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Thread: Adding a sync port to Olympus FL-50R flash. Warning: Long thread+lots of images.

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    Default Adding a sync port to Olympus FL-50R flash. Warning: Long thread+lots of images.

    [RAMBLING]
    I'm pretty tired of all the BSes on Olympus abandoning 4/3rds, our current camera can no longer take any picture, blah blah blah. We know (or hope) that's just plain BS. Olympus cams and lenses have everything I'd ever need, and I haven't gotten into a situation where my gears can't possibly get the image (except for flash-less cave photography). In short, I can't be happier with 4/3rds gear. BUT, there is one part that Olympus really really let me down - the flash system.
    Any OM user could instantaneously tell you how marvelous OM flashes were(are). Just look at the T32 with TTL control, the T10 twin flash, or the legendary T-28 Ringflash, and look at the option the other guys had at that time, you will understand. Current E-system flash, in a word, sucks. The FL-14 looks like the most useless flas ever produced - GN of 14, just a tad stronger than other Olympus DSLR camera built in, no full-control manual, no FP-TTL, no sync, it's not cheap, and not even cute! The ring flash does not support the new lenses, and ditto the twin flash. Even worse, recently Olyflyer made an assumption that Olympus already dropped high-end users since Feb 09. I really respect him and his ideas, as well as his brave move to jumpship to Nikon - few man could do it. The flash system is sort of a higher end thing, whereby you need at least a few for serious work. I find the new E-system flash really lacking.
    [/RAMBLING]

    I decided to do a little hack to add a sync port on my little FL-50R. The 50R, while having an optical slave, provides no sync port. How much trouble would it add for Olympus to add one to each flash? $5? They don't even sell a hot-shoe adapter. Anyways, here's the hack, in detail, step-by-step style:


    Disclaimer: This tutorial is only for reference. Please proceed with your own risk. I will not be responsible for any loss of warranty, destruction of equipment, random electric zaps or incurable divorces that might be caused during the procedure.


    Hardware requirements (and budget estimation):


    • 1x olympus FL-50R or Fl-50: $0 - you should have one already, shouldn't you?
    • 1x 1/8" monophone jack: $3.99 (for 3) at radio shack or from eBay
    • 2x inch-long 24 gauge wire: 0$ (try to salvage some old cables)
    • TORX T5 screwdriver: $5, or $0 if you already have one
    • Soldering pencil and solder: $10 (environmentalist will hang me for saying this, but try your local Walmart)
    • Electrical tape: $3 (again, Walmart)
    • Pliers and helping hand ($15, but optional)
    • Multimeter (optional)
    • Green Drink (totally optional)

    Total damage: Less than $25

    Step I: detach the shoe mount component.
    Remove the batteries. Turn your flash upside down and you will see four (4) screws on the bottom. Remove those screws and you can remove the foot-assembly, which is required for our hack.


    The screws take TORX T5, which is honestly, a pain. They don't want your child to poke a phillips in there and twist around, I assume. Anyways, you need a T5, otherwise you will screw up the screws.

    Step II: remove the cable.
    To remove the foot, you press it up and pull backward. Don't worry too much on breaking anything, I literally bruteforced my way to remove it the first time but no solder was harmed.


    From here you will see a 5-pin cable that connect the foot to the main body. As expected, because the foot has exactly 5 pins: 1 middle, 1 side, 3 datas (I suppose).


    Just pull it off, besure to hold the plug, not the cables like I did! If it's too hard you can stick a small pin into the tiny slot below to detach it.


    Step III: find the spot for the port.
    I use a 1/8" monojack. This jack is quite universal by now, it is found in PW and Paul C Buff stuffs, very reliable - it takes some force to pull the cable off, unlike the PC port, which you can disconnect everything by a gentle breath. Also easy to find. Grab mine from eBay from this seller from China. Half a buck for a jack is not expensive at all, and 2 weeks of testing shows no problem - if there is one, I will just replace it, but I doubt I would ever have to. (BTW, I have no affiliation with this eBay guy - he's just the best option I can find online).This jack is confined, so unlike Radio Shack's, it will not touch the HV-connector inside the flash. Stereo Jack would work too, but for the price and space it takes, that's an overkill. And be sure to get a jack that has the tightening ring, because that's how we're gonna affix the jack to the shoe. Right, we're not gonna solder the jack to the shoe, just kinda hang it in there.


    The ideal spot to put the jack, to me, is a little bit off to the side. Your jack might be different, so you might need to find another spot. There might be more space in the flash body, but wiring would be a pain.
    Step IV: drill a hole in the foot.
    Once you found the spot, you will need to drill a hole to get the jack in position. The 1/8" takes a 5/16 bit, but 1/4 bit would serve you just right. I don't have my trusty Bosch drill with me, so I use a cheapo knock-off Dremel-like rotary tool.
    Drill into plastic takes some practice. First use a knife, or inkless ballpoint pen to scratch (ouch) the drilling spot.


    Here is the foot with the mark


    Then use the smallest bit you have and drill a pilot hole. Set the speed on the lowest setting, and keep a firm pressure. DO NOT keep the bit in longer than 5 seconds, as the plastic might start to melt down and get really nasty. If you use a dremel, do the chop and pull thing - while the bit is spinning (very fast) tap the foot with the bit for half a second and pull right back. Tricky but works well. A couple of taps will get you a clean, nice hole.


    You might want to drill from the outside, as the residual could get really nasty inside and might scratch the PCB. And watch the bit so it won't cut the wires. Who knows what might happen. Just be careful.


    Once we have the pilot hole, get your 5/16 or 1/4 bit and get a nice, clean hole.


    Step V: test for fitness.
    Put the jack back on, tighten the ring and see if the contacts touch anything. Often time it will not, if you carefully determine your drilling spot. A quick tip here is to get the hole as close to the foot's PCB as possible, as it might interfere with the contacts above.


    STEP VI: wiring.
    The PCB on the foot looks like this


    The point is, to connect your 1/8 jack in such a way that, when you short the tip and the sleeve, you will also short the middle and the side pin. The side pin is connected to the BLACK wire, and the MIDDLE pin connect to the BROWN wire. This will trigger the flash.
    Thus, get two pieces of one-inch long wire (I chop mine of a telephone cord - an inch shorter would not harm any one). 24 gauge would be awesome, and soft aluminum would be superawesome.


    STEP VII: Soldering.
    This part is also tricky and painful. The connectors are small, and the wires are even smaller. Electronic gurus would laugh at me, but here's how I solder it:
    Clip your wire, then melt some solder on both ends of the wire.


    Here is how it would look.


    See the small silver balls at the tips? They're the solder that I add onto the tips of the wires.


    Now, just melt the solder off on the connector. My tip is to clip the jack down, and hold the wire with a pair of pliers - for a wire this short, things get really hot. I didn't do it, because I have only 1 pair of pliers. Tough!



    Once soldered your monojack should look like this


    Cover the solder up with some electrical tape.


    Now solder the wire to the PCB. Again, one to the Brown wire, and one to the Black wire. The black one is connected to a small piece of solder next to the brown one, and you can solder your wire to that spot like I did. But watch out for shorts, as its really close to the brown one.

    As you can see, my soldering doesn’t suck too badly. Haven't touch the soldering gun for years since that Highschool-Robotic-Frenzy.


    Plug your jack back through the hole, and tighten the ring.


    Step VIIb (optional): if you have a multimeter (or Ohm meter), you can do some quick test on circuitry integrity (what fancy words). Check the middle pin vs the tip, and the side pin VS the sleeve. You could have switched those two, but just be sure to have two zero-ish readings.


    I used a paper clip to reach the side pin - my cheapo MM's pin is way too big to touch it.


    Step VIII: Put everything together
    Close everything nice and tight, pop the battery in and do a quick test. Be sure the main connector is not pushed by the jack as you close it.


    If it is, you need to drill the hole lower, or a new flash. Turn the flash to Manual (not Slave manual - it will double fire the flash). Plug a monophone cable in and short the sleeve and the tip, or plug it in your PW/cybersync/any radio slave accepting 1/8 jacks. It should work fine. Otherwise, see troubleshoot

    Give the flash a few shakes to be sure bumping things around will not short or detach anything. You can now pops the TORX screws back on, completely void your warranty, and present yourself with some Green Drink!

    My lame test-fire


    This is why I love the look of an off-side port.. Gas Mask anybody?


    My lame Green Drink test shot (I have a pair of 50Rs, connect to one cybersync via a $1 stereo splitter)


    Have fun!

    p/s + speculation: I haven't got a chance to open the whole flash up and take a look inside, but the thread on the side of the 50R is still a myth. I know it's for the macro flash bracket, but come-on, if it's only a tightening thread, why do they have to add a wire to the end? Grounding? Looking at the photos from this thread I didn't find anything particularly interesting, but I expect a radio module hidden somewhere on the board. Maybe they reserve the thread for a monopole HF antenna. A Radio control unit for all higher end flash could be a KILLING function in the next big 4/3rds - honestly, it could make many CLS-lunatics jump towards Oly in a snap.

    Last edited by minh0204; 02-27-2010 at 08:15 PM. Reason: Fix broken links

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    Default Re: Adding a sync port to Olympus FL-50R flash. Warning: Long thread+lots of images.

    WOW!!!
    Steve

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    Default Re: Adding a sync port to Olympus FL-50R flash. Warning: Long thread+lots of images.

    Nice work!


    alistairj.smugmug.com


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    Default Re: Adding a sync port to Olympus FL-50R flash. Warning: Long thread+lots of images.

    Excellent. I would add shrink wrap instead of tape may be a better choice. Could never figure out why Olympus never included the jack as "others" did in their product line. It IS a convenience for any strobist. I was able to print save as a PDF for reference.
    Now when the snow clears get the parts and project for March.

    Ciao,
    Lou Cioccio

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    Default Re: Adding a sync port to Olympus FL-50R flash. Warning: Long thread+lots of images.

    Wow. You spent more time on the post than the mod. Thanks for the work.
    E30 E-510 FL50 2xkit 9-18 70-300 Sigma 30 Sigma 105
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    Default Re: Adding a sync port to Olympus FL-50R flash. Warning: Long thread+lots of images.

    Thank you all for your support! I found a few extremely interesting & genuine functions of the FL-50R that could prove to be useful after this hack. I'm writing a detail explanation and will post it very soon. It's time to dump my SBs I guess.

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    Default Re: Adding a sync port to Olympus FL-50R flash. Warning: Long thread+lots of images.

    A++ tutorial, thanks for taking the time to create and share it.
    ODM
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    Default Re: Adding a sync port to Olympus FL-50R flash. Warning: Long thread+lots of images.

    I'll add my praise and thanks - well presented and better than most 'instructions' contained with commercial products!

    I'm happy using RC mode but I can understand why you might want to integrate a wired approach. Aren't there cheap shoe fittings that provide this control?
    E-P1/E3/E30/E510/E400/7-14/12-60/14-42/14-54/S 30 1.4/35/35-100/40-150/50/50-200/EC14/EC20/EX25/2xFL50R/FL36R/RF11/SHV-1/AC-1/AC-2

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    Default Re: Adding a sync port to Olympus FL-50R flash. Warning: Long thread+lots of images.

    I can see how this would be useful, but only useful to me if the contact could be used to trigger an additional flash during wireless TTL mode (for example, a hair light)

    I wonder, does the contact close during the exposure flash ? That would be fan-fricking tastic.

    (I suspect it does not)

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    Default Re: Adding a sync port to Olympus FL-50R flash. Warning: Long thread+lots of images.

    Sadly, it does not. The Wireless TTL use complete software-based triggering. I'm working on another hack on that, hopefully doesn't take much time.

    However, there are still some functions that can be exploited, and I'm still writing a summary.

    Quote Originally Posted by DesertNate View Post
    I can see how this would be useful, but only useful to me if the contact could be used to trigger an additional flash during wireless TTL mode (for example, a hair light)

    I wonder, does the contact close during the exposure flash ? That would be fan-fricking tastic.

    (I suspect it does not)
    They do, but as I mentioned most of them use PC ports which I abhor. The better ones from Fla*****bra costs $25, and that's one extra thing to carry and worry. And I can't use the shorty umbrella mount with them attached.

    RC works fine, but I can't get a flash behind me if I shoot outside - a MAJOR pain. Still keep my hope high for an external antenna to fit in that mysterious thread slot on the side. If not, a new oscilloscope is on the way for reversed-engineering the wireless flash RC.

    Quote Originally Posted by photo_owl View Post
    I'll add my praise and thanks - well presented and better than most 'instructions' contained with commercial products!

    I'm happy using RC mode but I can understand why you might want to integrate a wired approach. Aren't there cheap shoe fittings that provide this control?

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    Default Re: Adding a sync port to Olympus FL-50R flash. Warning: Long thread+lots of images.

    Cool, I added one a while ago. I too wondered about that external socket being for an antenna, http://forum.fourthirdsphoto.com/showthread.php?t=36184 it certainly looks like one.

    Richard

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    Default Re: Adding a sync port to Olympus FL-50R flash. Warning: Long thread+lots of images.

    The wireless Oly flash RC works by modulating or pulsing the flash output. It commands the FL-50R to initiate a flash, reads the light meter, and then commands for a flash in x milliseconds with intensity 1/y.

    I believe X is constant and is not sent, but y is a variable which IS sent.
    Should only be an 8 bit number.

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    Default Re: Adding a sync port to Olympus FL-50R flash. Warning: Long thread+lots of images.

    Thanks for the great input. If I understand correctly, the sequence goes like this:

    1)Fully depress the shutter button
    2)Pop-up flash sends a "test" signal, triggers all RC flashes
    3)RC-flashes fire a "meter" signal in response, and the camera picks this up
    4)Calculation goes on in camera
    5)Pop-up flash fires back a 8-bit sequence that tell what RC flash to fire at what intensity (1/y, y is encoded in the flash)
    6)The curtain starts to close, exposing the shot

    2) to 6) should happens in a fraction of a second, and the RC flash should fire two times (in 3) and 5))

    If this is the case, if we can reverse engine the pop up flash's signal, we can control the output the RadioPopper's way?

    Quote Originally Posted by DesertNate View Post
    The wireless Oly flash RC works by modulating or pulsing the flash output. It commands the FL-50R to initiate a flash, reads the light meter, and then commands for a flash in x milliseconds with intensity 1/y.

    I believe X is constant and is not sent, but y is a variable which IS sent.
    Should only be an 8 bit number.

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    Default Re: Adding a sync port to Olympus FL-50R flash. Warning: Long thread+lots of images.

    Not sure I'll ever need such a fix, but excellent tutorial.

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    Default Re: Adding a sync port to Olympus FL-50R flash. Warning: Long thread+lots of images.

    Hello. thank you so much for great information on Flash.
    I need to fix my FL-50 (not FL-50R). it cracked right above the lock ring and fell off from the camera during the shooting.
    all the 5 cable (black, brown, red, orange, yellow) on the board where behind the lock pin and electric contacts were off.
    i need to solder those back on the circuit board but i can not figure which one is which.
    is that possible to see little bigger image that is already on your thread to figure it out the order of those 5 cables ? there are couple of images that i can see the arrangement but little small to figure it out.
    thank you so much.

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    Arrow Re: Adding a sync port to Olympus FL-50R flash. Warning: Long thread+lots of images.

    Great fix it tutorial for those who want to try it their own risk.Wish I had one for my FL-36R when I went to clean out the battery compartment , a tiny bar clip popped and broke an that was the end of that. cheers Pete

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    Default Wein SafeSynch?

    I've never used an FL-50R (or even SEEN one!), but how does this mod differ funcionally from a Wein Safesynch?
    Glen Barrington
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    Default Re: Adding a sync port to Olympus FL-50R flash. Warning: Long thread+lots of images.

    Thanks for that great tutorial. I ended up adding a pc sync port on my fl50r. I made the mistake of trying to remove the little motherboard in the base before I drilled the hole. After fixing that problem, i created a new one by pulling the "red" wire from the pcb board....so I had to solder that back. I only had to buy the mono connector from radioshack $3.99 drill the hole. Overall, it was about a 1hr job... Now I can trigger my fl50r with my cheap ebay wireless triggers.

    Thanks again.

    jm
    E5,E3,E510,EPL1:11-22,14-42,40-150,50-200,70-300,50mmf2,Sigma 18-50 2.8, rokinon 8mm

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    Default Flash from the Past - adding a sync port to Olympus flash

    Quote Originally Posted by photo_owl View Post
    I'll add my praise and thanks - well presented and better than most 'instructions' contained with commercial products!

    I'm happy using RC mode but I can understand why you might want to integrate a wired approach. Aren't there cheap shoe fittings that provide this control?
    Thanks for postng this all those years ago. Yes, this is a great tutorial with good photos. I have two pliers so this job will be easier for me. I hope to make this fix. I hope it's as easy for me as this.

    I have 4 of the FL-50 and one FL-40. I plan to hook these up to radio triggers for remote flash from beyond the line of site - locations where the FL-50R fails. It will also allow firing two flash paired together to get more flash power or faster recycle times at partial power.

    This jack will eliminate the need for a hot shoe adapter, those weak little boxes that go between the flash hot shoe and a generic bracket or light stand. The adapters cost $15 to $17 each plus tax and shipping so at $80+ for 5 of them I can save a few buck$ this way.
    Dave in So Cal

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    Default Added sync ports to several Olympus flash

    Quote Originally Posted by whaleshark View Post
    ...

    I have 4 of the FL-50 and one FL-40. I plan to hook these up to radio triggers for remote flash from beyond the line of site - locations where the FL-50R fails. It will also allow firing two flash paired together to get more flash power or faster recycle times at partial power.

    This jack will eliminate the need for a hot shoe adapter, those weak little boxes that go between the flash hot shoe and a generic bracket or light stand. The adapters cost $15 to $17 each plus tax and shipping so at $80+ for 5 of them I can save a few buck$ this way.
    I completed this sync port jack on 5 flash units a few months back and have used it several times with Paul C Buff CyberSync radio triggers. I've used it with a flash in the hot shoe and the trigger hooked to the PC connector on the E-5 to trigger 2 pairs of FL-50 flash on stands and it worked great. I linked two strobes to one radio receiver with a simple splitter and set the light output capacity to 1/2 of full power for faster recycling and more flash per set of batteries. I made a plexiglass base for two flash mounted on one light stand so I can use the two flash in one umbrella or soft box or bounced off a ceiling or wall.

    Today I had trouble finding this thread with a Search or from my last few posts so I'm bumping it to the top where I can find it again. I hope some of you will try this. Multiple flash is really a powerful tool for events, architecture, specialized landscape lighting and portrait.
    Dave in So Cal

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    Default Re: Added sync ports to several Olympus flash

    Thanks for doing this!

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    Default Re: Added sync ports to several Olympus flash

    Or... you could buy 6 Yongnuo YN-560 II flashes that already have a PC port for the price of one FL-50R . They are a great option if you just need some "dumb" flashes to use with wireless triggers.

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    Default Re: Added sync ports to several Olympus flash

    I know this is an old thread, but I would like to do this mod so I can connect my wireless transmitter to a PC port on my flash. For cameras without a PC port, such as the E-510, a port on the FL-50 would be great!

    What I want to be able to do is use a FL-50 on my E-510's hot shoe and be able to connect my Cybersync transmitter to the port on the flash. This way, I can use the flash on the camera's hot shoe as fill flash and fire my wireless system for key/rim light.

    This is what I would ultimately like to do:
    Name's Trevor, feel free to check out my various sites!
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    Default Re: Added sync ports to several Olympus flash

    Quote Originally Posted by Stetr24 View Post
    I know this is an old thread, but I would like to do this mod so I can connect my wireless transmitter to a PC port on my flash. For cameras without a PC port, such as the E-510, a port on the FL-50 would be great!

    What I want to be able to do is use a FL-50 on my E-510's hot shoe and be able to connect my Cybersync transmitter to the port on the flash. This way, I can use the flash on the camera's hot shoe as fill flash and fire my wireless system for key/rim light.

    This is what I would ultimately like to do: {photo in post above}
    I think what you pictured here is a transmitter attached to a flash. What you said you want to do is attach the transmitter to the flash via a 3.5 mm, mini plug jack through sync ports on both the flash and the transmitter and have it send a signal to other receivers. That might work.

    What you need to do is sync the electrical pulse from the hot shoe to the transmitter. There are just two wires required to send a radio signal for manual control. What may work for the transmitter is a ready-made hot shoe adapter from FlashZebra, Paul C Buff or Michael Bass. You'll need to check whether these have a hot shoe connection both top and bottom. If it does, you can put the hot shoe adapter on the camera hot shoe, put the flash on top of that and sync the transmitter through a side port. They all come with wired jacks or open ports on the side.

    These hot shoe adapters come with a variety of wired connectors or open jacks. One type will either have a 2-wire mono plug or the open jack for the same mini plug jack. It might work by installing the sync port in the flash and then connecting that mono, 2 wire connector to the input side of the transmitter. Or connect the transmitter on top of the hot shoe adapter and you're done.
    Dave in So Cal

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Added sync ports to several Olympus flash

    Quote Originally Posted by Stetr24 View Post
    I know this is an old thread, but I would like to do this mod so I can connect my wireless transmitter to a PC port on my flash. For cameras without a PC port, such as the E-510, a port on the FL-50 would be great!

    What I want to be able to do is use a FL-50 on my E-510's hot shoe and be able to connect my Cybersync transmitter to the port on the flash. This way, I can use the flash on the camera's hot shoe as fill flash and fire my wireless system for key/rim light.

    This is what I would ultimately like to do:
    If I understand what you're saying, you want to have both a flash in the hot shoe and also have your CyberSync trigger mounted on the camera to fire a remote flash. If that's the case, this Paramount DSD1-HSFSKL StrobeDolly 1-Arm Transmitter 17RSD1TPC will let you do that along with a hot shoe adapter with a PC port (pc hot shoe| B&H Photo Video)

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