Alternate power source for Metz 60 series strobes.

Discussion in 'Lighting' started by frotog, Mar 20, 2008.

  1. frotog

    frotog Member

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    I really like the metz 60 series strobes. I have about 15 units which I string together and blast through diffusion which gives me a wonderful, kind-of portable, very powerful fill/key light. I'm shooting 5x7, 100asa film and fstops like f16.5-f22.5 so I need the power. Recently I noticed that I need fresh batteries but upon pricing them out I became determined to come up with an alternative to the $50 Sonneschein a506/4.3 k. An internet search led me to a distributer that sells a 6 volt called the UB645 he claims customers have used as a substitute. This battery costs $10. The contacts are tabs which need to be pushed down inorder to fit. I'd love to hear from anyone who's gone down this route.

    But even more intriguing is the prospect of buying a 30 or 40 amp/hour 6volt drycell with bolt and nut terminals and a pair of leads going to each battery pack. The contacts in the pack are spring loaded and hang down low enough to grap with alligator clips. Can anyone think of a reason why this won't work?
     
  2. epatsellis

    epatsellis Member

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    I'd add a connector to each pack, still allowing you to use them individually, should you need, by purchasing a few batteries, but able to still string them together. Of course you don't need a drycell, I'm willing to bet any Sears would have a 6V sealed auto battery, with proper charging it'd probably be a whole lot more cost effective.


    erie
     
  3. frotog

    frotog Member

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    Thanks for the suggestion Erie. Of course by using alligator clips to grab the contacts in the battery pack I would not be modifying anything in the pack itself so using the stock battery is still an option. I'm not sure if Sears carries 6volt batteries but in any case I'll definitely want a sealed lead, deep-cycle battery and not a traditional cold-cranking starter battery. Anyone else?
     
  4. Mike Wilde

    Mike Wilde Member

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    alternatives for portable power

    I have bought a506 in tab stye for $40, vs round pad style for $70

    Then I have bought enerwatt AGM 6V 5Ah too. $12 each, but they don't fit inside the flash generator. My adaptor was a dead dry fit with the guts pulled out, with just the case and contacts neded to funnel power in reliably

    If you want to be tied to A/C then I have used an old PC power supply to power 6V flash units quite sucessfully. The typical PC supply is happy to kick out 5V at something like 22A. My CT1 sucks back 6A on a full manual dump, so on this basis there could be 4 packs slaved to each PC supply.
     
  5. frotog

    frotog Member

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    Mike, did you solder the electrical leads to the contacts in the metz battery pack or did you use clips of some kind? The pc power supply sounds like a neat trick but I'm not going to have access to ac power so I'm going to have to go the battery route. I'm mostly concerned about damaging the power supplies or the flash heads but I guess as long as I get a 6volt deep cycle battery nothing else matters right?
     
  6. Mike Wilde

    Mike Wilde Member

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    Drilled and soldered

    My solution was to run #18 or so guage 'speaker wire' ie two conductor zip cord into a hole I drilled into the case where the plastic tab is usually glued on (the tab had been wrenched off and glued onto a newer battery on my example). I drilled small holes through the pads, and brought the leads of wire up from the inside. Soldered the wires into the holes, trimmed off excess, and filed the solder bit left down to match the elevation of the surrounding pad.
     
  7. frotog

    frotog Member

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    You've described you're a/c setup right Mike? I'm not sure I'm following you...plastic tabs?
     
  8. Mike Wilde

    Mike Wilde Member

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    plastic tab clarification

    the thing I am talking about here is the plastic rectangular bit that keeps the battery from being inserted into the flash generator with the incorrect polarity. Once the wires are routed out of the battery case, they need a way to get out of the flash generator. My CT1 flash generator has a series of slots in the battery door, so I drilled the case at a spot to line up with the middle slot, where the alighmnet tab usually is.
     
  9. Chan Tran

    Chan Tran Member

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    It's not too difficult to build a dummy battery to supply external power to the series 60, especially the cover has slots in it. I would be concerned using high capacity battery as their current capacity is higher and the flash may be designed in a way that the battery is responsible for limiting the max current that can flow thru the power converter circuit.
     
  10. frotog

    frotog Member

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    Mike - Using the empty battery case as a kind of an adapter does sound like an interesting solution. I suppose in this case I could attach the leads from the cannabalized factory battery either to the terminals of a higher capacity 6 volt or an a/c power adapter as you have done. But isn't it kind of nasty cleaning out the guts of a sonnenchein dry-cell. Don't you need like a hazmat certificate for that kind of deal?

    Chan - More amp/hours does not necessarily mean stronger current.
     
  11. Mike Wilde

    Mike Wilde Member

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    Its just lead and sulfuric acid

    actually it is not as nasty as you think. there things are only sparingly wet when new - known as a starved electrolyte - and as they age and die off they go almost completely dry. I used a hand powered hack saw, and a deft application of force with a chisel to get the top off.

    Then put on the apron and rubber kitchen gloves to keep clothes from getting holes, and fingers from stinging.

    After that the guts pull out, one, two three cells, and into a zip lock freezer bag. It goes off to the HHW depot, along with sundry dead alkaline batteries, the spent fixers, old toners, pooped c41 bleach and saturated ra4 blix the next time I make the run.

    Make a slurry of baking soda, and scrub it around with an old tooth brush to neutralize dried acid. Rinse with water - now you are dealing with an inert piece of plastic.
     
  12. frotog

    frotog Member

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    Brilliant! I'll have to start trolling for dead batteries so that I can make adaptors for each of my packs. This seems so much more secure than alligator clips hanging off the little contacts inside the pack. And this way I could bring the leads right back to whatever alternate power source I end up using.

    Thanks Mike!
     
  13. mgb74

    mgb74 Subscriber

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    I'll revive this old thread with my experience.

    I picked up a Metz 60 CT-1. The original battery was included, but dead and could not be revived. Looking online, I found a few options including using LiPo batteries (with separate charger). But since the condition of the flash itself was unknown, I didn't want to buy a LiPo battery and charger.

    So I took the cheap route. I bought an inexpensive 6v 4.5ah SLA battery that approximates the power of the original Metz battery. Rather than cut the power supply case as some did, I built a simple adapter that connects to the contacts in the power supply with leads that attached to the new battery. This does impact portability. However I can still use the original Metz charger.

    Right off the bat, I'm seeing 8 sec recycle time under full power. That's slightly longer than the 6 sec "spec". We'll see if that improves a bit as the capacitor gets exercised.

    But overall, I'm pleased. A $6 battery, some scrap wood and wire, and this excellent flash is resurrected.
     
  14. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    I had to smile when I saw your link. I have clear memories of carefully topping up the cels in the lead-acid batteries used in the old Metz 202 and 402 flashes.

    The link is to a sealed battery, but otherwise, "what comes around goes around".
     
  15. mgb74

    mgb74 Subscriber

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    These AGM batteries have their benefits, but weight isn't one of them. This one is 6v, 4.5ah at a weight of 1.75 lb. LiPo battery (like in a RC car) would probably save 1 lb and give me a bit more capacity. But as I don't plan to carry the power supply while using the flash, weight isn't critical.

    A pretty cost effective way to get 100s of flashes with a GN of about 200 (iso 100, feet). And easy to increase capacity with a larger battery or a 2nd one.

    Well, it's pretty old technology - though I prefer "mature". These
     
  16. wiltw

    wiltw Subscriber

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    It seems, from my search on the web, that the genuine Sonnenshein A506 can be found thru web sources for $10-20.
    And, the Power-Sonic PS-640 is the equivalent battery, and these can be found for $5-15
     
  17. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    The terminals on and dimensions of the versions of the Sonnenshein A506 that fit the Metz flashes seem to only be found in one type of that battery, and that type seems to be a lot more expensive.
     
  18. mgb74

    mgb74 Subscriber

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    The PS-640, which is what I used, is equivalent in voltage and amp hour rating but does not fit inside the power supply battery compartment. That's why I wired it externally.

    The Sonnenschein A506/4.2k is reported to be a drop-in replacement for the original Metz battery (except it doesn't have the "ridge" to prevent insertion the wrong way). I could not find a source for less than about $55-60 shipped. If you know of one, let me know as it's a better solution.

    FYI, when you do a search, a lot of batteries come up as direct replacements for the Sonnenschein A506/4.2k. But when you look at the specs, you find (as Matt said) the dimensions are off and the terminals are different.
     
  19. wiltw

    wiltw Subscriber

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    How unfortunate! For my Quantum Turbo (original) and Quantum 2, the Powersonic was an exact physical match to the original Sonnenshein, although the Powersonic had more electrical capacity (MAh) than the original.
     
  20. mgb74

    mgb74 Subscriber

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    The Power-sonic 832 is supposed to be a drop in replacement for the original Quantum 2 battery. I'll know for sure in a week or so - I have one ordered.
     
  21. fretlessdavis

    fretlessdavis Member

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    I actually did that with my 285HV speedlites, using a 7.2v SLA Deep Cycle wheelchair battery from eBay. For your purposes, a couple in parallel would work quite well. I actually drilled small holes in the battery cover of my flashes, and wired up dummy batteries, and used RCA connectors hooked up to the batteries. Was a pretty slick setup.

    You could also do Lithium or NiMH battery packs, if you want to save weight. I considered doing something similar to old MTB head lights-- a NiMH battery pack mounted in a bike water bottle, and then clamping a water bottle cage to my light stands. Never got around to it, though, as I don't do product photography much anymore.
     
  22. wiltw

    wiltw Subscriber

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    I already know it is...I have replaced the batteries in my Quantum 2, as well as in two Quantum Turbos, using the Powersonic 832.
     
  23. jjphoto

    jjphoto Member

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    As a long time Metz 60 user I've grappled with battery issues for years but I've never tried the Lithium batts which might be the best option. https://www.flickr.com/groups/421691@N22/discuss/72157612486080070/ discusses the Lithium batts and they seem to recycle faster than the Sonnensheins.

    The last 2 new Sonnensheins that I bought from an Australian distributer performed WORSE than my old batteries with only about (approx.) 3/4 of the capacity. Maybe they where stored too long before I got them, I don't know, but I will never buy Sonnensheins again.

    For MANY years I've used external 6 volt 12AH gel batts attached with fly leads on 2 of the 5 Metz 60's that I regularly use. These have much greater capacity and are extremely cheap to replace but are quite heavy (although this doesn't matter much in my line of work, and some times the weight is an advantage). The fly leads that I use are shielded well to avoid shorts and are heavy duty. Over approx. 5 years of use they have never been a problem, have never developed a poor contact, shorted or come loose.

    One disadvantage that I've noticed with some batteries is that their internal resistance might be slightly higher so the recycle times can be a little slower, enough to matter anyway. My external batts take approx. 2 secs longer to recycle at full power. The Sonnensheins seem to recycle faster, but they are still not worth the money IMHO. If I ever have to replace them I will go all Lithium.
     
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  24. mgb74

    mgb74 Subscriber

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    I would guess that the issue with your Sonnensheins was, as you suggested, that they sat too long on the shelf without being charged. From what I've read, the design life for SLA batteries is much longer when used with a float charger.

    Here's an example of a DIY LiPo conversion: http://andycaus.wordpress.com/2013/01/04/metz-60-ct-x-lipo-conversion/ With LiPo batteries, you can specify discharge rate. But it might be best (for the life of the flash) to keep the discharge rate within the SLA spec.

    In the end, a lot depends on how you plan to use the flash. LiPo batteries might be best for infrequent use or if you walk around with the power pack. But if, like me, you're planning to use this as a portable monolight for amateur use, it's tough to beat the inexpensive SLA batteries.
     
  25. skruft

    skruft Member

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    If you choose to use an old battery case, an alternative would be an old Metz 402 Nicad case, as these are the same shape and you can easily take them apart.