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YS-D1 problem/issue/mystery


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#1 Ken Kurtis

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 05:44 PM

I'm curious to know if anyone else is having this issue. (This will be a little long but I want to lay out the problem in complete detail.)

I'm going to Bonaire at the end of the week and decided it was time to replace my trusty Nikon SB-105s as they're almost impossible to get fixed now and one of them is starting to go. Did some research and settled on the Sea&Sea YS-D1 (a pair). Guide number's the same as my SB-105s (32) and since I always shoot in manual, lack of TTL is not an issue for me. (Optical is not an option so I have to use sync cords, therefore, no TTL.)

I'm shooting a Nikon D200 in an Ikelite housing. So I needed to get a cable that would be Ikelite out the housing to Sea&Sea in the strobes. S&S makes no such cable but Ikelite does (4118.2) so i got one of those locally through Bluewater Photo in Santa Monica (also close to where I live).

Decided to test it all out when I got it home to make sure everything worked properly and while there's still time to find and fix problems. Hooked up camera, cable, strobes on my desk, pressed the shutter release and . . . nothing. Wiggled the strobe cables. nothing. Pushed in on them and . . . fired!!! Wiggled again . . . didn't fire. Pushed in . . . fired!!!! Hmmmm.

Some other things to note. It's definitely NOT the camera or Ikelite housing connections. I can hook up other strobes and fire at will and when the S&S are firing, I can fire rapidly. But I did notice that it seemed to me that when i was seating the sync cord in the strobe bulkhead, that was a little back-pressure, almost like you weere trying to compress air and the pressure was trying to forrce the sync cord back out.

I removed the o-rings on the sync cord (remember, I'm doing this on a desk so no chance of flooding) and re-seated. They seemed to go in slightly easier this time and fired flawlessly and repeatedly. Put the o-rings back in, re-seated, and it was a crapshoot as to whether they'd fire or not. Decided a trip back to Bluewater was in order so went back there today.

Shane was very patient. I'd already talked with him on the phone this morning and explained the problem. Having been in retail myself for a number of years, I'm sure he was thinking - as I would have - that this was user error. And sure enough, he hooked up strobe #1 to my setup, pressed the shutter release, and it fired fine. But then I said, "Hang on a sec," wiggled the cable and gently tugged on it, told him to try it again and . . . nothing. We played with this for a while on each of my strobes, on one of their strobes, and even used a single Ike-to-S&S cable of theirs. No matter what we were using or what the combinantion, same issue. Strobe would fire occassionally, not fire, fire again, not fire, etc. And it always seemed like there was back-pressure when you seated the cable. And if you pushed in on the cable (maybe moving it 1/64th of an inch??) it fired and if you gently pulled back (moving it 1/64th" back) it didn't fire. Weird.

We agreed that the issue seemed not to be the strobe or the fire signal from the camera but that the problem was somewhere contained within the interface of the sync cord to the YS-D1 bulkhead.

Shane suggested we try a YS-110a they had there. We did and . . . it worked flawlessly. We also both noted that the cable seemed to seat more easily on the 110a than on the D1. That seemed weird to us because we assumed the bulkheads were the same. Well it turns out . . . they're not.

This is a picture of the bulkhead on the D1:
Posted Image

Note the screw in the middle. It's missing from the 110a. Plus it also sits up a bit and "gives" when you push on it as if it's got a spring beneath it providing tension. Shane called S&S in Long Beach to see what this was and what this did because we're thinking this is the culprit. It would seem logical that this may be exerting just enough pressure to make the cord harder to seat. Additionally, the design of the Ikelight cable may be such that the locking ring needs one or two more turns to fully push down and seat everything. And I'm wondering if this spring-loaded screw is some sort of a safety switch that, if not fully depressed, prevents the flash from firing. That would explain why the flash would or wouldn't fire with such a small adjustment to the seating of the sync cord.

S&S Long Beach couldn't come up with any answers for us and said that they would have to e-mail Japan to find out what that screw really did. In the meantime, Shane came up with an ingenious Rube Goldberg solution.

Since it seemed that there was a little wiggle to the cable allowing it to unseat slightly (but not enough to break the seal we beleive), if only there was a way to lengthen the threaded part of the bulkhead, that would allow for one or two more turns of the locking collar and a tigher/flusher seat against the push-down screw. Since the locking collar simply slides up and down the sync cord and isn't really attached to anything, Shane was able to find an o-ring about the diameter of the sync cord plug, we slipped that (working from the bottom end of the plug - left side of the picture) up and over so that the o-ring was on "top" of the sync cord plug, nestled up against the locking collar, and acting like a washer. That gave us an extra two turns to snug things down and . . . VOILA!!!! . . . it seems to work perfectly. Here's what it looks like (red arrow is extra non-sealing/washer o-ring):
Posted Image

So my questions are:

1. Is anyone else shooting with a D1 and Ikelite-S&S cables (single or dual)?
2. If so, are you having similar problems?
3. Does anyone who what the purpose/fucntion is of the spring-loaded screw in the middle of the strobe bulkhead?

Thanks on all counts.

- Ken

Ken Kurtis
(Nikon D200 in an Ikelite housing w/dual YS-D1s & a GoPro Hero2 in a Backscatter housing w/dual Sola 1200s)
NAUI Instr. #5936 • Owner, Reef Seekers Dive Co. • Beverly Hills, CA
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#2 Pfuller

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 06:59 PM

Hi Ken,

Thanks for the comprehensive description of the problem. I've just bought two D1's plus a dual Ike to Sea&Sea Sync Cord so your post may be very timely if i encounter issues. I have only used them on four dives(successfully) so far, and have only attached the sync cord once and have left it attached. This was a deliberate act, since as soon as i saw the sea&sea connectors on the sync cord, i got a little bit worried about the build quality and the stability of the connection. I've only really ever worked with the metal ikelite connectors before and they are as sturdy as metal threaded systems can be. The plastic thread of the sea&sea worries the hell out of me for many reasons, but the most concerning was the firmness of the pin connection and the general seating of the O-ring. When i first put it together, i felt i had to be extra cautious to align the pins, get the o-ring into postion, and get the thread started correctly and tightened. I pushed the 'core' on the connector down firmly while tightening the thread fairly tight (with the apprehension of cross threading a plastic thread) and vowed that i'll try minimise the need to connect/disconnect these connections as much as possible, since there is too much room for error. Even with the thread firmly in place there is way too much wooble in the connection for my liking. I'm just hoping its not enough to break the seal of the oring in water if knocked.

In regards to the spring loaded screw, i believe these strobes are equipped with a mechanism to detect whether a sync cord is attached, and if so it deactivates the optical sensors. I'd say that this screw would be the switch for this mechanism. It may be that this screw switch can be backed off or tightened (using a phillips head) to adjust for any slight differences in size of the sync cord. Perhaps your cord connector has a couple of extra millimetres of plastic on it, and the switch is sitting out a couple of mills creating the push back on the cord??? You could try adjusting the switch inways and see if that takes the pressure of. I dont have my rig in front of me so i'll check to see if i can replicate the same problem tonight.

I have to declare with all this, that i'm coming from a fairly old school setup...the use of big heavy robust Ikelite SS200's with metal sync cords connectors and bulkheads, that could generally take a beating. So this modern use of plastic and small delicate light-weight strobes is new to me, and i'm going to have to change my style of diving to suit these strobes.


Cheers,

Peter

#3 davichin

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 11:39 PM

In regards to the spring loaded screw, i believe these strobes are equipped with a mechanism to detect whether a sync cord is attached, and if so it deactivates the optical sensors. I'd say that this screw would be the switch for this mechanism. It may be that this screw switch can be backed off or tightened (using a phillips head) to adjust for any slight differences in size of the sync cord.


Maybe you can try to short "trigger" and "ground" pins on the strobe´s bulkhead and see if it fires or not. If that screw is a mechanism it shoot not fire (as it would not be pressed down). If it does not fire, then you can try to push it down and then try to short it again and see if it fires then...
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#4 Ken Kurtis

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Posted 19 September 2012 - 02:39 PM

In regards to the spring loaded screw, i believe these strobes are equipped with a mechanism to detect whether a sync cord is attached, and if so it deactivates the optical sensors. I'd say that this screw would be the switch for this mechanism.


That was my thought too.

BTW, I just got off the phone with Shane @ Bluewater and they've heard nothing back yet from S&S.

- Ken

Ken Kurtis
(Nikon D200 in an Ikelite housing w/dual YS-D1s & a GoPro Hero2 in a Backscatter housing w/dual Sola 1200s)
NAUI Instr. #5936 • Owner, Reef Seekers Dive Co. • Beverly Hills, CA
www.reefseekers.com