Vivitar 285 hv does not fully charge.
I just picked up a vivitar 285 hv but on trying it, it does not seem to fully charge. The ready light never gets to green. It does fire though.
Is this a simple problem or should I trash it?
Inside the is a big capacitor that needs some time to "repair" itself.
If you have some recharable batteries for it: leave it on for an hour or two and see what it does.
This is common for flashes that have not been used for a long time.
Probably needs a new capacitor. If you charge and fire it a few times it may start to work correctly again.
Does it matter if I use rechargable or alkaline? I know the voltage is different.
If the flash is designed for rechargebles use those: they are cheaper.
Give this a try first, if it does not work use the akalines.
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I'm trying it right now.. will report back tomorrow.
I would try it with alakaline batteries straight away as that is what it was designed for.
Four alkaline cells will give 6 volts whereas four rechargeables will only give you 4.8 volts.
Reforming the Capacitor
Good morning, Darin;
The process is called "Reforming the capacitor."
If you have the Vivitar SB-4 AC power line adapter for the Vivitar 285HV, use it for this job; it will save many AA batteries. Otherwise, you will need to sacrifice 4 or 8 AA batteries to get the job done. In any case, the 285HV does like to have batteries in the holder even when it is recharging the capacitor off the SB-4.
Plug in and/or turn on the 285HV, set it for Full Power, and let it charge for 30 minutes to one hour. Fire the open flash button, and let the 285HV recharge for another 30 minutes. Fire it again, and let it recharge another 30 minutes. Do this from 5 to 10 times, and see if that does not make it feel better.
If there is no real improvement after doing this for 10 times, it probably is not going to come back, and the main flash capacitor will need to be replaced. Checking the flash output with one of the electronic flash metering light meters is probably the fastest way to check it. You can also use color transparency film and take a series of bracketed exposures to see if the output is in the region where it should be.
Once it is reformed, or you have had the capacitor replaced, regular use of the flash every week or two will keep it happy. If it is not used, but is stored in the bag for a while, routinely once per month repeat this charging and firing cycle about three times, just for routine maintenance to keep the capacitor happy. If you do this, you will have an electronic flash unit that will serve you for many years.
By the way, if you are going to store the flash unit (and other electronic equipment), take the batteries out of the holder. A leaking alkaline battery will eat away and destroy a battery holder and the equipment it is built into.
I have too many flash units around here. Once per month, on the same day that I rewind the living room clocks and do some other things, I get out the flash units, put the batteries in, and go through this process. It takes a while, but it does insure that I do not have a weak flash when I need some extra light for a photograph. Most of my smaller flash units do not have an AC power adapter. I usually buy my AA batteries in the 16 or 20 unit pack. The Mallory people really do appreciate my following this practice.
Ralph Javins, Latte Land, Washington
When they ask you; "How many Mega Pixels you got in your camera?"
just tell them; "I use activated silver bromide crystals tor my image storage media."
And don't take the unit apart and tinker with it. The stored electricity in the capacitor can deliver quite an electric shock.
If you do take a flash unit apart be very careful around the capacitor until you discharge it, you should use a resistor, but since you are probably replacing a dead unit, a screwdriver across the terminals should be okay, it will be very loud and scare you, but it will discharge the cap. Keep the screwdriver there for a few seconds and you should be fine, check the voltage with a meter if you want. REMEMBER EVEN IF THE FLASH HAS BEEN FIRED WITH NO RECHARGE, THE CAP WILL STILL HAVE A CHARGE!!
Originally Posted by elekm