Portable Bug Zapper




Caution I'm not liable if your shock yourself and injury or kill your self, working with high voltages can be dangerous!!

I started this instructable about half through building the zapper, sorry for lack of images and details i realize my instructions may be kinda confusing.

How bug zappers work:

This zapper does not have the power of a normal one but it does produce a few hundred volts which should be enough to kill most insects.

I haven't been able to test this outside yet because the bugs have come out yet but when I complete the circuit with a metal wire a loud snap and spark are produced.

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Step 1: Overview/ Materials

- disposable camera w/ flash
- 3x 10mm blue leds (apparently mosquitoes are attracted to blue light)
- large cooking sifter
- small fish trap (available at walmart for about 1.99)
-spray can cap
-1/2" pvc
-electrical tape

Step 2: Creating the Electric Shock

Use the film up before opening the case

Remove the wrapping from the camera and use a screwdriver to pry it open -be careful not the ruin the case

Remove the film and locate the capacitor which should be in the upper right corner.

Take two five inch long pieces of wire and solder one to each of the leads of the capacitor.

Drill two holes large enough to fit the wires through next to the view finder.

String the two wires through and close the case.
**There are a couple loose parts inside the camera make sure you put them back in the same place.**

Step 3: Screen Assembly

Cut the conical part of the fish trap off.

Using wire cutters cut out the wire mesh from the cooking sifter.

Now roll the mesh into cylinder between 3/4 and 1 cm small than the diameter of the fish trap and staple the cylinder together. Cut the cylinder to the length of the fish trap leave a small tab at the end of the mesh for later..

Place the mesh cylinder inside of the fish trap and glue it in place to the perimeter of the plastic end of the trap. Make sure the two screens are not touching at any points.

Drill to holes in the cap of the fish trap and string a wire through them to form a U to hang zapper.

Step 4: Attaching Camera to Base

Drill two holes in the spray can cap the same size as the wire used on the capacitors.

Cut a hole in the bottom of the cap the same size at the protrusion on the camera created by the lens.
** make sure the drilled holes and the lenses hole line up with the corresponding parts on the camera.**

String the wires through the two holes and hot glue the cap to the camera

Drill a screw through the cap and camera for extra support ** be sure not to drill though the flash circuit.**

Take the conical part of the fish trap which was cut off before and glue it to the inside of the cap.

Step 5: Attaching Screens to Camera Base

Solder( or staple if your soldering iron broke like mine) one wire to each of the screens. Attach the wire for the inner screen to the tab created earlier.

Now attach the screens to the camera base. The outer screen should fit snuggly into the conical part of the fish trap which was cut off and glued to the cap earlier. Hot glue the screens in place.

Step 6: Light Assembly

I got kinda lazy on this part, I plan on fixing it in the future to make it better. This is basically a flashlight but with the leds around the circumference of the pvc. This part is kinda self explanatory sorry for lack of detail..

Cut a piece of 1/2" pvc 6 1/4 " long.

Cut the tips of the leds off to diffuse the light.

I used 3 aa's to power the lights.

I arranged the leds in parallel. I used electrical tape to hold the wires in place and I glued to switch to the top of the cap.

Glue the light structure to the cap.

Step 7: Finished Zapper

Attach the light to the other half of the zapper and your done. To use the zapper turn on the leds and the flash switch on the camera. Sit back and enjoy watching those pesky bugs being zapped away.

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    48 Discussions


    12 years ago on Introduction

    yeah i realize the 300v wont been enough for many bugs but im targeting small bug like misquotes and small flies, th ones which are a nuisance, i hope to upgrade it in the future and increase the voltage somehow (any suggestions??) i havent been able to test it yet cause there havent been many bugs outside

    10 replies

    Reply 3 months ago

    you can get a voltage step-up converter or a boost converter on eBay.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Remove the capacitor and add a cockroft-walton multiplier.... just be sure that the screens are far apart enough so that they don't discharge until a bug enters.... I did this once and added 12 multiplier stages and it produced a 2 cm spark gap.... the thing fried wasp, bumble bees, ......whatever.... For more info, just google cockroft-walton or simply voltage multipliers.

         It does work with some flashes if the capacitor is replaced with a higher voltage one. It's not uncommon to have a 1200V diode. Sometimes the transformer will short out. One time I ran like 12V through one with no capactior at all and it lit up the tube all by itself. It's no good as a light though because it overheats really fast and it's not very bright.


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    While working on an electromagnetic coil gun, I found out that wiring another capacitor in parallel makes the spark hurt A LOT more... Try adding another capacitor to boost the current.


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    He's right. Check out my (unsuccessful) coil gun instructable. It'll deliver enough punch to kill a junebug!


    10 years ago on Introduction

    So, what I'm wondering, is why not just take the circuit board out of the camera and mount it inside the hole thing? Was it just to save on materials, so you could just use the re-charge switch? Also, if the only disposable cameras that are available to me are the ones where you have to hold down the charge button, is it possible to just solder a SPST switch to it so I can just turn it on or off? or do you actually have to release the switch before your able to flash it again? I'm just wondering if the circuits are any different, or if basically the switch on your camea holds down the button, vs my camera that you have to hold down the button yourself.

    1 reply

    Reply 3 months ago

    Just short the switch on circuit board so it remains open


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Most insects are not attracted to light given off by LEDs - if you get the wrong kind, this trap won't work (or will be really inefficient). If you want this to be a high yield trap, conventional lighting is more effective. Most bugs are attracted to blue fluorescent light - although white fluorescent light also works.

    1 reply

    Reply 3 months ago

    Mosquitoes are not attracted to light. Mosquitoes have a carbon dioxide receptor which enables them to sense the plumes of air we exhale. But mosquitoes are still attracted to human skin even in the absence of carbon dioxide.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    I don't know how lethal a flash capacitor is..... I've shocked myself (and others >:) many times and nothing's happened.

    4 replies

    Reply 7 years ago on Step 2

    Well, could be deadly to a bug.. I've been hit with a fly swatter before and didn't die.. hehe

    The danger is that you might create a circuit where the shortest path from one electrode to the other is across your heart. In that unlucky event, it does not take much current to stop the heart.

    I know that...., Its just the capacitor leads are less than half an inch from each other, how are you gonna get the path of least resistance through your heart with that?