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Thread: Fire old studio strobes with external optical trigger?

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    Hevii Guy's Avatar
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    Fire old studio strobes with external optical trigger?

    Hello all; Yesterday I came across a deal which I couldn't pass up: A functional, yet apparently "ancient", studio strobe system consisting of 2 Norman LH2400 heads and a Norman SuperLite 800 pack with a sync cable. All for $60.00 Oh yes; the seller also included a Weir PN "Peanut" optical trigger.

    In light (hah, a pun!) of having no experience whatsoever with either studio strobes or sync cables, please pardon the ignorance if what I'm asking is outlandish if not ridiculous:

    Can I insert the optical trigger contacts between the 2 contacts of the sync cord which would otherwise be connected to my camera? The intent is for the Norman SL800 to fire the studio strobes when my speedlights are triggered via Yongnuo's 622N components (yes, I'm aware of the TTL preflash issue).

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    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Fire old studio strobes with external optical trigger?

    Unfortunately, I have no experience with power pack lights as I use monolights. That being said, the principle will be somewhat the similar; the difference is that they are centrally controlled from the power pack and any trigger has to be connected to the synch connection on the power pack.

    Studio flash is shot purely in manual mode; there is no automation what so ever. This means if you wish to use your Speedlights, you will have to shoot them on manual as well. I suspect that the Wein PN is an optical trigger that plugs into the synch port on the Norman power pack. If you fire your Speedlights with the Yongnuo trigger, the Wein PN will fire the Norman lights wirelessly when it captures the light from the Speedlights.. There would be no need for a synch cable at all, and frankly I strongly dislike using them as it is all too easy to trip over them.

    Another solution would be to get another Yongnuo receiver that has a synch cord output and use it with the Norman power pack, You will need to get an appropriate cable; one end will have to match the receiver output and the other will have to match the Norman synch cord input. This will be far more reliable than working with the optical slave, and safer as well as optical slaves are "dumb" and any flash will fire them. I use PocketWizard radio triggers and know that I can user them this way with my Speedlights and my Paul C Buff Einstein 640 monolights. I suspect that Yongnuo likely has an equivalent. The main downside will be that you can remotely manage the Speedlights, but you will have to manually set the power output on the Normal power pack.

    I hope this all makes sense to you.

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    Re: Fire old studio strobes with external optical trigger?

    most olf flashes use a 6.5mm mono jack. you can get very cheap units on ebay with radio nsync where the reciever has the right jack. The simple hot shoe connection will sync correctly. Slightly more upmarket in looks is the Godox Cells II units.

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    inkista's Avatar
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    Re: Fire old studio strobes with external optical trigger?

    No idea if this is the case, but just googling around, it looks like the sync connection on the old Norman power packs is a household (HH) connection; that is, it uses the same connector that household power outlets use, rather than PC or 3.5mm. You probably want to find an optical slave that's got HH connectors. If the Wein you got has them, I think you can just plug it directly into the pack.

    No idea, though, if it'll work or it's safe. You may need to check sync voltage limits and polarity.

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    Hevii Guy's Avatar
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    Re: Fire old studio strobes with external optical trigger?

    Thank-you to everybody who responded. My question is whether or not I can jump the HH connection of the sync cord with the Wein "Peanut" using a suitable female jack-to-male HH converter. The difference in size between the Peanut connector and the relatively massive 6.3mm jack on the other end of the sync cord is what concerns me. I have no idea what the sync voltage of the Norman SL800 is (still haven't been able to find a manual). I'm afraid that I might fry the miniscule optical trigger.
    Based on your responses, it appears that the functionality of this approach is sound. So, as per Manfred's suggestion, it should be possible to plug one of my Yongnuo 622N triggers into the end of the sync cable (using a pc-to-HH convertor, of course), right? Or maybe I'll forgo the sync cord altogether and make a pc-to-6.5 mono adaptor. But again, the issue of possibly cooking the radio trigger is a concern.
    Last edited by Hevii Guy; 5th November 2017 at 11:26 PM.

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    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Fire old studio strobes with external optical trigger?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hevii Guy View Post
    Thank-you to everybody who responded. My question is whether or not I can jump the HH connection of the sync cord with the Wein "Peanut" using with a suitable female jack-to-male HH converter. The difference in size between the Peanut connector and the relatively massive 6.3mm jack on the other end of the sync cord is what concerns me. I have no idea what the sync voltage of the Norman SL800 is (still haven't been able to find a manual). I'm afraid that I might fry the miniscule optical trigger.
    Based on your responses, it appears that the functionality of this approach is sound. So, as per Manfred's suggestion, it should be possible to plug one of my Yongnuo 622N triggers into the end of the sync cable (using a pc-to-HH convertor, of course), right? Or maybe I'll forgo the sync cord altogether and make a pc-to-6.5 mono adaptor. But again, the issue of possibly cooking the radio trigger is a concern.

    The cord / jack sizes are generally easy to handle as there are numerous different configurations of cords to handle this on the market.

    The reason I did not mention the trigger voltage is that these units are still on the market, so would expect that they are compliant with modern electronic equipment.

    https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produ..._Lamphead.html

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    Hevii Guy's Avatar
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    Re: Fire old studio strobes with external optical trigger?

    Success
    I now have the ability to use my new/old Norman studio strobes simultaneously with my speedlights. Not sure if it will ever be necessary since the former throw out tres-beaucoup lumens. Nevertheless, I have the option! It works like this:
    On-camera Yongnuo TX 622N tranceiver triggers 622N receivers. When the speedlights fire, the Wein Peanut sees the flash and, in turn, triggers the Norman power pack to fire the studio strobes.

    Here's how I did it:
    - Cut a sync cable off of an old speedlight (redundant since it was missing certain crucial parts). Stripped the ends and soldered them onto the prongs of a"rework" HH plug (NEMA 1).
    - Plugged the 6.3mm mono jack of the existing Norman sync cable into the power pack
    - Plugged my modified sync cable into the NEMA 1 end of the Norman sync cable
    - Plugged the Wein Peanut optical trigger into the .75mm female end of the modified sync cable
    - Took a deep breath, applied power to the pack. Exhaled when all remained quiet
    - Test-fired one of my speedlights in the general direction of the Peanut. Rejoiced when the studio strobes flashed simultaneously!

    Although I could have soldered the ends of the speedlight sync cable onto the contacts of a 6.3mm mono plug and then plugged that modified cable directly into the sync port of the Norman power pack, I decided not to since I now have the ability of placing the optical trigger almost anywhere in the studio, limited only by the length of the existing power pack sync cable. When I get around to buying another 622N receiver, I'll adapt a Yongnuo sync cable with a 6.3mm jack so that the latter can be plugged directly into the power pack's sync port. This will serve as a less-cumbersome back-up to the optical trigger.

    Not bad for $60.00

    Thanks again for all of your suggestions.

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    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: Fire old studio strobes with external optical trigger?

    This video "might" give you some ideas. I have not tried it myself but, it is on my "I have to do this sometime" list. That's like a "bucket list" but not that serious!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JflxDO_AvME

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    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Fire old studio strobes with external optical trigger?

    I'm glad things worked out for you. Those Normans are BIG lights - 2400 W-s is a lot of power output; I don't think I've ever used anything that even comes close to that output (I have four 640 W-s lights and one 350 W-s light).

    One thing to check out is the actual timing of the flash. The synch speed on your camera is designed for camera mounted speedlights. There is a noticeable delay when using radio triggers and I find that I have to shoot a lower shutter speed. My camera synchs at 1/250th on speedlights, but I need to drop to 1/200th and sometimes 1/160th to get proper exposure.

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