Speedotron Lighting

Discussion in 'Lighting' started by akfotog, Apr 17, 2012.

  1. akfotog

    akfotog Subscriber

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    Recently came into a mint condition Speedotron light set consisting of 3 M11 heads and a D802 power pack, as well as other goodies. I plan on using pocket wizards in place of the standard household to PC sync cord.

    I read somewhere that if the power pack has not been used for a while to plug it in without lighting for about 24 hours before using for the first time.

    Does anyone currently own one of these sets, and can you give any insight into whether this is necessary. I will be shooting DLSRs, 35mm, 6x7, and large format cameras.

    Thanks.:smile:
     
  2. Leigh B

    Leigh B Member

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    That's a good way to blow up the pack.

    The capacitors need to be reformed before they're powered up for any period of time.
    I just responded to the same question on photo.net with the following recommendation:

    I suggest the following, which will take a week altogether:
    At some convenient time of day (noon perhaps), power the pack up for ONE minute, then turn it off.
    The next day at the same time turn it on for TWO minutes, then off.
    The next day four minutes, next day eight, then 16, 32, and an hour.

    If the pack holds without failure, it should work reliably.

    If it fails it will be quite obvious, usually with a loud bang, possibly accompanied by smoke.

    - Leigh
     
  3. F/1.4

    F/1.4 Member

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    I've met 2 people who have been hospitalized by Speedo's. You wouldn't catch me dead owning them.
     
  4. akfotog

    akfotog Subscriber

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    Thanks. Leigh, I read your response and will "season" them accordingly. As I said, I do trust the person I got them from, who kept all of his equipment in really great shape. Will let you know in a week, thanks again.
     
  5. akfotog

    akfotog Subscriber

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    Day 1: 1 minute power up. Good to go.
     
  6. Leigh B

    Leigh B Member

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    The deterioration issue is one of those laws-of-physics things. It has nothing to do with the owner, nor even with the storage conditions, only with time.

    Reducing a rather complicated explanation to a couple of sentences...
    The insulating layer inside a capacitor is made up of zillions of microscopic bubbles that form when voltage is initially applied at the factory.
    These dissipate over time, but reform every time the capacitor is energized, within limits.
    If the capacitor sits for a long time, so many of the bubbles are lost that it won't work reliably until new bubbles are created.
    That's what happens when you energize the cap for a short time then let it sit, then repeat.

    - Leigh
     
  7. Leigh B

    Leigh B Member

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    High-power electronic equipment can be dangerous. It has nothing to do with the specific manufacturer or model.

    Speedotrons are very good professional packs that will give years of reliable service, but they must be reformed if they sit unused for an extended period.

    - Leigh
     
  8. Mike Wilde

    Mike Wilde Member

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    I have a 30 or so year old 2401A pack. I use if for shoots sporadically; it is not sumething one takes to a shoot lightly. It still does exactly wah it was designed to do.

    I treat it like a cat - with a cat you can leave it pretty much alone as long as you change the litter box once in a while.

    I power my pack up for 20 minutes at least once a month. With this treatment I have never had a problem with it.

    The speedo putting assistants in the hospital likely came from plugging or unplugging a head cable while the pack is charged up.

    Another analogy is in play here - how fast does a car have to be moving for you to think it is safe to open the door and step out and not expect to be hurt?
     
  9. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    The pack/head combo I've heard the most negative about in terms of safety is Novatron - well, them and old Normans. But again, it's just a matter of taking reasonable safety precautions. Don't connect/disconnect heads while the pack is powered up. If you need to change the configuration after powering up, power down and then quick give a test pop to make sure the capacitors are discharged before adding/removing/switching heads. The few extra seconds added to the process are well worth your health and life. Not that a small power pack can't kill you too, but it is especially important when working with those high-output packs (800 w/s and above). If you've got a fussy heart to begin with, a hotshoe flash can kill you, frankly. I once was removing the film from a disposable camera at the lab where I worked after college, and the capacitor was still charged. I pried the battery out and in the process completed the circuit one last time - my hand tingled for a day! Treat ALL electrical appliances with care.
     
  10. bill@lapetelabs.com

    bill@lapetelabs.com Member

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    I've owned black line Speed-o-trons for years. The Piggy Pack system is still my favorite configuration. the main driver (1200 Ws) and three packs (2400 Ws each) gives me 8400Ws to play with! I never switch heads without powering down and waiting for ten seconds to let the caps drain before I plug in the new configuration. I also blow out the connectors and the pack sockets before I start the day's work. Dust in the pack sockets or the head plugs can cause an explosion if the plugs are not firmly connected, the spark in the gap will ignite the dust and blow the head connectors like a cannon. Never had a problem with the Speed-o-trons because I shut them down and let them drain before I plug the heads in a new configuration!
     
  11. Leigh B

    Leigh B Member

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    That's the right way to take care of it. It should work forever.

    - Leigh
     
  12. Leigh B

    Leigh B Member

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    I was a warranty service station for Novatron. I can tell you that they're every bit as good quality as the other professional packs. Top quality parts.

    One problem may result from the fact that Novatron has a greater penetration into the amateur and casual shooter market, so packs are more likely
    to sit unused for an extended period of time as compared to those that are used every day in a pro studio.

    - Leigh
     
  13. wiltw

    wiltw Subscriber

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    For as long as I have been in photography (>40 years), flash manufacturers, of both studio flash and speedlites, have been recommending reforming the capacitors on idle units at least 6 mo. intervals, plugging them in (if AC powered) and turning them on (AC or DC powered) for 1 hour.
     
  14. Leigh B

    Leigh B Member

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    A six-month interval is certainly reasonable. More frequent cycling doesn't hurt.

    Problems can definitely be expected in equipment that sits unused for a year or more.

    - Leigh