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JustinO

Sea and Sea YS D3 Problem - LED blinks red with full batteries and won't fire

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Hi all, 

Given the issues with Sea & Sea strobes some people have had with them, I thought I'd start a page on the issue I am having with the newest model (Ys-D3 / Lightning), just in case anyone has had a similar problem or ideas on what it might be. I've been in touch with Kevin at Aquaphot, and he's asked for some technical information from Sea&Sea; I'll update this as more is learnt, and once we fix the issue.   I have a pair of Mk-1s, that have not had the 2020 firmware update (as I don't use TTL).  They have done four trips - I would estimate about 100 dives max, and about 2000 frames max taken. 

 The issue I have been having is as follows. 

Last month, I noticed one strobe wasn't working on a dive - the "ready" LED was blinking red about twice a second, and would not fire, although the focus light operated normally. It blinked red every time I turned the unit on, beeped once, and although I heard the capacitors charging, the steady red LED (that shows when it is ready to dump full capacity) no longer appeared. This happened in whatever mode I put the unit into (I only shoot manual with F/O cables),and in and out of the water.  I could not find a reason for this in my manual (version EZpN).  A web search found a different manual from S&S Japan (version YAvX), which describes the issue as "there is no remaining battery power".  Well, that was incorrect, as the (fully charged) batteries operated the other unit perfectly, and they are new Eneloop Pro that are the only batteries I have used with the strobes- so 2000 shots. I got the same issue with a fresh set, of Eneloops, as well as a set of new Duracell non-rechargeables.  Swapping the end cap over doesn't solve the issue either - the other strobe fires whichever end cap or battery set I use. 

I examined the unit for any leaks (dry in both the battery compartment and sync cord) and put the unit to bed.  Since my return, I've been trying to figure out what the issue is.  A "cooldown" without batteries hasn't helped. I am meticulous (my family would argue OCD) with my preparation, and following the manual - for example, I have never shot the strobes pointing directly downwards, and have very rarely found a need to use them on full power - so overheating is unlikely, and the strobe isn't showing it's locked out (blinking red and green LED).   I also have test fired the units monthly to ensure the electronics remain in top shape, as recommended. 
 
I wondered if the terminals were dirty, and the unit was failing to draw enough power to load the capacitors.  I've wiped all terminals (and those of the batteries) with a dry cotton bud in case of any o-ring grease, and now I get a different symptom. Now when I turn it on, it beeps twice in quick succession (unusual) and the LED lights solid -briefly! Just as I try to test fire it, it starts blinking red twice a second again.  
 
Kevin mentioned that "On a previous model this was due to low batteries being used, this could kick the circuit into a 'battery protection mode', & the strobe then needs a system reboot to get it working again, but this may not be the cause, or the remedy for this particular model."
 
Any ideas what's going on, or thoughts on what I could do would be appreciated.

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15 minutes ago, JustinO said:

Hi all, 

Given the issues with Sea & Sea strobes some people have had with them, I thought I'd start a page on the issue I am having with the newest model (Ys-D3 / Lightning), just in case anyone has had a similar problem or ideas on what it might be. I've been in touch with Kevin at Aquaphot, and he's asked for some technical information from Sea&Sea; I'll update this as more is learnt, and once we fix the issue.   I have a pair of Mk-1s, that have not had the 2020 firmware update (as I don't use TTL).  They have done four trips - I would estimate about 100 dives max, and about 2000 frames max taken. 

 The issue I have been having is as follows. 

Last month, I noticed one strobe wasn't working on a dive - the "ready" LED was blinking red about twice a second, and would not fire, although the focus light operated normally. It blinked red every time I turned the unit on, beeped once, and although I heard the capacitors charging, the steady red LED (that shows when it is ready to dump full capacity) no longer appeared. This happened in whatever mode I put the unit into (I only shoot manual with F/O cables),and in and out of the water.  I could not find a reason for this in my manual (version EZpN).  A web search found a different manual from S&S Japan (version YAvX), which describes the issue as "there is no remaining battery power".  Well, that was incorrect, as the (fully charged) batteries operated the other unit perfectly, and they are new Eneloop Pro that are the only batteries I have used with the strobes- so 2000 shots. I got the same issue with a fresh set, of Eneloops, as well as a set of new Duracell non-rechargeables.  Swapping the end cap over doesn't solve the issue either - the other strobe fires whichever end cap or battery set I use. 

I examined the unit for any leaks (dry in both the battery compartment and sync cord) and put the unit to bed.  Since my return, I've been trying to figure out what the issue is.  A "cooldown" without batteries hasn't helped. I am meticulous (my family would argue OCD) with my preparation, and following the manual - for example, I have never shot the strobes pointing directly downwards, and have very rarely found a need to use them on full power - so overheating is unlikely, and the strobe isn't showing it's locked out (blinking red and green LED).   I also have test fired the units monthly to ensure the electronics remain in top shape, as recommended. 
 
I wondered if the terminals were dirty, and the unit was failing to draw enough power to load the capacitors.  I've wiped all terminals (and those of the batteries) with a dry cotton bud in case of any o-ring grease, and now I get a different symptom. Now when I turn it on, it beeps twice in quick succession (unusual) and the LED lights solid -briefly! Just as I try to test fire it, it starts blinking red twice a second again.  
 
Kevin mentioned that "On a previous model this was due to low batteries being used, this could kick the circuit into a 'battery protection mode', & the strobe then needs a system reboot to get it working again, but this may not be the cause, or the remedy for this particular model."
 
Any ideas what's going on, or thoughts on what I could do would be appreciated.

What batteries were you using? I have read of multiple cases of protection circuit being triggered when alkaline or lithium batteries were being used

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Thanks Massimo,

I have only used Eneloop Pros with them that I bought at the same time - they're the ones the manual recommends.  

 

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Thanks Massimo,
I have only used Eneloop Pros with them that I bought at the same time - they're the ones the manual recommends.  
 

Were they new or a few years old?


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They are two years old - only used on four trips, my estimate is 2000 shots - i saw your post on how they don't last as long as std Eneloops - I'd be surprised if they had deteriorated that much. 

Any idea how to override the protection circuit (just in case that is the issue)? Then I could test with a brand new set of NiMH and see....

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They are two years old - only used on four trips, my estimate is 2000 shots - i saw your post on how they don't last as long as std Eneloops - I'd be surprised if they had deteriorated that much. 
Any idea how to override the protection circuit (just in case that is the issue)? Then I could test with a brand new set of NiMH and see....

They generally have to be taken in for service unfortunately


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I think you've covered all of the possible troubleshooting steps, except perhaps a more vigorous cleaning of the battery terminals,   You could try cleaning with something like a pencil eraser or a scotchbrite type scourer, that may have a better chance of shifting deposits if any are present. 

It is possible there is a magnetic reset procedure as other S&S models have this, but you would probably need to get the procedure from S&S if this is possible with the strobe.  This is the link for the smaller YS-03 strobe:  https://wetpixel.com/forums/applications/core/interface/file/attachment.php?id=56198

Probably no harm in trying this with your strobe if you can source a powerful enough magnet, but also no guarantee it will work.

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Thanks Chris

I'll give the "deep clean" a go and see... not expecting miracles if it is in battery protect mode, but nothing ventured... 

I saw the magnet post too - was going to do that as a last resort if S&$ came back with a blank, or no response. Might be a trip to the local school physics lab... 

 

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14 hours ago, JustinO said:

Thanks Chris

I'll give the "deep clean" a go and see... not expecting miracles if it is in battery protect mode, but nothing ventured... 

I saw the magnet post too - was going to do that as a last resort if S&$ came back with a blank, or no response. Might be a trip to the local school physics lab... 

 

Due to the fact that the sea and sea strobes have a flat front and they are made of plastic they are not able to dissipate heat as other strobes with a dome front or made of metal can do

This is for me a concern as I like very much the performance of my YS-D2 but I am always worried they will eventually lock up when I am in the field. I do not tend to shoot rapid bursts anyway and I do not dive in very warm waters however the possibility as many cases show is there

I am curious of what type of shooting you were doing on your trip, how warm was the water and if you were using a snoot that may prevent the strobe to cool down

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On 9/13/2022 at 8:49 AM, Interceptor121 said:

Due to the fact that the sea and sea strobes have a flat front and they are made of plastic they are not able to dissipate heat as other strobes with a dome front or made of metal can do

This is for me a concern as I like very much the performance of my YS-D2 but I am always worried they will eventually lock up when I am in the field. I do not tend to shoot rapid bursts anyway and I do not dive in very warm waters however the possibility as many cases show is there

I am curious of what type of shooting you were doing on your trip, how warm was the water and if you were using a snoot that may prevent the strobe to cool down

Good point, Massimo. 

I am with you there - I have not yet shot rapid bursts (on any power setting). Apart from one workshop in May, the rest of the time they have been used is when diving with the family, I wasn't able to really "work" a subject, so there was a good time interval between subjects.  I got this trouble in Egypt last month, where the water temp was warm (30c).  I very rarely shoot on full power (as conscious of the instruction manual's caution on that), so batteries have lasted all day, and I never ran low on power.  I was trying the snoot designed for the YS-D3 on the 60mm - so used about one or two clicks down from full power- however, I wouldn't be able to tell which strobe I used it on, and i wasn't very successful, so didn't use it a lot. 

I wonder how successful the metal ring around the strobe is at dissipating heat...time will tell.  

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I've had several issues with 2 S&S YS-D2 and 1 YS-D3, which all failed. Eventually, in manual mode, they only fired a pre-flash and refused to fire the regular flash. In TTL-mode (which I don't normally use), the strobes only fired a maximum power 32. No in-between. They were completely unusable.

I thought the issue with the two YS-D2 was on the account of the many problems reported with them, production issues in China, etc., and considered them as lost. I had dived about 150 dives / 30000 shots with them. The YS-D3 which I replaced them with had only about 30 dives. It was still under warranty and was replaced. The other YS-D3 I have is running fine.

In the end, I narrowed these failures down to the fact that I was using Eneloop Pros that were a couple of years old. The first YS-D2 failed before covid, the batteries were still only about 2 years old and then had about only 30 cycles (as I had 2 sets of batteries for each strobe and was doing 2/3 dives with a charged battery) so I did not even think it could be linked with the batteries. Then I could not dive for 2 years due to covid. I had been using the same batteries, and the other YS-D2 and the YS-D3 failed relatively shortly after resuming my dives.
I have now replaced the Eneloop Pros with regular Eneloops and my two YS-D3 have been working well, with about 40 dives. I can only do 2 dives with the Eneloops, not 3, but they work fine. I won't be using Eneloop Pros anymore... and if/when they fail, I certainly won't be buying a YS-Dx anymore.

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3 hours ago, -Johan- said:

I've had several issues with 2 S&S YS-D2 and 1 YS-D3, which all failed. Eventually, in manual mode, they only fired a pre-flash and refused to fire the regular flash. In TTL-mode (which I don't normally use), the strobes only fired a maximum power 32. No in-between. They were completely unusable.

I thought the issue with the two YS-D2 was on the account of the many problems reported with them, production issues in China, etc., and considered them as lost. I had dived about 150 dives / 30000 shots with them. The YS-D3 which I replaced them with had only about 30 dives. It was still under warranty and was replaced. The other YS-D3 I have is running fine.

In the end, I narrowed these failures down to the fact that I was using Eneloop Pros that were a couple of years old. The first YS-D2 failed before covid, the batteries were still only about 2 years old and then had about only 30 cycles (as I had 2 sets of batteries for each strobe and was doing 2/3 dives with a charged battery) so I did not even think it could be linked with the batteries. Then I could not dive for 2 years due to covid. I had been using the same batteries, and the other YS-D2 and the YS-D3 failed relatively shortly after resuming my dives.
I have now replaced the Eneloop Pros with regular Eneloops and my two YS-D3 have been working well, with about 40 dives. I can only do 2 dives with the Eneloops, not 3, but they work fine. I won't be using Eneloop Pros anymore... and if/when they fail, I certainly won't be buying a YS-Dx anymore.

Interesting point. On the eneloop pro there is printed the batch production date.

What I have noticed is that sometimes you buy batteries and the production date is much earlier. For example I bought some eneloop pro from amazon in february 2020 and they were made on July 2019 so in effect taking already 6 months off the life of the battery

I would be interested to know what date was on your batteries. I have used batteries as old as 2017 this year on a trip with my YS-D2J and had not issue however at the end of the trip I dumped them all

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4 hours ago, Interceptor121 said:

For example I bought some eneloop pro from amazon in february 2020 and they were made on July 2019 so in effect taking already 6 months off the life of the battery

If they are not in use do they actually deteriorate significantly if sitting in their original factory packing with, presumably, a factory charge?

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2 minutes ago, TimG said:

If they are not in use do they actually deteriorate significantly if sitting in their original factory packing with, presumably, a factory charge?

During the first year the capacity of the battery is declared to drop 15%. My view is that the clock starts ticking when the battery is charged at the factory. Eneloop pro are sold as ready to go, they are not advertised to need charging before use

Lithium battery instead are shipped at around 20% charge and need a few cycle to reach nominal capacity

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Good to know. Thanks, Massimo

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1 minute ago, TimG said:

Good to know. Thanks, Massimo

This has been a grey area for a long time but as a precaution I bin enelop pro that are over 3 years old 

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11 hours ago, Interceptor121 said:

Interesting point. On the eneloop pro there is printed the batch production date.

What I have noticed is that sometimes you buy batteries and the production date is much earlier. For example I bought some eneloop pro from amazon in february 2020 and they were made on July 2019 so in effect taking already 6 months off the life of the battery

I would be interested to know what date was on your batteries. I have used batteries as old as 2017 this year on a trip with my YS-D2J and had not issue however at the end of the trip I dumped them all

Very good point! I purchased the batteries in Feb/March 2017, but they were manufactured in Oct 2015 and Nov 2016. So, by the time my first YS-D2 failed, I think in July 2019, some of the batteries were already almost 4 years old. By the time the 2nd YS-D2 and the YS-D3 failed, in 2021, the batteries would have been 5/6 years old.

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Very good point! I purchased the batteries in Feb/March 2017, but they were manufactured in Oct 2015 and Nov 2016. So, by the time my first YS-D2 failed, I think in July 2019, some of the batteries were already almost 4 years old. By the time the 2nd YS-D2 and the YS-D3 failed, in 2021, the batteries would have been 5/6 years old.

So I guess my theory holds


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Please read the other thread on eneloop pro to get some details on that discussion

In general I believe that failure of DS strobes is related to heat lock ups 

My manual says 

If the product emits 20 continuous flashes an internal protective circuit will be activated to prevent the reflector in the strobe from overheating and the strobe will be placed in standby mode(with the ready ttl light out) for at least 20 seconds. If this occurs allow the product to cool naturally for 10 minutes.

I see the same in the YS-D3 suggesting that cooling the product down will sort out the issue. Obviously if you continue to fire the strobe may be damaged permanently which I believe was the issue on the first release of the strobe that had a burned light bulb

Unfortunately the design of the Sea and Sea strobes with a flat front does not help the heat dissipation that other strobes with a curver or dome front have. Retra and seacam that are made of metal will also conduct heat into the water better compared to the plastic construction of Japanese strobes

I have never experienced this issue but I am curious if this happened to others

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So an interim update.... still nothing heard from Sea and Sea on what the issue is or how to address it. 

I''ve just come back from a two week work trip, and thought I'd test the strobe when I got home.  In went my set of Pros (as they were, no top up charge), and the unit charged until the "ready" lit came on continuously... and sure enough, the strobe fired normally. After three test fires at different power levels (no more than 1/2 power), I turned it off.

Turned it back on within a minute, and the red blinking "inadequate battery" reappeared, and it won't fire. I don't think there could be any overheating risk from that to put it in a protection mode. 

So more intrigue.... 

My hypotheses are: 

1. Either the batteries aren't delivering the grunt quick enough to recharge the circuit (triggering the "insufficient power" signal).

2. There's a fault in the one of the circuits that is somehow linked to residual power when the unit is turned off.   

I freely admit my ignorance on all things electronic, but I bet if I try again in two weeks once the capacitors have discharged a bit and the same batteries, the same will be repeated. 

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Have you tried a number of different fiber optic cables? S&S strobes are notorious for refusing to trigger on anything less than a perfect fiber optic connection with a strong signal. Try replacing your FO with a new one and try again. Maybe try and see if you can trigger it with a bright flashlight. My Inon 330's with trigger on my phone flashlight for example.

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4 hours ago, JustinO said:

So an interim update.... still nothing heard from Sea and Sea on what the issue is or how to address it. 

I''ve just come back from a two week work trip, and thought I'd test the strobe when I got home.  In went my set of Pros (as they were, no top up charge), and the unit charged until the "ready" lit came on continuously... and sure enough, the strobe fired normally. After three test fires at different power levels (no more than 1/2 power), I turned it off.

Turned it back on within a minute, and the red blinking "inadequate battery" reappeared, and it won't fire. I don't think there could be any overheating risk from that to put it in a protection mode. 

So more intrigue.... 

My hypotheses are: 

1. Either the batteries aren't delivering the grunt quick enough to recharge the circuit (triggering the "insufficient power" signal).

2. There's a fault in the one of the circuits that is somehow linked to residual power when the unit is turned off.   

I freely admit my ignorance on all things electronic, but I bet if I try again in two weeks once the capacitors have discharged a bit and the same batteries, the same will be repeated. 

This is very strange as the strobe should recharge after firing and then when you turn it back on the condenser is still charged so the light should come up immediately

For me this is an issue with the electronics not with the batteries as the second time around there would not be a recharge of the condenser

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It doesn't seem like an lockout problem requiring a magnet to reset as it came good by itself, seems more like a problem  It doesn't seem like a battery issue.  You should be able to rule that out by installing some alkaline cells - they are 1.6V fresh out of the package and while they may not have the current capability of the eneloops they should still charge the strobe just a little slower.  You could also try the magnet thing, I'm sure it won't do any harm - but if it has reset itself and subsequently failed shortly afterwards it seems unlikely to be a permanent solution.

How old are the strobes are they still in warranty?  It sounds like they are not.  It seems like the approach would be either put them in for repair or consider them dead and get something else?  The repair option unfortunately is probably lengthy and expensive. 

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19 hours ago, Interceptor121 said:

This is very strange as the strobe should recharge after firing and then when you turn it back on the condenser is still charged so the light should come up immediately

For me this is an issue with the electronics not with the batteries as the second time around there would not be a recharge of the condenser

Thanks Massimo, 

I agree...not looking like a battery issue.   Making progress though...

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21 hours ago, davehicks said:

Have you tried a number of different fiber optic cables? S&S strobes are notorious for refusing to trigger on anything less than a perfect fiber optic connection with a strong signal. Try replacing your FO with a new one and try again. Maybe try and see if you can trigger it with a bright flashlight. My Inon 330's with trigger on my phone flashlight for example.

Thanks Dave, 

yes, have been through a pretty exhaustive diagnostic,, and it's not a transmission issue.  The issue is that the "ready" light status suggests exhausted batteries when I turn it on- even if the batteries are full. And just to complicate matters, they operate the other strobe (identical model).  

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