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Flash Burst (Super Bright) Review

March 9th, 2022 1:48am
Rating:
Reviewed by Lorenzo
The "Flash Burst (Super Bright) by Grand Illusions" is not usable in any professional magic show unless it is modified to repair two critical manufacturing flaws: the "safety" ON/OFF switch, and the "pressure sensitive trigger" (aka, toe switch).

I found the Flash Burst to be extremely unreliable. Whether its inconsistent triggering was the result of a defective design using an inline rotary switch (such as you might find on a lamp cord), the homemade "pressure sensitive trigger," or some combination of the two, I don't know. I only know that getting a flash to happen on cue is a hit or miss event.

The Flash Burst features an in-line rotary "safety" switch (such as you might find on the cord or an inexpensive lamp) with the purported benefit that it will allow you to walk around with the power supply ON without triggering the flash inadvertently. When you want to trigger the flash, you can then turn ON safety switch and then trigger the flash. Unfortunately, the switch is one which does not have a tactile positive indication of whether the switch is in the ON or OFF position. While this might not be an issue with a lamp, where you can tell if it is ON by the glow or lack thereof of the light bulb, it is a distinct problem with the Flash Burst, as you have to trigger the flash to find out if that switch is ON or OFF. Which defeats the purported purpose of the switch. If you have the inline switch OFF for walking around, the only way you can get it to the ON position is to fiddle with the switch, and then trigger the flash to see if it works. If not, you need to fiddle with it some more and try again. Certainly not something you can do in front of your audience!

The "pressure sensitive trigger" is a simple homemade item. It is enclosed in a sealed, blue plastic bag about 2 1/2 inches square. The operative portion of the switch, sealed inside the blue plastic, is about 1 inch by 1/2 inch and maybe 1/8 inch in thickness. This means that the operative portion of the switch is free moving within the larger bag. At any given time, it may be in the center or it may be off to either side. As you walk about with the switch bag taped in place to your foot or shoe, the actual switch may move about such that it is not always where you expect it to be when you want to trigger the flash. This is a problem. Also, since it is homemade, quality control of the switch itself is suspect. In fact, the instructions which come with the Flash Burst warn you to carefully inspect this pressure switch and to look for any loose wiring! It should be the manufacturer's responsibility to do that, and not ship any Flash Burst with defective wiring.

Once I determined that my Flash Burst was not operating in a reliable manner, I decided to test it a little more to determine just how unreliable it was. The first thing I did was determine what the ON position was on the safety switch, and then tape it in that position. I didn't want that switch to be affecting the triggering. I then set about triggering the flash with the pressure switch held in my hand, trying to press where it seemed most likely to be the correct spot each time. This is something you can't do with your foot, but I wanted to give the switch the best possible chance for working. In 25 tries, the flash was triggered only 7 times. I don't know about you, but for my show performances, that is completely unacceptable.

I debated whether or not to return the Flash Burst from whence it came, but in the end, and in the interest of science, I decided instead to modify it by replacing the homemade pressure switch with a quality manufactured one (ref. https://www.mcmaster.com/switches, and search for "Sealed Touch Pad Switches") and eliminating the wonky safety switch. After making those two changes, the Flash Burst appears to be much improved in its reliability, flashing each and every time it was triggered.

So, if you want this gimmick for your act, be prepared to spend an additional $25-35 for a quality toe switch and to dust off your soldering iron. If you don't want the extra expense or effort, then this gimmick is not for you.

Product info for Flash Burst (Super Bright)

Author: Grand Illusions
Publisher: Grand Illusions
Average Rating:  (1)
Retail Price: $85.00
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Manufacturer's Description:

Flash Burst IS: A body-worn flash effect that causes a bright flash of light to pop from the center of your chest. Its handy for making things vanish or appear in a flash of light.

Flash Burst ISN'T: A stock camera strobe, strobe light or Fism Flash.

Many Moons ago, John Cornelius created the Fism Flash, a body worn flash effect that was popular with many professional close-up and stand-up workers including our own Steve Johnson.

The Fism Flash was an enormously clever idea but was not without its limitations. It had a click-your-heels trigger and no interrupt switch to prevent you from accidentally flashing as you walked around the room. Mr. Cornelius would later develop the Fism Flash II which was fired from a mercury switch. Later, he would discontinue the Fism Flash product entirely.

Desiring to fill a hole in the retail market, the Raldon MFG. Co. researched the parts of the original Fism Flash and redesigned it from the ground up. They consulted with Steve Johnson as to its size, shape, brightness, refresh rate, comfort and even its color. With the guts, bulb, trigger and body all redesigned, Raldon released the product as Flash Burst, a body flash for the modern professional performer.


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