Strobe Wall or How to Recycle Your Single-use Camera




this instructable shows you how to easily re-use and turn disposable cameras into a flashing wall.

In fact, when you throw away a single-use camera, if there is a flash unit you also throw it.
That's regrettable because this part is still in order of use and is rarely recycled.

There is the flash unit in itself and a battery, and this battery is full in most cases as we don't use the flash for each photo taken.

So let's do something nice and (re-)useful.

Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.

Step 1: Gather Material

you'll need:

-1- old single-use cameras, the more is the best.
you can have this for free in most Photographer's Shop, you just have to ask them. That's what I do: Monday "hello can you keep those cameras for me" and a week later I have a full box of them.

-2- wire.

-3- relays.

-4- capacitors.

-5- a power supply for your relays

-6- your usual tools.

and that's almost all.

Step 2: Open It

Just open it and find the trigger.

Here it's a duo of copper strips.
You just have to establish the contact between those strips to ignite the flash.

The trigger may be a contact between the ground of the flash unit and a pole in the circuit.

Sold long wires on the trigger.

Step 3: Close It and Repeat Operation 2 and 3

Now close it.

Check if there's a flash when you put in contact the wires.

Repeat operation 2 and 3 to build as flash-units as you want.

Step 4: Command System

You may want those flash units to start by themselves.

That's what we do now:

We build a multi vibrator that will drive flash units by making the contact between the wires automatically.

This trigger system is compound of two parts:
1st one The multi vibrator that generates impulsions

2nd one A series of relays that duplicate the signal for each flash unit.
At each impulsion, the relays do the contact between the two wires that activate the

Follow these simple schematics.

Do as many multi vibrator and/or relays as you need

Connect the flash wires to the poles A and B.

You also have to power up the relays according to their specifications.

Step 5: Bonus

To connect your wires to the relays you can use an IDE hard drive connector in which you introduce your wires

Step 6: Light It On

turn on disposable camera's flash units and relay's power supply.

and tadam!

This does a great effect; a bit like photographers along a red carpet.

I hope you will enjoy this green project recycling old disposable cameras.

ps: Excuse me if I made some mistakes, but English is not my mother thong.

Epilog Challenge

Participated in the
Epilog Challenge

Be the First to Share


    • Instrument Contest

      Instrument Contest
    • Make it Glow Contest

      Make it Glow Contest
    • STEM Contest

      STEM Contest

    9 Discussions


    10 years ago on Introduction

    The Instructable isn't very clear - I don't really know what's driving the flashes and how. But the result is great. Can you edit this to explain in more detail how you're triggering the flashes? L

    5 replies

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    I have made some improvements in my instructable. is this more comprehensible? I hope so. tell me if you have some ideas or questions.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    It makes more sense to me now. Is the mulitivibrator a kit or something that can be bought complete? L


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    the multivibrator is just a relay + a capacitor (1000µF) wired as shown on the second picture of step 4. but any thing that can produce a ~1Hz impulsion can be used. ( i think about blinking flashlights )


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    I went to the electronic shop and they asked me how much alternating current would be applied on the relay? 


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    For the multi vibrator it depends on your power supply.

    For the contacts between wires A and B to trigger the flash, the current is very low; it essentially commutes a tension more than a current.

    jovolomomr monoply33

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    hello, I get these in photographer's shops. In fact when people give them single use cameras to be developed, they keep the film and throw the camera. these can be recycled.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Very interesting. I am thinking something similar for see the work when I am welding, before start the arc.