"Explosion simulator", play sound and flash

I want to build a device to simulate a mineshaft blasting / explosion, for an exhibit about mining.
User presses a button (in a later stage perhaps works a cartoonesque plunger), and an explosion sound is played through some loud subwoofer system and a light flash is triggered.

What are the suggestions for hardware logic to simultaneously let a flash go off and play a recorded explosion file?
Any suggestions regarding how to easily hook up a flash? One way could be hooking up to a photography flash, or somekind of disco strobelight device (cut / enable power to it)?

Edit: this would be my first Arduino project. I have some Raspberry experience, but that's it.
Besides basic wiring I have very little electrical engineering experience.

Hm ... a bit black powder would do the trick.

You could look at flashing a largish Led - eg a car headlamp sized bulb - you could get some varying multiple flashes with that .
Switch from an analog( pwm) output via a mosfet ?

For sound I’d investigate the MP3 shields

A DFPlayer Mini is cheap and easy to use. Record the explosion in mp3 format onto a micro-sd card, along with any other sounds you need, like warning alarm sounds, countdown etc and the player can initiate the sound effects when commanded by the Arduino. For testing purposes, the player can drive a small speaker directly. For installation, it also has line-level outputs to connect to a more powerful amplifier and speaker(s).

  • Black powder: this is indoors, so it won’t work :slight_smile:
    Otherwise I would certainly be happy to look into a bank of firecrackers & electric fuses for outdoor use!

  • DFPlayer looks simple, thanks!

  • I’ve found some sound activated disco-stroboscopes (people use them to flash on the beat of the music). If that could work it could probably be the simplest.
    Are there otherwise ways to drive a power relay from Arduino? We’re talking LED strobes which might use 50mA @ 230V.

I’ve also seen a project with arduino + leds + mosfets, but I think it’s above my skill level.

Also found this strobe with relay project:

I can guarantee that black powder does work indoors.

... and applied correctly, your indoors turns outdoors so you won't have problems with outdoor applications beeing used indoors.

... and applied incorrectly,


On a more serious note:
The DF player doesn't only look simple, it IS simple. Remember to connect both GND pins and add 1k resistors in the Tx and Rx lines, that helps keeping the thing in check and producing nice sound.

There must be strobes out there that are triggered by a low voltage signal. Otherwise you can use a bunch of yellow/red/white LEDs, choose colours to match the flame of your imagined explosive, and give them a serious burst of power (e.g. discharge a capacitor through them, so you don't strain your power supply too much with a massive current spike and you can't destroy the LEDs by leaving them on too long).

hooking up to a photography flash

This can be done, but different techniques must be used depending on the model (and age) of the flash gun.

Usually, older flash guns can have high voltages on the contacts on the shoe, which if directly connected to the Arduino, could damage it.

Usually, newer guns have only around 3~3.3V on the shoe, so its safe to connect the contacts direct to Arduino pins.

But don't risk it, check the voltage on the contacts on the shoe of the flash gun with a multi-meter to be sure. before you risk damaging the Arduino, Use the highest range on the multi-meter at first, to avoid damaging the meter.

If the voltage on the shoe is higher than 5V, then your best option may be to use a relay module.

Many flash guns also have a remote control socket, usually a 2.5mm or 3.5mm jack socket, which may be more convenient than the shoe to connect to, but again measure that voltage.