Hacking the Wig Wag Flasher

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It was a great weekend. I didn’t get much airplane stuff done, but I did wake up to this:




Anyway, the last time I had my B&C flasher hooked up, I thought it was a little fast:

It’s a little fast for me. I wonder if there is a way to slow it down.

A post on the Aeroelectric list last week made me think it would be much easier to fix than I thought.

Since they limit the inrush current it takes longer for the lamps to heat up to maximum brightness.  My fix was to open up the wig-wag flasher and replace the electrolytic capacitor with a larger value, slowing the flash rate down.

After eagerly writing the poster back, he elaborated:

You should only find one capacitor.  It’s a metal can with a plastic case.  Try doubling the capacitance (in microfarads).  It’s not critical.
You can just pry open the bottom to release the tabs and slide the cover off.

Sweet. I went outside and got to work.


The cover was surprisingly easy to pry off.



There's the capacitor, on the upper left.


I didn’t think this would be a simple 555 timer circuit, but it is.


Let's see, this is a 4.7 µF capacitor. I'll go by a 10µF and 20µF to try out.


Oh yeah, almost forgot. A few weeks back I bought an Ideal Crimpmaster tool on eBay for $20. It was the coaxial one, so I had to buy the dies elsewhere. I got them for $20, too, from Stanley.


Here are the dies for insulated terminals.



And the crimping tool.



My new capacitors.


I fired up my (new) soldering gun and heated up the solder on the back of the board enough to pull the old capacitor out.


Sweet. That was easier than I thought it would be.



Here's the 10µF capacitor installed.



Not great, but not terrible either.


So, I put the thing back together and fired it up.

This is the fast version, from my previous post with the 4.7 uF capacitor…

And with the 10 uF capacitor…

I’m thinking I might try the 20µF version, just to see how slow it is. But, I’m calling this a huge success.

Half an hour of wondrous electron-pushing work.

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