Air-gap flashes for fun, and more fun

This 2011 blog post by Maurice Ribble explains the problem with xenon flash tubes such as those typically used in photography:

[X]enon flash tubes have a minimum duration of 1/40,000th of a second. That’s fast enough for most things, but not for a shooting bullet [that] travels around 1000 feet/second. In 1/40,000th of a second that bullet can travel about 1/3rd of an inch leading to blurry photographs of bullets.

Image blatantly stolen from Maurice Ribble

Image blatantly stolen from Maurice Ribble

I realized I could build a sub-microsecond flash for just a few hundred dollars. A sub-microsecond flash means the flash duration is less than 1/1,000,000th of a second or about 25 times faster than a xenon flash.

Fair is fair, DIYing this sort of thing can be more dangerous than eating lead paint will skipping blindly across a busy intersection, but it looks awfully fun.

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