DIY battery pack for monolights?

Discussion in 'Lighting' started by Chriscc123, Aug 25, 2010.

  1. Chriscc123

    Chriscc123 Member

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    as i have not the money for big lighting kits, is there a cheap way to give my lights "legs"?
     
  2. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Subscriber

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    A deep discharge 12-volt marine battery coupled to a small inverter? Not lightweight or able to fit on your belt, but a reasonable amount of sorta-portable electrons.

    Ken
     
  3. ozphoto

    ozphoto Subscriber

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    Are they newer Bowens lights?
    They have a Traveller Pack that you can attach their later lights to - could be an option.
     
  4. Mike Wilde

    Mike Wilde Member

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    It isn't 'big' lighting, but I run pack and head battery powered strobes with UPS style gell cells offboard to power them. I have a Metz 60CT1/2 and an old Braun Hobby 300. Both are powerful portable flash, that are usable outside though soft boxes and reflectors for head and shoulders portraiture main lights, or for fill lighting when ambient light is judiciously oriented as the main light. I also gel the fill to match the estimated colour temp of the ambient outside from time to time.

    It is heaps more portable than my speedo rig.

    As to deep cycle and invertor; most regular invertors shut down on excess load. The inrush of recharging a normal AC flash pack or monolight will almost certianly shut the invertor down. There are specifically designed portable lighting power packs, and this is why they exist.
     
  5. mgb74

    mgb74 Subscriber

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  6. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Subscriber

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    Well, the OP did specify "cheap" and "do-it-yourself."

    If the initial current drawdown is significant, then simply match the inverter's surge capacity to handle it. And if greater battery life is desired, just add another unit in parallel.

    Simple modified square wave inverters and marine batteries can be found these days pretty inexpensively. And if it turns out these really won't do, it was worth a try to save some money.

    Ken
     
  7. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    What kind of light is it? Hot light with halogen? incandescent?, florescent? Flash? What's the voltage and current requirement? What level of portability do you require? How long does it have to run? Budget in term of dollar amount? I can think of couple options but I got to know some requirements.
     
  8. Mike Wilde

    Mike Wilde Member

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  9. Chriscc123

    Chriscc123 Member

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    they are flash, no idea about any specs on them... there really cheap, some(3) promaster heads that i got to mess around with for about a 100 bucks, lets put it like this i am a high school student (theres budget for you) and i would like for them to last for maby a round of headshots before i need to recharge, i don't think promaster (i hate promaster) made many lights, as for watts... maby 500.... seems a long shot though... and they plug into the wall so 120 volts?
     
  10. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    OK, if it's flash, your power source requirement is fairly low. Flash charge up internal capacitor and actual "fire" is generated from it.

    Some of the less expensive flash uses "wall warts" for power. That's the cube looking thing that plugs into the wall. Is that the case? Or, does it plug directly into the outlet? If it's the wall wart type, look at it and see what it says....

    Be careful with inexpensive inverters.... Those does not necessary generate clean power, and it *can* put enough stress on cheaply designed flash to blow is circuit. They are often not built with enough margin for safety. (ie. protection towards not so clean power input)
     
  11. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    don't bother reinventing the wheel,
    look for some lumedyne lights .. they are not expensive used
    and are already battery powered.
    the one i have has 2 heads and a 10 year pro rated battery.
     
  12. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Subscriber

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    On the other hand...

    Two winters ago I was immersed in a particularly difficult software engineering certification course. During a bad pair of snowstorms the power failed for two plus days. My assignments were due online - no excuses. So I connected a simple 300-watt Coleman camping inverter to my idling Ford pick-up truck outside on the driveway. This provided sufficient power to connect my desktop PC and home network for me to finish and submit by the deadline, a process lasting eight or ten hours.

    This inverter produces a simple modified square wave rough enough that connecting it to an induction device such as an electric motor will generate an audible hum. Yet the "delicate" IC componets making up my computer/network hardware were more than robust enough to survive the less than pristine approximation of a sine wave produced by this not so clean power input.

    As a matter of fact, I'm typing on that very PC system right now, and will post this message over the very same home network equipment. So I suppose YMMV - significantly for some of us.

    Ken
     
  13. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    Ken,

    Not all inverters generate modified square waves. Some generate square waves with pretty high transient on rising edge. Most PC power supplies (actually all that I've seen) has a filter circuit, then full bridge rectifier circuit, then to pretty big filter capacitor before it goes to switching circuit. That - pretty much filters out any transients if there are any - unless they are huge. I didn't want to get into all that before I knew what OP owned or is going to buy.... Yeah, YMMV big time....

    Anyway, I wanted to point that out to the benefit of OP....
     
  14. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    On the second thought....

    How about just using portable hot-shoe type flash and couple that with simple triggers that will react to any incoming flash light from the camera? You might end up with much cheaper and simpler solution....
     
  15. Chriscc123

    Chriscc123 Member

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    i thought about that but sense im a canon person, flashes and flash accessories run very very pricey, also i really hate the fill from the camera... so
     
  16. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    No.... I'm not suggesting you go buy Canon stuff. If you are using mono-light type flash, you are doing things entirely manually, right? You can buy (for example) an old Metz handle mount flash, Vivitar shoe mount flash, etc, for 50 dollars or less at KEH. Sometimes, old Vivitars are like 20 something dollars each.

    Now, you do NOT necessary want to plug them DIRECTLY into your Canon as most of them aren't compatible, and many use too high of trigger voltage that will damage your Canon. (by the way, there are certain older Metz handle mount flash that ARE safe, too - and I use it with my Nikon)

    HOWEVER... They can be combined with a remote optical slave trigger and used remotely. Your camera mounted flash, used in manual exposure mode (so pre-flash won't trigger it) will activate the slaves. Many of them can be adjusted to partial power, too.

    At places like Adorama, I see optical slaves for 20 dollars or so.

    Buying batteries, case, fuse, and inverters will probably cost you in excess of 100 bucks. You can buy two sets of these flash and remote for not much more than that.

    Just something to consider. I like making stuff, too, but often, total cost will exceed other ready-made solutions. If you are interested in creating your own solution and tinkering, fine, but if you are going for least expensive, most practical, and useful, then you might think other solutions, too.

    One tinker to another.... that's what I am suggesting...
     
  17. brucemuir

    brucemuir Member

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    don't you need a pure sine wave inverter?
    i keep seeing square wave mentioned here and I always see warnings to use pure sine wave.

    anyway a good portable battery solution and cheap don't really mix.
    you could go vivitar 283's ganged and run off a homemade sla battery or a quantum turbo (more expensive)

    or
    a Norman 200B or 400B

    or
    Lumedyne

    or
    Dynalite Uni JR and Jackrabbit

    or
    AB and a Vagabond

    then there are the pricy Elinchrom or Prophoto

    almost everyone makes one but they aren't cheap

    AB has a Liithium solution that looks attrative but is still on the drawing board.

    If you want to keep your current mono's you will need to see if the inverter solution will handle the initial current draw at recycle of your monolights.
     
  18. Mike Wilde

    Mike Wilde Member

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    On another option to monolights from an invertor is battery powered strobe. Consider sniffing around for old Norman 200B packs.

    I found one for $15 made in about 78 on the weekend and fed it a new $20 2.3Ah gel cell 12volt battery last night in lieu of buying a whack of OEM nicads that would cost and have the lovingly forgotten memory effect.

    Mine now merily spits out 200ws which with the LH-2 head in a 5" reflector gives me a gn of 160 at iso 100, and can be switched down to 100 and 50 w/s, and the thing can hang on my shoulder.
     
  19. heespharm

    heespharm Member

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