Optical Fiber Flashgun




In this experiment I tried to find possible ways of guiding and shaping flashlight with the help of Plastic Optical Fiber.

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Step 1: Ingredients

• 9 optical fiber light, I tried to buy only the plastic optical fiber on spool (POF), but I found only very expensive ones. These ones you could buy in these 2 euro shops or Chinese market. Image credit
• thin plywood
• 1 straw
• paper adhesive tape
• wood glue
• transparent sandable epoxy resin for plastic
• punctured bicycle inner tube
• sandpapers with different grades
• velcro
• fretsaw
• and of course your favourite flash light

Step 2: Print Flashlight Head's Profile

Take a frontal photo of your flashlight's head. In Illustrator or any image manipulation software draw the contour of the profile, than print out. I scaled the outline work up and down to have more sizes printed, than I measured the flashlight to see which one fits exactly.

Step 3: Creating Profile Shapes

Copy contours from paper to plywood with help of carbon paper. than cut out

Step 4: Create 2 Structre

Glue together 3 profiles. Put between them small pieces of plywood.

Step 5: Finish These 2 Structures

Roll over some paper tape around a pencil (with the sticky part outside) than roll out on the inner part of both structures. You can reinforce the margins with bits of paper tapes.

Step 6: Cut All Optical Fibers to Size

Cut a straw to desired length (mine is 24 cm/9.4 inch).
Put a tape on one ending to close, than you can start to put small amount of optical fibers into it, than cut to size. In this way you won't have to sand a lot.

Step 7: Bundle Toghether the Optical Fibers (hardest Part)

Glue temporary those 2 small structure on a sheet of plywood, reinforce them with paper tape.
Start to put optical fibers in it.
Note: these fibers are very delicate to handle, specially at the end of this process. If you bend them to hard, than won't be straight anymore and you have to change them.

Step 8: Gluing Fibers Together With Resin

Insert 1-2 pencil between the fibers to make them tight and not move inside the plywood structure.
Mix together the two compound epoxy resin and start to dip fibers into mixture. You have to be very fast, because glue sets in 5 minutes. Use gloves and prepare paper towel in case there will be spilling.
When you are ready you hold well the unglued part and start to push down the lower structure till you arrive at the top of the bunch. This is not easy because the fibers together with the glue becomes very thick. It was good that there was space enough for glue.

Step 9: Sanding

Sand both endings with different grades of sandpaper. At the end I used a nail polish.

Step 10: Gluing Velcro

Put velcro/measure around the circumference of the fiber optic bunch and cut to size. Mix small amount of epoxy again and glue velcro to optical fiber. (velcro's fluffy side facing outwardly)
Cut from tire tube a stripe with the width of the velcro than put/measure around the circumference of the flash light and cut to size. Cut another stripe of velcro, aprox. 3 cm/1.18 inch bigger than rubber and sew them together. (velcro's fluffy side facing outwardly)

Step 11: Mount Optical Fiber to Flashgun

Use another velcro to tight them together. It can be more longer or can have double width.

Step 12: Images

I made this flashlight extension 2 years ago, just didn't have time to play with it, so these images are more just a play. This needs more development to make it work. I think it could be more useful as accent light in object, insect photography.

Step 13: Possible Development

Step 14: Fun

Instructable logo seen through optical fiber :-)

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    13 Discussions

    very good instructable!! loved your photos & videos, easy to understand instructions. You should hurry & enter the light contest!


    6 years ago on Introduction

    I did something like this with plastic optical fiber a few years ago. I took the fiber ends out to a ring I cut out of a plastic (translucent white) cutting board, and mounted the ring on a step-up ring that I could put on my lens. It made for a great ring light.

    2 replies

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Very good, maybe you share a photo of your gadget and image you made with the ring, so it could be usefull for others as well...or you can make an instructables.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    I wish I had taken photos while I was making it. I have thought about redoing it and making an instructable out of the V2 build.
    I'll dig it out and take a picture or two tonight though.


    6 years ago on Step 14

    ...maybe just distort image and play with.


    6 years ago on Step 14

    And if you do this to increase the size of a phone screen?


    6 years ago on Step 9

    With this end tightly bound you might also have been able to melt and fuse the ends, pressing the molten end against a flat surface to flatten it.

    2 replies

    Have you tried it? Fusing optical fibres is often done in industry. Adding glue is not a lot different because of the similar refractive indices.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks, it is a good feeling to "bend the light" with your hand, hopefully it could be more practical with the second prototype


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Very clever, could be really cool for some photography setups -- almost looks like 'light puppetry'. Oh, and nice .gifs!


    6 years ago on Introduction

    I guess for real photographers, they would be concerned with how much light gets through the fibers to see if it is really useful for illumination. It also might change the color temperature of the light too acting as a filter. But thanks for sharing though.