Introduction: Vintage Flash Clock

About: I've always liked pulling things apart - it's the putting back together again that I have some issues with!

In my searches for interesting things, I sometimes come across vintage camera flashes and find myself always buying them. I have a draw full of old flashes and I have no idea why!

I have made lamps out of them (check these ‘ibles here and here) before which is a great way to display them. This time though I decided to make a clock out of one.

I found a nice clock module recently on Ali Express and they fit quite well inside an old flash. They even have a temperature reading which is a nice add. The clock can run on anything from 3 volts to 30. I decided to use an old mobile phone battery as the power source which can be charge using a micro USB. You can also just leave the micro USB attached if you don't want to keep charging. The battery lasts about a week.

You could easily use a small tripod as a stand if you wanted to. I decided to make my own with a few parts I had lying around.

Let’s get cracking

Step 1: Parts & Tools


1. Vintage Flash – check junk stores or if you have to, buy one from eBay

2. Clock Module – eBay

3. Li-ion Battery Charger Module - eBay

4. Mobile Battery - You probably have an old mobile sitting around to pull one from. If not, you can pick them up on eBay

5. USB Cord. I’m sure you have a spare one lying around!

6. 5V power adapter – every phone uses one of these so you’ll prob have these lying around too!

7. Stand. You could just use a small tripod or if you want to make your own then I used the following

a. Aluminium tubing

b. Nut that fits into the tube and a bolt

c. The base is a fly wheel from an old tape player


1. Dremel – isn’t totally necessary but can make life easy

2. Soldering Iron

3. Hot Glue

4. Super Glue

5. Files

6. Drill

Step 2: Pull Apart You Flash

You are going to have to pull apart your flash so if it has sentimental value or is worth anything, you might want to rethink using it for this project.


1. Un-screw all of the screws holing it together

2. Carefully pry off the front cover and open the case. Remember that the plastic is probably quite old and could be brittle.

3. Remove all of the electronics inside.

WARNING: The capacitor inside might still have charge so please make sure you discharge it with a screwdriver or something similar. If you don’t you could possible get a nasty shock!

4. Give the case a good clean under hot, soapy water

Step 3: Modifying the Flash Reflector

In order to keep the clock module in place, you will need to modify the reflective lens inside the flash.


1. Remove the reflector from the flash

2. Measure the depth of the module. This is how much you will need to remove from the side of the reflector

3. With a dremel or something similar, remove the side sections on the reflector

4. Place the module inside the reflector. It should be sitting flush with the front of the reflector.

5. Use some small files to smooth off the cuts

6. Remove the "flash" globe inside the reflector. I managed to pull mine out without breaking it but if you need to break it then use a pair of pliers. You can use the holes left in the reflector for the wires needed.

Step 4: Modifying the Clock Module

The clock module has 2, small momentary switches on it. These are used to change the time and move through the different functions. In order to be able to use these when the clock is inside the flash, you will need to have them on the outside of the case


1. I know that it’s a bit crude, but the easiest way to remove the switches is to cut them off. I used some wire cutters and carefully cut them away.

2. Once you remove them, you will see 2 solder points.

3. Add a little solder to each of the solder points on the clock module and connect some thin wire to each.

4. I also removed the battery connector from the module and added a couple wires to this as well. If you leave the connectors on then you might have problems adding it to the reflector

4. To test that you haven’t broken anything, power-up the clock and touch the ends of the wire together. The clock should change to show the temperature or another function like voltage test (yes it also has a voltage test function!) .

Step 5: Adding the Buttons and Charging Module


1. You will need to add a couple of momentary switches to the outside of the flash. Drill a couple of small holes in the back of the flash for the legs of the momentary buttons to go through

2. Add a little dab of superglue to the back of the switches and glue into place

3. Next, you will need to add the charging module to the flash. You will want the micro USB adapter to be accessible so you’ll need to add a small slit if there isn’t one already in the case

4. My flash already had one and all I needed to do was slightly enlarge it with a small file

5. Place the charging module in place and add a little hot glue to secure it

6. I also added the original switch back into place so I could turn the clock on or off

Step 6: Securing the Clock & Reflector to the Flash

I don’t know if this is a feature of most old flashes but I found that the reflector was really only held into place by the circuit board. It means that you will need to work out a way to keep it in place inside the flash. Don’t do what I did and use superglue. I should have learnt by now that plastic lenses and hate superglue and you always get fogging. I had to rub the lens back with some plastic polishing compound to remove it. Took ages!


1. You need to secure the clock module to the modified reflector. Thread the wires through the holes that the flash globe came out of.

2. Use some glue on this to hold it into place. Don’t use superglue as you’ll get fogging on the reflector – a little hot glue will do the job

3. To hold the reflector into place in the flash, I replaced the screen, added the lens and positioned the reflector. I then added some hot glue to keep it secured.

4. You should also position the temp sensor outside the body of the flash. I just drilled a small hole into the side of the flash and poked it out

Step 7: Make a Stand

So you could probably just use a small tripod for the stand if you wanted to. I decided to build my own with some bits that I had lying round my shed.


1. For the stand I used an old fly-wheel from a tape deck. The hole in the centre was just the right size to jam a piece of aluminium tube into.

2. To be able to connect the base of the flash to the stand, I added a small nut inside the aluminium tube. The nuts a tight fit and I used a hammer to whack it into place.

3. I then drilled a hole off-centre into the bottom of the flash and used a bolt to hold it into place.

Step 8: Wiring and Adding a Battery

I was going to run this clock through a 5v adapter but decided to add a battery as well at the last minute. You may have noticed that the USB module was change from being just an adapter to a charging one. The battery (an old mobile one) lasts about a week or so. You can also just use a micro USB cable and run it through mains power.


1. First, connect positive from the clock to the switch

2. Next, connect the switch to the positive solder point on the charging module

3. Add a wire to the ground solder point from the clock to the charging module

4. Lastly, solder a couple of wires to the positive and ground on the battery and connect these to the charging module

5. Test to make sure the clock comes on when the switch is turned on. Also plug the charging module in and ensure that the battery is charging. you'll see a small LED come on on the module.

Step 9: Closing-up the Case

If everything is working as it should, it's then time to close-up the case


1. I added some more hot glue to the reflector and charging module to make sure they wouldn't move

2. Add the top back onto the flash and replace all of the screws.

3. Check again to make sure that the clock is working properly.

4. Set the time with the switches at the back.

Sit back and enjoy your creation :)

Fix It Contest

Participated in the
Fix It Contest