Wednesday, March 6, 2013

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How to Make Any Light a Strobe Light Using Just Two Transistors

If you feel strobe lights very interesting but are disappointed by the fact that these wonderful light effects can be produced only through complex xenon tube then probably you are quite mistaken. It is very much possible to make any light a strobe light if you are equipped with a proper driving circuit capable of handling different lighting devices to generate the desired strobe light effect. The present article shows how a circuit as basic as a multivibrator may be modified in different ways and made compatible with ordinary bulbs, lasers, LEDs to produce spectacular light pulses.

A strobe light may be used for warning, scientific analysis or as an entertainment device, whatever may be the application the effects are simply dazzling. In fact it is possible to make any light a strobe light through a proper driving circuit. Explained with Circuit Schematics.


A light when made to blink or flash indeed looks pretty eye-catching and that’s the reason why they are used in number of places as a warning device or for decorations. However a strobe light in particular may also be considered a flashing light yet is uniquely different from ordinary light flashers. Unlike them in a strobe light the ON/OFF pattern is so optimized that it produces sharp dazzling pulsed flashes of light. There’s no doubt why they are mostly used in conjunction with fast music to enhance a party mood. Nowadays green lasers are being popularly used as a strobing device in party halls and gatherings and have become hot favorite among the new generation. Whether it’s LEDs, lasers or an ordinary filament bulb, all can be made to flash or rather strobe using an electronic circuit capable of producing the required pulsed switching in the connected lighting element. Here we will see how we can make any light a strobe light using a simple electronic circuit.
The following section will acquaint you with the circuit details. Let’s go through it.

Pulsating any Light to Produce Strobing Effect

Through one of my previous articles we came across a nice little circuit able to produce  interesting strobe effects over a few of the connected LEDs. But this circuit is only suitable for driving low power LEDs and thus cannot be applied to illuminate big areas and premises. The proposed circuit allows you to drive not only LEDs but also powerful lighting agents like incandescent bulbs, lasers, CFLs etc.
The first diagram shows the most basic form of a multivibrator circuit using transistors as the main active components. The connected LEDs can be made to strobe by suitably adjusting the two potentiometers VR1 and VR2. 
The above circuit forms the base for all the following circuits through some suitable modifications and additions.
For example if you want to illuminate and pulsate a small torch bulb using it, you would just need to do the simple modifications as shown in the second diagram. Here by adding a PNP power transistor and triggering it through the collector of T2, a torch bulb is easily made to strobe. Off course, optimum effect is achieved only through proper adjustment of the two Pots. 

As already discussed already in the previous section, green laser pointers are pretty popular nowadays; the diagram illustrated shows a simple method of converting the above circuit into a pulsating green laser pointer strobe light. Here, T3 and T4 form a typical current controlled transistor configuration – a must when vulnerable lasers are involved. The selection of R6 can be critical and will decide the current limiting threshold for a safe operating of the laser. A wrong calculation may instantly roast your costly laser bulb. The following formula may be used for calculating R6:
U = 0.6/Ilaser,
Where U = Operating voltage of the laser and the circuit.
I (laser) = Maximum safe operating current of the laser device. 
The next diagram shows how an AC mains lamp may be used as a strobing light source using the above circuit. Here a triac forms the main switching component receiving the required gate pulses from T2’s collector. 
Thus we see that through the above circuit designs it becomes very easy to make any light a strobe light simply by doing the relevant modifications.

Parts List

R1, R4, R5 = 680 Ohms,
R2, R3 = 10K
VR1, VR2 = 100K pot
T1, T2 = BC547,
T3, T4 = BC557
C1, C2 = 10uF/25V 
Triac = BT136
LEDs = as per choice

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