Olympus FL-300R low battery problem

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by Youngjun, Jan 1, 2016.

  1. Youngjun

    Youngjun Mu-43 Regular

    156
    Feb 24, 2015
    USA
    Youngjun
    Hello.

    I am having a problem with operating Olympus FL-300R.

    When I turn on the flash, the LEDs in the back blinks and it is inoperable.
    AUTO CHECK & TEST/CHARGE alternates blinking, then after the second time TEST/CHARGE blinks, both blinks together.
    [Power on] -> [AUTO CHECK] on -> [AUTO CHECK] off & [TEST/CHARGE] on -> [AUTO CHECK] on & [TEST/CHARGE] off -> [AUTO CHECK] off & [TEST/CHARGE] on -> [AUTO CHECK] off -> [AUTO CHECK] on & [TEST/CHARGE] on -> [AUTO CHECK] off & [TEST/CHARGE] off -> [AUTO CHECK] on & [TEST/CHARGE] on -> [AUTO CHECK] off & [TEST/CHARGE] off -> ...


    When connected to E-PM2, the LCD shows the flash recharging icon blinking... forever.

    Reading the manual, that is the low battery notification.
    I tried two different pairs of batteries, but it was still showing low battery notification.

    The Flash was bought as used from this forum recently, and the serial number reads (2XXXXX).
    I am using DURACELL Alkaline AAA batteries, and according to the spec the flash should last about 80 shots on these batteries.
    I did not count how many flash shots were taken, but I think it did actually go about 80 shots with the first pair.

    Does anyone know what is happening, and how to fix this issue?

    Thank you, and happy new year!
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2016
  2. Youngjun

    Youngjun Mu-43 Regular

    156
    Feb 24, 2015
    USA
    Youngjun
    Olympus Digital Technical Support replied to my email asking me to call in stead of emailing.
    I'll be calling them this evening and will update the thread after the call.
    I hope this can be fixed easily, as opposed to Panasonic Tech Support the other time.
     
  3. Youngjun

    Youngjun Mu-43 Regular

    156
    Feb 24, 2015
    USA
    Youngjun
    Update:
    Talking to one of the Olympus Tech Rep, it was diagnosed that the flash unit needs a in-house repair.
    The quote for the repair/cleaning/testing was $7X.XX. I forget the exact amount, but it was rather expensive.

    Since this flash unit is not going to be used anymore, I opened it up to see how its wired inside.
    It was composed of three blocks: front PCB panel, back PCB panel, and the capacitor+flash.
    The battery was in contact with the front PCB panel which was wired to the capacitor+flash.
    The front PCB panel was connected to the back PCB panel by one of those flat cable ribbons.
    The back PCB has the AUTO CHECK & TEST/CHARGE LEDs, and since the LEDs were blinking upon power on button, I am assuming the two PCBs aren't the problem.

    I was able to "hear" the high frequency noise of the capacitor charging when it used to work, but I couldn't hear it anymore.
    My guess is the batteries had a high voltage static discharge into the capacitor due to dry winter here is Illinois... (My desktop computer sometimes "POPS" static electricity during the winter when I touch it, and reboots... Maybe I should move to a better place to live).
    The capacitor looked normal to me, no swelling or leaking.

    Maybe I should be thankful that the camera body is not affected by it, since the flash unit was on the body the whole time.

    Also the rep advised me to use the stronger rechargeable batteries, not the one time use Alkaline batteries.
    So for any future battery usages on other flash units, I should do that.
    Lesson learned.
     
  4. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Barry
    Hi, capacitors, especially electrolytic, go bad all the time; I doubt a static discharge did it unless you remember one occurring.

    You may be able to replace the capacitor, they are usually only a few pennies.

    Barry
     
  5. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Barry
    BTW, the best rechargeable AA batteries are Eneloops.
     
    • Agree Agree x 2
  6. Youngjun

    Youngjun Mu-43 Regular

    156
    Feb 24, 2015
    USA
    Youngjun
    I am planning to test the capacitor at work tomorrow.
    If that's the one busted, and if a capacitor replacement fixes it, I'll go update the thread :).

    Thank you for the suggestion. I had no clue on rechargeable batteries. I never have used one. Better keep those in my Amazon wish list in case I forget.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  7. Youngjun

    Youngjun Mu-43 Regular

    156
    Feb 24, 2015
    USA
    Youngjun
    Okay, it took me more than one day to finally sit down to tear the flash unit apart again.
    I was trying to take photos of the tear-down for any future references, but it did not come out as clear as I expected...

    First thing I did was discharging the capacitor.
    I did with a LED (directly placed the LED pins on the capacitor, both ways since I couldn't tell the polarity of the capacitor...), and it seemed like the capacitor was already empty of charge.

    Next thing was actually testing the capacitor.
    I had an access to a multimeter, but no capacitance meter. Internet helped me finding another way to use the ohm meter to check the capacitor.
    This method can't measure the capacitance of the capacitor, but it can tell if it has gone bad, or still "working."
    (How to Test a Capacitor)
    I was reading some constant 2.XXX MΩ which I can say is a semi-open circuit.

    It seems like the capacitor is soldered onto the brown flexible PCB.
    I can desolder that out and try with a new capacitor.
    Now I will go out search for the capacitor... 330V, 380 uF, which does not pop up first by a simple ebay search.
    1. 2. 3. 4.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2016
    • Like Like x 1
  8. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    That looks like a very specialised capacitor - specially designed for a flash unit rather than general electronics... could even be OEM special for Olympus.
     
  9. carlosfm

    carlosfm Mu-43 Veteran

    230
    Oct 3, 2015
    Lisbon, Portugal
    Yup. Flash caps are special, purposedly made to chage very fast. Not easy to find and usually at non standard voltage/capacitance ratings. Search ebay, I've seen some there.
     
  10. Youngjun

    Youngjun Mu-43 Regular

    156
    Feb 24, 2015
    USA
    Youngjun
    Thank you for the input :).

    Currently "following" [photo flash capacitor 380uf 330v] but have not seen one pop up yet.
     
  11. carlosfm

    carlosfm Mu-43 Veteran

    230
    Oct 3, 2015
    Lisbon, Portugal
    It is a real problem to get the same capacitor size, at the same voltage and capacitance.
    Flash caps are very specialized, not standard electrolytics. And they tend to be expensive.
    Quote from Wikipedia:
    "A photoflash capacitor is an electrolytic capacitor used in flashcameras, professional flashes, and also in solid-state laser power supplies. Their usual purpose is to briefly power a high-voltage flash tube, used to illuminate a photographic subject or optically pump a laser rod. As flash tubes require very high current for a very short time to operate, photoflash capacitors are designed to supply high discharge current pulses without excessive internal heating."

    Photoflash capacitor - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    This one is from a Nikon camera, it is 330V but unfortunately 330uF instead of the 380uF that you need.
    ORIGINAL NIKON D3100 FLASH CAPACITOR 330V UNIT PART REPLACEMENT
    It is used, but it might have been removed from a broken camera, without much use.
    If you find a 390uF cap, go for it. It is a standard capacitance value and very near to your needs, no need to be exact, as electrolytic caps have some relatively wide tolerance.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2016