The $1 wonder - 555 Timer

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Here's a little piece of plastic and metal...no bigger than your thumbnail...that costs about one dollar at Radio Shack...and with just a few cheap resistors and one cheap capacitor...can make LEDs flash, make speakers buzz, and can drive a relay as a timer. I use it on many of my projects. Even if you don't know a soldering gun from a piece of wire, this little device is worth learning about.

Here's all the 555 tech geeky details you could ever want.

If you don't want all the details, but just want to know how to solder together a simple 555 to flash a pair of LED "eyes"... go here.

Another simple application of the 555 is to turn on and off a relay that will turn on and off a device that uses 120VAC. Instead of flashing LEDs, you can use it to quickly turn the relay on and off to flash 120VAC lights (although this is somewhat limited as the relay can sometimes not keep up with the quick switching). You can also have the 555 in a "one shot" mode where you trigger it and it will turn the relay on for a set period of time (seconds, minutes, hours, etc.)...it is very versatile!

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