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EQUIPMENT REVIEW: Innovatronix Explorer Mini : Part 1 - Initial Thoughts

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Thread started 11 Jun 2011 (Saturday) 13:39   
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TMR ­ Design
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My review of the Innovatronix Explorer Mini is going to be in two parts. I decided to post pop and performance tests after I've actually used the Mini on location, rather than just giving raw numbers from 'the lab'. Part 2 will be published as soon as possible.

So here we go...

When you first look at the Mini you can see that Innovatronix decided it was time to give the look of their batteries a bit of a facelift and get away from the very industrial look of the previous Explorer's. The new look is a welcome change.

The front panel of the Mini looks very much like other Explorer's, with two AC receptacles, a power switch, power and battery low LED, and of course, a charging port to connect to the charger. Since the Mini is designed to be a smaller, more portable solution, the charger is now a separate device that fits nicely in a compartment in the shoulder bag.

If you don't need or want to carry the charger you can certainly use the inverter without the bag or use any other bag of your choice that may fit the inverter alone, but use caution when doing this, as you DO NOT want to block the cooling vents and fans.

The Mini's front and rear panels have vents and there are two cooling fans in the rear and it's important that you not operate the Mini while it's standing up with the fans facing the ground. The bottom of the shoulder bag is vented so that if you hang it or carry it, the vents are unobstructed.

When you're charging the Mini the fans aren't working so you can stand it up and place it on the ground without worrying about heat build-up.

Shoulder bag

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Open bag showing inverter and charger

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Controls are simple and straight forward but for current Explorer users, the status lights are slightly different. The LED's on the front panel of the Mini do not indicate charging status or battery level when the inverter is connected to the charger. If the Mini is on the charger then the red Power LED on the charger is lit and when the battery is fully charged, an additional green Full LED is lit.

When you're using the Mini inverter, the green Power LED is lit and the red Battery Low LED will light when the battery gets low, accompanied by a beep. There is no orange LED as found on the larger Explorer's. When the battery gets very low, you get a three beep warning and then the unit shuts down.

Charger

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Connecting the charger to the inverter is simple. There is a small cord hardwired to the charger that plugs in to the 14V charging port on the inverter. Once you connect the charger to the inverter, plug the charger into an electrical outlet and that's it.

Inverter (front)

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Inverter (rear)

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Explorer XT SE and Mini size comparison

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The image above shows the Explorer XT SE and the Mini. Clearly, Innovatronix has created a smaller, more portable, lighter version of the Explorer. Many people have the impression that the Mini is larger than it is because they're seeing the image of it in the bag with the charger. You can see that when the batteries are not in the bags, there's a fairly significant difference in size.

As far as performance goes, what I will tell you now is that the staggered recycling that would occur with multiple strobes on the XT or XT SE is no longer an issue. Now, the strobes either recycle in perfect sync or they're off by a small amount which is really no more than the small amount you might experience when powering the strobes from a wall outlet. That's at full power, of course. At lower power levels there's no offset at all.

All other tests and real world performance evaluation will be in Part 2 of my review.

Stay tuned.

Post #1, Jun 11, 2011 13:39:00


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TMR ­ Design
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Strobes that are currently scheduled for testing:

Elinchrom RX600 (600 Watt seconds) x 2
Elinchrom BX500Ri (500 Watt seconds / bi-voltage) x 2

If you live on or around Long Island, New York, and have a strobe or strobes that you want to test for compatibility with the Mini, send me a PM or email and we'll make an appointment.

If anyone has Profoto D1's, Elinchrom D-Lite's or any other bi-voltage strobes, I'd be very interested to test them and then publish results.

Post #2, Jun 11, 2011 16:31:30


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Damian75
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Thanks for the early thoughts, looking forward to seeing how the BX500Ri's do as I have a set and have been waiting for a portable power pack for them. Thanks again.

Post #3, Jun 11, 2011 18:29:19


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TMR ­ Design
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Damian75 wrote in post #12577005external link
Thanks for the early thoughts, looking forward to seeing how the BX500Ri's do as I have a set and have been waiting for a portable power pack for them. Thanks again.

Hi Mark,

I'll have complete results with BX500Ri compatibility using two strobes at full power by the end of this coming week.

Post #4, Jun 11, 2011 18:31:23


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dchen99
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subscribe...

Post #5, Jun 11, 2011 18:38:03


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JerryA
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Thanks and looking forward to the rest! Would love to know if you feel these would work well with the older Photogenic ( Powerlights ) PL 600. Someone told me that although they are said to be 600W/S that they were really a true 400 W/S.

I love to be able to run two of mine on one of these units!!

Post #6, Jun 12, 2011 07:02:43




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Hi Jerry,

The Photogenic PL600 has analog controls and is not bi-voltage, therefore there should be absolutely no problem whatsoever powering two or three of those strobes, assuming they're 400 Watt seconds. Technically, the Mini is designed to power strobes up to 1200 Watt seconds.

Post #7, Jun 12, 2011 07:57:50 as a reply to JerryA's post 55 minutes earlier.


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JerryA
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Man, that puts a smile on my kisser (+: Thanks a bunch Robert, you wouldn't happen to know if these older strobes absolutely have to have Pure Sine Wave??

Just thought that due to the older capacitors/circuitry , versus the much more sensitive digital strobes with a higher degree of computer chips/boards, that they might not need that purer power ??

I really have to fire of an email/call Photogenic and speak to the service techs, just thought you might have an idea?? (+:

Thanks for the response, I think this could well be what I need, as oppose to the Mini from Buff that we are hearing so much about.

Post #8, Jun 12, 2011 09:13:59




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Jerry,

The requirement for a pure sine wave inverter applies across the board, regardless of vintage or type of controls and circuitry.

Post #9, Jun 12, 2011 09:17:18 as a reply to JerryA's post 3 minutes earlier.


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Lichtwerk
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Thanks Rob, nice first glance at it. Looking forward to part 2 :)

Post #10, Jun 12, 2011 09:22:13


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Jannie
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Yay!

Post #11, Jun 12, 2011 09:32:35


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JerryA
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Thanks for the info Robert, it has been a question in the back of my mind for awhile now.

Post #12, Jun 12, 2011 11:03:42




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spacetime
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Any chance you could show the internals?

Post #13, Jun 12, 2011 14:07:27




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spacetime wrote in post #12580764external link
Any chance you could show the internals?

Is there anything in particular you're looking for?

Build quality is amazing and similar to that of the other Explorer's except that the Mini has a plastic housing that surrounds the inner metal framework as opposed to the aluminum housing on the big boys.

Despite the name Mini, it's built like a tank and there's nothing about it that feels cheesy or plasticy.

Post #14, Jun 12, 2011 14:12:23


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TMR Design wrote in post #12580788external link
Is there anything in particular you're looking for?

Build quality is amazing and similar to that of the other Explorer's except that the Mini has a plastic housing that surrounds the inner metal framework as opposed to the aluminum housing on the big boys.

Despite the name Mini, it's built like a tank and there's nothing about it that feels cheesy or plasticy.

I was wondering how easy it would be to change the battery and if the inverter were a sealed unit within the housing.

Post #15, Jun 12, 2011 14:39:30




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EQUIPMENT REVIEW: Innovatronix Explorer Mini : Part 1 - Initial Thoughts
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