How-To Geek

Build Your Own Camera Flash with a Built-In Optical Slave

If you’re an electronics tinker and photographer, here’s a DIY project right up your alley: a DIY flash bulb with built in optical slave.

At DIY Photography they share a straight forward guide to building your own camera flash, including parts lists and schematics. The build itself is a pretty easy one if you have a few electronics projects under your belt. The only caution we’d throw out is that, because you’re working with flash bulbs, you’re also working with high voltage capacitors. This project includes a 450v capacitor which, under the really unfortunate circumstances, can accidentally discharge into your body and give you a heart attack–such is the nature of working with high-voltage electronics.

Hit up the link below for additional photos, more warnings, the schematics and parts list.

How To Build A Flash (With An Optical Slave) [DIY Photography]

Jason Fitzpatrick is a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don't have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he's interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 12/29/11

Comments (1)

  1. Steve-O-Rama

    I didn’t even read the title or description of this article. I just clicked as soon as I saw those big capacitors!

    Okay, the article claims that the voltage will only approach 300V, which seems more likely since they’re using 450V capacitors — you ALWAYS want the capacitor’s voltage rating higher than the voltage at which you’re working, otherwise they may go BANG! Of course if you really want them to go bang, just over-volt ’em, or hook it up backward, i.e. reverse polarity. They hate that. :)

    I pay more attention to the 1000uF rating than the voltage; remember that I = C * dV/dt, and work W is 1/2 * C * V^2. Yes, there is that squared voltage term in the work equation, but considering that the current is usually the more damaging part (to humans, at least), that’s the part in which I’m interested. I very well know that it’s not the current alone that harms us, blah blah blah, but once you’ve reached that ‘break-down voltage’, it only takes a good surge of current to kick your butt.

    tl;dr Just don’t touch the damn thing if it’s live, and always short your caps if you have to mess with it.

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