Help in reviving old flash

Started Feb 10, 2002 | Discussions
CliffB Veteran Member • Posts: 4,011
Help in reviving old flash

I have an old Vivitar 283 flash that I haven't used for twenty (yes 20) years. When I loaded it with batteries, not surprisingly, it did not operate.

With my somewhat feeble understanding of electronics, I understand that when a capacitor is not used over a period of time, it loses some of its ability to store electicity; and, that, after extended periods of time, it may lose this ability altogether. I fear this may be my current (no pun intended) situation.

Can any of you more knowledgable photophiles suggest any ways to attempt to shock this falsh back to life; or, is this unit beyond resurrection?

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Thomas Zuppe Forum Member • Posts: 84
Re: Help in reviving old flash

Had same problem with Vivitar 3500 Flash. Thought it was a gonner cause had not used it for 12 Years. But, this xmas I inadvertantly left it in the on position after I had tried new batteries in it and it sure acted dead. I was going to throw it out, but the next day I took it out of its box and was surprised to see the charged light on. It now works, but may take 30-60 seconds between shots to recharge.

Good Luck.

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ianR Veteran Member • Posts: 5,675
Re: Help in reviving old flash

Have you checked for corrosion on the battery terminals? Even a little would stop it working and it may be that they just look dull. Just twirl the batteries around a few times (if possible). That often works, otherwise, a bit of fine wet and dry.
regards
Ian

OP CliffB Veteran Member • Posts: 4,011
Re: Help in reviving old flash

ianR wrote:

Have you checked for corrosion on the battery terminals? Even a
little would stop it working and it may be that they just look
dull. Just twirl the batteries around a few times (if possible).
That often works, otherwise, a bit of fine wet and dry.
regards
Ian

Ian:

Always looking for the easy fix, checking the contacts was my first reaction when the unit didn't charge. I didn't see any evidence of corrosion; but, I took a bit of fine sandpaper to all of them anyway. Unfortunately, the flashes problem wasn't so simple.

Thanks for responding.

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SteveB Veteran Member • Posts: 3,087
Re: Help in reviving old flash

To try to reform the dialectric in the reservoir capacitor you'll have to take the flash apart first. Then get a small 9 volt battery, an old half discharged one will do, and ideally a 1 kilohm resistor in series for protection but you can omit the resistor as there's not much to lose, and connect the battery in the correct polarity (+ to +, - to -) across the biggest capacitor you can see for 24 hours. Remove the battery, rebuild the flash and try it out. 50/50 chance it will work if that's all that's wrong with the flash.

CliffB wrote:

ianR wrote:

Have you checked for corrosion on the battery terminals? Even a
little would stop it working and it may be that they just look
dull. Just twirl the batteries around a few times (if possible).
That often works, otherwise, a bit of fine wet and dry.
regards
Ian

Ian:

Always looking for the easy fix, checking the contacts was my first
reaction when the unit didn't charge. I didn't see any evidence of
corrosion; but, I took a bit of fine sandpaper to all of them
anyway. Unfortunately, the flashes problem wasn't so simple.

Thanks for responding.

Evil Eggplant Veteran Member • Posts: 8,755
Re: Help in reviving old flash

I do understand something about electronics. There are 2 capacitors you will want to change. One capacitor is used to discharge into the HV transformer. This high voltage (trigger) is used to ionize the gas in the tube. Once the gas is in a conductive state, a much larger capacitor dumps its charge across the tube. If the flash does fire then the trigger is fine, you can leave that cap alone. If the flash is weak then replace the bigger cap. It will be rated at at least 300WVDC (working-volts DC) and will be at least 300 uF (microfarads) Reviving a spent capacitor is not worth the trouble, a replacement is cheap enough. One word:

VOLTAGES PRESENT INSIDE THE FLASH UNIT ARE LETHAL. CAPACITORS CAN REMAIN CHARGED LONG AFTER THE BATTERIES ARE REMOVED. DISCHARGE ALL CAPACITORS BEFORE SERVICING THE UNIT. The caps can be discharged by shorting them out with a small peice of wire.

Good Luck
rich
http://www.pbase.com/iceninevt

William Finnell Contributing Member • Posts: 718
Re: Help in reviving old flash

You're spot on about the capacitor. Use it or lose it is an old adage that applies to capacitors. You can sometimes partially revive them, but if they have gone unused for an extended period, kiss them goodbye.

OP CliffB Veteran Member • Posts: 4,011
Its working!

I want to thank all of you for your suggestions.

After reading zorro's tale of his flash, which was unused for 12 years, coming to life after being left on for a day, I reloaded the batteries, turned my 283 on and left it on my desk. Some nine hours later, while working at my desk, I suddenly heard the familiar whine of a flash charging. To my amazement, I looked toward the flash just in time to see the ready light come on. I have run it through a number of cycles; and, it seems to be charging and operating in a perfectly normal fashion. As the old saying goes, nothing works better than dumb luck.

Again, my thanks to all of you who were kind enough to respond to my plea for help.

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Cassandra Veteran Member • Posts: 9,301
Two Questions

It's been years since I last used my old White Lightening flash units [PG3200 and PG3001ML] so I wasn't sure what to expect when I brought them out of storage. Plugged them in and they seemed to work fine (!) although I didn't test to see if the flash output had diminished. How long should I leave them plugged in and charging before storing them again, and how often should I do this to keep them in good working condition since I rarely use them?

Cassandra

Joe Kennedy New Member • Posts: 11
Re: 283 flash BEWARE!

I used to sell these guns - very good units. I know that (in the UK anyway) the older units had a fairly high voltage discharged via the hotshoe terminals when used. This was not a problem for old cameras - but could (& did) blow the electronics in some later models. The current version of the flash gun was modified to prevent this.

OP CliffB Veteran Member • Posts: 4,011
Re: 283 flash BEWARE!

Joe Kennedy wrote:

I used to sell these guns - very good units. I know that (in the UK
anyway) the older units had a fairly high voltage discharged via
the hotshoe terminals when used. This was not a problem for old
cameras - but could (& did) blow the electronics in some later
models. The current version of the flash gun was modified to
prevent this.

Joe:

Thanks for the warning. I was aware of the potential voltage problem with the 283, and only intend to use it on a couple of old Canon SLR's - an FTb and an AE1.

Cliff

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