How to Make an Electric Igniter From a Disposable Camera

Written by david roberts
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How to Make an Electric Igniter From a Disposable Camera
The circuitry in a disposable camera can play a role in DIY electronic projects. (Michael Blann/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Disposable cameras with a flash have the equivalent of an electric ignition system in their circuitry. This circuitry can help create an electric igniter for use in devices such as potato or stun guns. The cost of disposable cameras is minimal, and the charge that creates the spark required stays effective long after you take the last picture.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Small screwdriver
  • Capacitor
  • Soldering iron
  • Extra wiring
  • 3 electrodes
  • Perforated circuitry board
  • Circuit box

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  1. 1

    Take the camera apart. If the model of camera you purchased is held together with screws, remove them with a small screwdriver and separate the two cover sections of the camera. If the camera contains no screws, you must pry the sections apart gently using a screwdriver. You can break the shutter mechanism that operates the flash if you use too much force in this step.

  2. 2

    Remove the battery, and locate the camera's capacitor, which will resemble a small blue "C" battery with wires soldered to it. Insert a small screwdriver into the area at the bottom of the capacitor between the two soldered wires, allowing the screwdriver to contact both soldered wires. This step will emit a sizeable spark but will eliminate the charge.

  3. 3

    Locate the flash bulb, and gently remove it. You can unsolder the two wires leading from the capacitor into the flash tube or cut them. Solder or use tape to connect two moderate-gauge 6-inch wires to the wires that connected to the flash tube. The other wire connected to the flash bulb is the trigger transformer output wire and will be wrapped around the flash bulb or tube. Solder or tape a longer wire to the trigger transformer output, which will lead to the electrode system and initiate the spark.

  4. 4

    Cut the perforated board to fit inside the circuit box in which you plan to build the igniter. Select a row of holes on the perforated board on one side of the box container. Attach an electrode to the end of the trigger wire and one to each of the capacitor wires. Insert the electrode on the trigger wire into the centre hole of the row you chose. Insert the electrodes on the wires coming from the capacitor on either side of the trigger electrodes. Angle the capacitor electrodes slightly so they almost touch the trigger electrodes.

  5. 5

    Solder the capacitor to the bottom side of the perforated board so the electrodes attached to it don't shift and touch the trigger electrode.

  6. 6

    Solder a wire lead to each of the three electrodes, and connect them to the flash circuit (the board located under the bulb you removed when you cut off the bulb wires).

  7. 7

    Connect the battery compartment to the flash circuit with soldered or taped wires. Insert a battery into the compartment, and wait for the circuit to charge. You should begin to see sparks arcing between the electrodes on the top of the perforated board. Insert the entire assembly into the circuit box.

Tips and warnings

  • Even if you have discharged an electrode, it will still have about 50 volts of electricity running through it. Use caution in dealing with this part.

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