How to remove pins from a hotshoe flash?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by a._valerio, May 13, 2013.

  1. Don't ask...but for a strobist-like modification, I need to remove pins from a Nikon-type hotshoe flash. What is the best way to do this? I want to actually remove certain contacts from the foot.
  2. Use a "pass through" cable or adapter & mask off whatever pins you don't need. (It also doesn't booger up your flash if your efforts are less than perfect.)
  3. + 1 what Steven said.
    Most 'adapters' are cubic structures with male and female hot-shoes. Disassemble and cut or de-solder the contacts you don't want.
    Some adapters are dumb, so you might not even need to do anything as there is no 'pass through' for that particular pin.
    I want to actually remove certain contacts from the foot.​
    Do you mean the actual metal bit or the ability to make an electrical connection? I guess a contact can be both real and/or virtual:)
    Why the 'Don't Ask'? There's a lot a hackers and modders here!
  4. I tried doing this (to use a Nissin Nikon protocol-flash with a PC-connected hotshoe) and just - as Steven suggests - used sellotape to cover the contacts that I didn't want to touch the shoe. It may have needed occasional replacing, but at least it wasn't permanent and didn't need a screwdriver. However, the flash in question wouldn't actually fire in "dumb flash mode", so I can't tell you how effective that solution might have been, but I mention it to encourage a less destructive solution. You could cut some wires on a flash extension cable, as Mike suggests, if you want a more permanent option that's cheap.

    Good luck, and I'll be interested in what you're trying.
  5. +1 for just covering the pins with tape. However, in most cases of using a flash on a camera that it wasn't designed for no masking or removal of pins is necessary. I've used Nikon "dedicated" speedlights on Canon cameras and vice versa with no ill effects. Though there's no TTL automation of course. The flash automation pins are in sufficiently different positions between makes that they don't make contact in a foreign camera - except for the central firing pin.
    One exception that I've come across is that Leica's pin configuration is quite close to that of Nikon's, and I wouldn't like to try mixing that combo. For a start the Leica flash would probably die of embarassment, or the Nikon camera show it up for the overpriced pretentious junk that it really is! (Only joking Leicanistas)
  6. I modified an old Sunpak that only worked with the old Nikon ttl system by taking off the shoe, cutting the 'extra' wires, and reassembling it. (I paid next to nothing for it, and didn't work with any camera I own.) It works fine in thyristor and manual mode after modification.
    If I recall correctly, my camera, a D70, would not work at all with the flash on the shoe before the mod.
  7. I found that the easiest method is to cut a piece of film (piece of old slide?) and lay it in the hotshoe before inserting the flash.
  8. I tried the piece of film but it did not work. It wouldn't hold when sliding the flash in place. I went on assignment to shoot a race, and the flash became a paperweight on top of the camera.
    I have a Vivitar 5600, and I want to turn it into a 285, basically (so it doesn't automatically set the sync speed). The modules are interchangeable, though I don't believe a non-dedicated module exists. Someone at B&H told me they do, but I've never seen one. I had considered purposely getting a module that wasn't for Nikon cameras, but people cautioned me not to do that, that I might short something out and damage the camera.
    I'm still considering using a non-Nikon module. What brand wouldn't line up with Nikon hotshoe contacts though? Olympus???
    Electrical tape or gaffer tape is out. What is sellotape? Someone mentioned to me a special tape that is used for electronics. Perhaps that is it. But I am skeptical that it will hold up to use, and/or not gum up the contacts in the process.
    The flash has to be hotshoe-mounted. I'm using it for PJ work for fill-flash with a Nikon D1x in bright light outdoors (I can set almost any shutter speed by masking or removing the sync speed contact). The reason I bought the 5600 is that the head swivels for use indoors, and the flash permits the use of relatively wide apertures in auto mode, unlike the 285 (which I also have).
  9. As did Damon D'Amato, I fearlessly opened up the flash and made the necessary modifications. If you're careful, they can be reversible (leave a note inside telling how to reconnect the wires). My mod was to add a small, homemade PCB with a trigger voltage-lowering circuit to a Sunpak unit.
  10. .....Just watch those capacitor terminals... I gather there are enough Joules in there to stop your heart.
  11. What about using a non-Nikon module on the Vivitar meant for another camera brand?
  12. Also, the module itself has pins that interface with the flash when you put them together. I have no idea what the layout is, though.
    Any other suggestions? I really need a good solution ot get this flash to stop being TTL.
  13. The "special tape" for electronics is called "Kapton" tape. It has high resistance to puncture and would last quite well if you put it over the extra contacts on the hotshoe. Since you don't need a whole roll, email me with your address and I'll be happy to send you some to try.
  14. Will it gum up the pis if left there?
  15. Mike Halliwell [​IMG], May 15, 2013; 03:59 p.m.
    .....Just watch those capacitor terminals... I gather there are enough Joules in there to stop your heart.
    Uuuuuhhh YYeeaaaaaa!!!! I Vivitar 283 has a 14000V capacitor I know I had to replace one one time. I build guitar tube amps that normally use a series of 450-650V capacitors and those things will KILL YOU if you don't drain the capacitors before you start working on them so as long as you remove the batteries then fire the flash until it dies then you should be fine.
  16. "What about using a non-Nikon module on the Vivitar meant for another camera brand?"​
    As I wrote several posts back; Canon and Nikon contacts are sufficiently far apart that they don't interfere with each other. To repeat myself. I've used Nikon speedlights on Canon cameras, and Canon speedlites on Nikon cameras with complete success and no ill effects to camera or flash.
    It's only when you put non-Nikon film TTL flashguns on modern digital Nikons that you get lock-up. Earlier genuine Nikon speedlights like the SB-25 and SB-26 won't lock up a modern Nikon DSLR. I know from experience that Sigma's "dedicated to Nikon" flashes and, as you've found out, similar Vivitar flashes will prevent the camera from firing. I guess nikon has built some sneaky code into their DSLRs to allow backward compatibility with their own speedlights, but not with any old 3rd party strobe. Old SCA343 series adapters will lock the camera too BTW.

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