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Thread: Converting Graflex 3 cell flash into electronic bare bulb flash

  1. #1

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    Lightbulb Converting Graflex 3 cell flash into electronic bare bulb flash

    [TLDR: Does anyone have any experience converting a graflex 2/3 cell into a
    Hi,
    With flashbulbs dead, I'm wondering if anyone has any experience converting an old 2 cell flash into a bare bulb flash. I'm thinking of something like the Witstro AD-360 type flashes. Vintage handle flashes are too nice and too beautiful to be relegated to just fancy handles and mere museum pieces (or suffer the fate of being made into another awful light sabre).

    At the moment I'm thinking of using an arduino board as the control unit, a Godox PB960 Battery Pack for power, going through the base or the old bi-post connector and a 180v or 360v bulb and various off the self parts. I'm intending to convert a Kalart 3 cell Automatic flash (this is a similar model http://www.collection-appareils.fr/a...1323793175.jpg) and use the same duration as a FP flash bulb (although thankfully I can vary it thanks to the ardunio).

    If anyone has any circuit diagrams and/or experience with this type of thing, I'll be more than grateful. I have experience with electronics with HAM radio stuff, but I've never really played with making my own flashes etc. Anyway, if it enables an old flash to be usable once again, It'll be worth the effort.

  2. #2

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    Re: Converting Graflex 3 cell flash into electronic bare bulb flash

    There used to be a couple of web pages devoted to this, but I'm unable to find them now. They involved disassembling a modern flash and putting the parts inside the old flash handle. I'd be interested in instructions on doing this, too.

  3. #3

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    Re: Converting Graflex 3 cell flash into electronic bare bulb flash

    (Posted before)
    The picture shows my approach to the conversion, by adding a small electronic flash in to the existing reflector.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Graflite_Focal_sc.jpg  

  4. #4
    Randy Moe's Avatar
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    Re: Converting Graflex 3 cell flash into electronic bare bulb flash

    I'm in, as the kids say! I would like to utilize the reflector.

  5. #5

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    Re: Converting Graflex 3 cell flash into electronic bare bulb flash

    Are flashbulbs dead? I purchase them by the case from ebay and use them with my Graflex 2 and 3 cell flash handles. The M2, M3B and other miniature base bulbs (with converters) work well in the Graflex flashes.

    For a conversion, I think using the flash handle would work: take apart a small flash, put the electronic components in the handle and the flash head on the top. With a 3 cell Graflex handle you could have the electronics/capacitor on the top of the handle and get a couple D-cell converters where you put 2 AA batteries in one D-cell sized unit. Top third inside the handle - flash components. Bottom 2/3 - 4 AA batteries inside D-cell converters. The batteries would be easy to change and you wouldn't have a bunch of external stuff hanging out. Or just use flashbulbs?

  6. #6

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    Re: Converting Graflex 3 cell flash into electronic bare bulb flash

    I've not found that many new flashbulbs on ebay (which I can trust anyway) and when I contacted the last EU manufacturer of them, they didn't bother getting back to me. Repurposing another flash might be good- I would probably end up with something like the Supreme Electronic Flash (which had a bare tube). I already have a Hanimex PZ4200 which is quite versatile and useful. That said, a good and powerful bare bulb flash would be quite useful (even without using a Graflex, they make great studio lighting), and works very well with a reflector. I'm not too worried about weight of an extra battery pack, if I was, I wouldn't shoot LF.

  7. #7

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    Re: Converting Graflex 3 cell flash into electronic bare bulb flash

    Hmm, I remember seeing a review of a no-name Chinese bare-bulb modern flash unit, maybe about a year ago? I've thought about disassembling one of those and putting it inside the typical handle plus reflector. I recall that the reviewer had concerns about the safety factor or the bare bulb. I would have concerns about my personal safety during the dis-assembly stage, given the power held in those capacitors.

    (Also, hi everybody, I'm back after most of a year!)

  8. #8
    Randy Moe's Avatar
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    Re: Converting Graflex 3 cell flash into electronic bare bulb flash

    I buy and use case lots of NOS flashbulbs. They work fine.

    But a DIY Graflite convesion would also be nice.

  9. #9

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    Re: Converting Graflex 3 cell flash into electronic bare bulb flash

    Simplest method would be to gut a cheap electronic flash and repack the parts into the old flash handle and head.

    I don't see why you'd bother with a microcontroller???

    Do remember that the flash tube will light with ~300-400 volts DC but will only trigger with ~3000-4000 volts DC. Luckily you can easily buy the 10/1 transformer. But even the 300 volts can do you some serious damage!

    Second problem. The duration of an FP bulb?? Have you researched flash durations? To maintain that kind of duration out of an electronic flash tube would take some big, serious capacitors!

    A great project and good luck with it. You can find flash circuits all over the web. If you do finish this, please share it!

  10. #10
    Jac@stafford.net's Avatar
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    Re: Converting Graflex 3 cell flash into electronic bare bulb flash

    Quote Originally Posted by Jackle View Post
    I've not found that many new flashbulbs on ebay (which I can trust anyway) and when I contacted the last EU manufacturer of them, they didn't bother getting back to me.
    Flashbulbs are currently made in Ireland. See their page here. Like Randy Moe, I've had very good luck with old flashbulbs.

    Back in the day, I used a singer-graflex bare tube like the one shown here. Inside the tubular body is one big-ass capacitor. The battery pack was marked 520V. In fact it was about 56 9V batteries wired in series. It might be difficult to replicate that today.

    FP synch is, of course, not necessary with leaf shutters, so you must be trying to emulate the same with a focal plane shutter. It is done today in HSS units. HSS uses multiple flashes of the tube to synchronize FP shutters at high shutter speeds.

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