Hack-e-Flash Heaven

Step right up, all you DIY-ers. Today's post will point to a few fun projects for those of you with more brains than money.

First off, is this cool Vivitar 283 homebrew varipower hack, courtesy Metropolicity. Turns out the formerly $20 now $35 Varipower VP-1, which makes a Vivitar 283 an infinitely controllable manual flash (over a 5-stop range) is just a plain 'ol 100k linear pot in disguise. Click above to find out how to ape one for just a few bucks.

Speaking of 283's, a Big Honcho at Vivitar just told me how to tell the "digicam-safe older 283's" from the "not safe older 283's" that will smoke your expensive little baby. The following 283's are safe, with a low trigger voltage (~6v):

• Ones marked "made in Korea."
• Ones marked "Made in China."
• Ones with a red dot in the battery compartment.

According to Vivitar, the above flashes are safe.

Not so the following:

• Any Vivitar 283 marked as "Made in Japan."

These have a synch voltage of 300 volts. Do not, repeat DO NOT, connect it directly to your digicam via hot shoe or PC cord. Or lick it when it is charged up.


Next up is a little space-saving hack for the umbrella flash bracket. Literally. (He just took a hacksaw to his bracket and played with some bolts and epoxy.)

Click through to see how to tighten up on space and weight the next time you are schlepping your lights up the Andes or something.

And lastly, a neat little project that popped up in a cryptic photo posted in the discussion group. Check out this tutorial on how to build a slave for next to nuthin'.

Here's what I am thinking: With this thingie and the single AA-powered flash from a disposable camera, you could make a little slaved, manual miniflash for accent lights or whatever. You could use the neutral density gels from the free sample packs to control the output, too.

Total cost: Probably under 10 clams.

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