LM3909 IC 1.5V LED Flasher Circuit

LM3909 IC 1.5V LED flasher circuit. A circuit that uses the now obsolete LM3909 IC to flash an LED from a single 1.5V cell. This IC and circuit is now a piece of history. I had one of these circuits running on a PCB for years, the circuit finally failed. My attempts to repair the circuit were unsuccessful. It appears that the IC finally failed. Read on for a look at some electronics history.

LM3909 1.5V LED Flasher Circuit Diagram

Below is the circuit diagram of an LM3909 LED flasher taken from an out of print electronics magazine. I built this circuit on a tiny PCB many years ago. The circuit operated from a single 1.5V cell, but could also operate from a single 1.2V rechargeable cell.

LM3909 1.5V LED Flasher Circuit Diagram

LM3909 1.5V LED Flasher Circuit Diagram

Flashing an LED from a Single Cell

I remember the LM3909 being expensive, costing many more times than a 555 IC. The problem with using a 555 is that it could not be used to flash an LED from a single 1.5V cell, but had to operate from a higher voltage. A 555 also drains a lot of current from a battery because of its internal voltage divider resistors.

When the LM3909 became available it was popular with hobbyists because an LED can not be lit up from a single 1.5V cell. Here was an IC that would flash an LED from a 1.5 or 1.2 volt cell, pretty impressive. The cell would last for a long time too.

LM3909 now Obsolete

Unfortunately the LM3909 is not available anymore. It was made obsolete several years ago and has no equivalent or replacement part. There are some transistor circuits available that will flash an LED from a single cell.

Attempting to Revive my LM3909 Circuit

The only LM3909 IC that I have was used in a LED flasher circuit built on a PCB. Fortunately I had used an 8-pin IC socket on the board, so could remove the IC to test it on breadboard. The PCB and breadboard test circuit are shown below. Notice that only two additional components are needed in the circuit – a capacitor and LED.

LM3909 PCB Circuit and Breadboard Circuit

LM3909 PCB Circuit and Breadboard Circuit

After many years of service, the LM3909 finally failed. After testing the PCB circuit with a new battery and then building the circuit on breadboard and testing it, the LM3909 was finally declared dead.


7 thoughts on “LM3909 IC 1.5V LED Flasher Circuit

  1. I loved this chip too. I used the basic circuit to flash my first name initial on a seven-segment single-digit numeral display with a D size battery and it lasted almost 2 years

    By the way…an alternative is available as NTE part no. NTE-876 for $10 and up apiece but cheaper on Ebay

  2. The power of China seems to have done it again, and the LM3909 is back.. there are many Ebay sellers listing them all around the $5 mark. I made one for my parents shed when I was a kid (1980’s) to simulate some sort of burglar alarm at night, and I was surprised that it is still running to this day, dad replaces the D cell every few years and cleans the cobwebs off it.. He claimed the longest run of over 3 years was with a carbon zinc cell, I think made by Toshiba. I must have got prime component stock back then and used a decent quality capacitor as it always gets baked in summer and frozen in winter.. nearly 40 years of it.

  3. Hi guys, I am atemting to build an equivalent to the lm3909 ic using sms components. I am also going to sell them. They will be a 4 pin sip package instead of an 8 pin dip package. All resistors will be changed and transistors as well. L.e.d, capacitor and battery will be the only thing needed. I love this chip as well as everyone else, and that’s why I am going to take it the next step in manufacturing it. Let’s bring it back!

    • Stephen, I just came across your note about bringing back the 3909 IC. I have a circuit that uses it for RDFing designed by W4MPU now a silent key. If you see this pse make direct contact for more information on the circuit. The FOX/BUNNY hunters would live it. Contact me at n4nrlradio@gmail.com Name is Jay

  4. I’ve looked for an LM3909 for around 25 years,I’m now 75.for the odd LED project like a tiny unit hanging from my shelf bed lights knowing where to pull to make them work.I tried a luminous chord but it was useless.I thank you very much for all the information you have given me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *