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Power for some old SunPak flash units

Rick Helmke

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Afternoon everyone,

I got a call a few days ago from someone who wants to get rid of some old flash equipment, specifically the SunPak 511, 611 and 544. The 511 is an old friend, I carried one of those to all manner of news events. It was big enough and put out enough light to cover most situations. The 611 I always though of as something with a little more kick and some tech upgrades. There are two 511's and one 611 and all three work. The 544's I don't know. The 511 will run on 4 AA batteries and the 611 on some C cells but both also had a separate power back that used the 512 volt battery that sped recycles up considerably. They weren't cheap but very nice to have. I can probably look around and find some factory power packs for these but does anyone still make the 512V battery? The more practical question might be to ask if Quantum or someone else makes a pack that will plug into either of these flashes. I know, they are quite old and there are better current flash units but I plan to use these on the Nikon F2 or a Nikkormat if I get them at all, he's just giving them away so it might be fun.


Rick H.

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The external HV input to these Sunpaks is actually 340 volts. The Sunpak shoulder-pack supply incorporates a regulator circuit to drop the 510v battery down to this voltage. Do not attempt to plug 510 volts directly into the HV socket!


Sunpak also made a rechargable insert that replaces the 510v dry battery - good luck finding one! Internally, this is an inverter circuit powered by 10 NiCd AA cells, in the shape and size of a 510v battery.


I have one, and in its original form it showed little advantage over just using 6 rechargable cells directly in the flash AA battery holder. Replacing its 10 NiCds with NiMH cells was a big improvement, but still not ideal.


Sunpak also made a mains powered external HV supply. Model AD-26 or AD-27 IIRC.


Oh, BTW. Old Sunpak hammerheads rarely give full output, and only recycle slowly after lying unused for any length of time. They need to be left switched on for several hours to re-form the main storage capacitor(s) before they get back to anything like their original performance.

Edited by rodeo_joe|1
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You have to remember that when those old Sunpaks were current, the only rechargable AA cells available were 500 or 600 mAh NiCds. These had a pathetic capacity and tended to die after only a few recharges, or be dead after only a couple of weeks 'charged' storage.


All that has changed with 'ready-to-use' Nimh cells having 2500 mAh or more capacity. That's why HV packs and the likes of Quantum external supplies have pretty much become extinct.


I can now pick a speedlight out of storage after a few weeks and be greeted by a healthy whistle at switch on, with no dip in recycle time dozens of pops later. Haven't used my SD-8 or Quantum shoulder pack in months... years maybe.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Before I bought my Vivitar 283, I remember reading about the Sunpaks that were similar.

Vivitar also has a 510V pack that regulates down to something like 340V.

(I don't know the exact number, but close enough for now.)


There is the HVP-1, LVP-1, and LVP-2 for the Vivitar flashes.

I believe, but couldn't find anything to show, that the LVP-1 supplies a high

voltage to the flash unit, and LVP-2 a low voltage. Either the AC adapter

or the HVP-1 supply 330VDC to the flash unit.


A replacement for the 510V battery is available from Excell, which might be

made from 340 alkaline cells in a plastic box. Priced accordingly.


Excell also has more usual batteries, like the 22.5V used for many BC

flashguns, and smaller batteries used for many cameras and flash units.

-- glen

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