Thursday, November 1, 2007

Ebay Trigger Mod Follow-up

First off, I'm glad that so many people are finding the mod useful. And thanks to DH for posting the mod on Strobist.

I've been told that Digi-Key is out of both the antenna and the connector, and won't have them in until anywhere from late November to Christmas apparently. Don't worry, there's a backup :-) Linx Technologies is the actual maker of the antenna and connector both, and they supply Digi-Key with their product for re-sale. You can buy both products directly from Linx. I actually just bought two more connectors and two antennas, and am expecting them in the next few days. I actually bought slightly different antennas, as I'm about to try an antenna modification to the receivers. But that's a whole different story :-)

The other thing I'd like to hit on is to remind people that this mod was never about matching the output of the Pocket Wizards. The debate between the Cactus triggers and PW's is an ongoing one for many people. All I'm trying to do here is give people who don't have the option of buying PW's (for whatever reason) a better option than the stock ebay triggers. Trust me, if I had the money to throw down on a set of PW's, I'd have them already. They're more than worth it I'm sure, but until then, I want the most reliable, most professional looking equipment I can manage.

That and it's fun to mess around with electronics :-D

Oh, and as an aside, for anyone interested, I have absolutely no professional background in electronics. I was a photo major in school, with a minor in environmental science. I've never taken a course in electronics, and the only things I've got going for me are my intuitive nature and the fact that I had an electronics kit as a kid way back when. So if I can figure this out and make it work, I have faith that many of you can as well, and some of you can probably make it work better :-)

Thanks again for the good comments, and I appreciate the suggestions as well :-D


Noah said...

I just noticed that DigiKey now has both the antenna and SMA connectors back in stock, and I just placed my order.

I actually also picked up a few "ANT-433-CW-RAH-ND" right-hand antennas for the receivers. They may only be 1.8 inches long, but considering it has 6.5" of wire wound into a 1/4-wave antenna, it should provide for better signal gain than what they come with...

I'm hoping that with a 1/4-wave antenna on both the transmitter and receiver, this should be a failrly reliable solution for us non-Pro photos who love their gadgets, (and are too cheap to pony up for the "Kool-Aid").

kuster said...

I'd lay off modding the receiver. I tried, and soon after I bought a new receiver.

Then again, if you know more about it than I (which really wouldn't take much, haha), by all means go for it, and if you succeed let me know so I can do it too :-D

Either way, best of luck :-) said...

Digi Key has the sma connectors and 1/4 wave antennas in stock as of March 21, 2008. They are very helpful and deliver within 2 days continental US.

I just completed the Cactus mod on a v2s trigger and the range has improved greatly over the stock and if done with care looks cooler than a Pocket Wizard IMHO.

So for the technical reviews and pit falls, I was able to trigger my Vivitar 285HV flash attached to the camera hot shoe of my Canon 40D from 47 yards away and threw a brick house.

Testing conditions were line of site, Nighttime, Clear, cool with 3 walls, 2 interior and 1 exterior brick wall between the trigger and the flash. Of my ten flash tests 9 fired from 47 yards and all were synched perfectly threw 1/200th. When I rotated the camera body 90 degrees to take a picture in portrait orientation I was able to trigger the flash from an additional 10 yards distance for a total of 57 yards. This I determined was due to the polarization of the 1/4 wave antenna operating with greater efficiency in a horizontal position.

Some interesting observation. Fresh batteries in both the transmitter and receiver improved realizability more than range. Range was most improved by antenna orientation and the routing of the antenna lead wire. The best solution seems to be a tight coil of wire aprox.5 inches in length. Some suggested grounding the antenna mounting nut. I on camera test with and without and found that the trigger range improved with a ground connection when the test button was used to trigger the flash but greatly reduced the range when it was connected to the camera and triggered from the hot shoe.
After cutting the ground wire connection their was a dramatic improvement in on camera trigger range while the test button range was reduced. I suspect that the camera hot shoe may have some dampening effect on the antenna performance which is helped by eliminating the ground wire. If you would like to see some real world test pictures.

samra said...

A small antenna as used in this mod and some others is a helical type 1/4 wave. It needs a groud to function best.
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