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DPChallenge Forums >> Hardware and Software >> Am I gonna hurt myself?
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08/10/2007 08:44:20 PM · #1
Here's the deal, I want to make a ringflash. I've tried a few times before, but I think this will be the best and most successful.

I have a funny shaped cake pan and an opened up vivitar 285. My idea is to cut the three wires that hold the actual flash from the rest of the flash unit, lengthen the wires, and stick the flash into the pan through a hole I will cut tomorrow. This way, I can mount the rest of the flash to something else and not have the actual unit, with the batteries all attached to the pan. Now I have a few quick questions:

First and foremost, do I run the risk of hurting myself? What should I touch, and more importantly, not touch?

Second, do I need some sort of special wire to use as the extension to lengthen these wires (1, 2, and 3 as labeled in the picture), or can I just use some wire I find around the house?

Lastly, if anyone has any suggestions, lemme hear em.

EDIT: It also appears to me that wire number 3 is the grounding wire. I'm not 100% sure of this, but if someone can confirm this, and possibly further help me, I'd really appreciate it.

Message edited by author 2007-08-10 20:46:14.
08/10/2007 08:46:08 PM · #2
//flickr.com/photos/alleneagleshockey/541750611/

maybe a little less surgery?
08/10/2007 08:47:45 PM · #3
Talk about a flash in the pan. ;)

I dunno if it'll work or not, but if you were my son, I'd take all sharp objects and electrical devices away from you before you burn down the house or electrocute yourself. :)
08/10/2007 08:47:51 PM · #4
Originally posted by fotomann_forever:

//flickr.com/photos/alleneagleshockey/541750611/

maybe a little less surgery?

Thanks for the suggestion, however I've tried those other solutions, a bunch of them, but this seems like it will be the cleanest, most durable, and professional looking when it is finished.

Message edited by author 2007-08-10 20:48:15.
08/10/2007 08:51:07 PM · #5
I can't wait to see how it comes out. :-) That pan looks like it's gonna do great for you.

I'm no electrical engineer by any means, but as long as you use the same gauge wire that already is in use inside the flash you should be fine.
08/10/2007 09:00:43 PM · #6
Originally posted by fotomann_forever:

I can't wait to see how it comes out. :-) That pan looks like it's gonna do great for you.


The best part is, I found it at a garage sale and only got it for a quarter.

Originally posted by fotomann_forever:

I'm no electrical engineer by any means, but as long as you use the same gauge wire that already is in use inside the flash you should be fine.

How do I determine the gauge of the wire? What would happen if my wire extension is not the exact same gauge? Also, do I even need to solder the old wire to the new wire, or can I sort of just twist them around one another, as long as it makes a good electrical contact?
08/10/2007 09:06:52 PM · #7
If it's smaller than the wire used, it can overheat and catch fire. If it is thicker it will be perfectly fine and would probably be the way to go since you are extending it.

Twisting them may not be a good idea for high voltage (flash is pretty darn high voltage). I would at least use wire nuts and make sure they are well wrapped to keep arching from happening.

You can get a cheap wire stripper/gauge from radio shack to tell ya what gauge it is.
08/10/2007 09:11:12 PM · #8
Larger wires won't hurt, smaller wires won't hurt unless you continually flash and the wire doesn't have time to disperse the heat from the over current.

Yes, solder the wires, if you don't and the connection loosens it will cause sparks. Also get some heat shrink tubing to put over the solder joints. This will keep them from shorting to the pan and subsequently down to your camera (or you). :-)

The easiest way to determine the gauge of the wire is carry it to Radio Shack, they should be able to help you get the gauge you need. HINT: Don't go by the outside diameter of the insulation, insulation thickness varies.
08/10/2007 09:32:40 PM · #9
I was an electrician for 17 years before I got my electrical engineer degree, so here's my opinion.

1) Disconnect the battery
2) Keep your hands out of the electronics, the capacitors could keep a charge and give you a good shock, but I don't think it would kill you.
3) The wire looks like standard hookup wire. Most hookup wire is good for several hundred volts
4) The current in the circuit is so brief that I doubt the wire would over heat and cause a problem.
5) Go to radio shack and get some hookup wire and solder the extension
6) Get some shrink tubing to put over the solder joint
08/10/2007 09:32:58 PM · #10
Just make sure you discharge capacitor in the flash before doing anything and never touch any of the live parts when its exposed and you might be fine.

The voltages in there can give you a very, very nasty shock, up to and including potentially killing you, or at best giving you a nasty burn.

It isnt so much the capacitor that is the problem, but the DC charging circuit. (300V-600V typically)

But you do want to discharge the photo capacitor. Firing the flash isnt really enough. Shorting out the connections probably wont do it either, due to residual storage.

If you are going to do this, work with one hand only (avoids shocks traveling across your heart) and dont work on it alone (someone else can give you CPR or call for help)

If you dont already know all these basic cautions for working with high voltage capacitors, Id be concerned.

never mind anything else, all this seems a bit redundant. Fire the flash into the ring tube, make it reflective enough and youll hardly loose any light. You will also still be able to use the flash normally - there are quite a few homebrew ring lights like that out there.

NB I have a few electronics degrees, but stopped doing high voltage work 15 years ago, so you can take all this with a pinch of salt if you like.

Message edited by author 2007-08-10 21:47:06.
08/10/2007 11:36:21 PM · #11
So realistically speaking, Gordon, how likely do you think it is that I will shock myself stripping three wires, soldering, and putting some shrink tubing on top of that?
08/10/2007 11:41:03 PM · #12
Originally posted by hsteg:

So realistically speaking, Gordon, how likely do you think it is that I will shock myself stripping three wires, soldering, and putting some shrink tubing on top of that?


Do you know how to discharge the capacitor and be sure it is actually discharged ? If so, then pretty unlikely. If not, pretty likely.

That help ? :)
08/10/2007 11:45:03 PM · #13
Originally posted by Gordon:

Originally posted by hsteg:

So realistically speaking, Gordon, how likely do you think it is that I will shock myself stripping three wires, soldering, and putting some shrink tubing on top of that?


Do you know how to discharge the capacitor and be sure it is actually discharged ? If so, then pretty unlikely. If not, pretty likely.

That help ? :)

I was going to just charge it up, and fire it at full power, turning the unit off, and removing the batteries as fast as possible, but your post above said that probably won't do it. Based on my knowledge as of right now, no, I suppose I will not be fully discharging the capacitor. How do I go about doing such a thing?
08/10/2007 11:45:52 PM · #14
Originally posted by hsteg:

Originally posted by Gordon:

Originally posted by hsteg:

So realistically speaking, Gordon, how likely do you think it is that I will shock myself stripping three wires, soldering, and putting some shrink tubing on top of that?


Do you know how to discharge the capacitor and be sure it is actually discharged ? If so, then pretty unlikely. If not, pretty likely.

That help ? :)

I was going to just charge it up, and fire it at full power, turning the unit off, and removing the batteries as fast as possible, but your post above said that probably won't do it. Based on my knowledge as of right now, no, I suppose I will not be fully discharging the capacitor. How do I go about doing such a thing?


Yes, what you describe will not work.

I've reached the limit of my liability in terms of giving advice though.
08/11/2007 12:03:11 AM · #15
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Perhaps like this?
08/11/2007 12:13:42 AM · #16
Originally posted by fotomann_forever:

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Perhaps like this?


That's basically what I'm going to do at this point, seeing as the risks are most likely not worth the gains.

However, THIS, is what I had in mind. The dotted wire would be wire behind the pan.
08/11/2007 12:45:02 AM · #17
It looks like a bomb!! Is this the effect you are looking for? ;)

Originally posted by fotomann_forever:

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Perhaps like this?
08/11/2007 02:53:32 AM · #18
My first reaction was "You'll shoot yer eye out, kid!" but in reading along, I am anxious to see how things turn out. I used to strip live wires with my teeth (110v house current) when I was around 13 and I took a nice 10 second, 22kv jolt from a radar console CRT on the ship when I was in the navy and I can tell you - that which does not kill you, will make you a little crazier - so, no worries. :)
08/11/2007 03:40:52 AM · #19
Originally posted by Katmystiry:

It looks like a bomb!!

It cetainly does - and I think you have set off an alarm...

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08/11/2007 04:22:06 AM · #20
Originally posted by Art Roflmao:

...I took a nice 10 second, 22kv jolt from a radar console CRT on the ship when I was in the navy and I can tell you - that which does not kill you, will make you a little crazier - so, no worries. :)


this explains SOOOOO much lol. I also use my teeth for wire stripping, I've got the perfect gap between my top and bottom two. Of course I usually stick to less dangerous things than 22kv jolt CRT wires lol
08/11/2007 04:58:14 AM · #21
Be careful with the flash. If you splice one wire at at time you should be ok. YMMV

One point not discussed and I bring it up because I'm not to up on the subject: UV. I'm pretty sure the flashes filter UV in some manner as discharge flashes always have some component of UV light. If the filter is a coating on the tube itself then you're A-OK. If it's in the lens on the front of your flash you've just eliminated it. Maybe someone here knows the ins and outs of this and whether it matters. Otherwise in the immortal words of Rosanne Rosanna-Dana,
never mind!
08/11/2007 06:51:03 AM · #22
I like FFMan's idea. I am thinking though that one flash is simply not going to provide adequate coverage. Have you given any consideration to how even the light will be?

Are you going to use the ringlight for macro work or studio work?

Have you considered putting one flash on each side of the unit to balance things out a bit? Even still, due to that shape, I'd probably be going with three flashes to get the best evenness. Then I would put some light plastic or paper or something over the top to act as a gentle diffuser, but that's just my preference.
08/14/2007 11:09:24 AM · #23
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08/14/2007 11:16:07 AM · #24
Originally posted by eschelar:


I'd probably be going with three flashes to get the best evenness. Then I would put some light plastic or paper or something over the top to act as a gentle diffuser, but that's just my preference.


You making a ring flash or a microwave oven?
08/14/2007 11:20:31 AM · #25
Originally posted by fotomann_forever:



You making a ring flash or a microwave oven?


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