Introduction: Not Your Ordinary Electronic Detonator(With Altoids Tin!!!)

Picture of Not Your Ordinary Electronic Detonator(With Altoids Tin!!!)

This detonator uses only 1 AA battery, some switches, and a few simple electronics that can be had for FREE at any walmart or photo developing shop. (plus, it uses an altoids tin, which makes it just that much cooler)
This was largely inspired by the electronic detonators on this site, especially tetranitrate's
But I decided I didn't like the bulky power supply and multitude of plugs and jacks. So I changed it.


WARNING! this project uses Relatively high voltages and a decent ammount of current to boot.
DO NOT Hold the aligator clips in your hand when the plug on the end of the cord is inserted into the detonator!
DO NOT allow the Capacitor to discharge accross your Heart(it didn't kill me, but it was not a pleasant experience)
ALWAYS Discharge the capacitor with a screwdriver or a nail before working with it, even if you know it is not charged.
ALWAYS discharge the capacitor AGAIN after detonating something. the wires used explode(yes, I do mean explode) before all the current can be discharged and it will still pack a nasty punch.

Lastly, use common sense and don't do anything too idiotic(I know how hard this is going to be for a lot of you, but do try)

Step 1: Gather Materials

Picture of Gather Materials

The materials required are as follows:

1 PCB from a disposable Camera that has a flash feature(you need to rip the camera apart)(these can be bought or you can just go into any place that develops film and ask for a few(walmart gave me a shopping bag full) I used a Kodak Hi-definition, but any one would work)
1 Capacitor from the camera(needs to be cut off of the camera PCB)
1 Altoids sours tin(I'm sure that a normal one would work too, but I like the roundness of the sours tins)
1 AA Alkaline battery(included with camera)
1 Push Button Normally Open switches
1 Mini toggle switch
1 1/8" Mono Jack
1 1/8" Mono Plug
~8" 24 Guage Solid Core Hookup Wire
As long as you like of 18 Guage Double stranded hookup wire(I fully reccomend the hardware store, they tend to be cheaper than the shack)
Aligator clips
Jewelry bead wire

Tools needed are as follows:

1 Drill
Drillbits of appropriate size for your components
Gaffer's Tape or Electrical tape(even ducttape would work)
Circular files of appropiate diameter for your holes
Soldering Iron

Step 2: Drill Out the Holes for the Components

Picture of Drill Out the Holes for the Components

Drill out the holes for your components in the altoids tin in whatever pattern feels most comfortable for you.

To do this you just center punch(poke it with something sharp) where you want the hole, put the tin in a vice, then use the proper drillbit for the part you're going to put there.

After you've drilled use a file to clean up the holes so you can actually put the components in the holes.

Step 3: Coat the Bottom With Insulating Tape

Picture of Coat the Bottom With Insulating Tape

pretty straightforward, Coat the bottom of the tin with the insulating tape that you use most often, and then dry fit all the components and camera PCB in there.

Step 4: Tape Down PCB

Picture of Tape Down PCB

Now use your tape and tape the PCB to the bottom of the tin. Then tape the capacitor that you clipped off on top of the PCB

Step 5: Solder All Your Wires

Picture of Solder All Your Wires

Solder the connections with the 24 guage solid core hookup wire, use the diagram below as a guide(I'm terrible at Paint)
Make absolutely sure that the capacitor is connected correctly. if you switch the poles it won't charge and you'll have to go in and switch the wires around.

Step 6: Make the Detonator Wires

Picture of Make the Detonator Wires

Take that length of 18 guage wire you've got and solder the 1/8" mono plug to one end of it.

on the other end split the two strands of wire and strip the ends. then solder them to the aligator clips and clamp down the crimping sides.

Step 7: Harvest Some Detonator Wire

Picture of Harvest Some Detonator Wire

Grab some jewelry bead threading wire and clip about 2" off of it. Then take a lighter and burn off the nylon insulation. Once that's done, clip off any unburned insulation and harvest the individual wires that are stranded together.

alternately you could just get some 36 guage NiCr wire, that would probably work just fine as well.

Step 8: Use

Picture of Use

1. Insert battery into battery holder of PCB
2. make sure detonator cords are UNPLUGGED
3. clip aligator clips to the jewelry wire or the nichrome and insert into whatever you feel like making go boom.(fuses can be slit down the middle and detonated that way. it's easier with home made, like tetranitrates )
4. keeping the wires unplugged walk as far away as your wires will let you
5. make sure the toggle switch is in the off position
6. plug in detonator wires
7. turn on the toggle
8. press the big red button and watch the show. if you hear a pop inside the pushbutton switch, release the switch, turn off the toggle, and allow the capacitor to recharge. then repeat from step 7.

if the explosive does not detonate after 5 tries, unplug the wires, wait about 1 minute, then go up there and see what went wrong.


Gnomie. (author)2014-11-23

dude if you're going to wire it wrong in your instructions but know you did it wrong then why post it, its just messy is what im saying. I tried it and it works, but how about some professionalism

BOOM OWWWW (author)2013-08-31

Rewire them to the butten and hand it to someone to snap a picture haha

fancysaukrel (author)2011-10-07

Watch out with the circuit,make sure it's discharged before you touch it 4000 volts hurts,i know from personal expierience great ide i might try this out for fun

napalm008 (author)2010-07-30

I am stumped on how to learn this stuff and even bought an electronics kit and that has helped a little but i would like to know how you learned this?

Flipyap (author)2010-04-01

Nice instructable! by the way, do you mind if I post my own version of this? you will be given credit. Thanks!

Apples (author)Flipyap2010-04-01

Go ahead and post your own version, just make sure its significantly different (i.e. a different way of charging the cap or a different way of delivering the current) otherwise it's basically just a re-casing, and instructables already has plenty of detonators floating about.

Good luck, and remember that limbs are meant to stay on your body.

RocketPenguin (author)2010-01-05

put the red button where it says ''press''

looking4ideas (author)2008-10-28

I placed 2 9v batters a switch and a male USB plug to make my detonator. i raped a match head with Nicrome wire as the fuse starter works perfect for me and cost me like umm 1US just for the switch

I think it is much easier my way

cornflaker (author)looking4ideas2009-10-16

 much easier to rape it? :P

you raped a match head?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

haha raped. lol

mspark400 (author)looking4ideas2009-03-02

Just fyi i think you mean wrapped the match head lol

mettaurlover (author)2009-07-22

i would have said "anything I wouldn't do".

mspark400 (author)2009-03-02

Great ible! just one note to all... Make sure you switch contacts are well separated and insulated because this type of charge can jump them if they are too close. could be dagerous (i got zapped but rockets going off could be bad too) cheers, Mspark400

disturbedreaper (author)2008-09-22

if i used a 9volt instead of a AA wouldent it charg the capacitor faster or would it damage somthing

it would completely kill the charge circuit. trust me, i've tried it.


raykholo (author)2008-11-30

im making my own version of this with a box from a mini dv tape to set off model rockets, but dont u just need like a normal 3v current for it to work (2 AA or AAA batteries)???

Behb (author)2007-11-06

Isn't it easier just to take of the flash from the camera and then solder two wires on each pole? Is it just because you want to have a nicer chassi or did I miss something?

Apples (author)Behb2007-11-08

unfortunately, the camera stops flashing after the film has run out, plus the camera has no safety switch or plug so you can detach the wires. My primary motivation was safety, so I elected to build an entirely new chassi so I could encorporate the features I wanted. Also, I wanted to have more room to maneuver as far as building goes, and I didn't want to bother with fixing the problem of the no more pictures w/o film(I'm sure it would be relatively simple, but there are a load of small parts in there). Plus, this let me make an altoids tin that explodes things. Much cooler than a camera ; )

PyroManiac96 (author)Apples2008-07-29

it stops flashing because the film is no longer dragging on the wheel inside when you turn the wheel outside. just open up the back and gouge a hole where the little wheel is. then put the cover back on and you can turn the little wheel by sticking your finger into the hole you gouged out and turning it. works for me

recon506 (author)2008-01-28

hmmm. looks pretty good. however i think that the whole mono plug thing is over-done. looks nice though. would the super-thin copper wire from those plug-in AC-DC transformers for chrgers work as ignition wire?

PyroManiac96 (author)recon5062008-07-29

i use really thin scrap copper wire, strip it, and take the little strands of wire from inside and those work great. im sure what your explaining would work

Apples (author)recon5062008-02-19

Sorry about the long response time, I've been swamped. I'm not sure if that wire would work, although it is certainly easier and cheaper to get. Let me know what happens if you experiment with it.

redhattrick7 (author)2008-06-11

where did the battery connect to?

never mind... i got the stuff and it makes total sense

awkrin (author)2008-05-25

add a new switch between the a terminal of the battery and the pcb so that the capacitor won't keep charging every 20 seconds and discharge the battery

jdogjared5 (author)2007-06-06

ok, so now i got it so that when i plug the wires in, it charges but nothing happens, is the jewelry wire supposed to spark or something? Also, after i charge it, it seems to discharge somewhere because when i charge it, it always make the whining noise and then stops when its charged. But after i charge it, and it makes the noise, if i try to charge it again, it'll make the noise again like its re-charging. There is no spark or popping sound or anything. How do i make it work?

mettaurlover (author)jdogjared52008-05-01

capacitors lose tiny bits of charge VERY quickly, so they recharge whenever. why do you think Kodak disposables discharge after about 20 seconds?

the noise is the transformer.......its discharging across the jewelry wire.....your probably using too heavy of wire. go for UBER thin as paper

ranger_steve (author)2008-04-19

wouldn't using a normal switch on the cap burn out the switch???

struckbyanarrow (author)2008-03-23

but a saftey cover on the toggle switch and craft one or find one online for the other button

canida (author)2008-02-19

We have a Be Nice Policy. You've been warned.

pyroneer (author)2008-02-19

dear apples, My name is john and i am fifteen. i am building a electronic detonator (using your rubric) for my science fair project in chemistry and have some important questions on constructing this and would like some more info on how to build it, you can email me at thanks.

pyro(904) (author)2008-01-12

dat detonator is dope, im using this same blue print for my science fair project in chemistry.

emericanskater (author)2007-12-22

would i be able to detonate fireworks with this

17coolerlife (author)2007-12-17

u should of use crocodile technology. it also has a 3d option so it's a lot easier. and u can make u'r circuit work, in realtime.

Dirtbiker460 (author)2007-12-12

I know flash caps are 330v but what current should the switches be rated for? also, couldn't you just move the led/neon bulb (depending on which camera you harvest it from) from its spot on the PCB to the outside of the container?

Behb (author)2007-11-09

The circuit for the camera flash emits around 4000 volts at the second it's activated. Because the flashtube needs around 4000v to lit the, around 300v, capasitator unloads in the metal in front of the flash tube and it charge up a little bit before the Xenon gas in the tube can light. Because of this it doesn't matter if the camera does not flash when film run out. You only use the power given directly from the capasitator when it's shortcircuited (around 320V). I use a camera to fire of my spudgun but instead of having a glowing wire I make the two poles touch eachother inside the fuelchamber making the high voltage shortcircuit giving of heat and sparks. Perfect for lighting gas but you can't use this in a detonator tough. Do you also know that you can charge up the capasitator and then detach it from the camera while its still charged. After youve done this throw it to a good friend and see his facialexpression when he gets chocked;). You can charge it over and over again:)

Dantex (author)2007-08-21

It is really cool, i will make something like this but for awhile. Do you know how to ignite fireworks whit this?

themasterpyro (author)Dantex2007-11-06

attach a commercial squib(those model rocket engine ignitors) to the end of the wires and put squib where needed to ignite the bomb(dont deny it, you want to blow up the house lol)

Apples (author)themasterpyro2007-11-08

The amount of power produced by the igniter wire is actually more powerful that the rocket igniters that you buy in a store. Besides, if you were going to use one of those, why not just use the Estes igniter that comes with the rocket?

Apples (author)Dantex2007-11-08

Actually, you can do it more easily by splitting the fuse with a razor, slipping the ignition wire in the slit, and then wrapping the excess around the fuse to hold it in.

adamthiede (author)2007-07-16

so this is a detonator? how big of an explosion will it make and can you make it out of a square altoids tin?

Apples (author)adamthiede2007-07-30

Yes, it is. It doesn't make an explosion, what it's detonating does. I'm sure you can, it's just a housing for some wires. I personally thought it would be cooler and slightly more ergonomic in a circular tin.

jdogjared5 (author)2007-06-07

It's still not working. When the wires are not hooked up to the jewelry wire, they read about 60volts, but when they are hooked up to the jewelry wire, they only read 6 hundredths of a volt.

Apples (author)jdogjared52007-06-07

Ok, 1) did you follow the instructions exactly? 2) did you make sure to include both switches? 3) did you take apart the jewelry wire after making sure to burn off the insulation? if you did all of these things, 1) there should be no problems 2) The voltmeter should read 0 when both switches are off 3) the wire should explode. Oh, and make sure your solder joints are shiny and not cloudy and gross, that can make a huge difference.

jdogjared5 (author)2007-06-06

I've tried building one of these it never worked. When I unplug the wires it charges, but when I plug the wires back in, it doesn't charge and gives a humming noise. Anybody have an idea what i did wrong?

n3ldan (author)2007-05-07

What switch are you using? I mean, when all goes well the switch isn't really important because the NiCr wire has enough resistance, but if there is a short or something wouldn't it fry the switch? Nice use of the disposable camera though

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