Introduction: Simple DISCO Strobe Light DIY

Picture of Simple DISCO Strobe Light DIY

I love making new things, so when the idea of making a diy strobe light came to me I thought: "Why not?" But, as it turns out, making it isn't that easy. I found that all internet circuits were too complex for me, so I decided to design my own circuit and put it all together. It's a very simple and efficient way of making a little strobe light machine and I hope you'll enjoy it, just as I did.

Step 1: Components and Circuit Scheme

Picture of Components and Circuit Scheme

The main thing in this little project are white LED lights which I used instead of expensive strobe light because they
are fast enough to create the efect of actual strobe light at this frequency which is about 11 Hz.

What you need for this project is:

- 120 K resistor
- 8 K resistor
- 1 uF capacitor
- 10 nF capacitor
- NE 555 timer
- 12 V white LED light (x3)
- small circuit board
- header for timer

Step 2: Aaand It's Done!

Picture of Aaand It's Done!

So when you put all the components together this is how the circuit looks like. If you want to change the frequency of blinking you can play a little bit with changing the values of resistors.


TheMake (author)2016-04-08

hello, the small yellow capacitor is 10mf or nf

SuperTech-IT (author)2014-01-12

Cute. I hope nobody tries to put incandescent lights on it though - the poor little 555 can't sink that kind of current! LOL (when I saw the photos, that's what I thought you were using at first)

It does look like there's several LEDs in each lamp though. I hope you aren't pushing the output too hard. Looks like about 12 - which would be 3 parallel sets of 4 series sets. If we assume a 12V source, Basically it'll draw about the same as 3 LEDs in parallel per lamp, X 3 lamps = 9 LEDs at say 20mA for a total of 180mA. The 555 can sink about 200mA, but that's really pushing it (it'll probably get pretty hot). You might want to put a transistor on the output to keep from damaging your 555, or maybe limit it to 2 of these lamps.

Yeah, you are right about the current and the LEDs but the thing is that this LEDs have separate power supply, they actually just take ground from the 555 timer and thus there is no load on the timer so it can work for hours.

Actually - that is not correct.
Devices have a maximum supply and a maximum SINK current.
Supply is when you use the HIGH signal to power the device, the other side of the device usually being ground.
SINK is when the unit being powered is tied to a supply, and the device (the 555) has to SINK the current to ground.
The maximum sink current on the 555 timer's output is 200mA
For most devices, the source and sink current will be identical.

As an analogy, let's take a fuse rated at 200mA.
the fuse can be tied to the supply, supplying the LEDs with the +12, or you can tie the fuse to ground, so that it has to sink the current from the LEDs.
No matter where you put it, if you go over 200mA by very much, or for too long, it's going to blow.
Don't think that just because you are sinking the current that there is an unlimited flow allowable.
NPN transistors are usually configured to sink current.
However, every transistor has a maximum allowable current, regardless of it's configuration, before it launches itself landing leads up, never to be used again.

Here is an article that explains this in detail.

A simple 2N2222 has a 600 to 800mA maximum current.

tying the output of the 555 to the base of the transistor, and having the LEDs connected to your +12 and the collector, with the emitter to ground, would allow for more LEDs to be hooked up, or at the very least, protect your 555 from failing due to eventual fatigue on the output. This will invert the output of course, but that doesn't matter. The LEDs will be on when the output is high rather than when it's low - but the output of the 555 will only source/sink a very tiny amount of current. Oh ya, you should put a 100 ohm resistor between the 555 output and the transistor base. I won't explain that here though because I don't want to get into transistor theory.

I didn't unerstand the sink current correctly, Thanks for the explanation :) But for now I heavent had problems with thermal destruction with this circuit so I suppose the current is not too high whith only 3 LEDs.. Well, if I decide to add more LEDs I will sure use the switching transistor and adjust it's bias.

It looks like a lot more than 3 LEDs in the photo, it looks like each light has 12 LEDs in it and there are 3 light units.- maybe that's my error.

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