Inside a Studio Strobe

I recently had the chance to open up a studio strobe and I just had to post this up. I’ve not seen so many “canisters of death” (capacitors) in a single device since my coilgun project. Each one is rated at 330v @ 800uF. With 16 capacitors, that’s a total of 688 joules of energy! Touching the wrong terminal will kill you several times over.

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The bulk of the studio strobe is filled up with capacitors. These store energy required for the flash tube to fire. When the flash tube fires, the energy from the capacitors are discharged through the flash tube, creating the brief bright flash of light.

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330v @ 800uF. 16 of them in total.

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The controller board.

Warning: Never open up any flash units immediately after you have switched them off. The capacitors will still hold a lethal charge for as long as an hour. If you need to work on them immediately, discharge the capacitors by shorting them with a high wattage (5w) and high value resisitor (10k). Do not touch any of the bare terminals. You will get a nasty shock or even die. Continue reading

The Elephant

In 1986, Peter Davies was on holiday in Kenya after graduating from Northwestern University.

On a hike through the bush, he came across a young bull elephant standing with one leg raised in the air.

The elephant seemed distressed, so Peter approached it very carefully. He got down on one knee, inspected the elephants foot, and found a large piece of wood deeply embedded in it. As carefully and as gently as he could, Peter worked the wood out with his knife, after which the elephant gingerly put down its foot.

The elephant turned to face the man, and with a rather curious look on its face, stared at him for several tense moments. Peter stood frozen, thinking of nothing else but being trampled. Eventually the elephant trumpeted loudly, turned, and walked away. Peter never forgot that elephant or the events of that day.

Twenty years later, Peter was walking through the Chicago Zoo with his teenage son. As they approached the elephant enclosure, one of the creatures turned and walked over to near where Peter and his son Cameron were standing.

The large bull elephant stared at Peter, lifted its front foot off the ground, then put it down. The elephant did that several times then trumpeted loudly, all the while staring at the man. Remembering the encounter in 1986, Peter could not help wondering if this was the same elephant.

Peter summoned up his courage, climbed over the railing, and made his way into the enclosure.

He walked right up to the elephant and stared back in wonder.

The elephant trumpeted again, wrapped its trunk around one of Peter legs and slammed him against the railing, killing him instantly.

Probably wasn’t the same elephant.

This is for everyone who sends me those heart-warming bullshit stories. Continue reading