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rlopes

Trouble Shooting DS160 Strobes using Fibre Optic converter to fire

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Setting up new camera and housing.  Can't get my strobes to fire.  Setup details below.

I just bought the Nikon Z7II Mirrorless camera and housed it in my first ever Nauticam housing (have been shooting Ikelite with previous DSLR cameras). 

Strobes are Ikelite DS160s (freshly back from servicing at Ikelite).

I am using Sea&Sea  SS-50128 F/O Sync Cord II M/2 fiber optic cables.

Interfacing with the strobes using ikelite 4401.3 fiber optic adaptor.

I can see the flash firing inside the housing by viewing with the fiber optic cables disconnected.

Fiber optic cables seem to be fine as I see the fire at the non housing end of the cable when not connected to the strobes. 

I tested the strobes using Ikelites "shorting" method to verify the strobes are working (brand new batteries and fully charged). 

That leaves the fiber optic adapter as the culprit.  Any insight/suggestions for troubleshooting or testing these adaptors?   I am sending an email to Ikelite to see what insight they might have. 

Thanks, in advance,

Lopes

 

 

I can't get the strobes to fire.  I have verified I am getting firing from the camera to housing as I am seeing the red flash through the fiber optic ports. 

 

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Can you flash the Nikon Z with a mounted flash, or another camera's flash, directly at the Ikelite fiber optic adapter to see if it fires the Ikelite strobe?  If it does, then maybe the f.o. cables are damping the light so not enough light comes thru to trigger the Ikelite adapter. 

You can test each f.o. cable by firing a camera's flash at one of its ends,  to see if it fires the Ikelite.  It is a light chain, where each link and each link to link connection has to transmit plenty of light to flash the strobe. 

 

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4 hours ago, Kraken de Mabini said:

Can you flash the Nikon Z with a mounted flash, or another camera's flash, directly at the Ikelite fiber optic adapter to see if it fires the Ikelite strobe?  If it does, then maybe the f.o. cables are damping the light so not enough light comes thru to trigger the Ikelite adapter. 

You can test each f.o. cable by firing a camera's flash at one of its ends,  to see if it fires the Ikelite.  It is a light chain, where each link and each link to link connection has to transmit plenty of light to flash the strobe. 

 

Yes, hold the fibre optic converter directly up to the fibre optic port on the housing without a cable. Or mount an external strobe on the camera and see if that triggers the strobe - hold the strobe right up against the opening for the fibre optic cable on the converter.

What are you using to trigger it it - assume it's an LED trigger of some sort?  I assume when you say not firing the DS-160 does not fire at all and we are not dealing with a sync issue?

The other thing to check is that the LEDs are fully inserted into the fibre optic plugs inside the housing.

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Thanks Chris and Kraken,

I am new to F/O (have always used Ikelite sync cables) and new to my new Nauticam housing.  Your troubleshooting tips have been very helpful as I come up the learning curve on fiber optics.  I still can't get the strobes to fire when attached to the housing via the F/O cables. 

Here is the status:

  • I was able to get the strobe to fire by holding the open end of the adapter directly on the face of another strobe that I fired manually (i.e. shorting the ground to trigger per Ikelite troubleshooting methods).  
  • I was able to get the strobe to fire when I connected the F/O cable to the adaptor that was connected to one of my strobes and held the open end on another strobe that I fired manually. 
  • I repeated the same procedure as in the 2nd bullet above but this time manually fired my Nikon SB5000 flash unit and the "slave" strobe fired.  

Camera/strobe settings all seem correct:

  • Flash Mode:  Fill Flash or rear synch
  • Shutter speed: under 250 (using 100 for my test shots)
  • Manual power on strobes...i.e. no TTL

   The trigger from the housing seems to be a red flash emanating from a circuit board attached to the hot shoe connector. There are two batteries on the circuit board that I assume power the "flash" in the housing that is transmitted to the F/O cable and eventually to the converter and strobe. 

I think it is the power of the housing "flash" (that red flash) isn't enough to fire the strobe. 

One last confounding (pronounced frustrating) fact is that while testing my strobes through my old Ikelite housing using Ikelite sync cables and my Nikon D800 I can't get the strobes to fire at all where they used to prior to sending strobes in for service.  I don't think these issues are connected though. 

Sending a note to Nauticam and Ikelite to see what their service tech teams think. 

Thanks again for all the insight...super helpful.

Lopes

 

 

 

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Hi, you have done a thorough testing job. 
The housing LED's are red - infrared as the strobe sensors are sensitive to, and triggered by, infrared light.  

Q: Have you measured the voltage of all the batteries, or replaced all batts with new? Is it possible to measure the voltage of the Ikelite battery packs?  If all charges are up to par, then one further test: 

With the camera in the housing, put the strobe sensor very close to the strobe's light sensor and fire the camera. 
If the strobe fires, then the fiberoptic cables might not be conducting enough light, and you might want to test some other f.o. cables. (I make my own f.o. cables out of Toslink cable from eBay, with 7 mm Uxcell plugs from Amazon, and they consistently trigger the strobes.) 

It all adds up to testing, and replacing as needed,  each link in the light chain until the strobes fire each and every time.

 

Edited by Kraken de Mabini

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Thanks Again Kraken...great thoughts.

Brand new batteries firing the infrared flash in the housing (CR2032)...measured the voltage with a multimeter that showed fully charged.  The strobe batteries are brand new as well as I purchased new ones when I sent strobes in for maintenance.  I performed a deep charge initially after receiving them but I am still currently charging again to double check.  Still waiting for response from Ikelite and Nauticam (don't expect anything until after the weekend).   Any other insights are more than welcome.  

Thanks,  Lopes

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The batteries sound good.  While awaiting replies from Ike and Nauti you might test the response of the strobes to a direct flash from the camera without and with housing, then without and with the f.o. cables, to check first the housings LED's and then the f.o. cables.

That is, test each link of the light path, one by one, take nothing for granted. 

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If I am following you, I think I have already performed the test of each link.  My second post with video's attached is where I triggered strobes by manually firing a strobe then a flash unit.  The mirrorless Z7II doesn't have a built in flash so it is all through the housing to the strobes.  I did test that the camera fired the Nikon SB5000 flash outside of the housing ensuring it was sending a signal (which I also validated when I see the infrared flash being triggered inside the housing while connected through the hot shoe. 

Let me know if I am missing anything or misinterpreting your guidance. 

Lopes

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Hi, so far our coordination is 100%.  When you fire the camera with SB5000 flash directly at the strobe's sensor, it should flash.  Then add the f.o. cable and repeat. 
In my personal experience with stubborn flashes, a commercial coiled f.o. cable has been at fault most of the time, as the monofilament breaks.  Multifilament DIY cables are much more reliable.  When a strobe won't flash, I first check the batteries, then replace each f.o. cable and re-test, it has worked for me so far.
I make my own cables, they are inexpensive and give excellent service. 

 

Edited by Kraken de Mabini

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At the moment I would say your fibre optic cables are the problem.  If your ikelite fibre optic adapters are new and undived I would see if you can exchange them for the high sensitivity versions that ikelite offer. 

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Kraken...nice link about building my own cables....I want to do that.  Do you have any further guidance or details for build instructions?  what materials are you using to interface with the housing and the strobe?

In the meantime Ikelite responded with these troubleshooting tips. 

"You can try passing a flashlight across the end of the fiber optic cord and see if it triggers the strobe.  If might take a couple passes to get the strobe to fire.  This has to do with the learning capabilities of the converter.  It will learn if the triggering strobe has a preflash or not.  Please let us know if the flashlight triggers the strobe."

I created a testing matrix with several lights and varying brightness, lower light flashlights would not trigger the strobe (no surprise) and some lower light settings didn't trigger the strobe through the sync cord. 

So...back to researching how to build my own sync cable and see if I can get results.

Lopes

 

 

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Hi, Rlopes: For cable, I use Toslink cable, cut to about 1 meter length so when in use it can be wrapped around the strobe arms to keep it secure.

Amazon sells it: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005LJQPE0/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o03_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1   or

https://www.amazon.com/AmazonBasics-Rated-Wall-Installation-Toslink/dp/B06WVD4D6W/ref=sr_1_10?crid=3KTT4VAZKAEAN&keywords=toslink+optical+cable&qid=1645908626&sprefix=Toslink+%2Caps%2C149&sr=8-10.

The cable should be about 2.5 to 3 mm outer diameter with a 1 mm fiber. 

Multifiber cable is said to be better, but single fiber has worked well for me for several years:
i-Fiberoptics sells multifiber cable #81 0556 - 613-core Fused Multi-core Simplex Cable, Polyethylene Jacket- MCQ-1000 - 4 meters for $ 7.50 /m.

Plugs to connect the Toslink cable with the housing at one end and strobe at the other are 7mm plug diameter Uxcell boot strain relief protectors:
https://www.amazon.com/20pcs-27mmx7mmx4mm-Strain-Relief-Protector/dp/B00XBG5U82/ref=sr_1_34?crid=EXN55HXK7AV7&keywords=uxcell+7mm+rubber+plugs&qid=1645908456&sprefix=uxcell+7+mm+rubber+plugs%2Caps%2C113&sr=8-34

To assemble: Cut the cable with sharp scissors, and glue it inside the protectors with plumbers ABS cement. Once dry, use a razor to cut the end of the protector/cable to give a plug about 8 mm long.  

The protectors plug securely into the housing and strobe cable holders, no O ring is necessary.  

In your case, as the Ikelite adapter might be a bit less sensitive, you might want to buy a meter or two of multifiber cable from i-fiberoptics and give it a try.
Please tell us how things work out. Good Luck!

 

 

Edited by Kraken de Mabini

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Thanks Kraken...am working on that solution now.  Working with my vendor on returning the Ikelite adapters and picking up some YS-D3's but still have not given up on the DS160's yet.  Regardless, the cable build solutions suits my desire to field repair if I need to (will just need to travel with extra cable built or materials to build them. 

Again, thanks for the detail on building my fiber optics...will let you know progress.

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13 minutes ago, rlopes said:

Thanks Kraken...am working on that solution now.  Working with my vendor on returning the Ikelite adapters and picking up some YS-D3's but still have not given up on the DS160's yet.  Regardless, the cable build solutions suits my desire to field repair if I need to (will just need to travel with extra cable built or materials to build them. 

Again, thanks for the detail on building my fiber optics...will let you know progress.

did you try the high sensitivity version ikelite adapters?

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According to Ikelite that is what I have.  #4401.3  Do you know of another version of the adapter that is more sensitive?  I will verify again with Ikelite that I in fact do or don't have the highest sensitivity adapter. 

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7 hours ago, rlopes said:

According to Ikelite that is what I have.  #4401.3  Do you know of another version of the adapter that is more sensitive?  I will verify again with Ikelite that I in fact do or don't have the highest sensitivity adapter. 

The page for the #4401.3 refers you to this page: https://www.ikelite.com/products/high-sensitivity-optical-slave-converter-for-remote-triggering-of-ds-strobes

If you want higher sensitivity.  Note that this item, #4405 is manual only and won't work with a preflash, so the strobe trigger needs to be manual.

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HI I'm late to this discussion but I have almost the same setup - Nikon z7II and Ikelite 161 strobes with the Ike adapter in the Nauticam housing.

The Ike strobes do not work the first time you fire them after turning everything on (strobes and camera). They just appear to read the camera and then fire on subsequent triggers. This is something I found out when testing and while diving on my recent trip.

 

If you turn the strobes off you need to start again with one or (sometimes) several triggers from the camera then everything appears to work. I had multiple dives where everything worked predive (on the second or third image). Once in the water I had to trigger everything 2-5 times again before one of the strobes (mostly twice was sufficient) would work correctly after turning the camera and strobes on again for the hour or two between testing and diving. It also sometimes seems to be an issue when you modify strobe power but this was very inconsistent.

Moderately annoying the first few times. Just test as you drop down and hit the reef/dive area. I found it was mostly okay after an in water setup during the first minute or two.

If you are turning the strobes or camera on and off while testing this will probably be an issue.

For troubleshooting you also need to check your cables in case there's a problem with them. At the minimum make sure a light shines through in both directions while you move them around

Making the cables using the info that @Kraken de Mabini   is the way to go price wise. I made four cables to use as back ups for about $12 US each (after spending $$$ on a pair from a reputable company).

 

Jon

Edited by rinjani
fix typo
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One other thing. I found that the strobe power indicators needed to be set in the correct clicked position. When I was slightly between the "clicked" settings the power of the light was incorrect or the strobe seemed to not fire. Again annoying for the first dive or two then I got used to setting power right on the click settings. If I went beyond full power (by mistake) to the TTL setting the power was wrong/did not fire.

Jon

 

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8 hours ago, rinjani said:

The Ike strobes do not work the first time you fire them after turning everything on (strobes and camera). They just appear to read the camera and then fire on subsequent triggers. This is something I found out when testing and while diving on my recent trip.

Jon, is it possible this is being caused by water/air in the bulkhead plug sockets? I have found sometimes that my strobes don't fire (but the trigger clearly does) on the second of a consecutive dive:  the bulkhead sockets need burping!  

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Hi Tim, I don't think so. It happens on land and when I set everything up from scratch. I assumed it's something to do with the strobe electronics and getting them in sync with the camera. 95% of the time it requires a single trigger.

 

Jon

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Ahh, fair enough. Just a thought. Hope you can find a quick fix. Sounds pretty annoying. 

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Thanks Jon,

I tested your method.  

Camera on, flash on (fill flash mode on Z7II) strobes on and set to full power.  I took 20 or more pictures and no success. 

Again the strobes and the cords work when I shine other light sources like an underwater flashlight.  But not hooked up to my camera housing.  

I have to tell you that even I was able to repeat your experience it would be very frustrating to have to shoot several images just to get my strobes to work and repeat the process for every setting change or when my camera goes to sleep between shots (which could be corrected in the camera likely). 

One last test if I can find some optically fired strobes (borrow YS-D3's or similar) just to eliminate the housing (light source) and cords and narrow to the adapter as the issue as all other parts work.  

Rob

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Thanks Chris,

I now see the adapter you are referring to.  The vendor I bought my system through and had the parts dropped shipped to my home tells me that Ikelite typically doesn't take returns.  I am not excited to fight a return policy if these other adapters don't work and spend another $300 I won't get back.   If I can get my system to fire an optically fired strobe YS-D3 for example then I am going to start shopping...lot's of great examples (as you know as you provided most of them) already provided throughout this thread from Retra to Inon and all in between including the DS series from Ikelite. 

much appreciated as always...

rlopes

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4 hours ago, rlopes said:

I have to tell you that even I was able to repeat your experience it would be very frustrating to have to shoot several images just to get my strobes to work and repeat the process for every setting change or when my camera goes to sleep between shots (which could be corrected in the camera likely). 

It's only when I initially turn everything on. if the camera goes to sleep it's not a problem, it wakes up and on we go. But if you turn the camera or the strobes off then there's one (usually) initial trigger before the strobes fire.

 

Sorry it's not working for you.

 

The Ikelite adapter part I have is: 4401.3 (Fiber Optic Converter - 3rd Gen).

 

Jon

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8 hours ago, rlopes said:

Thanks Chris,

I now see the adapter you are referring to.  The vendor I bought my system through and had the parts dropped shipped to my home tells me that Ikelite typically doesn't take returns.  I am not excited to fight a return policy if these other adapters don't work and spend another $300 I won't get back.   If I can get my system to fire an optically fired strobe YS-D3 for example then I am going to start shopping...lot's of great examples (as you know as you provided most of them) already provided throughout this thread from Retra to Inon and all in between including the DS series from Ikelite. 

much appreciated as always...

rlopes

I would think you have a good case that the adapters are not working as promised .  The returns policy is here:

https://www.ikelite.com/pages/shipping-returns

sounds like if it's within 30 days they should accept returns if it has not been in the water.

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