Nikon Speed Light




Introduction: Nikon Speed Light

This is a speed light I designed and made for my Nikon D3200. Being a student with a cheap 3D printer, I could not afford a speed light, but i could make one. I published the files on Thingiverse.

The design, I modeled myself. Although its not aesthetically pleasing it is functional and cheap.

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Step 1: Print the Parts and Gather Components and Circuit Schematic

Has the thing files to print.

You could always design your own. I measured the pins and designed the base carefully, so you could use at least the base with a modified top.

The thing files also contain the schematic, which i will also post here.

The parts to assemble the 3D print are:

  • A bolt and nut 2.5mm diameter and 23mm length (at the least)
    • The nut should preferably be a wing nut
  • Spring pins (I used these:


  • PCB perf board
    • This will need to be cut to fit inside the base 13x14mm is what worked for me.
  • A drill to drill out the holes for the spring pins (1.5mm drill bit used)

Revised Circuit!

So it turns out my work with a 555 timer was upsetting to some, and my circuit design in general was confusing as is. So! to make things easier here is what my circuit looks like now and it is working better.

The schematic shows a switch. In place of the switch is the cameras hotshoe. Positive to center pin and GND pin to BC547 base.


1x BC547

1x 1500uF 16v Electrolytic capacitor

1x 1n4002 Rectifier diode

LEDs and resistors for LEDs

Step 2: Cut PCB Perf Board and Assemble Base

  1. Cut PCB perf board 13x14mm x2
  2. Insert them into 3D printed base
  3. With drill, on underside of board, drill out center hole and top off center hole as pointed out with white pen.
  4. Insert Spring Pins
  5. Allow ~1mm of pin to stick out of bottom and solder to board while board is inside 3D base
    1. If pins are too high pins will not make connection
    2. If pins are too low pin tips will break off
  6. Attach wire to pins/perf board

Step 3: Assemble LED Array

Assemble your LED array

Be mindful of the height and width of the opening of the housing.


Also there is only approx 25mm of depth inside housing.

Step 4: Assemble LED Array Inside of Housing and Attach Housing to Base

After assembling LED array/circuit, attach housing to base with bolt and wing nut.

Run wires from back of base into underside of housing, through wire hole.

Attach battery and turn on.

Without opening flash the circuit should work on its own.

Step 5: Test

The LEDs i used are not high power LEDs, which i suggest for a brighter output.

I will be uploading photos after reworking circuit to include higher power LEDs.

For now this is fine for adding color to photos and for creative fun. I hope you enjoy!

I will be happy to answer any and all questions, either about construction, or parts.

Homemade Gifts Contest 2016

Participated in the
Homemade Gifts Contest 2016

Make it Glow Contest 2016

Participated in the
Make it Glow Contest 2016

Design Now: 3D Design Contest 2016

Participated in the
Design Now: 3D Design Contest 2016

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    8 Discussions


    3 years ago

    Thank you Mj!


    3 years ago


    Using the extra contacts in the hot shoe, you can tell the camera that the light is installed, that it's ready and the camera could turn the light off - a shame to not use those functions when available :)

    Your schematic is extremely flawed (and very hard to read) and will not work... At all!... And since that is the only thing enabling others to build the light, it really should be corrected, or all your documentation work is in vain!

    Pin 4 needs to be connected to pin 8.

    The cap on pin 5 is not needed in a monoflop.

    The emitter of the NPN transistor should NOT go to Vcc.

    The MOSFET needs a positive voltage to trigger.

    (For <200mA, neither of the transistors are needed though).

    The arrangement with C3 doesn't do much (C = A x s / V Where C is in Farads, A is ampere, s is seconds and V is the allowed voltage drop during the time s) - for your time of ~170ms, assuming 3 strings of 20mA each and a generously allowed voltage drop of 2V, you'd need: 0.06A x 0.17s / 2V = 5'100µF for C3.

    Pin7 of the 555 won't tolerate the high currents to discharge the cap for long! Usually, you'd add a resistor of e.g. 1k from pin7 to the cap in such circumstances, but a much better solution is to rearrange the RC values, like 470 nF and 330 kOhm getting the same timing period (but a faster recovery).

    And, while not changing functionally, your schematic will be much easier to read if you follow conventions like positive voltage (Vcc) at the top, Negative voltage (Gnd here) at the bottom, a general flow from left to right and clearly marked connections (Nodes).

    If you want a clearly drawn and working schematic, just let me know :)

    Have a nice day!


    Reply 3 years ago

    Hi Omnivent,

    First, I would like to thank you for the comment. Second, I never claimed to be an expert in circuit design. I believe I did call myself out on that and feel your comment to be a bit brash. You say my circuit will not work at all, however it did work for me. I gladly welcome a more efficient circuit however and will update the instructable as soon as you send it. If you don't have time to send it, i will research it more until i come up with the best one possible. This will have to wait a week or so as I'm currently in the middle of finals for my degree in biology...

    Again thank you.

    Kindest Regards,



    Reply 3 years ago

    Hi Sramir27,

    "[...] and feel your comment to be a bit brash. [...]"

    That wasn't my intention (and I'm not sure why you feel that way). I only spend time on other peoples projects this way, hoping they may gain a bit of knowledge from it. Isn't that what sharing is all about?

    "You say my circuit will not
    work at all, however it did work for me."

    No! I said that your schematic wouldn't work and that's an indisputable fact. I'm sure you have a working circuit, but your schematic isn't exactly how you built it then - probably the classic effect of not updating your schematic after you have ironed out the flaws in your original (best to note down each change as they are made though). It's a very common mistake among amateurs (and some pro's I'm afraid).

    "I gladly welcome a more
    efficient circuit however and will update the instructable as soon as
    you send it."

    The .pdf file contains two circuits. The first one is very close to yours, alhough with small changes. It outputs ~24mA pulses to the LED's for a duration of ~185ms.

    With this design, it should be run from a power supply, as the sagging voltage of batteries will change the output current.

    The second schematic has got constant current for the LEDs and the pulse width is reduced to ~46ms (it's easy to make the pulse even shorter if you like - flash is used with at least 1/100'th of a second, i.e. 10ms), but with the current upped to a shade under 100mA in each LED (yes, regular 20mA LEDs should be able to handle this in such short pulses - I've never had any problem in this respect anyway).

    R5..R7 are just current sharing/balancing resistors to equalize the current in each string. The current limiting takes place in Q1 and R8, R9 (split up to make an easy way of measuring the total current, which will be 3 times that of each LED of course, so close to 300mA.

    As you'll see, I sort of turned the supply around, as you can then keep to the 10µF cap (the 555 takes very little current compared to the LEDs) and the zener should be at least 2..3V below the supply (and R3 recalculated for any changes). - If you use the zener to stabilize the circuit (but that's a very good idea :).

    Remember, if using a battery, that it goes from around 1.5V/cell down to 0.9V/cell (alkaline and similar) over it's lifetime and any circuit must be able to run in this interval, which for e.g. a 10-cell battery means it must be able to handle 15V without damage and still run correctly on 9V.

    Anything unclear, needing more words, or similar... Just ask :)

    "This will have to wait a
    week or so as I'm currently in the middle of finals for my degree in

    I wish you the best in that respect too - Go get 'em :)

    Happy studying.


    Reply 3 years ago


    Sorry for perceiving your comment as brash. The stress of finals and work and attempting to win a better 3D printer was perhaps making me a bit sensitive. Wanted to thank you for taking time out of your day to help make Instructables better. I hope you can comment on future Instructables of mine in hopes of refining any electronic portion of them. Thanks again for the circuit. :)



    3 years ago

    Wow, this is such a creative and amazing design!!! This is definitely the coolest entry I have seen so far!