. :P Its cool though, and great job on expanding upon some of the more unclear aspects of crafting a camera into a HV power supply!
Just for future reference though, it is generally considered courteous to cite your sources, especially if you copy-paste. :) I don't mind much, but there are people out there who will.
Junophor (author)  the_don1252 years ago
Hi the _don125
I beg your pardon you are absolutely right. I took the disclaimer from your site but only for that reason that I have not known the right words for explaining the danger at that time. Let me say that I am very sad not to mention you as the source that´s my fault.

But let me also say that your instructable was the one which brought me to the job working with nixie tubes and disposal camera flash units besides the other neon gas filled lamps or cfl-bulbs. That waslong before I presented my first instructable here.

So once again sorry for my mistaking and please accept my apology. I will try to do it better in future
No need to apologize. :) I don't mind, and am honestly glad that my instructable was put to good use by someone. That's the whole point of instructables, to share ideas so that others may build upon them!

I was just giving you a caution, there are some people out there that become annoyed if somebody copies their work without referencing it.
longwinters2 years ago
Greetings from the Island of Maui:

I tried to send you some pictures of my latest project and my E-Mail would not cooperate, so here is one or two, I would also like to thank you for this instructable because I was able to modify a different HV unit from another camera to work as you say.
The unit did produce a nice glow on one of the bulbs I have sent you when connected to the AC side of the diode.

Oh and there will be a clock on the top of my project to finish it out, plus a pendulam and some weights that are illuminated.
all I phone back up 061.JPGall I phone back up 065.JPGall I phone back up 063.JPG
Junophor (author)  longwinters2 years ago
Hi longwinters

Sorry that I have not answered yet. (I explained you why).

Oh this looks very good!!! FIVE points worth!!!!

The wood you used will shine very good after finishing indeed . Very tricky the ankles in the mirror front .There will be surely an interesting play with reflections of the moving pendulum and also the glowing oft the neon lamps .
The lamp on the right photo looks very stylish I love it !!! This fits perfectlly in!!

I am longing for your presentation.

Thanks again for the bulbs my brain is already working........;-)))

Cheers Aeon Junophor

ricks2 years ago
My 13YO child is trying to build a home-made Geiger Counter. We have the GM tube created (we think) and are at the voltage stage where we need something in the 350-550 dc volts to allow the GM tube filled with helium gas to sense a ray passing through the tube.

It appears that if you take your feed from the DC side, the power is steady as shown by the tube staying lit. Is the DC voltage high enough or could you envision any changes to this Instructable to meet this need?

We are not electrically that knowledgeable, but want to get there if we can.

Thanks.
mrayw2 years ago
Looks cool. Any idea about the voltage or how much current it can put out?
makermike2 years ago
Great instructable! I have a question about the lifetime of the electronic circuit when driving a bulb. Since the electronics were designed only to operate the flash for, let's say, 24 exposures, operating a bulb continuously is really running it outside of its design specs.

Any experience in how long to expect the circuit to work before something blows?

Thanks!
Junophor (author)  makermike2 years ago
Hi makermike
If you don´t raise up the voltage for more than 3,0 Volts, you can use this electronic circuit as long as other electronic circuits too. The only "weak" part is the transistor which might get too hot (and then melts/blows) if you take too much voltage.
Yours Aeon Junophor
techno guy2 years ago
If you use the ac part from before the diode, then can you use it to power a transformer?, because I heard that transformers work best with ac voltage.
tutdude982 years ago
can this kill you??
cmlucht3 years ago
what is the dc output voltage? thinking about making mini electro static speakers
techno guy3 years ago
Is it possible to use this to power a really tiny cathode ray tube?
Junophor (author)  techno guy3 years ago
Hi techno guy

Nice avatar indeed.

I dont-Think so becaiuse you normally need al litte bit more amps to generate th cathode beam.
Take care of you while trying because of the possible x-ray!

Yours Aeon Junophor
zack2473 years ago
i was wondering if i could use one of these to power a CCFL, thanks!
hanelyp zack2473 years ago
Since the compact florescent tube is being driven in "cold cathode" mode, I'd expect the circuit to work for a CCFL (cold cathode florescent lamp). Best way to know for sure is to try it.
Junophor (author)  hanelyp3 years ago
Hi hanelyp

I really do`t know if it works. Isn´t it so that a ccfl needs about 1.000 Volts?
Please report about your tying and experience.
Yours Aeon Junophor
astrong03 years ago
AH yes... i remember now.... power down the capacitor first.... damn that hurt...
jjmns733 years ago
could you ramp this up to have an output of 120 ac with an in put of 12 dc
Junophor (author)  jjmns733 years ago
Hi jjmns 73

I think 12 Volts are to powerfull The transitior will oergeat very fast and the electronis breaks down.
But as you can see in my description you can reach nearly 210 Volts (AC or DC) by using a lamp an when measuring without a lamp the HV contact s you`ll get more than 300 Volts AC or DC
hi junopher,

thank you for you help,what do you think a good in put would be? i have seen this instructables i am new to this site and it has peeked the tinker in me
i cant believe how detailed this is!
Junophor (author)  imBobertRobert3 years ago
It´was a pleasure to me
But this seems to be the only possible way to put all important facts one time togther so that everyone could follow the steps successful
Yours Aeon Junophor
well im just glad that you arnt one of those people who skip the important stuff. keep up the good work!
Winged Fist3 years ago
Thanks for this detailed Instructable, and for the window into the secrets of your Steampunk magic! And thanks for telling us how not to burn, poison and electrocute ourselves!;-)