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Author Topic: How to trigger old blue BALCAR A1200 and A2400 with PocketWizards?  (Read 2986 times)
Bernd B.
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« on: March 22, 2012, 05:19:50 AM »
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Hello,

I have seven old (blue) BALCAR A1200 and A2400 which won`t trigger at all with Pocketwizard TT5 or Multimax.

I tried a Wein Safe sync and/or a reverse polarity adapter with no success.

The newer generations of BALCAR power packs (Starflash, Jet, Nexus, AQ-Pack) just work with the radios without problems (Starflash needs reverse polarity with Multimax).

Anybody here using this (beautiful) museum flashes ?

Thanks for your help,

Bernd
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Ellis Vener
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« Reply #1 on: March 22, 2012, 08:23:15 AM »
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I has been a couple of years since I retired my old Balcar A2400 and A5000 packs and systems. but  I never had your problem with mine and MultiMAX transceivers. Do they work with standard sync cords?

Also http://www.qualitycameracompany.com/ has the remains of my system. Maybe some heads and a pack or two,  and definitely a couple of flash tubes and a few pyrex shells. I saw the flash tubes and Pyrex shells  when I was there yesterday. If you call or write to them ask for Jeff.
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Ellis Vener
http://www.ellisvener.com
Creating photographs for advertising, corporate and industrial clients since 1984.
Bernd B.
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« Reply #2 on: March 22, 2012, 08:59:59 AM »
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Thank you Ellis!

I could not find any BALCAR equipment or part on the website you linked to.

Did you use the older blue power packs or the newer grey/black ones?

I just talked to Stefan Krenig who continues the business of "Horst Musch", a small company producing own studio flash systems until a few years ago. They are located near Frankfurt/Germany. He services my BALCARs and suggested to drop in some devices that he will measure for me.

Best,

Bernd
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Ellis Vener
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« Reply #3 on: March 22, 2012, 09:06:52 AM »
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The A2400 packs were blue, the A5000 was gray.

You'll need to email sales@qualitycamera.com ,  attention Jeff Wheeler, and make your inquiries about the Balcar gear he has.They regularly do business with customers in Asia and Europe as well as throughout North America.  Full disclosure: Jeff is a very long time friend (I've bought and sold gear through Quality Camera for at least twenty years) and I've been a neighbor to Quality Camera (they arew literally around the corner from my studio for the past six years.
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Ellis Vener
http://www.ellisvener.com
Creating photographs for advertising, corporate and industrial clients since 1984.
K.C.
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« Reply #4 on: March 22, 2012, 10:59:26 PM »
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Flash Clinic in New York still services Balcar and may be able to answer your question.
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Ellis Vener
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« Reply #5 on: March 23, 2012, 08:58:59 AM »
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Except that Bernd is Near Frankfurt Germany. There is a terrific professional and very well stocked camera dealer in Frankfurt where I've rented flash gear from when I've been on assignment there. It has been a while and I cannot remember the name of the shop (maybe GMFoto?) but they had a world class lighting division and I believe did repairs as well.
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Ellis Vener
http://www.ellisvener.com
Creating photographs for advertising, corporate and industrial clients since 1984.
Bernd B.
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« Reply #6 on: March 25, 2012, 06:07:49 AM »
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Flash Clinic recommended to use the A-Packs with slaves or to take them out of service, and to trigger with my newer units. It was`nt worth the trouble with the old packs, because they were too old.

In the meantime I found out that if the trigger cable between the PW and the A2400 is very long (in my test 5 meters), it works flawless. The PW can be on top of the power pack, only the trigger cable has to be that long.

This gives me room for ideas, like for a custom made adapter using a miniaturized spool with some meters of copper wire.

Best,

Bernd

P.S.1: Ellis, IŽll forward your last post to GM-Foto in Frankfurt. They`ll be proud to hear that.

P.S2.: And here is what PocketWizard Support wrote to me (as of march 22):

Hi Bernd,

That's definitely very strange. While I don't have a Balcar A1200 or A2400 here, I have a few points of suspicion:

The first thing that I think about is the triggering voltage. Older packs can range up into the hundreds of volts; during the development of our Plus III we made sure to pay extra attention to the triggering voltage as some packs (like the Speedotron Blackline packs, or Norman B200, or even the Vivitar 283) can range up into the 250+ sync voltage. That being said, a wein safe sync should help; I'm not entirely sure.

The second is that the trigger circuit in those packs is slightly different than other flash packs or monolights, and because of that, the way that most radio triggers trigger from their ports isn't working with the sync port on the flash. It gets very technical, and even with an engineer pointing to a diagram of the circuitry inside the triggering circuit I was barely keeping up, but basically, the flash pack is expecting one thing, and the triggering circuit is designed to give something that's just barely not in spec, so it doesn't fire.

While I can't give you anything definitive, I would actually suggest trying one of our Plus IIIs as a receiver on your A1200 and A2400 packs. I'm not entirely sure it will be anything different, but I do know that we've done a lot of work on getting the sync circuit simplified, so it may offer better results (and it also has fast mode as well!)

I wish I could give you a more concrete answer, but this is the first time I've heard of this problem, and I don't have the packs here to test with, so unfortunately the best I can give you is an educated guess. If in your testing you discover anything further, any further information would be greatly appreciated.

If you have any further questions, feel free to let me know - just reply to this email and keep the case number in the subject line.

Chris Valites
PocketWizard Technical Support Specialist

LPA Design
21 Gregory Drive
Suite 140
South Burlington, VT 05403
« Last Edit: March 25, 2012, 06:51:04 AM by Bernd B. » Logged
Bernd B.
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« Reply #7 on: March 25, 2012, 07:15:50 AM »
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I forgot to mention: reverse polarity os required as well. The trigger cable between A2400 and PW has to be very long AND reverse polarity.

Bernd
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K.C.
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« Reply #8 on: March 25, 2012, 09:28:41 PM »
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So the 5 meter cable is adding enough resistance to the trigger circuit that it's allowing the pack to be fired by the low voltage of the PW. You could measure the resistance and capacitance of the 5 meter cable and put a small resister and capacitor in line with a standard cable to achieve the same solution.

Interesting solution. Glad to hear you figured it out.

Except that Bernd is Near Frankfurt Germany

It would seem that through the wonders of the internet Bernd was able to communicate with PW all the way over here in the U.S.. Imagine that Ellis.
« Last Edit: March 25, 2012, 09:31:56 PM by K.C. » Logged
Ellis Vener
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« Reply #9 on: March 25, 2012, 09:33:00 PM »
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Will modern miracles never cease? And they saved him the cost of sending them all the way across the Atlantic and back too! I love Flash Clinic.
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Ellis Vener
http://www.ellisvener.com
Creating photographs for advertising, corporate and industrial clients since 1984.
Bernd B.
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« Reply #10 on: March 31, 2012, 07:49:30 AM »
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I found out when the connection cable between the Pocketwizard and the power pack is 5 meters long and has reverse polarity, everything is fine.

So I made a special plug. It looks like this:



And this is how I made it:











15 EUR. 3 hours of work. Makes all of my 7 old Balcar "A" packs fire with Pocketwizard Multimax and TT5.

Best,

Bernd
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Ellis Vener
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« Reply #11 on: April 01, 2012, 08:16:41 AM »
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Excellent!
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Ellis Vener
http://www.ellisvener.com
Creating photographs for advertising, corporate and industrial clients since 1984.
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