Edgerton, A High-speed Led Flash Diy

Some time ago I designed and built a ballistic chronograph and used it to take some high-speed photos of bullets striking glass. The results were great, but the photos were somewhat limited by the standard ‘speedlight’ flashes that I used – there was always some motion blur. Edgerton is a ‘High-Speed Flash’ which uses LED’s to make one-microsecond flashes to freeze motion.

High-speed photography is no recent invention. Doc Edgerton was already experimenting with high-speed photography in the 1940’s, and has taken some incredible photos. He was known to use an Air-Gap Flash, which is similar to the Xenon flash tubes found in modern camera equipment. It unfortunately requires much higher voltage which could easily cause injury (SEVERE injury). While I didn’t completely disregard the option, I eventually opted for a safer solution.

A recent kickstarter campaign (Velo One) offered a high-speed LED flash. It can produce flashes lasting 0.5 μs (microseconds), was not dangerous, but was priced about $1,750 CAD! Similarly, other internet hobbiests have conducted experiments with LED’s for high-speed photography (notably petermobbs.wordpress.com and timscircuits.blogspot.com). I did some testing with a single LED and came up with similar results. I’m documenting my attempt at building a full-scale flash.”

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