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strobe arm comparisons?


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#1 lewinp

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Posted 09 February 2005 - 12:34 PM

I have an Olympus 5060 in a Olympus PT020 housing, and a Sea & Sea DX90 Auto strobe. I need to buy a base tray and strobe arm to connect the two, and am interested in any current owner's feedback on ease of use, quality, weight vs. durability, etc. I am a cold water diver, so its important to have large knobs that you can work with drysuit gloves.

The arms I'm considering, which are all roughly the same price, are:

1. Ikelite's 4086.61 strobe arm 1" ball system for the DS125 (I'd need an adaptor for my strobe mount)

2. Sea & Sea Sea Arm VI

3. Ultralight Tray Arm System for digital cameras

Any info or anecdotes would be greatly appreciated!

#2 AUTiger

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Posted 11 February 2005 - 03:20 PM

I have an ultralight tray and I have the Ikelite arm system for my DS125. The Ikelite tray is much heavier, as I imagine the arm to be. I think that I would prefer the ultralight system if I was creating one from scratch.

David

#3 bobf

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Posted 11 February 2005 - 04:50 PM

You may be interested in experimenting with increasing the user friendliness of the strobe's dial with zip ties. When donning thick gloves, turning the strobe's knob can be a challenge for some. Check this thread for details:

http://www.digitaldi...y;threadid=8024
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#4 CeeDave

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Posted 12 February 2005 - 06:26 AM

I have an ultralight tray and I have the Ikelite arm system for my DS125.  The Ikelite tray is much heavier, as I imagine the arm to be.  


I think that one should consider the housing/tray/arm/strobe together. I think the Ike tray is deliberately heavy to balance the relatively buoyant housing.
Chris White
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#5 derway

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Posted 12 February 2005 - 11:46 AM

I like the simple robustness of the ike arms. Easy to detach for handheld, and they lock tight!

The ultralights are really nice, in that you can find tightness settings to make it hold in place, yet be adjustable.

I found this harder to do with ike's, and maybe adjusted the tension a couple times per dive.

On the other hand, for getting in and out of the water, the ultralights tend to slip around, unless you really crank down on the connectors.

Never tried any others.

Don
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#6 craig

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Posted 12 February 2005 - 02:08 PM

The TLC arms are very comparable to Ultralites except that they are much prettier and lack the o-ring on the ball. I prefer the ball without the o-ring but others do not. TLC arms are offered with a more interesting set of lengths is some cases and have a better clamp knob. You also get to deal with Aquatica which is nice. I hear Ultralite is good to deal with too.

The downside of both is weight underwater and TLC has no option to address that. Ultralite has bouyancy arms that make a noticable difference but they are ugly and will eventually flood. Seacam makes bouyancy arms that are prettier and have no o-rings. They make a terrific clamp too though it's not so pretty but is maintenance-free and has terrific holding power. I'm using the Seacam arms now.
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#7 frogfish

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Posted 12 February 2005 - 06:56 PM

I've been using ULCS strobe arms (and handles, and a tray) for years, and like them very much. Cranked down, the arms are very rigid underwater. The o-ring mounted on the balls provides a very positive gradual locking which can always be loosened.

As derway points out, if you are using heavy strobes (esp. something like Ikelite SS200s) and long arms, it isn't realistic to expect the clamps to hold the arms and strobes rigid out of the water. I've attached fastex clips to my arms sections which makes it possible to make the entire rig a rigid triangle that is stable and relatively to handle. There was a discussion about this on one of the forums some months ago.

Frogfish
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#8 lewinp

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Posted 14 February 2005 - 07:49 AM

Thanks all for taking the time to share your thoughts. I don't think a heavier base in necessarily an evil, since my Olympus housing is very positively buoyant. I agree its important to have rigid arms, there is nothing worse than blowing a shot because your strobe slipped a little.

Thanks also for the handy zip tie idea!

Best,
Philip

#9 ulcs

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Posted 14 February 2005 - 09:49 PM

Ultralight did have a few buoyant arms that flooded due to a bad batch of glue that we had no control over . We have fixed every arm that has come back to us. We are now using a different glue and have not had a single
arm come back to us.

Just wanted to set the record straight.
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#10 frogfish

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Posted 15 February 2005 - 12:28 AM

It was nice to see ULCS posting in this forum - you have a lot of fans here, including me.

The question I've always wondered about is whetherl it ever be possible to get arm sections (and perhaps other components) made from carbon fibre. One set of four 12" arm sections, plus a tray and two handles, ends up weighing quite a bit.

I used to do a lot of sailing, and at the high end a lot of components that used to made of stainless steel or other metals are now carbon fibre. CF fabrication technology seems to have come a long way - I know that making things like entire masts or rudder assemblies out of carbon fibre can be difficult, but I would assume that replacements for 8" or 12" arm sections, trays, handles could be fabricated from carbon fibre at reasonable cost, acceptable performance, and significant weight savings.

For arm sections, I don't quite know why it would not be possible to use off-the-shelf carbon fibre tubing to create ultra light weight buoyancy arms. (I'm assuming that the balls would still be aluminum, and that they would have to be attached to tubes with some sort of glue. Basically, I think we're talking about a miniature spinnaker pole.

Frogfish
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#11 craig

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Posted 15 February 2005 - 06:51 AM

I think if you look at the pieces that make up a bouyancy arm, you'll find that the tube doesn't weigh a whole lot. Replacing it with a carbon tube could save the only the weight of the aluminum tube if you keep the end pieces the same. I'd worry about impact resistance as well. Seems to me I've seen carbon arms elsewhere though. They would be expensive but sexy.

Good to hear the flooding problem is solved. I liked mine other than that. People should really consider the bouyancy arms IMO.
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#12 james

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Posted 15 February 2005 - 06:57 AM

I have a pair of 8" buoyancy arms by ULCS and I love them. My Inon 220's weigh a few ounces underwater, but when I sling them out front with they buoyancy arms, it doesn't make my rig front-heavy.

Cheers
James
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#13 ulcs

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Posted 15 February 2005 - 01:00 PM

There were some carbon fiber arms a number of years ago. Maybe they have improved the material since then; but the manufacturer could not guarantee that impact, like dropping one on a hard service would not crack the carbon fiber. If there was air in them like the buoyancy arms then it
would leak out and the water might leak in. I know that carbon fiber is used for lots of things these days, including kayak paddles; but not sure if you smacked it hard on something it wouldnt crack.
ulcs

#14 Stewart L. Sy

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Posted 15 February 2005 - 01:40 PM

Another vote for ULCS, I've been using their system for about 7 years now. I used to own the Ocean Brite Arms and drooled over the ULCS, now I have my own set...well sets...4 x 8", 2 x 5", 7 clamps, Subal T-plate adapters, aiming light holder.....yada yada yada



Stu