Dear China, Please Make This.

Whoops, my bad. Lemme rephrase that:


Now, here's why:

First, to avoid any confusion, what we are talking about is a coiled, 30-foot, one-piece hot shoe-to-mini-jack sync cord. The TTL connections you see on my DIY job are superfluous and not used. I made this from a YongNuo 30-ft OCF cord and a minijack plug.

With this I can easily, cheaply and reliably sync any of my cameras to my Einsteins or my LP180s or any other flash that has a ⅛-inch jack.

Why is this a big deal? First, it's a big deal because many cameras no longer come with PC jacks, which kinda suck if they did anyway. At top of this list is my sync-at-any-speed Fuji X100s. But also the similarly capable Nikon D70s, too.

ANd frankly, this cord is better/more reliable than a PC cord at both ends.

Can I put a PW in the hot shoe and another on the flash? Yep. But due to the inherent delays in the electronics and relays, they introduce an inherent lag of a few microseconds. We're talking micro-seconds, but when you are shaving sync speed and fast t.1 times, microseconds matter.

The net effect is that your wireless sync speeds are capped at about 1/1000th of a second sync even with a PW and a sync-anywhere camera. Officially, the cap is 1/500th with a leaf shutter. But I have found there is a little wiggle room there.

Second, yes, I know I could do the same thing with a Universal Translator nub and a mini-to-mini cord. But this is more robust and heavy-duty. And would likely have been much more so had I not made it myself.

Speaking of that, I snipped and soldered flash end of the OCF cord to a DIY miniplug from Radio Shack. In retrospect, I should have mated a pre-existing ⅛-inch plug-terminated wire to the OCF cord, mid-wire. Better strain relief and reliability.

I put a gob of red gaff tape on the flash end, both to color code it and to give it some strain relief. But I think factory vinyl might have been better for the strain at the end of the wire.

Anyway, please make this China. If you do, and it doesn't suck (i.e., make it of decent quality!) I will make sure everyone knows about it.

p.s. Sorry for the machine translation above, China. But at this point in my photographic career, I feel as if I owe you a few.


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Blogger Johnny Perkka said...

Quick, before they start producing, edit it so that you can put a flash on top of the hotshoe part too. And hey, why not 'Muricans make it. Hobby, create jobs for your own people :)

August 26, 2013 1:15 AM  
Blogger sbimson said...

Looks like I'll be taking a trip to Radio Shack to build one of these for my X100S. You could probably get one of these made to spec rather easily. There are quite a few companies that will build custom cables to spec. That being said, you might try heat shrink instead of the gaffer tape to make the cable a bit more resilient.

August 26, 2013 1:31 AM  
Blogger Boaz Arad said...

Why not start a kickstarter project?

August 26, 2013 2:54 AM  
Blogger bronney said...


Brushed up your Chinese a bit to make it go down easier. Also added in the last sentence saying you'll help promote.



August 26, 2013 4:30 AM  
Blogger Michael Warth said...

I'm thinking a female PC to a male mini plug would be best. Just a small adaptor, nothing fancy, no cord, just a way to convert on to the other easily. A male PC with a female mini-phone jack adaptor would be cool too.

Why doesn't anyone make these? In the audio world, there is a configuration and adaptor for nearly everything.

August 26, 2013 5:27 AM  
Blogger Brian Lahue said...

Took me a long time to discover but you can DIY that "factory vinyl" look at the end with "heat shrink" tubing and a hair dryer. Easy, clean, and functionally awesome!

August 26, 2013 6:13 AM  
Blogger Andrew Livelsberger said...

Flash Zebra already has something like this:

If you need more than 5 meters of length, you can add an extender and secure with gaffers.

August 26, 2013 7:03 AM  
Blogger Graham and Heather said...

When you make a lead like this one useful tip is to inject the minijack screw cap with hot melt adhesive befire screwing it on. This will provide strain relief just where it is needed - at and close to the solder joint - giving performance and reliability comparable to a moulded connector.

August 26, 2013 8:20 AM  
Blogger Doug Birling said...

Why not a "Stobist" brand that you have made?

August 26, 2013 8:53 AM  
Blogger Bernard said...

Hey David how about Sugru (Irish for play) instead of the gaffa.

Find it here

It's great stuff. I have it taking the strain on an '06 MacBook's power lead.

August 26, 2013 10:10 AM  
Blogger David Hobby said...


a) Nope, 'cause that is not where I want my flash. And b) Knock yourself out.

August 26, 2013 10:36 AM  
Blogger David Hobby said...


Links to such companies would be appreciated!

August 26, 2013 10:36 AM  
Blogger David Hobby said...


Strobist will never do a Kickstarter project.

August 26, 2013 10:37 AM  
Blogger David Hobby said...


Thanks much! But I meant that part about me owing them a machine translation or two... :)

August 26, 2013 10:38 AM  
Blogger David Hobby said...


Because the PC jack, in any form, sucks compared to any number of different jacks.

August 26, 2013 10:39 AM  
Blogger David Hobby said...


Not a gear compnay. And never gonna be a gear company.

August 26, 2013 10:40 AM  
Blogger Prelo said...

As fast as I tried typing, sbimson beat me with the suggestion to use heat shrink.
I'd add that the folks at Harbor Freight have a $15 heat gun that does a better job than a consumer hair dryer, and they have a package of "marine" HS tubing that has a higher shrink ratio than the stuff at Radio Shack.

August 26, 2013 10:41 AM  
Blogger David Hobby said...


Not bad. Will order one and see how heavy duty it is. Have to say I do like the feel of the one I made.

August 26, 2013 10:43 AM  
Blogger David Hobby said...


That stuff looks awesome.

August 26, 2013 10:45 AM  
Blogger 1234567890 said...

Have you checked with paramount cords? I've got some custom cords from them and they are great.

August 26, 2013 10:54 AM  
Blogger mary henderson said...

I second FLASH ZEBRA. I have a couple of their hotshoe>pocket wizard connectors and they are VERY WELL made.

The company really needs to do a better job of raising their profile. Advertising on Strobist probably would be a good idea...

I've noted that long cord on their site (linked above), after tweeting at you, wondering where you got your cord.

I like the idea of a NON COILED cord myself, easier across long distances without the pull of the coil.

But i will of course bow to your wishes, sire :-)

August 26, 2013 11:50 AM  
Blogger Tom said...

I'd like to add my voice to those recommending Flash Zebra. I've bought several items from Lon and he turns out to be a genuinely nice guy and I've always been impressed with his products. I like the non-coiled version of the cord too, it may be effectively the same length as the 30 footer you used and may take up less space in the bag.

August 26, 2013 2:09 PM  
Blogger David Hobby said...

As I said above, I am ordering one to test out. Will report.

August 26, 2013 3:06 PM  
Blogger dave moser said...

You recently referred to using a FUJI XE-1. Does that cam offer the same high speed sync options as the x100s?

Not strictly a STROBIST question, I know, but it would interesting to hear your thoughts about that camera.
I mean, since you're not spilling the beans about your next chapter...

Thank you!

August 26, 2013 4:18 PM  
Blogger rob ashcroft said...

But surely we don't want cables at all? Nasty things. Work of the devil!

August 26, 2013 4:47 PM  
Blogger Nathan Derksen said...

With how far that the jack sticks out, there is going to be a lot of sideways pressure on the jack. If you use an L plug instead the torque will be much less and so less likely to crack the Flash casing or bend the plug. Just a suggestion.

August 26, 2013 5:25 PM  
Blogger JB said...

What's funny about this is that all sites are blocked here in mainland China, so the recipients of your message will never get to see it. :-/

August 26, 2013 7:35 PM  
Blogger Don Boys said...

I assume there are 5 wires in that cable. The center pin of the hot shoe will go to the center of the plug. Which is the return wire coming from the cable. Is it connected the the hotshoe groun. I notice my x100 hotshoe is painted, so wonder where ground is located.

August 26, 2013 8:07 PM  
Blogger Tuomo Laakso said...

Ebay is full of these:

Add a 3,5mm plug adapter and you got it?

August 27, 2013 1:14 AM  
Blogger Dave said...

I'm sure you've already seen this, but PocketWizard released their take on this idea today:

Maybe they were waiting for you to remind them?

August 27, 2013 12:53 PM  
Blogger David Hobby said...


Cool beans, but that is actually a different concept altogether. It marries a no-PC flash to a PW.

August 27, 2013 4:31 PM  
Blogger willmcgregor said...

DH, you want me to send you over some sugru ? It is awesome, I've used it for loads if photographic stuff that gaff tape would take the place of , its permanent and it looks good if used properly.

August 27, 2013 5:07 PM  
Blogger Lu Shirley said...

If this cable be 10m..maybe will have second delay on sign transfer..and otherside is the cost of 10m cable is much higher than a set wireless trigger..

August 27, 2013 11:43 PM  
Blogger Glenda said...

I know I can always count on you to make me smile and help me learn something new. I like your sense of humor. Hopefully China is reading.

August 27, 2013 11:58 PM  
Blogger RayPlay said...

Inspired by your DIY post concerning super-fast-shutter-speed combined with flash (which some much older posts also relate too) I bought myself an old Nikon D70 and disassembled my almost unused Nikon SB26. Removed the three pins which are dealing with TTL and now I can flash up to 1/8000 sec with the flash on camera (triggering others) or of-camera connected via my super duper TTL Remote Cord SC-23, which in this case only serves as non TTL. Sunlight never looks the same again.

August 28, 2013 10:12 AM  
Blogger Scott said...

Like This?

August 28, 2013 3:06 PM  
Blogger David Hobby said...

@Dave Moser-

Nope, syncs at a 1/180th. Sad clown face.

August 28, 2013 3:25 PM  
Blogger David Hobby said...


Agreed. Your idea is incorporated into the post coming tomorrow.

August 28, 2013 3:25 PM  
Blogger David Hobby said...


Au contraire, mon frere. You saw it, and so did at least one Chinese manufacturer. Blogger in China: Not blocked for smart people...

August 28, 2013 3:26 PM  
Blogger David Hobby said...


The ground is located under the ridge that holds the flash. But always test with an ohm meter.

August 28, 2013 3:26 PM  
Blogger David Hobby said...


Many thanks, but I am going for Storebought Gold with my next version!

August 28, 2013 3:27 PM  
Blogger David Hobby said...

@Lu Shirley-

Hello! I am answering you with a follow-up post tomorrow!

August 28, 2013 3:28 PM  
Blogger David Hobby said...


Thank you for telling me!

August 28, 2013 3:28 PM  
Blogger David Hobby said...


Once you go any-speed sync, you will never be the same again, right?

August 28, 2013 3:29 PM  
Blogger David Hobby said...

@Scott- Nope, that's something different.

August 28, 2013 3:57 PM  
Blogger davidee said...

Dave, I saw this come across my twitter feed from pocketwizard, would this be something similar?


August 28, 2013 5:53 PM  
Blogger RexGRP said...

Who needs China when we have Michael Bass Designs creating a never ending supply of amazing speedlight accessories.

August 29, 2013 1:21 AM  
Blogger Lu Shirley said...

Hey,David,hope to see your next post..and in fact,we are a manufacturer brand Pixel,your DIY made is really attractive..

August 29, 2013 5:47 AM  
Blogger Andy Grigg said...

You should have used a Neutrik right-angled jack - much better quality and strain relief.

August 29, 2013 12:28 PM  
Blogger Justin Zhang said...

Just kindly corrected your Chinese into more native Chinese as I am Chinese:


August 31, 2013 2:21 PM  
Blogger David Hobby said...


Many thanks, but where's the charm in that? It would be like a manual from Jinbei or Aputure making sense...

August 31, 2013 7:03 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...


I found this which I thought is a pretty neat idea, using the cat 5 cable approach

Lastolite makes a 33ft long ETTL/iTTL off camera cord allowing to maintain the option of ETTL if desired or using full manual but the cost jumps up

September 01, 2013 10:35 AM  
Blogger kool nelson said...

If the need is short, I don't think china manufactures will spend much time on it. In fact, I knew some of factories in China.

September 02, 2013 3:26 AM  
Blogger Thomas McGowan said...

Have 2 (probably stupid) questions...

Why not just use the TTL cord (like the Yongnuo you used) as is. I know we don't need TTL but "If you can do the big things, you can do the little thing", right ?

Secondly, using a miniphone to miniphone combined with the universal hotshoes ( seems alright for me. Can you explain why you don't find this as reliable as a one-piece cord ?


September 02, 2013 9:24 AM  
Blogger Shabu said...

How about this?

September 11, 2013 10:04 AM  
Blogger Photography on a Budget said...

I just got a hotshoe adapter with a minijack port from flashzebra, and then bought a 50' 3.5mm cord, works wonders when I need it.

September 12, 2013 6:02 PM  
Blogger Veli Ojala said...

David, did you know that with D70s and Kungpao RF triggers you can sync with 1/640th of a second?! I found this with my belowed D40 and now with my "new" D70s :) Sadly my D700 can only sync only at 1/160th of a second with same yn603 triggers... Thx godmcnally we have CLS ..

September 13, 2013 4:01 PM  
Blogger Tsz Chun Chow said...

Hi David! actually someone made a tutorial of extended flash remote triger wire using old style keyboard cable(PS/2 cable)(TTL support!!!) check out this tutorial (In chinese, but you will know the idea by the pictures)P2/2 wire is cheap and you could choose which length suits you most!(1.8, 3,5,10 meters)

November 10, 2013 8:19 AM  

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