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Thread started 30 May 2009 (Saturday) 08:46
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DIY Mod: Variable length OC-E3 the cheap and easy way.

 
Jim ­ G
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May 30, 2009 08:46 |  #1

This is my DIY guide to making your own cheap and reliable variable length OC-E2 or OC-E3 cable.

Firstly some background: I am not electrically trained beyond taking a few classes in electronics for my school certificate ~10 years ago. This involves nothing more complex than cutting wires and poking a soldering iron at some wires. I make no claims to have done this as well as it could have been done nor as neatly as it could have been done, however... most people who are interested in this I imagine have a level of skill equitable to mine so I think it's a good example of what you can do with nothing more than basic knowledge and skills.

Why would you do it? Allowing you to use your sole flash as an off-camera flash with a 100% reliable connection - including ETTL, if that's your cup of tea. It's not wireless like Poverty Wizards but it'll work every time and with enough slack I don't find the cable inconveniencing, so I know which one I'd rather work with.

With newer cameras like my 1D III and other models (40D onwards? I don't recall precisely) you can control the flash using the camera's controls. Not a big deal if the flash is right there on your hotshoe. However... using a very long OC-E3 you can then put your master flash in your lighting setup while still using it to trigger the other flashes, rather than wasting its light output on top of your camera (assuming you're not using some on-axis light). Given that it's cheaper and offers more control than a ST-E2... you get everything a 580EX can do. Also opens up some possibilities of where you can be and still trigger your flashes using Canon's own triggering system.

Being able to change the length as required is also handy... no point in lugging 10m of cable around for when you only want 2 or 3. Also, Cat5 cable is cheap. Very cheap. You break it on a job, lose it, have your dog eat it, whatever... no big deal to replace.

Items used: Soldering iron (mine cost $10 or so), solder, 1m Cat5 cable which can be had for <$3 in most places... and something to cut with. I used a Swiss Army Knife, anything will do.

Skill required: Essentially none. To be able to do simple soldering... I picked up a soldering iron a few times in high school - 10 years ago now. Not once since until this mod, so if I can do it anyone can.

I'm linking to the photos for now, will come back and embed them in case the source links change.

Onwards to the good bits!


First, take your OC-E3 and take out the screws in the underside of both ends.

IMAGE: http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3547/3510035796_8692aea153_o.jpg

IMAGE: http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3383/3509225305_f3a4d3bd33_o.jpg

Gear Listhttp://www.codastudios​.com.auexternal link Reviews & Hotlinks: Domke F-3x - Pelican 1510/1514external link & 1610/1614external link - DIY Variable Length OC-E3 - Crumpler 6 Million Dollar Homeexternal link - FA-100external link

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Jim ­ G
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May 30, 2009 08:47 |  #2

What you'll see there is something like this:

IMAGE: http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3371/3509225495_f96f8fbf10_o.jpg

IMAGE: http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3571/3510035568_70c2aa25ba_o.jpg

Gear Listhttp://www.codastudios​.com.auexternal link Reviews & Hotlinks: Domke F-3x - Pelican 1510/1514external link & 1610/1614external link - DIY Variable Length OC-E3 - Crumpler 6 Million Dollar Homeexternal link - FA-100external link

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Jim ­ G
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May 30, 2009 08:47 |  #3

Detail shot of the camera end:

IMAGE: http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3396/3510035178_4f79e6da07_o.jpg

As to the silver metal piece that the wires are looped through.... I'd guess it's to help stop the soldered pieces coming away when it's tugged? Seems a bit heavy and large for that purpose, though. Any ideas?

Take note of which colours go to which soldered piece of the underside. It's the work of moments to desolder them on both ends.

IMAGE: http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3370/3510038330_a566fbd777_o.jpg


Note the... resistor? on the flash end. Anyone know what it is?

Gear Listhttp://www.codastudios​.com.auexternal link Reviews & Hotlinks: Domke F-3x - Pelican 1510/1514external link & 1610/1614external link - DIY Variable Length OC-E3 - Crumpler 6 Million Dollar Homeexternal link - FA-100external link

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Jim ­ G
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May 30, 2009 08:47 |  #4

Now, take your cat5 cable and cut it wherever you want the joins to be. I like a 1m cable cut in half... means that the joins hang conveniently for me. YMMV.

Inside you'll see eight wires. Since we only need six you can double up the ground and the center pin, which seems to make the most sense to me. The original ground wire is particularly large in comparison to the others and is also shielded differently.

IMAGE: http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3061/3510038012_fb6a233d71_o.jpg



Cut the black part back an inch or so, join the doubled up wires.

IMAGE: http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3645/3509227301_f904113259_o.jpg

Gear Listhttp://www.codastudios​.com.auexternal link Reviews & Hotlinks: Domke F-3x - Pelican 1510/1514external link & 1610/1614external link - DIY Variable Length OC-E3 - Crumpler 6 Million Dollar Homeexternal link - FA-100external link

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Jim ­ G
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May 30, 2009 08:48 |  #5

Before you solder anything cut off the rubber grommet bit that sits inside the case on either end:

IMAGE: http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3614/3509226891_6c91405481_o.jpg

If you cut the half that's closest to each end you'll find that you can peel it back and break the adhesive that holds it to the cable. As you can see in the above image it's already been cut in that area. The benefit of not cutting it the whole length is that it looks a darn sight neater when you put it all back together. Slide the new wires through it and position it on the new cable.

Once I've got it all finished I put some adhesive on it to help prevent pulling on the cord dislodging any of my soldering.

Gear Listhttp://www.codastudios​.com.auexternal link Reviews & Hotlinks: Domke F-3x - Pelican 1510/1514external link & 1610/1614external link - DIY Variable Length OC-E3 - Crumpler 6 Million Dollar Homeexternal link - FA-100external link

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Jim ­ G
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May 30, 2009 08:48 |  #6

Flash end soldered - length of time taken depends on how competent you are with a soldering iron. I'm not particularly skilled so it took probably twenty minutes of mucking around. For anyone who actually can solder I apologise in advance for what's probably an offensive image. ;)

IMAGE: http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3598/3509227103_8e85c24997_o.jpg


If you're not wonderful at soldering you may find that the joins are fairly close together at times; to avoid possible shorts if things move in the future I've just used the cut-off parts of the Cat5 cable to shield them from each other. Sample shot from the other end showing this:

IMAGE: http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3173/3509226191_ded4c94642_o.jpg

Gear Listhttp://www.codastudios​.com.auexternal link Reviews & Hotlinks: Domke F-3x - Pelican 1510/1514external link & 1610/1614external link - DIY Variable Length OC-E3 - Crumpler 6 Million Dollar Homeexternal link - FA-100external link

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Jim ­ G
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May 30, 2009 08:49 |  #7

Flash end completed and screwed back in:

IMAGE: http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3654/3509226743_8eec6f5011_o.jpg


Looks just like the original, no? A multimeter is very useful to find problems in your soldering but not absolutely necessary.


Loop the other end's wires through in the same way the originals were:

IMAGE: http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3317/3510037230_85dfc434e5_o.jpg

Gear Listhttp://www.codastudios​.com.auexternal link Reviews & Hotlinks: Domke F-3x - Pelican 1510/1514external link & 1610/1614external link - DIY Variable Length OC-E3 - Crumpler 6 Million Dollar Homeexternal link - FA-100external link

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Jim ­ G
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May 30, 2009 08:49 |  #8

All soldered in. I found that this end is much easier to do than the other one... more room to work in. You need to cut back much more of the black part of the Cat5 cable to get it to loop through the metal piece.

IMAGE: http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3392/3509226409_7e774895b3_o.jpg


Reattach the flash end, attach the two cables together via a male-male adapter and all done!

[IMG]Image broken, re-uploading

Add another male-male adapter and a Cat5 cable of whatever length you feel like from here and you're good to go.

Gear Listhttp://www.codastudios​.com.auexternal link Reviews & Hotlinks: Domke F-3x - Pelican 1510/1514external link & 1610/1614external link - DIY Variable Length OC-E3 - Crumpler 6 Million Dollar Homeexternal link - FA-100external link

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Jim ­ G
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May 30, 2009 08:49 |  #9

Using just the two short pieces:

IMAGE: http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3396/3509225895_343692662a_o.jpg


Using a 10m cable:

IMAGE: http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3406/3509230281_2d08bda013_o.jpg


I don't really see the need for more than a 10m cable... at least not for what I want to do with it.

Gear Listhttp://www.codastudios​.com.auexternal link Reviews & Hotlinks: Domke F-3x - Pelican 1510/1514external link & 1610/1614external link - DIY Variable Length OC-E3 - Crumpler 6 Million Dollar Homeexternal link - FA-100external link

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Jim ­ G
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May 30, 2009 08:50 |  #10

And that's it, really. All in all it takes me a couple of hours to do, anyone with skill ought to knock it over in much less. I've got a cut OC-E2 to do later on but I imagine it's going to be fairly similar...

Any questions, comments, suggestions welcomed...


Gear Listhttp://www.codastudios​.com.auexternal link Reviews & Hotlinks: Domke F-3x - Pelican 1510/1514external link & 1610/1614external link - DIY Variable Length OC-E3 - Crumpler 6 Million Dollar Homeexternal link - FA-100external link

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tvphotog
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May 30, 2009 09:06 as a reply to Jim G's post |  #11

Jim,

Amazing! The photos couldn't be more self-explanatory. But the cat is still saying, "What the f*%k?!"


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The ­ Moose
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May 30, 2009 09:13 |  #12

I may have to get my dad to try this... I'm not confident enough at all and he's been rewiring a bit of electricals lately so he might be in a bit of form for it :p

Do you have the Canon OC-E3 or is it an off brand? I've got the YongNuo one off eBay but I can't imagine it being too different to yours if it's a Canon.




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Jim ­ G
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May 30, 2009 09:24 |  #13

tvphotog wrote in post #8016945external link
Jim,

Amazing! The photos couldn't be more self-explanatory. But the cat is still saying, "What the f*%k?!"

She may not be a DIY fan, perhaps... or maybe she's curious ;)

The Moose wrote in post #8016975external link
I may have to get my dad to try this... I'm not confident enough at all and he's been rewiring a bit of electricals lately so he might be in a bit of form for it :p

Do you have the Canon OC-E3 or is it an off brand? I've got the YongNuo one off eBay but I can't imagine it being too different to yours if it's a Canon.

Genuine. If you do give it a go post a photo in the thread or even if you just open it up and take a photo... I'd be interested to see how different they are or aren't inside. :)


Gear Listhttp://www.codastudios​.com.auexternal link Reviews & Hotlinks: Domke F-3x - Pelican 1510/1514external link & 1610/1614external link - DIY Variable Length OC-E3 - Crumpler 6 Million Dollar Homeexternal link - FA-100external link

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dpds68
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May 30, 2009 09:29 |  #14

^^^ Good detailed DIY

Look here also

http://photography-on-the.net/forum/showthre​ad.php?t=123662


Gripped Canon 7D,20D,XT / Tamron 17-50mm 2.8, Canon 85mm f1.8 , 70-200 2.8L,EF50mm1.8 II,Sigma 150-500mm OS, Sigma 105mm 2.8 Macro, Sigma 10-20mm 4-5.6
Vivitar285Hv x2,Canon430EX,Nissin Di866,CTR-301P Triggers,
http://www.flickr.com/​photos/dpds68/external link

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dpds68
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May 30, 2009 09:30 |  #15

You should Add yours to that Thread. My DIY is on the Last page of the Original Thread using Cat 5 also .


Gripped Canon 7D,20D,XT / Tamron 17-50mm 2.8, Canon 85mm f1.8 , 70-200 2.8L,EF50mm1.8 II,Sigma 150-500mm OS, Sigma 105mm 2.8 Macro, Sigma 10-20mm 4-5.6
Vivitar285Hv x2,Canon430EX,Nissin Di866,CTR-301P Triggers,
http://www.flickr.com/​photos/dpds68/external link

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