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Extending the SC-17 (or similar) cable

Aaron Gauger , Dec 21, 2007; 03:04 p.m.

I have a set of 3 SB-800 speedlights which I use for portrait and event photography. I want to be able to move the on-camera SB-800, unit which I use as the commander unit, off-camera and still use it as the commander. I know I can do this using an SC-17 (or similar) cable. These cables have their faults though. They are coiled and short. I?d much prefer a longer, straight cable. I?ve seen posts around the internet about the best practice for ?straightening? these cables but this seems like the wrong solution to me. I saw a listing in an online auction for a SC-17 cables with an extension.

See photo: http://images.andale.com/f2/116/106/18244565/2007/12/9/MCD_0002.JPG

I?ve read that multiple SC-17 cables can be chained together for increased length (up to three I think) but the actual length of these coiled cables is actually much longer than 3 feet. They?re probably closer to 9 feet if not coiled. So it would seem that this modification would work as well as using 3 separate SC-17 cables chained together. Perhaps even better given that 4 connections are removed from the equation. The photo above illustrates the SC-17 cable cut near the flash end and DIN connectors (one male and one female) inserted inline with the cable. This allowed this person to insert a straight extension cable between the two ends of the SC-17 to increase its length. Looking at another post regarding modification of the SC-17 cable, I believe the cable to be 4 conductors + a shield (ground / 5th conductor).

See photo: http://photo.net/bboard-uploads/00DwfI-26184884.jpg

I would use a super flexible cable that had a tough rubber jacketing and resisted kinking such as that found in an XLR microphone cable. XLR microphone cables are only 2 conductors + a shield but 4 conductor cable is commonly available as it is used in stage lighting control (DMX 512). The DMX protocol uses a 5 conductor cable (4 conductors + a shield), and is terminated with XLR type connectors. The XLR connector is a locking connector and is much more durable than the DIN style connector pictured above. It is also fully shielded.

My question? has anyone modified an SC-17 or similar cable in a similar fashion with any success?
Thanks,
~Aaron

Responses

Ellis Vener , Dec 21, 2007; 03:45 p.m.

the SC-17 cables are about 6 feet when stretched. I've linked up to 3 SC-17s (for eighteen feet ) with no problems.

Matt Laur , Dec 21, 2007; 03:51 p.m.

Aaron: The first thing that leaps to mind is that XLR connectors - rugged and reliable as they are - are bulky and relatively heavy, in the scheme of things. DINs are indeed annoying, in their own right, but I wonder whether or not two pairs of mated XLRs, which you'd need, wouldn't be a little cumbersome. I personally like Neutrik connectors for their weight and ergonomics (and good strain reliefs), for what that's worth. Good luck!

Vivek . , Dec 21, 2007; 04:28 p.m.

If you want a light weight alternate, check out the SK-6/6A arrangement from Nikon.

The AS-16 uses a standard phone cable! Make a cable as long as you want!

Aaron Gauger , Dec 21, 2007; 05:42 p.m.

I'm looking or this:
http://www.paramountcords.com/proddetail.asp?prod=SC%2D28%2DNikon%2DTTL

but it would be nice to be able to vary the length using different lengths of inserted cords. Also looking for something cheaper than $130.

I'm not sure how the SK-6/6A will resolve this issue. The SK-6 is a power bracket. It is also quite expensive.

I agree about the XLR connectors being bulky. If anyone has an alternative that offers the required number of pins, is robust, and has a locking pin on it (would be nice), let me know!

Thanks for all the responses so far.
~Aaron

Vivek . , Dec 21, 2007; 08:08 p.m.

I guess you missed my point. Forget the SK-6/A.

What I meant was that you could, in principle, use a phone cable if you make connections as in a SK-6/A and the AS-16.

Joseph Wisniewski , Dec 22, 2007; 10:07 p.m.

The full sized XLR is available in 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 pin. The mini-Xlr is a rugged connector that is available in 3 and 4 pin. (There may be ohter combinations, these are just the ones I've seen).

I use 4 pin mini-XLR connectors for my own SC-17 extensions. They're sturdy, and they lock. They cost about $4 each, as opposed to $0.75 for a 4 pin mini-Din, but I find it to be worth it.

I use 3 pin for remote triggers. 3 pin and 4 pin cannot be plugged into each other, saving much embarrassment.

I posted the pinout I used years ago, hoping to start a standardized movement. I'll see if I can dig it up again.

Aaron Gauger , Dec 22, 2007; 11:39 p.m.

Hmmm, 4-pin mini XLR... I thought there were 5 conductors needed. Is the chasis of the XLR connector grounded (the 5th conductor)?

Mini XLR would be a fine choice indeed. They are expensive and do require fine soldering skills though. Finding 4 conductor shielded cable that fits into the .15 inch opening in the rear of the connectors may also be a but of a challenge. Where did you obtain your connectors and cable from? Please do post you pin diagram if you can find it. It is always nice to keep things as standard as possible.

Thanks for the suggestions! Also, any idea how far a cable can be used reliably given your setup?

Joseph Wisniewski , Dec 23, 2007; 04:43 p.m.

Yup, fifth as the ground, when using the 4 pin for flash control. This is a little dangerous, as anything that touches the XLR connector shell can "corrupt" the ground and add noise.

For the 3 pin XLR used for camera control, I do just like audio folk do for microphones: ignore the shell and use one of the three pins of the 3 pin XLR for the shield, the other two for signal.

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