How to Build a Simple LED Flasher Circuit With Common Parts

Building a simple LED flasher circuit is an easy and fun electronics project that can be completed in less than an hour with common components. Here is a step-by-step guide on how I built a flashing LED circuit using just a few parts.

What You Will Need

To build the LED flasher circuit, you will need the following components:


How the LED Flasher Circuit Works

The 555 timer is wired in astable mode to generate a stream of pulses. In this mode, the 555 functions as an oscillator, switching between high and low continuously at a frequency determined by the resistor and capacitor.

The output of the 555 is connected to the LED through a current limiting resistor. When the output is high, current flows through the LED, lighting it up. When the output goes low, the LED turns off. This results in the LED flashing at the oscillation frequency of the 555 timer.

The capacitor controls the frequency of the LED blinks. A larger capacitor value results in slower flashes, while a smaller value makes the LED blink faster.

Building the Circuit on a Breadboard

Step 1 - Add the 555 Timer

First, insert the 555 timer IC into the breadboard. Be sure to orient it properly, with the notch or dot on one end matching the diagrams.

Step 2 - Connect Power and Ground

Connect the positive (+) red wire from the 9V battery to pin 8 on the 555 timer. Connect the negative (-) black wire to pin 1.

Step 3 - Add the Capacitor

Insert the 10 μF electrolytic capacitor on the breadboard. Connect one leg to pin 6 on the 555, and the other leg to ground. Be mindful of polarity - the negative leg typically goes to ground.

Step 4 - Add the Resistor and LED

Insert one leg of the resistor into pin 3 of the 555. Insert the LED into the breadboard with the positive longer leg to the resistor, and the negative shorter leg connected to ground.

Step 5 - Verify Connections

Double check that all components are inserted properly and wired to the correct pins of the 555 timer.

Step 6 - Power It Up!

Connect the 9V battery and watch the LED start flashing! Adjust the capacitor value to change the blink speed.

That's it! With just a few common components, I was able to build a simple 555 timer circuit to blink an LED. This can be extended to drive relays or other components too. Let me know if you end up building this circuit yourself!