I need a bright flashing light!


This is my first post and my first time playing with Arduino. It's fun!

I have a fairly basic program that, on input from a PIR sensor, creates a random flash. I have everything working so far on my bench system with an LED, but it will be installed in an area where I need a real flash that simulates a camera flash.

Does anyone have any suggestions on a light that basically is a strobe that can be triggered from a signal from the Arduino? It needs to be bright enough to seem like a camera flash in a large room (35'x11').

Thank you in advance!

Richard, thank you very much! I am in the states and I have completed my form.

After looking at that site and searching for xenon, there were several components that came up that look like the flash assemblies in point/shoot cameras. I actually have 2 broken p/s cameras at my house that can be scavenged, but I would have no idea how to send a signal to them to trigger the flash. Any ideas where I would start to look?

EDIT: my electronic component experience is strictly limited to what I have just learned on this first program :)

my electronic component experience is strictly limited to what I have just learned on this first program

In that case, unless you have a local friend with some electronics experience, I would recommend against trying to cannibalize the cameras. I'm pretty sure you can't seriously harm yourself (unless you have a pacemaker :)), but there's definitely a risk of making a wiring mistake that would zap the Arduino.

My suggestion is to use a flash unit designed for an SLR (which should be available cheap at a garage sale/Goodwill/etc). You can find projects on the web for triggering it through a hot shoe or sync cord. Like this one that turned up in a google search for "arduino flash hot shoe".

Do some googling for hacking disposable flash cameras. You probably could use a small reed relay for the flash trigger switch. Be advised you can get zapped when the capacitor for the flash coil is charged up to ~400v (been there, done that!).

Be advised also that even the trigger voltage itself could be quite high, and could give an unpleasant "tickle".

If you tear open a disposable camera... carefully... the batteries are not to be messed with or opened... you might find usable "goodies". But protect your Arduino from the ravages of ignorance by "connecting" to the flash through an opto-isolator. They are cheap, easily replaced... if you put it in a socket. Sockets are WELL worth the extra "hassle", expense. Soldering straight to pins is a newbie false economy... but has anyone not gone through learning that the hard way?


But... having said all that... if you just want the project working, the suggestion that you buy an extenal flash unit for a camera makes very good sense. It is MADE to be triggered by a switch closure, and where the switch goes is easy to find.

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Flash-Unit-c-Nikon-Canon-Pentax-Camera-SLR-DSLR-/110563201911?cmd=ViewItem&pt=UK_Photography_StudioEquipment_RL&hash=item19be149377 Above: "Buy it now" (no auction to wait for/ fight) About $25

In the other hand, maybe the sort of strobe sold for burglar alarm systems would suit you? I have one that if I supply 12v, it starts flashing about once per second. (Normal use: To draw attention to premises where alarm has been triggered.)

the batteries are not to be messed with or opened

And stay well away from the large capacitors!

So I picked up a flash assembly from what I assume is a disposable camera at an electronics depot.


The problem I'm seeing is that it has to charge (duh) and I need my flash to flash instantly. Will a hotshoe connected flash for a pro camera flash instantly or have to charge?

Would a tight grouping of 7-10 super bright LED's give me the effect I am looking for? I'm not using it as an actual flash for photos, only the flash effect.


Makes sense. Based on my quick research, it looks like in order to keep the flashes charged, the charging trigger is soldered together. Is this safe in the long run?

If the charge trigger was constantly on, and a battery always supplied, all I would need then is a relay between the two wires that need to be connected to discharge the flash correct? That relay would receive the signal from my Arduino, no?