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Misbehaving Inon Strobe

strobez240 inon problem

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#1 Alison Perkins

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Posted 04 November 2012 - 06:42 PM

I have an Inon Z240 strobe that has worked flawlessly since 2008... until recently. I shoot with the strobe in Manual mode, and I noticed it was doing a very weak fire.

I took some test shots at home. The strobe does not seem to be working properly in Auto, M and Full modes. It does a very weak fire. Moving the output controller knob made absolutely no difference to the light output.

The strobe does seem to be firing correctly in STTL and STTL Low modes. Moving the output controller knob does adjust the light output when fired.

Does anyone have any ideas what could be going on, or encountered anything like this before? There is no sign of water ingress into the unit.

Many thanks!

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#2 ChrigelKarrer

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Posted 04 November 2012 - 11:02 PM

Hi Alison,
just two questions:
Do you use the strobe with a electric cable or fiber optic cable to trigger the strobe?
Did you lost or changed the position of the magnetic switch or push button to set the pre flash?
Both should not be the reason of your problem, but it's always good to know all details to tackle down a problem.
Chris

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#3 Alison Perkins

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Posted 05 November 2012 - 04:31 AM

I use a fibre optic cable to trigger the strobe.

Pre-flash push button is pushed in (I'm shooting with Canon G9 with pre-flash turned off).

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#4 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 05 November 2012 - 05:12 AM

I'd agree with Chris, that the normal cause of this problem would be the pre-flash cancelling button on the Inon had accidentally popped out.

If this is not the problem, you might want to check that salt water has not got into the socket where you would plug in an electronic synch cable if you used one. If this gets water in, the contacts can short and the flash will quench thinking it has an electronic synch cable attached.

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#5 Conny3479

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Posted 05 November 2012 - 05:18 AM

I had a similar problem 2 year ago with the D2000. The fibre optic cable was broken - so remove it and than look if the flash is still weak.

cheers,
Conny

#6 Alison Perkins

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Posted 05 November 2012 - 05:43 AM

Great suggestions!

I've checked both the battery compartment and the socket where the electronic synch cable goes in. Neither show any signs of water leakage.

I have a newer Z240 strobe, so I used the fibre optic cable from this strobe (just holding the cap over the strobe optic firing unit as it is a different connector). The strobe fires in all the same ways as before - very weakly on Auto, M and Full. It fires with gusto on STTL and STTL Low.

It's very odd behaviour.

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#7 pbalves

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Posted 05 November 2012 - 03:53 PM

Hello Alison

The problem you have is the magnet on the push button corroded. It is the same problem I had with one of mine z240. (Sea attached picture of my push button magnet that has disappeared - it should be 2 to 3 mm out of the metal part.... As I saw on the button of my other strobe, but I have no picture...)

The push button, when pushed makes the strobe to ignor the pre-flash sent by the camera. As the magnet is corroded, the internal switch is not activated and the Inon strobe goes for a full flash when it gets the signal of the camera pre-flash, and when the camera flash signal is sent, the Inon strobe has not yet got the full charge and the inon strobe fires at a quite weak power.

The sensor of the camera is only active when the main flash fires, that's why it seams that the Inon strobe is not delivering the full power.

When you put the Inon strobe on STTL or STTl Low, the push button is ignored, that's why you can sea a full power flash.

Do not ask me why it got corroded. I do not know, although I think it might happened by the failure of a tiny o-ring on the button.

How to solve it... You can send the strobe to the Inon after sales service, or you can solve it by yourself, doing some DIY.

To be honest I am not happy with Inon service. I have sent the strobe to the dealer from whom I have bought a pair of Inons z240, the strobe has been sent to Japan (at least is what I have been told), I have payed 70 and it came back the same, they said the strobe was ok.

I complained the the dealer and a magnet has been sent to me, so I would try to manage it by myself. I have not been able to take out the residual magnet on the button to put the new one.

So, I decided to figure out what is the screw dimension needed and looked for a screw. The measure needed is a M8x1.0x8

The magnet is a cylinder one with 4mm diameter, 7 mm long.

Be carefull to center properly the magnet on the screw, to grant that the screw can go all the way and the magnet gets inside a small depression the hole has in the middle.

I have bought the screw at eBay (http://www.ebay.co.u...984.m1497.l2649)


image.jpg

Post script - I have bought other magnet and another screw, because I am thinking that it is a question of time that the other strobe I own gets the same problem....

#8 errbrr

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Posted 06 November 2012 - 12:06 AM

Interesting....I signed in to Wetpixel today to report similar problems with my Inon Z240s. I have five, three Mark IVs and two Mark IIIs and I often take all five on a dive. This has made it hard to tell which one is not working, and if it's the strobe, the electrical sync cable or the triggerfish. And of course it's an intermittent fault(s).

I dive with my strobes turned to full, and pre-flash off (button in). My issue is that the strobe puts out a tiny light output, and the red light stays fully lit, even though switched to manual and full and fired perfectly the last shot. The small flash indicates that it is receiving signal, but the power output is all wrong. There isn't a second, larger flash - the red light stays on because the strobe doesn't need to recharge (so it's synced with the camera correctly for the light that it is producing).

Below is a picture from a month ago. The foreground diver is holding two strobes, both turned to full. You can see the light output from them on the ground. The rear diver has one strobe switched to full, which is putting out easily twice the light into the water of the paired strobes.
IMG_5247.jpg

I shot this picture at 1/30 to get the green background. Here's a closeup of the paired strobes, because the motion blur of the red light is shorter on the left. I think this means the red light went out on the left strobe, but not the right strobe - which remained charged because it didn't fire. This is evidence of what I've observed in water, so I'm not going nuts (probably).
IMG_5247-2.jpg

I've tagged my cables and swapped them all around, no water in anything. On two occasions I've had the same issue when connected to the camera, so it's not the triggerfish signal. The magnet change theory sounds good, although not directly related so I might try pulling them apart and see what's left inside next.

Liz

#9 pbalves

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Posted 06 November 2012 - 03:57 PM

Hello Liz

You can make some dry tests to check your strobes.

When I have noticed that one of my strobes (both type IV) had a problem I needed to figure out here was the problem because it is expensive (in money and in time) to send them to the dealer (there is no dealer in Portugal).

So, I needed to check if the strobe had a power problem, a cable problem, a housing problem (connectors), a camera problem.

I putted the system on, both strobes in manual, full power, put the camera settings to 1/250 speed and f32 aperture and placed myself in front of a mirror. And started taking some pictures... (Do not abuse on the firing of the strobes because they are not in water and the have more difficult to cold down...)

image.jpg
At picture 1, I have both strobes connected by electrical cable, and at maximum power, push button.

image.jpg
At picture 2, the same, but the power at both is 1/2

image.jpg
At picture 3, the strobe on the left if at full power and the strobe at the right is on STTL and sensor cap out.

The full power flash of the right one when in STTL (same bright on the picture from both strobes), is the proof that the strobe is able to deliver a full power flash.

I have tested changing the cables and changing the connector at the housing and the result has been always the same. This change assured me that the problem has not from the cables neither the connectors in the housing.

At this point I have sent the strobe to the dealer and it had been sent to INON. (I did not knew then how to take the button out and was afraid to damage the strobe....)

Just after send it, a topic on the same subject has appeared here (http://wetpixel.com/...topic=43696&hl=) and I learned how to take the push button out, but it was late.... I have paid 70 for the repair of the strobe but it came exactly as it has been sent!.... That the problem of dealing at distance, you need to pay before they ship the item.....

After that I had to solve it by myself, the way I have explained on the previous post...

Edited by pbalves, 06 November 2012 - 07:40 PM.


#10 errbrr

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Posted 07 November 2012 - 02:50 AM

Two shots after the photo I posted, the paired strobes were working perfectly again...intermittent faults are very hard to troubleshoot. On the one occasion I've been able to replicate the problem on land, but the strobe started working properly again half way through testing. It's very frustrating.

On another occasion underwater, an on-camera strobe stopped working when the preflash button came out (no flash at all) and then started working again when I pushed the button back in, so I think the magnet theory might have something in it. Preflash button disassembly is scheduled for tomorrow night...I'll let you know.

#11 Alison Perkins

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Posted 07 November 2012 - 03:29 PM

This thread is proving to be so helful - thank you!

Can anyone help me further with how to remove the potentially offending bottom-right button on the strobe? I did look at the other thread but I still am not sure how to do it.

There are two holes in the side of the button, a very small one (top), and a slightly bigger one (bottom). I can only get a pin through the smaller one, and it doesn't hold the button down when depressed.

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#12 errbrr

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Posted 10 November 2012 - 02:32 AM

Same problem for me with trying to get the buttons off....only the top, smaller hole allows a pin to go all the way through. The bottom, larger hole is blocked both when the button is depressed and when it is out. If the strobe was completely broken I would probably try force, but given it works 75% of the time I'm reluctant to wrench it!

#13 Alison Perkins

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Posted 17 November 2012 - 11:05 AM

I have found out that my closest authorised Inon service centres (I currently live in Mexico City) are:
Backscatter Underwater Video & Photo in California
Reef Photo & Video in Florida

Unfortunately due to Mexico being a country with a massive drug trade industry, even if I can post the strobe up to the USA, getting it back into Mexico will likely prove difficult - customs here is a b!tch.

If anyone does have experience removing the problematic button from their Inon strobe, I would love to hear about it. In my current circumstances I feel this is something I probably need to address myself. At the same time, I don't really want to break a somewhat functional strobe by forcing it.

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#14 errbrr

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 04:06 PM

Well, one of mine has gone back to the dealer. Looking at the face, the flash tubes and reflector are very yellow compared to the other four. The dealer is going to take a photo and send to Inon.

Then on location last week another strobe (second hand mark III) was only putting out tiny flashes in manual and full modes. After some fiddling I discovered putting it in sttl (first click) and preflash button pushed in would provide a full dump with no pre flash.

A third strobe will now only go off in full mode if the pre flash button is depressed. If not it refuses to respond at all.

I'm very keen on having a standard rig so all strobes and cables are interchangeable, so changing brands is a hassle. On the other hand, above all else I need reliability. At this stage I'll keep working with the inons, but doubt I'll be buying any more without a diagnosis and fix. We'll see what Inon says.

#15 Alison Perkins

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 03:09 PM

Keep us updated on what you find out. I still haven't forced the pre-flash button off mine yet to take a look. I've always enjoyed using these strobes so I hope there aren't bigger issues here.

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#16 errbrr

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 01:11 AM

Inon says the yellowing of the face is related to strobe overheating, probably from firing too many flashes too fast. This may have in turn cooked some of the internal components a little bit, enough to cause issues with the electronic controls. I do tend to take a lot of pictures and did a caving trip earlier this year with 30 degree water, so it's a believeable result for me.

On hearing this I went and examined my other four strobes in minute details, and they are all white and not even a little bit yellow. Two of those four are playing up in different ways. The yellowed one is staying for the dealer (for hopefully not too much longer) for a look at the internals. Depending on the results and once I get it back, I will maybe/probably send in another misbehaving one.

#17 errbrr

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 12:54 AM

My yellow strobe has had its guts replaced (back to white) by the dealer, who found the two capacitors had "exploded". Not violently, but expanded and cracked, possibly from heat. The strobe now seems to be working fine although I haven't taken it underwater yet. My other less-than-perfect ones will go in for a looksee in the new year.

#18 Alison Perkins

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Posted 07 April 2013 - 06:04 AM

Sea Nettle was absolutely right. The magnet on the pre-flash push button was corroded and crumbling. So even when the button was pushed in - it wasn't working.

 

A big THANKS to Backscatter for helping me problem solve how to remove the button and check if the magnet was the issue, without me having to post the strobe off for servicing. I'm now trying to see if I can buy a new button.


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#19 John Bantin

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Posted 07 April 2013 - 07:46 AM

Of the three Z240 that I have, the two that were most regularly used developed blackened reflectors that were diagnosed as the result of "repeat flashing". However, the spare that has hardly had any use (especially since I swapped to a different brand of strobe) is also now developing minute black spots on both the reflectors and the tubes which leads me to suspect that this is some impurity that has found its way inside during manufacture and is getting burnt by the heat discharged.


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#20 errbrr

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Posted 07 April 2013 - 04:21 PM

I had the internals replaced in a second one of mine last month. Good thing the exchange rate to the yen is favourable at the moment.

Two of my others are playing up on