Hack a Flash Camera Into a Emergency Strobe Light




About: ––––––––––––––––––––––– "Energy cannot be created nor destroy...

Well... Very easy if you know how to solder and know a little bit about electronics.
On this instructable, I will show you how to make an emergency strobe light out of a disposable flash camera. You can use the strobe light in the forest if you get lost or to warn other people about something.

Please note that I am only 15 years old and I am not good at grammar so if you find some parts of the instructable confusing, please let me know and I will try fix it.

This instructable involves modifying a device that operates on 300v DC, so I am NOT responsible if you injure or kill your self and/or any body else from any of your actions messing around this device. So be careful what you are doing, be safe and have fun!

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Step 1: Get the Things!!

Not many things are needed to build the strobe light...

- Disposable flash camera (I used a Kodak camera with an LED light).
- TIC106M SCR or equivalent (5A, 30A surge, 400v)
- Neon bulb that strikes at 200 volts or something (I found in some other older disposable flash camera's circuit board).

Heres a data sheet for the TIC106 SCR

If you don't Know where to buy the SCR, try those two sites...
http://www.maplin.co.uk/ (Thats where I brought my SCR)

And the tools...

- Soldering iron/gun
- Flat-head screw driver
- Desoldering pump (optional, but it makes desoldering easier)

Step 2: Hack Open the Camera!

Start hacking the camera open with a screw driver and be careful not to damage the camera's flash circuit.
Once you got the outer camera's case off, be careful not to touch the circuit board as the capacitor may still be charged, discharge the capacitor by putting a screw driver across the capacitor's terminal and you may get some bright loud sparks.
After you discharge the capacitor, take the flash circuit out of the camera's frame.

Step 3: Modify the The Camera's Flash Circuit

After you had discharged the capacitor, it is now time to modify the camera's flash circuit into a strobe!

First, remove the flash trigger switch, we don't need those.
Then solder one lead of the neon bulb to the gate of the SCR and the other lead of the neon bulb to the anode of the SCR.
Then solder the anode lead of the SCR to where the flash trigger switch A was, and solder the cathode lead of the SCR to where the flash trigger switch B was.

And you are done, you had modified the flash camera into a strobe!

Step 4: Putting It All Back Together

After you modify the camera' flash circuit into a strobe, you can put it in any case you wish to put in.
I decided to put my strobe back in the camera.
First I need to remove the lens because it is in the SCR's way. After I removed the lens, there are some bits of plastic in the SCR's way, so I have to break away all the bits of plastic with a pair of pliers. After I had done that, I can now put in the flash strobe circuit back into the camera's frame and clip the camera's case together, and I am done!

Step 5: Using It

After you had done all of that work making the strobe, it is now time to test it to see if it works... Push the charge switch and you should get an flash in a few seconds and another flash, if it does not work, go back to the flash circuit and find out what have you done wrong... (is the SCR soldered the wrong way round?)

It works well for me! My strobe flashes every few seconds depending how good the battery is...

Step 6: Going Further... Make the Strobe Flash Faster...

Okay, if you want your strobe to flash faster, you need to change the capacity of the flash capacitor to a lower rating.
You can change the 80uF capacitor to any capacitor that has a capacity from 80uF to 1uF as long as the capacitor has a voltage rating from 330v.
The smaller the capacitor you use, the faster the strobe will flash, but the dimmer the flash will be... Don't use a capacitor that has a capacity lower than 1uF because the strobe will make dim flashes.

There are two movies that you can watch, one movie (P3230005) is the strobe flashing with a 80uF capacitor and the other movie (P3230001) is the strobe flashing with a 1uF capacitor.

If you are going to watch the movie P3230001, the interesting flash pattern you see on the video, the strobe does NOT make that flash pattern! It is my video camera functioning improperly!

Step 7: Enjoy Strobing!

Have fun with your new strobe! I hope you find this instructable any good to you.

Ideas, help, questions, or something? PLEASE COMMENT AND RATE! Thank you! :-)

Have fun!!

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236 Discussions


3 years ago on Introduction

I am trying to make a magnetic pulser using a used camera like this one. I should connect in series a magnet coil to either one of the xenon bulb polarity, and when I push the trigger, the magnet coil should create a powerful magnetic pulse. Someone suggests that I can replace the xenon bulb with an SCR so there will be no bothersome flashing light. Can it be done?


4 years ago on Step 2

i've destroyed my whole camera circuit!


4 years ago

i'm from korea and i want to get a kodack camer but, it's not easy.... how can i get it?

1 reply

4 years ago on Step 3

You can also put a 200v transistor (I used BD679) in place of the SCR and neon, and it will breakdown at 200v.


4 years ago on Step 3

I think you have the LED around the wrong way.

Do you have to have the 200v strike neon bulb or could you use something else? I'm from UK and it's hard to find neon bulbs :( Please help bro


Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

- Neon bulb that strikes at 200 volts or something (I found in some other older disposable flash camera's circuit board).


Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

If you get the neon bulbs from Radioshack, remove the bulb from the housing and cut or desolder the resistor.


5 years ago on Step 3

Is it posible to make a two seting strobe? The first seting gives off a single flash evry time it charges & you pull the trigger, & the the second gives a constent strobe as you hold down the triger.

I like to make this disign of flash for a ray gun project im working on. :)


5 years ago on Step 3

Hi, is there any way to "transplant all the components to a perfboard, as i need this circuit but on an smaller scale as well as a different shape? Thanks!


6 years ago on Step 2

Discharge it with less Risk of damage by setting off the flash. The two metal pieces next to the capacitor make up part of the flash's switch to set it off. Connect those two and cover your eyes.

1 reply