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Diy Powe Pack For Alien Bees 400

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So I just did this last night and this morning...


You can find it here also tutorial with pictures and links.


The Vagabond II by paul c buff is over 18lbs and $300


Make it yourself for about $150 @ around 5lbs. (slightly less i think).


So it took me reading about 5 different blogs to figure out what I needed to make myself a battery pack to run my AB400 flash unit. It wasn't easy finding every source out there but I found some good ones. So I decided to put all the info I used in this one post. Note: I know what I use will only be sufficient to run ONE B400 flash unit. In advance I just wanted to thank everyone who has made a blog describing how they made theirs. I'm not making this post to replace the other blogs, I'm making this to provide as one more resource for whomever is looking for the information.

You basically need 3 things to make this work. A battery, power inverter and housing to protect it.


As I learned, the power must be a pure sine wave inverter. Only a pure sine wave inverter will work (don't try to save money here and buy one that isn't). Tim Kemple was kind enough to show his followers the one linked, which is the one I use now. I think the size, price and performance are all great.


I read 10 amps, 15 amps, car batteries, Sealed Lead Acid, Nickle Hydride and so on for how big and what type of batteries to get. I settled for a 7ah 12v SLA model airplane battery. The battery with charger for about $30 is cheap, can easily be recycled and isn't that heavy (especially because it's 7ah, Erik Seo discusses what size batteries to get). I understand that there are faster chargers and longer lasting batteries but they're much more expensive. SLAs are cheap to replace, so no biggie.


I could just shove it all into a bag and make sure all contacts are covered but that seemed too janky. I think most people buy a plastic tool box or small camcorder bag from Wal-mart, I don't like Wal-mart so I didn't do that. I even saw one with auxiliary lights and a fan in a shiny metal box custom made for it on Flickr, that looked real cool but also expensive. The goal, if not mentioned, is to make something that works well and is lighter and more affordable than the Vagabond II that Paul C. Buff sells. I did like the soft case idea as it's unpretentious and is pretty secure. So I looked everywhere for something that might work and after several visits to hardware, drug and grocery stores, I settled on the the Thermos dual compartment lunch pale(I got my Batman one at Walgreens). It comes with a plastic food container just slightly bigger than the linked inverter. And the upper compartment comfortably fits the linked battery,



So I read about Anderson Connectors and how wonderful they were but I couldn't find them anywhere locally. I ended up going to Radio Shack and they had some R/C car battery plug connectors (there are two, I got the thicker gauged one). They also sold heat shrink sleeves so I picked up a pack of those.


You do not have to remove the top of the inverter to see which cable is positive and negative. Simply take apart the car plug and the center pin is the positive one and mark it so. At Kragen Auto Parts, I picked up an inline fuse holder and pack of 15a fuses. The built in fuse in the inverter is 20a. If something were to surge and blow a fuse, it would now blow the easily replaceable 15a inline fuse instead of having to remove the inverter top and deal with that (especially when out shooting!). Connect the fuse holder somewhere in between the inverter and battery on the positive line only (tie then heat shrink), you don't need a fuse for the negative wire.


To connect one end of the Radio Shack connector to the battery I used slip clips, tied it and heat shrunk it on. I didn't have access to a heat gun and the hair dryer wasn't working well so I just used a candle stove would probably work well too. BE CAREFUL!


As for the inverter, I used a razor blade and cut holes through the food container so I could have access to the outlet and power switch without having to remove it. This wasn't fun, and I'm sure there are easier ways to do this. I filled the gaps in the container with cardboard and have had no problems yet, its pretty snug. I taped off the sharp plastic edges with electrical tape. And cut the holes through the actual lunch pale to match up with the holes I just cut in the food container. This wasn't fun either but it worked, tape those off too (or sew them off, maybe burn the edges together).


Be sure to cut out extra holes for the vent on the front of the inverter and fan on the back so it can breath in the plastic box. I cut one more hole to lead up to the top compartment where the battery is stored.


And after putting it all together it seems to work just fine! Because the outlet is near the bottom of the bag I don't suggest you use this in the rain, snow or really dusty areas. If you decide to anything mentioned it is at your own risk. While I consulted other DIYers, electricians, forums and others. I myself am not an expert on this. Hope this helped!



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daaamn dude, was thinkin on getting alien bee's and getting a vegabond , you saved me 150 bucks thank you kindly

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