Sunday, March 14, 2010

Studio strobes on location

Well after the little test I did at home I figured I'd do a little field testing of my UPS powered Studio strobes. So I packed up the family for a portrait in the park. While I didn't get the shot I wanted, it wasn't due to the strobes or the power supply. Using a 45" shoot through umbrella, I was able to keep up with the sun at 3/4 power and below @ anywhere from 10 to 15 feet from the subject, I never ran out of juice on this rather quick session (50-60 shots).
What didn't work were my crappy Cactus II triggers - they failed to fire about 30% of the time and my camera was never more 6' from the strobe at any time. I'm getting real sick of these things - gonna have to buy me some REAL triggers when money isn't so tight.
The faulty triggers lead to a lot of frustration in the family portrait (see Matthew, my youngest) since I was taking each shot on a timer, I'd have to run around the pond for each shot. Needless to say, running over there and then having the trigger fail really sucked. (you can see me in the picture about to through my hands up because I thought the strobe didn't fire) One thing I am going to order right after I finish this post is a remote trigger for my camera, this self-timer approach is for the birds....

Running Studio Strobes on a UPS for Location Shooting

Well, before spending the $170 in parts for the DYI Vagabond posted on's youtube channel. I always wondered why I couldn't just use my computer's UPS. It's 725VA, self contained, built in charger, really cheap (<$100) why wouldn't this work? Well I got some time to do some testing and found out the following. Using my Photogenic 600ws monolights I was able to get 125 full power pops off of my fully charged UPS (battery in the UPS was about 2years old) til it cut power when the battery reached about 19% charge. Recharge time on the strobe was about 3.5 seconds, so not really as fast as pluging into a good 'ol AC outlet. Not really enough for a full shoot but I could do in a pinch. The battery in the unit is about 1/3 the size as the one in the Vagabond, so that explains why it didn't last that long.
So it worked but there is alot of chatter on the flickr groups about the need for a pure sine inverter to power strobes. I believe my strobes have a transformer rectified front end that charges the capacitor bank which is the worst ones to run off a approximate-sine inverter like my UPS - I didn't fry anything in the process, and nothing even got too hot in the process, but I think to be safe, I'll build the DYI kit with a pure sine.

FITALY for Andriod Code.

For those of you that have asked, and aren't totally won over by Swype (my personal favorite keyboard on Android), I've posted the xml file for the my version of the FITALY layout. You can use this to compile a version of the keyboard for your phone. Or if you wish, I've posted my apk here. It should work for Android 1.5 but I've only tested with the emulator and not on a real phone. Once installed you set it up like any other alternative keyboard in phone settings. You'll need to run the anysoft setup to choose the FITALY layout.
Again, just another reason to love the open-ness of Android in it's ability to be able to pull apps from non-market place sources.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

DYI Vagabond

Was planning on doing this for a long time, nice to see someone proved it out - and doesn't need as big a batter as I was going to use. Still want to see if a simple UPS would work as well. They can be had for cheap and have a built in charger. But this DYI has a nice look to it as well.