View Full Version : UPDATE: Power to an Ilex 5 shutter

Matthew Lea
11-Aug-2004, 19:16

I took a close look at my ilex 5 shutter and relized i was not crazy to think i had to plug it in. (see earlier post be me under same title) See, i'm not as dumb as i look.

It says electronic on the front and the plug unit is a shutter release?

so, my initial questions stands. How do I used this outdoors?

David R Munson
11-Aug-2004, 19:47

How many sets of posts does the shutter have? In the picture you see an Ilex 3 shutter, which is a powered shutter. One set of posts is for power in from a special controller, the other is for flash sync.

11-Aug-2004, 19:59
Go to this link.


Matthew Lea
11-Aug-2004, 20:34
It has two sets of posts. It is an electronic shutter. This I already knew, but was just confirming. My question is, how can I use this shutter outside?

11-Aug-2004, 20:43
Contact Bob Fowler from my pervious link.


Steve Hamley
11-Aug-2004, 20:47

I think the answer is "You don't".

However, you might try here:


or here


I've never seen one, but it appears to similar to the Compur #5 electronic shutters, whose controllers I believe used 6 C-cell batteries and came with 12- or 30- foot cables.


Michael S. Briggs
11-Aug-2004, 22:23
These shutters were designed to be used with a controller. Without the controller you will have a hard time using the shutter, indoors or outdoors.

These electronic shutters frequently show up on ebay, usually without a controller. The controllers occasionally appear on ebay, but rarely at bargin prices. Probably these shutters were commonly used in labs and industrial settings, where several shutters were used with one controller. Either that, or the people who convert them to surplus are leaving the controllers behind. All of the original controllers that I have seen for Ilex electronic shutters are designed to plug into the wall, so even if you found a controller it would be hard to use the shutter outdoors.

Perhaps some later controller exists that will work from batteries. A potential drawback is that these shutters, unlike the Compur Electronic 1 and 3, need current to stay open and so long exposures might use up the batteries. (I don't know about the Compur Electronic #5.) The electronic protocol is described at http://www.photo.net/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg?msg_id=007Ixa.

Matthew Lea
11-Aug-2004, 22:33
Okay, I need to clarify. I have the control unit for the shutter. I simply need a way to hook it up to a battery. There has to be a way to convert it from 110 wall current to some sort of battery current. Perhaps I will talk the fine folks at radio shack.

Michael S. Briggs
12-Aug-2004, 00:18
Matthew, if you search on the web for "AC Inverter" you will find many devices that convert DC into AC. Most are designed to run from fairly substantial batteries, such as a car battery. If your outdoor usage is close to your car this might work. Otherwise you are likely to find the battery and inverter rather heavy.

Dave Moeller
12-Aug-2004, 02:40
I doubt that the current draw for the controller is very high; the cheap inverter that RadioShack sells will probably provide enough power to drive this thing.

The inverter plugs into the cigarette lighter adapter in the car (the "power point" in today's PC world) and provides a standard AC outlet.

On my previous vehicle, a Toyota, the key had to be in either the "accessory" or "on" position to provide power to the cigarette lighter adapter. On my current VW, the adapter is always live so you can run electrical devices even when the key is out of the car.

Obviously this solution will work if you're close to the car. If you're not, you might look at some of the emergency power devices that are made to be charged up to provide emergency power. I've seen these for around US$100 or thereabouts. The issue here will be weight. If memory serves, they generally run around 15 pounds. Not too bad if you're walking for 10 minutes, but not something I'd like to hike with for a full day. (You can see an example of the type of thing I'm talking about at:


I've never personally seen this unit, but it should give you an idea of what this class of device is like.)

Jamie Zietak
12-Aug-2004, 05:33
My gut feeling on this says that the controller actually runs off of dc power. Whether the power adapter for the controller has the AC/DC converter built-in, or whether the transformer is inside the controller itself, it might be possible to by-pass it and hook a dc power source in directly to the controller....


Bob Fowler
12-Aug-2004, 05:58
OK, it's a bit of an expensive solution, but...

If you don't want to be tied to your car for a power inverter, you could drop $349.00 and get a Vagabond (http://www.white-lightning.com/vagabond.htm)

Not a cheap solution, but at least you could power some monolights on location at the same time! :-)

Donald Brewster
12-Aug-2004, 14:36
At the price of some of the suggestions you could trade the shutter in to SK Grimes and have him remount the Ektar cells in a mechanical Ilex 5 -- they'd probably screw right in with no machining.

Steve Hamley
13-Aug-2004, 07:18
I tend to agree with Donald. I'm sure you could do something, including carrying a Honda portable generator, but why would you when there are cheaper and simpler solutions?


15-Aug-2004, 09:45
My first theory would also be that the controller operates off of DC, as most such devices do. In that case, you could simply try to find out what DC voltage it runs off of, do a test for the current draw at various settings, and then assemble a battery bank for it.

The alternative is to find someone who's good with electronics to just take some readings off of the controller, and then design a modern, microcomputer-based controller. This is probably the perferrable solution.

As a sidenote, the first thing that comes to mind for me is that 48V is the standard "phantom power" source for professional microphones. They make a number of beltpack power sources which put out a stable 48V. Perhaps such a source could be used relatively unmodified to provide the 48V source, and with a second leg (in parallel) with a transformer to provide the higher-voltage "kicker" charge.

If done with two relays and a timer (or perhaps something STAMP-based), it could be done quite easily.

IN OTHER WORDS, Matt, if your controller can't easily be plugged into a battery source by supplying DC directly to it (after the AC/DC transformer) then it's probably best to just find someone to help you build a new one. Any method of using an inverter in the field would not only be cumbersome and heavy, but inefficient.

Jim Galli
15-Aug-2004, 10:26
The original advice stands! The thing with the 110 plug is for an old fashioned flash and goes to a set of contacts inside that will close as the blades are at their farthest open point. If you plug that into household current and open the shutter you would have a direct short of household current inside your shutter. Not good. Im talking about the smaller 2 posts. The larger posts simply go to a solenoid that will work on 24 - 28V DC. There is no timing electronics inside the shutter. Just the solenoid. Very simple. So the controller changes 110v AC into 24-28V DC and electronically times the pulse. Actually I think it gives a short burst of the higher 28V and then "holds" for the time delay with a lower holding voltage until it times out. When the voltage drops the shutter closes mechanically via spring pressure. Great if you're using a laser beam in a laboratory but nearly worthless for general photography use. You could build something to hold 20-24 1.2V NIMH rechargeable AA's and simply put a closure into the circuit to the shutter. Voltage on, shutter open. Voltage off shutter closed. You could get pretty good at 1/8, 1/4, 1/2, and 1+ second exposures by "ear". I do this with old Packards with good success.

Ed Haertel
15-Aug-2004, 11:16
You haven't told us what the "outside" conditions are, so this may not help. A possible, simple solution (though still not for a backpacker) would be an inexpensive inverter (as previously suggested) and one or two "gel cell" 12 v batteries. This assumes the current (amp) draw isn't high (probably not) and you have a way to handle the additional weight. These gel cells are much smaller and lighter than the traditional lead/acid battery, and safe to carry around (i.e. you can turn them upside down without worry, can't do that with the traditional car battery).

Hope that helps.