With the Keck Observatory open house approaching I am helping get one of the most popular activities ready. At the last two open houses we have made flasher pins, we will do so again this year.
Flashers? These are a simple circuit built on a PCB that flashes a pair of LED’s. Nothing serious, just a bit of electronics fun. The activity allows folks to learn a little electronics and soldering.
The PCB is configured as a pin or badge, with a brooch pin soldered to the back that also serves as a switch to turn on the LED’s.
The original design came from John Maute at SAO. The circuit is based around the venerable LM555 timer IC configured as an astable multivibrator. The LM555 timing circuit is simple enough to solder together in a few minutes, complex enough to look cool and provide a real introduction to an electronic circuit.