modifying fs1200 clone to work reliably with PW/radio trigger

Started Jan 10, 2009 | Discussions
vwgn
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modifying fs1200 clone to work reliably with PW/radio trigger
Jan 10, 2009

If you use radio triggers with minolta/sony flash units, you know there isnt alot of options for adaptors. The original fs1200 is hard to find and expensive, and the gadget infinity clone works just as well for $20, but the stupid pc sync connector is VERY unreliable and the connection is almost always at fault for being too loose, etc and they wear out quickly if you use it regularly. I modded mine to take a 3.5mm mini plug like the cybersyncs and pocket wizards come with and use a much more reliable 3.5 mm male to male cable. This connection also allows me to go into almost any department or drug store in the country and buy a cheap replacement cable on the fly if one fails on a shoot or I forgot it etc.. Try getting a 3.5mm male to pc sync cable at walmart or walgreens!! Please note these pics were taken on a whim and are not anything I would call great, just informative.

gadget infinity shoe adaptor and some pieces (female 3.5mm plugs). I was originally going to use the panel mount plug in the project but it was too long for the case. These plugs can be had at any electronics supply house for fifty to 75 cents each.

unscrew the two screws on the bottom to seperate halves.

once open you can see the simplicity. The oem adaptors have alot more to them (protection circuits) so they may actually be harder to mod. Plus if you screw up a $20 adaptor you will not cry, but a $60 minolta unit would not be my first choice to do this with anyway. We are going to remove the spring/center contact also since we dont need it for more room.

Just cut the wires as long as possible that go to the spring and the metal contacts on the standard iso shoe contact in the bottom of the unit.

I used an ohm meter to verify continuity and such to make sure I had it correct and verified it with the cables plugged together etc, but in an effort to make this simple, outside contact to outside contact and inside to inside. Right now it doesnt matter which color, just get them soldered together to some wires. This piece I had goes to an ABS sensor harness on a new Jaguar. You will likely not have this in your trash can at home, so an rca cable or just two wires will work. This one is nice due to the heavy duty silicone casing and was made for a harsh/vibrating/moving environment so it will likely outlast my flash unit.

drill a hole on the opposite side of the molded hole for pc sync connector. I underestimated how soft the plastic was and still drilled it too big. I was trying to make it just big enough the case "crimped" the wires slightly to hold them. Will need plan B..

Once you figure out the "layout" inside the casing, use another proven method of holding the cable in and put a zip tie around the harness very tight so it cant pull out once assembled. I also put a piece of felt in here to prevent any unwanted movement and contact later on before assembling. Make sure you insulate your solder joints with heatshrink or tape to prevent shorting on other contacts inside casing.

finished unit assembled. make the cable as long as you want or you have supplies for, but it doesnt have to be too long. 6-12 inches is plenty, as you can always get a longer male to male cable if you need something special, and use a short one when you dont need 3 foot.

Assembled to flash. I have cybersyncs which dont have a 1/4 x 20 screw hole for mounting but am trying to figure out how to add one. Once I find some 1/4x20 nut-rivets or similar product I will sho how to do those as well.

make sure a curious coworker or friend is nearby and ask them what they think without telling them what it does, so they dont realize it is going to blind them. Its not on the camera, so it should be ok to look at right? lol

hanst missed a shot yet. I knew it wasnt the cybersync because they work flawlessly with my monolights that have 3.5mm male connection. The misfiring could be duplicated by barely touching the cable etc when pc sync was used. I still retained the pc plug as a redundant backup, but have no intentions of using it again.

I also realized I didnt shoot a shot of the female end of the cable, but using an ohmmeter will tell you what to solder where. I will take it back apart tomorrow and shoot a pic, but if you understand the rest of this post, you will do fine. Also, if you did get them backwards, pocket wizards and cybersyncs have auto polarity sensing and will just switch it internally so it works anyway. This is also why PW's and CS's will trigger sony cameras remotely without isue when cactus reciever has to be modded permenantly and will only work that polarity from then on. If you need help with doing this to yours let me know I will walk you thru it.

vwgn
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Re: modifying fs1200 clone to work reliably with PW/radio trigger
In reply to vwgn, Jan 10, 2009

also the pic where I drilled the hole in the case has a 1/4x20 adaptor for standard hotshoe flashes. this works great with this adaptor to mount on a stand. There was not enough room inside to epoxy a 1/4x20 nut in place of the spring I removed to allow this to mount to a stand without that adaptor. They are $5 from adorama. If I had the heart to cut a $60 flash cable, you could make this mod without the fs1200 clone and use the port on the side of the flash and the tabletop stand the flash came with... maybe another day.

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Bramley
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I think flash zebra already sells a product to do just this
In reply to vwgn, Jan 10, 2009

Nice job on the mod - but doesn't this do the same job?

http://www.flashzebra.com/products/0119/index.shtml

However at $40 each, your way represents better value.

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vwgn
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Re: I think flash zebra already sells a product to do just this
In reply to Bramley, Jan 10, 2009

yeah but part of the point of this was I already have more than one of these adaptors and buying ANOTHER adaptor, especially for $40-$50 just wasnt my idea of fun. This mod is VERY easy, prob took me 30 minutes counting stopping for pics. Doing one without pics would take less than 10minutes next time. This isnt groundbreaking, but if you have one of these, you know my frustration with the pc sync connection. I have some flash zebra cables and they are nice. If modding your gear isnt something you do, the flash zebra cable will work great. The alpha remote shutter release cable already has this style connection on it and works great..

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Adrian Harris
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Re: modifying fs1200 clone to work reliably with PW/radio trigger
In reply to vwgn, Jan 13, 2009

Hi Jason

I just wanted to say thank you very much for this article. It has answered a lot of questions for me - I was/am trying to figure out how to use my KM's with a radio trigger. And your photos and article has been very informative.

I may come back to you with a few questions though - such as is it possible using a radio system such as this on my KM (& sony) to trigger a remote flash outside the house 'that is not a KM compatible flash' ?

Its just that I have a brand new unused Sigma fit Sigma 500 ST flashgun that was cheap enough not to worry about if left outside (I value my KM fit 500 DG Super and don't want it out in the rain and weather for days on end).

The purpose is to photograph birdies through the window, while I stay nice and warm inside (also cant use a light trigger through a shut window with sever flash reflections ).

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vwgn
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Re: modifying fs1200 clone to work reliably with PW/radio trigger
In reply to Adrian Harris, Jan 14, 2009

yes, the cybersync will trigger any flash unit you can hook up to it. It is not line of sight, and works up to 400 foot away. Pocket wizards work further but cost more.

the hack I did just makes it more reliable connection. To do what you need you will want a hotshoe adaptor for your sony camera (fs 1100 type)

http://www.gadgetinfinity.com/product.php?productid=16892&cat=275&page=1

and depending on the flash unit you use an appropriate adaptor. My monolights came with the 3.5mm jack built in. however the unit I modified above is fine for sony flashes. once set up use your radio triggers to trip light. these triggers dont allow for ttl flash exposure though like sony wireless.

you might like this video, its basically what you want to do, only he shoots from outside and the bird is a bit better looking... (might not be safe for work in some places..)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-pih9S3y9E&eurl=http://strobist.blogspot.com/2008/12/todays-special-cuppa-joe-with-squeeze.html&feature=player_embedded

something you might consider, I have seen several pelican style cases with weather seals for small devices like pda's that are clear. putting your flash unit and reciever in one of those would be an excellent way to keep it dry.

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Adrian Harris
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Re: modifying fs1200 clone to work reliably with PW/radio trigger
In reply to vwgn, Jan 14, 2009

Hi vwgn

Thank you so much for your help and advice.
...and what an excellent educational video link that turned out to be.

I can feel a purchase coming on very soon. Now to find some inexpensive flashguns

Adrian

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Glenn
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Re: modifying fs1200 clone to work reliably with PW/radio trigger
In reply to vwgn, Jan 14, 2009

1/4-20 rivnuts

http://www.mcmaster.com/#steel-rivet-nuts

If you prefer you can get them from Grainger too. theres lots in the Dallas/FW area and might be a better bet.

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vwgn
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Re: modifying fs1200 clone to work reliably with PW/radio trigger
In reply to Glenn, Jan 14, 2009

I have some riv nuts but there is literally no room left inside the cavity when I was done. Its not that big of a deal really. thanks though, I do love an excuse to go to grainger (just down the street from one )though!

Some very cheap and reliable strobes are the vivitar 285hv's.. b&h or adorama I cant remember, has them for $85. The video above was done by a guy who uses them regualrly and I think that the two on a stand were in fact 285's, but I wasnt paying that close of attention. They are adjustable and can take a beating... check them out..

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Glenn
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Re: modifying fs1200 clone to work reliably with PW/radio trigger
In reply to vwgn, Jan 15, 2009

They do have flush rivnuts. if your fitting into plastic you can check out knurled ones. press them into a hole (the knurles will cut their way in) but use epoxy around them and they will hold resonably well. you could also use the squash type but leave the body of the rivet outside the piece.. I run into these things a lot on the european machines I get sometimes. personnally I hate them and curse the lazy engineer and the bean counter than made them get used.
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photographychicks
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Re: modifying fs1200 clone to work reliably with PW/radio trigger
In reply to vwgn, Jan 29, 2009

Just wanted to say this thread rocks! I have been looking for a solution to this problem for a year. Thanks!
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vwgn
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thanks
In reply to photographychicks, Jan 29, 2009

nice stuff in your website, did you shoot all of it w/sony camera? nice to see pros using these.

Just my .02, but that huge popup telling me to upgrade my web browser would drive me away as a customer..

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gipper51
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Re: thanks
In reply to vwgn, Apr 30, 2009

Thread tagged.

Good info. I will likely buy a couple of these and do the mod. Currently I don't have a way to use my pair of 56 flashes together with my Novatron pack system and this will certainly do it. Plus I like to use my 56s for a quick two-light portrait but the preflash causes lazy eye on rare occasion (even with A700). Not with this!

Great thread.
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