Getting a vivitar 215 flash to work

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by cepwin, Jan 7, 2013.

  1. cepwin

    cepwin Member

    Messages:
    336
    Joined:
    May 26, 2012
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I bought a Vivitar 215 flash and discovered it has corrosion on the battery cover and I can't get it to work. I've sprayed deoxydent on it and soaked it in vinegar to no avail. I'm having a similar issue with my Folks old Konica. Do I need a wire brush or something to get this stuff off? Do i need to soak it in deoxydent for a while? Also, I noticed that AA batteries are often 1.2v when this thing wants AA with 1.5v .I did find 1.5 v but it still didn't work. thoughts? thanks!
     
  2. ME Super

    ME Super Member

    Messages:
    1,233
    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2011
    Location:
    Central Illinois, USA
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Brush its teeth

    Have an old used toothbrush around? If it's truly just corrosion, get the toothbrush wet, dip it in baking soda (not baking powder - they're different) so that some soda sticks to it, then brush the contacts with the toothbrush.

    If it doesn't work after that, then it might be a loose connection or bad electronics.
     
  3. DWThomas

    DWThomas Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,916
    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2006
    Location:
    SE Pennsylvania
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Regular alkaline batteries should always be 1.5 volts, the rechargeables (NiCad, NiMH) are 1.2. If the flash has sat unused a long time (years) the main capacitor may have degraded and need "re-forming." Unfortunately, if it is seriously degraded it may put enough load on the charging circuit that the charging won't start up, and thus it can't reform the capacitor. That is why folks recommend putting batteries in an unused flash and running it for ten or fifteen minutes two or three times a year.

    I would try harder to clean up the contacts first, that may be the problem; but it may not. I have two quite ancient electronic flashes, one inherited, that have perfect battery contacts but won't start. I suppose a serious electronics tinkerer (like I used to consider myself) could try to get inside and isolate and slowly build up charge on the capacitor with a lab power supply and possibly recover it. Although if I went that far I might try and find a replacement capacitor (which may not be easy). Note that the internals of such flashes use several hundred volts and are not to be trifled with, lest you have an illuminating experience of the wrong sort. :alien:

    Edit: According to a manual I found online, it will run on NiCad batteries; fewer flashes but faster recycle than with regular AA cells. They also recommend running it once a month to keep the capacitor formed. That sounds a bit excessive to me, but other than eating batteries doesn't hurt anything I suppose.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 7, 2013
  4. henry finley

    henry finley Member

    Messages:
    302
    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2012
    Location:
    Marshville N
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Speaking with the voice of many years of working on electronic gadgets, it is my experience that when you are dealing with corroded battery contacts, no amount of cleaning will help. Because where you see a corroded contact, you can just about bet the wire that is soldered to it has corroded completely off, or is hanging by nothing but the corrosion itself. Kind of the old saying that "rust is what's holding the whole automobile together".
    As for the old "reforming the capacitor" story we've all heard, I have learned to take that seriously enough, but only to a point. Yes, capacitors "form". All capacitors "form". Capacitors in radios, televisions, tape recorders, whatever. But in the strictest sense, and electrolytic capacitor is prone to dry out and lose its capacity, short out, or open. As far as "forming" them, I can "form" a worn-out chainsaw engine just by using more oil in the gas, and running the thing regularly. But we all know it really needs at least a honing and re-ringing, if not a new cylinder and piston.
    So as for the "reforming the capacitor" jazz, take that with at least a grain of salt.
     
  5. Marc B.

    Marc B. Member

    Messages:
    368
    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2010
    Location:
    USA, Pac/NW
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
  6. cepwin

    cepwin Member

    Messages:
    336
    Joined:
    May 26, 2012
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Well, I got it working! Someone suggested a fiberglass pen from Rat Shack and with a bit of elbow grease I cleaned it up to get it to work. I'm going to try it on the battery compartment of my Folks old Konica Autoreflex T (It's a bit special to me because it was our "good camera" when I was growing up...my Dad put a funky strap on it which I recognized immediately when I saw it :smile:)
     
  7. dynachrome

    dynachrome Member

    Messages:
    1,009
    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2006
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I think I got one of those pens at Radio Shack. The problem was that while the glass fibers were abrasive and got off the gunk, the fibers could go anywhere and cause trouble.