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A 555 timer is a very popular integrated circuit (chip) that can be used to provide time delays (timer).  The chip contains many transistors, diodes and resistors, including three 5k resistors which is how it got its name.

Programmable microcontrollers like the Arduino and the Propeller are very useful tools, but if all you need is to blink some LEDs then those programmable microcontrollers are excessive.  You can use a 555 time to blink LEDs and at a fraction of the cost.

Our local makerspace the “Rabbit Hole” had a Jameco build night where we were building electronic projects with parts from Jameco.  They included some 555 timers so I decided to make a turn signal that blinks the LEDs in a cascading style.

Here is the list of things you will need to build the turn signal:
  • 1 x half size solderless breadboard
  • 1 x 555 timer 8 pin chip
  • 1 x momentary push button switch
  • 2 x 100 uF 10v capacitors
  • 1 x 9 volt battery adapter
  • 1 x 9 volt battery
  • 1 x length of 22 AWG wire to make connections
  • 1 x wire cutter to cut and strip the wire
  • 5 x 330 Ohm resistors
  • 5 x 10k Ohm resistors
  • 2 x 4.7k Ohm resistors
  • 2 x 1N4148 diodes
  • 1 x 2k Ohm resistor
  • 5 x LEDs
  • 5 x BC547 transistors

I used a half size solderless breadboard from Jameco.  Solderless breadboards allow the ability to prototype circuit designs without soldering the parts to a printed circuit board (PCB).  Breadboards have two columns of holes on each side that are connected to each other (rails) that are often used for positive and ground.  On the interior of the breadboard there are two rows of 5 holes that are connected to each other.  This makes it easy to connect multiple things to one pin of an integrated circuit.

When you are done building you will have a circuit which lights the LEDs in succession until all 5 are illuminated.  Check out the video for more details.


This instructable submitted by the Rabbit-Hole Maker Space as part of the Instructables Sponsorship Program.

Step 1: Make the Basic Connections

Place the 555 timer chip in the middle of the breadboard.  The notch in the chip indicates the top of the chip and the left side is pin 1.  If you place the chip at the top of the breadboard the pins on the left side are numbered the same as the chip.

Pins of the 555 timer:
1 = GND = ground
2 = TRIG = trigger
3 = OUT = output
4 = RESET = reset
5 = CTRL = control
6 = THR = threshold
7 = DIS = discharge
8 = Vcc = positive supply voltage

To learn more about the 555 integrated circuit go to the wiki page on 555 timer IChttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/555_timer_IC
There is a good pin out diagram with colored pins that you can use as a reference.  Alternately you can search for the 555 datasheet.  The datasheet (normally in PDF format) contains lots of technical details about the 555 timer.

Make the basic 555 timer connections:

Wire pin 1 (GND) of the chip to ground.
Wire pin 2 (TRIG) of the chip to pin 6 (threshhold).
Wire pin 4 (OUT) of the chip to pin 8 (Vcc).
Wire pin 8 (Vcc) of the chip to power.

Put one 4.7k Ohm resister from pin 8 to pin 7 (DIS) on the chip.
Put one 4.7k Ohm resister from pin 7 to pin 6 (THR) on the chip.
Put one capacitor from pin 1 (GND) to pin 2 (TRIG) on the chip.  Please note capacitors have one electrode that must be connected to ground.  This is indicated by the negative sign on the capacitor. 

The steps up to this point are a basis for many common 555 timer circuits (Astable operating mode).  Only a few more connections and you could make a simple blinky 555 timer circuit.  The 555 chip can be use for many different applications including Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) and tone generation.  As you learn more about the chip be sure to check out the Monostable, Bistable, and Astable modes of the 555 timer.

The next steps are exclusively for the turn signal circuit.
<p>Pretty fun little project. Good introduction to using 555 timers.</p>
<p>Hello! </p><p>Nice instructable.</p><p>I tried to do this myself but only the two first leds blink and the others don't! </p><p>Would you help me please? Thanks in advance! </p>
<p>i need circuit diagram of this project plz guide me</p>
<p>The circuit diagram is on the first page of the instructable, click the image to make the image bigger.</p>
<p>What will i change if i will use my powerbank as my power source?</p>
Could you use the bc548 instead of the bc547???
<p>I think that i can run this on 12 volts without any changes, i am right?</p>
<p>Hi there,</p><p>Can someone explain the theory of the circuit? I kinda understand it, but why do we use the second capacitor between output and the gnd? Also, why resistor and diode there? What if we don't put them?</p><p>Thanks</p>
<p>Oh, I guess I got it... It's to make that &quot;mexican wave&quot; effect :) Sorry, I'm a little slow when it comes to the electronics :) </p><p>I came here to design a simple turn on-off led with timer, so &quot;fancy stuff&quot; confused me :)</p>
A reader pointed out the original diagram contained a short circuit. I fixed the circuit diagram image in step 1.<br> <br> Thanks for reading and creating your own blinkers!
some one plz send me the video of this project <br>i want to see this . . . <br>my Email id is <br>irfanu51@yahoo.cm
very nice project...
Hey! Thank you so much for the marvelous instructable! I've just built mine. Here's the video:<br> <div> <iframe frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/g36-PXQYiEQ" width="420"></iframe><br> How can I slow down or speed up the flashings?</div>
Raphango, <br> <br>Nice job on doing your own blinker! <br> <br>You can speed up or slow down the flashing by using different capacitors and/or resistors. Some people put a variable resistor known as a POT on the board and that allows them to dial in the speed. <br>
Ok, thank you!
Great and well built instructable! <br>Congratulations!
Yes, a 555 can do the job fine! But an attiny85 costs pretty much the same and you need lesser number of capacitors and the circuit is more flexible (you can drive easily 5 LEDs independently for &quot;special effects&quot; if you wish). The only disadvantage is that the attiny85 is less tolerant of voltages over 5V. Also note: the 555 can output (both sink or source) close to 200 mA, so you don't really need the transistors... In fact, at 9V or more I'd connect (some of) the LEDs in series.

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