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Archive 2011 · BXRi and Vagabond Mini Lithium
  
 
scbv
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p.1 #1 · BXRi and Vagabond Mini Lithium


I recently recieved my VML and have been playing around with powering my Elincrhom BXRIs. By no means have I done a scientific, controlled evaluation, but I did take a BX250Ri and put it through its paces.

Recyle times seemed to be as advertised and the VML powered the BX250Ri throughout the power range. I did notice a slight buzz as the BXRi charged that wasn't present when it was plugged into the wall.

So I emailed Elinchrom support:
---
i know you haven't done any compatibility testing (or plan to) but I have a question about operation with third party battery packs.

i have a paulcbuff vagabond mini (http://alienbees.com/vmini.html) that employs a current limiting inverter - which drops the voltage (depending on load as low as 35VAC) to maintain function and prevent overheating as it operates.

I tried with one BXRI250 and it seems to work fine, but i do hear a slight buzz that isn't present when using a wall outlet. I assume this buzz is due to the lower voltage as the inverter charges up the BXRI.

i am not asking for a guarantee, but i could use some guidance on if there are potential concerns with BXRI operation in this configuration. (eg, that sound could be your BXRI control board frying... don't do that)

thanks!
steve
------

And they quickly responded (to my pleasant surprise):
---
Hello Steve,

I asked back to our R&D.

They are not happy with this noise..
Our BXRi is a multivoltage unit and if the battery converter does not give sufficient power during recharging the flash unit might come into an undefined voltage mode, which could damage the capacitors. A single voltage unit operates differently and may not be effected. It’s better not to use this combination.

Kind Regards
Thomas
Thomas H.W. Beinke
Deputy Director / Marketing
---

I was not as thrilled with the contents of the response though.
I would think the Vagabond I or II and BXRI combo would be in the same boat.

Have folks using that combo extensively experienced any issues?

Edited on Jan 23, 2011 at 06:08 AM · View previous versions



Jan 21, 2011 at 04:27 PM
kenyee
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p.1 #2 · BXRi and Vagabond Mini Lithium


You might want to check over on POTN...someone said an Innovatronix trashed a few of his Elinchrom lights, so you might have to get their SE.
The VBII has a bigger inverter so brownout doesn't happen as quickly as w/ the VML (300W vs. 120W)..



Jan 21, 2011 at 07:09 PM
scbv
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p.1 #3 · BXRi and Vagabond Mini Lithium


Thanks for the reference.

I like the BXRis and I like the VML... I'm sad that they don't like each other.
sigh, why can't we all just get along?



Jan 21, 2011 at 08:13 PM
ddavid
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p.1 #4 · BXRi and Vagabond Mini Lithium


That sucks. It'd be nice if everything played nicely, but it's not worth risking your BXRi. I would get an Alien Bee to use with the VML just to be safe.


Jan 21, 2011 at 08:35 PM
Dave Jr
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p.1 #5 · BXRi and Vagabond Mini Lithium


Have you posed this question on the Paul C. Buff tech forum or called their tech support? Maybe they would have some answers for you.


Jan 21, 2011 at 10:31 PM
c.d.embrey
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p.1 #6 · BXRi and Vagabond Mini Lithium


Dave Jr wrote:
Have you posed this question on the Paul C. Buff tech forum or called their tech support? Maybe they would have some answers for you.


From the PCB website: "Note: The Vagabond Mini™ Lithium is designed specifically for powering Paul C. Buff, Inc.™ products and we cannot make any claim for suitability with products from other manufacturers, nor can we accept any liability for any damage that might be caused to such equipment. We will, however, warranty the Vagabond Mini™ Lithium itself as well as any Paul C. Buff, Inc.™ equipment it powers."

Mr. Buff has stated this many times in these forums.

So if I were the OP I'd follow Elinchrome s suggestion to NOT USE them with the Mini Vag. I'd also follow ddavid's suggestion to buy a low cost AB for outdoor work.




Jan 22, 2011 at 12:26 AM
kenyee
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p.1 #7 · BXRi and Vagabond Mini Lithium


scbv wrote:
I like the BXRis and I like the VML... I'm sad that they don't like each other.
sigh, why can't we all just get along?


It's a fairly common issue w/ multivoltage strobes AFAIK (which is why Innovatronix had to build a special "SE" version of their XT, but even then, that requires one power supply per strobe)...the digital part is sensitive to brownouts. I'm actually a bit surprised the Speedo Force10's (ancient 386 processor inside) are ok w/ the VML...



Jan 22, 2011 at 01:50 AM
Gregg Heckler
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p.1 #8 · BXRi and Vagabond Mini Lithium


The real issue has nothing to do with brands or strobe types (exception Einstein) it has to do with an inverters ability to carry the load of the strobe's recycle wattage for a long enough period of time and maintain enough voltage. You either have to have an inverter that produces enough peak wattage to carry the load or reduce the voltage of the strobe momentarily. This is what Einstein does. Many, I would say most, electronic products don't play nice with voltage drops without a detrimental effect short or long term. This doesn't make them bad, it just makes them non-compatible with a small inverter like the VBM.


Jan 22, 2011 at 02:47 AM
Paul Buff
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p.1 #9 · BXRi and Vagabond Mini Lithium


I Googled VML and Elinchrom and found several posts successfully operating two RX600s (1200WS) from VML with about 7 second recycle, and one post successfully using two BX500 with VML at 1000WS total and about 5 second recycle..

The noise you hear on BX500 is likely the fan slowing down during recycle. You'll hear the same thing on AB, Dynalite, WL and most other light when running from any relatively low power pure sine inverter.

As for the Elinchrom response about dual voltage "dead zone", while this might be an issue with a 230VAC inverter, there is no reason for this to occur on a 120VAC. We have no such problem running Einstein from a 230V VML.

We have never had a report of a VML or Vagabond damaging a light.

The one brand VML will not power is Profoto . . . even a single Compact 300 or 500WS D1 will shut down when you fire it. We have had some iffy performance with VML and multiple D Lites.



Jan 22, 2011 at 05:10 AM
dmward
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p.1 #10 · BXRi and Vagabond Mini Lithium


I am not an engineer. I do not have any technical expertise related to either PCB or Elincrom products.
What I do know from practical experience is that the EU has stringent requirements for product specifications and performance.

I suspect, based on the email for Elinchrom, that they are being careful not to suggest something that may put them in conflict with the EU monitors.

And also to protect their legal obligations vis a vie a failure when using an Elinchrom light with a VML.

I find PCB's posts to be a genuine effort to help people get the most from their equipment. So, take it for what its worth. VMLs have no documented history of damaging lights.

Then again. You also have the option to try a VML and if the light fails to call Elinchrom and say my light failed while plugged into a 120V source, please fix it. That is a true statement. :-)

It appears that, at the moment, PCB is at the front of the technology curve regarding inverter based power supplies and others are farther back.



Jan 22, 2011 at 06:21 AM
 

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Paul Buff
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p.1 #11 · BXRi and Vagabond Mini Lithium


dmward

You nailed it exactly. neither Elinchrom nor PCB want to make statements assuring customers that their product is assured to interface properly with an unverified product from another manufacturer . . . that would be foolish. Neither do different manufacturers have the time or budget to attempt to test and verify every combination of products.

As to EU regulations, they do not cover subjects like "will a VML power a BX500" and pertain primarily to safety and environmental concerns.



Jan 22, 2011 at 06:50 AM
dmward
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p.1 #12 · BXRi and Vagabond Mini Lithium


I was thinking more in terms of the warranty requirements and similar protections.


Jan 22, 2011 at 05:30 PM
Paul Buff
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p.1 #13 · BXRi and Vagabond Mini Lithium


Indeed, EU requires consumer protections such as warrantees, EMI radiation and use of "hazardous materials" in construction.


Jan 22, 2011 at 06:01 PM
scbv
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p.1 #14 · BXRi and Vagabond Mini Lithium


Thanks Paul and others for your replies and inputs. I do understand companies choosing to be cautious about making definitive statements of compatibility with other company's products.

I did some more playing around with the BX500Ri + VML combo just now.

Some new observations:
* A faint buzz actually is present when plugged into the wall, if I listen very closely.
* The buzz is less noticeable after a low power flash vs. a full power flash.
* The buzz starts right after the flash discharges and stops when the "i'm ready" beep goes off.
* After a few repeated flash cycles (4-5) the BXRI will charge partway then the display goes dark (as if resetting), comes back on and charges back before it beeps.
* It doesn't appear to be the fan, as the fan doesn't kick on on my BXRIs until after a bit of use.



Jan 23, 2011 at 06:07 AM
Paul Buff
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p.1 #15 · BXRi and Vagabond Mini Lithium


This appears to be the same behavior as D Lite, so apparently they share the same power supply design. Odd that another poster on another forum successfully operated 2 BX500 for some 400 or so shots. Perhaps he confused his lights . . . he didn't specifically say BX500 to my recollection, only Elinchrom 500WS. Perhaps the were RX600 or 300 and he made a typo.

Several users, including myself have had total success with one or two RX600s (not multi voltage like BX and D Lite.) I saw the same hiccup you described on a D Lite 2 when used along with an RX600 . . . reset, then recover. This is a sign the India made Elinchroms don't tolerate the inverter's voltage drop during recycle like the Swiss ones do.

Your report tends to indicate VML and D Lite.BX aren't fully compatible.



Jan 23, 2011 at 06:35 AM
tetrode
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p.1 #16 · BXRi and Vagabond Mini Lithium


Paul Buff wrote:
...Odd that another poster on another forum successfully operated 2 BX500 for some 400 or so shots. Perhaps he confused his lights . . . he didn't specifically say BX500 to my recollection, only Elinchrom 500WS. Perhaps the were RX600 or 300 and he made a typo...


There was an analog Elinchrom EL500:

http://www.sabob.com/Products/Elinchrom_EL_500_Compact_Flash_Unit.html

A pair of those might have been used by the other poster to whom you refer.

Dave F.



Jan 23, 2011 at 04:14 PM
Geoffrey Bolte
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p.1 #17 · BXRi and Vagabond Mini Lithium


From what I have read the BX and BXRi's are not meant to be used with battery packs as they are multi voltage. The RX models are ok, but not the BX/BXRis.

Here is a chart from another battery pack manufacturer that specifies which strobes can be used with which product. The New Vagabond minis would be similar to the EXP1200, EXP XT.
http://www.innovatronix.com/compatib.asp



Jan 23, 2011 at 04:44 PM
Paul Buff
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p.1 #18 · BXRi and Vagabond Mini Lithium


Thank you both for the valuable information. The EL500 may well be the clue regarding the user who successfully used "Two Elinchrom 500WS lights with VML"

As for Innovatronics, I must be understood that this company makes one product line . . . inverter supplies, and therefore depends on attempting to achieve compatibility across many manufacturers and therefore does constant testing of all brands.

Paul C. Buff, on the other hand, like most other flash manufacturers, manufactures a wide range of lighting equipment, all designed to work together within the product line, without emphasis on trying to achieve compatibility with all other brands. Because of this, we do not attempt to define which other manufacturer's lights and models may or may not be partially or fully compatible. Perhaps using the Innovatronics link http://www.innovatronix.com/compatib.asp will be a general guide, even though there are several light models listed as not compatable with certain Innovatronics invererter (such as RX600) that are functional, at least up to two units per VML.

As for auto switching lights, I see no particular design challenge to preventing such units from operating from a 120VAC inverter, since the inverter output voltage never rises above 120VAC and there is no technical reason for such a unit to attempt to switch into 240VAC mode. So I suspect the issue is not actually the multi voltage capability, rather, that it is simply a shortcoming in the uP power supply to tolerate the necessary voltage drop during recycle of most inverters. However, a different situation exists when powering such units from a 240VAC inverter where the definite likelihood exists that the inverter voltage will fall below the light's switching threshold and cause confusion.

In designing Einstein, we considered all these factors to assure that a least three Einstein units can be operated from a single VML .. . either 120VAC or 230VAC versions.

Finally, there has been comments the the Innovatronics SE model will operate most auto voltage lights, but comments have been posted that this requires one 25 lb inverter per light . . . a pretty heavy load for the traveling shooter to carry.



Jan 23, 2011 at 08:33 PM
philllie1
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p.1 #19 · BXRi and Vagabond Mini Lithium


so, does this now mean, that the combo I am interested in (brx500/vml 240v) will not work as efficient as it should and is quite save to use or is there a potential problem of damaging the light as well?


Jan 24, 2011 at 04:09 PM
kenyee
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p.1 #20 · BXRi and Vagabond Mini Lithium


philllie1 wrote:
so, does this now mean, that the combo I am interested in (brx500/vml 240v) will not work as efficient as it should and is quite save to use or is there a potential problem of damaging the light as well?


phillie: you know the only answer any manufacter can give you is YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary)...they won't say it won't because if they do, you'll ask for repairs if it fries.

If I were in your shoes, I wouldn't do it though...just because folks have said an Innovatronix has fried some of their Elinchrom dual-voltage lights. Again, that's IMHO...and YMMV



Jan 24, 2011 at 04:25 PM
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