Best way to detect a kill with a racket-style Bug Zapper


My name is Mike. I am new here and to Arduino. :slight_smile:

I have a racket bug zapper Arduino project idea to detect and count bug zaps and then trigger different lights and sound effects for different zap profiles.

I would like to know the simplest and most reliable way to measure a bug zap without needing a lot of complex components. Or which set of approaches to detection might be the smartest way to start. I would also like to know what kind of sensors or components that I should order since it takes me two months to get them here in Nicaragua (when I have friends flying down).

I am learning Arduino just for this project and am just over half way through the 55 excellent Youtube tutorials by Paul McWhorter. I'm not an expert coder nor an electrical engineer but I do have some mid level technical experience in some scripting languages and have learned some archaic programming languages way back in the 80s. I also worked in video game software development for 26 years so I am pretty good at methodical development, creative problem solving and technical troubleshooting.

I have read a few threads here about bug zappers and on Stack Overflow but all are several years old and were early ideas without later discovery of insight. Zap detection suggestions were varied: sound detection, Hall Effect, shunts, diodes after the bleeder capacitors, etc.

I was initially also thinking sound could be an easy detection method but it might be hard to prevent false negatives and false positives so that might miss multiple simultaneous zaps, rapid machine gun zaps and different magnitude of Zaps which I would like to differentiate.

I guess we can't just use a current or voltage sensor at these high voltages (some Zapper Rackets claim they have 4000 V/500A charges). Right? Someone else on a similar thread suggested Hall Effect or Shunts but I am not familiar with those yet and I am not sure how common shunts are for Arduino projects. I also thought to measure near the bleeder capacitors but I did not know enough about whether to try that before or after the bleeder and I am worried about frying components. I do plan to do some voltage micrometer tests at various points in the circuitry using a simulated zap (a quick screwdriver tap across the racket face).

I have an Arduino Mega, a nano and an Elegoo Ultimate Starter Kit with lots of LEDs, basic sensors, components and resistors and an extra switchable 5/3.3 V power supply. I also already have an Adafruit Sound fx board, an Electret Microphone Board, Amp, and small Speakers although I haven't figured out how to connect and use them just yet. I was thinking of ordering Hall Effect & Current Sensors and a TF Card Reader/MP3 module. I guess I can't use the current sensor directly with such high voltage but I wasn't sure.

I also live in Nicaragua so do not have easy access to electronic supplies. So if I need to order additional sensors, capacitors, switches, or other supplies I need to coordinate months in advance with someone that I know who is flying down from North America.

Sorry for the long post. I guess bet too much detail than not enough.

Any guidance on zap detection and components would be appreciated. Thank you.

There is also the other end, the battery side. You can put a small resistor in series with the ground side, and when it zaps it will draw current and the voltage will rise. You can use an NPN transistor, emitter to ground, base via a 1K series resistor to the junction of the sense resistor, that gives you an active low signal. This should make the supplies easy to get. You will need to learn the battery voltage and the amount of current it draws when zapping vs when it is idle. Have Fun!