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Power Upgrade for Flash Unit

Discussion in 'Lighting Forum' started by Boatman, Oct 13, 2011.

  1. I have an Olympus FL-36 flash, which is a fine unit but it does suffer from a rather long recycle time. When the batteries are fresh it's pretty quick, but as the power drains, the recycle time becomes unacceptable.

    One avenue to fix this is to get better batteries. I have a set of Maha Energy Immedion MiNH AA batteries on order. These are rated for 2400mAh and should be better than standard alkaline batteries. I'll report on this once I have the batteries and have run some tests.

    But my question is; has anyone tried using an external power source for a FL-36 or any other flash unit that was not designed for external power? I've read reports of using dowels to make a dummy battery that fits into a device needing AA batteries and then wiring them to an external souce. If I were to do this, why not connect them to a pair of Immedion D cells. These are rated at 1.2V and whopping 9500mAh.

    Clearly this would extend the number of times the flash would operate before needing fresh batteries, but would it improve the recycle time? Has anyone ever tried something like this?
  2. JJJPhoto

    JJJPhoto Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 8, 2011
    Cincinnati, OH
    Jerry Jackson Jr
    I have the multiple FL-36/FL-36R and FL-50/FL-50R flash units. I love the compact size of the FL-36(R) but I hate everything else about those flashes.

    You have to suffer through the long recycle time because it's limited to two AA batteries. Even with good batteries like Sanyo Eneloops (or Eneloop XX's) the recycle time is much worse than the FL-50(R).

    The FL-50(R) can also use an external battery pack (Olympus model or a Quantum battery pack with the appropriate cable) or the Olympus "power grip" which uses C batteries to shorten the recycle time.
  3. RobWatson

    RobWatson Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Battery manufacturers are pretty lame about providing critical technical info on their products ...

    Capacity versus current drain would be very informative in making these types of choices (presuming one knows the flash current draw).

    I've rigged an old Vivitar 3700 using a ST microelectronics 7800 series voltage regulator driven by a lead acid battery (these can deliver very high current and I have a few laying about). For something like a transistor battery (9VDC like for a smoke detector) are not so good as they are designed for low current and long life (900 mA-Hr is a really good capacity for them). The voltage regulator is good for this job becasue it delivers high current and no droop in voltage.

    I have also rigged some 6VDC lantern batteries to power the voltage regulator but the droop at high current draw is a problem. For short duty cycles like the flash a big capacitor on the input side helps quite a bit. Caps and lantern batteries are quite bulky.

    If portability and fast cycles are key then I'd try 2 transistor batteries in parallel with as big a capacitor as you can handle with a voltage regulator. The batteries won't last so bring spares. I bet it cycles pretty quickly.

    The capacitor can be tricky. I would use a photo-flash capacitor! Or two.1pc Rubycon 330V 1000uF Photo Flash Capacitor New | eBay
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