PHOTOGRAPHY — THE BLACK BOX

             


THE BLACK BOX EVOLUTION and CONVOLUTION


Dear Previous Customers and Friends:   

Thank you for your support over the past five decades…  Getting a bit personal, I am officially retired,  but as long as I have some access to the parts and my sanity I’ll still do repairs and service upgrades taking care of those who supported me.

I am operating in a limited phase since the entire photo industry has migrated and collapsed for any thoughts of production work again — 

Just had my yearly physical, scored well mentally, blew the doctor away.  I take better  care of myself  —  better diet,  228 down to 196 after the heart attack.   Lesson learned  —  

As I am a care-giver to two patients, one stem cell and another dementia I want to prevent the onset of any diminishing thinking after seeing many my age succumb to Dementia.   

Alzheimers is only one type and I have seen enough of it,  I lost my brother and two friends to this horrible disease.   At 78,  I made a program of exercise, mental testing and keeping my brains productivity at a high level.  It’s working so far, I did better on my cognizance test than T-RUMP did and he had a cheat sheet.  I’m doing OK — I just miss having a business.


What Business? It Was Blown Away — No Market, No Boxes, No Cables Available 

  • Several key suppliers of critical parts no longer exist.  and Manufacturers have stopped cable production 
  • Strobes today have protective barriers built in to prevent external sources
  • And those who distribute parts have doubled prices and my closest electronics store is an hour away 60 miles south and  My closest Camera Store of any consequence is Orlando 110 miles from Tampa. 
  • Amazon—   It works in bulk,  According to Murphy when I go to heaven nineteen of twenty  will still be in the bin…
  • A major problem is the quality of the Chinese Parts  —   and their fleet of JUNK.   It’s sad,  I kept a 120 day supply of parts and now empty bins.  I do have some stuff for upgrades and will continue to service them depending on the condition of the box.    I am dead in the water with my Denmark Boxes due to order minimums 
  • Batteries are coming from Vietnam, I’ll stick with Power Sonic.
  • Covid killed the Wedding Business, 75% of my clientele.


Photography  —  Fifty-Nine Years And Was Going Strong  —  

The first flash pictures were produced using Black Powder which coined the phrase, “ Just one more shot”.   It was deep in the coal mine when the photographer asked for the last shot and unfortunately the mountain had accumulated Fire-damp, which is a heavy methane type gas.  It was his and the subjects “ Last shot”. 

The next great evolution in artificial photography was the exploding bulbs which had a tendency to either burn you if you removed them wrong, got stuck in the housing, forgot your glove or exploded when you dropped one on the pavement.  I used a lot of them and had the burnt fingers to prove it.  

Fortunately they were replaced by companies like Graflex, Honeywell, and Braun who developed a new word and process called the capacitor driven flash units.   They were large units used by professionals for the ASA 10 film and the  “Graflex bowling balls”  power pack was powered by a car battery and clocked in at nine pounds and made orthopedic surgery quite popular.  

Our products have been purchased and used by many Wedding Photographers, Paparazzi, Forensic labs,  CSI, Fire Departments, First Responders,  Photo-Journalists, Marathons, Triathlete Events, Sports shooters on all levels of play, Model and Fashion shooters, Birder’s, and Nature shooters using remote setups, Motion sensor triggers, and IR devices. 

I built units  for bikes for long night rides, cycle riders, the Smithsonian Institute, various Police Departments and the Military. I have turned out custom packs for Spelunkers, cave exploring dwelling enthusiasts who offered to take me along, I declined the really long wet ones.  No claustrophobia, but I couldn’t thinking “ what if “.

Our Black Box designs, are easily rebuildable for me,  I just ungraded a 1999 version to a 2021.  So I will still hang in there since upgrades are more like simple maintenance, for me and that can be as much as 6000-plus shots at reduced power. Our guys, did over 5000 shots at the Oscars, and captured 14,000 shots in one day with Black Boxes at a marathon.

Our battery is higher capacity and lasted a lot longer, less expensive and our pack will last a lifetime.  Our battery will go three - four years or seasons used daily, and as long as six depending on usage.  It will not burn up your camera case, cause a fire on you flight, or burn up your car in hot weather if the Lithium lights off,  which is known as a thermal runaway or occurrence.   I am also retiring from shooting and selling off a ton or equipment

THESE WERE THE LAST FEW OF MY PERSONAL UNITS

Screen Shot 2021-07-26 at 5.53.59 AM

OTHER ITEMS FOR SALE, CALL ME  727-812-8101

RED CAPS, BELT HOLDERS W/TAB, PORTS ETC. 



HISTORY  -- 1968 - 2020  —  The BLACK BOX WAS AND IS an American product built with selected and measured parts from all over the world.   It is 100% all US hand built, hand soldered and sealed, using only RoHS Certified appliance grade fire proof wiring.  

We picked the parts as long as they were better, and they came from USA, Denmark, Taiwan, and Japan for findings and components when we can, after we tested Chinese equivalents and decided they were inferior in quality and consistency.  

The Black Box used a Sealed Lead Acid battery designed for long term usage. Our 4.5 AMP HOUR battery is not rated in milliamps, thats full amps like your car battery and it is safe.  How safe?  No restrictions from the Airlines and the FAA since Lithium has a problem with fires, and is unstable.

We can take that five or ten year old Black Box and make it into a 2021 and at an average cost of about 75 dollars plus 15.60 return USPS.   Got one eight to ten years older or more we’ll upgrade it, return in a week, upgraded to latest configurations as long as you didn’t split the case by driving over it as some have, or destroyed it during sports events, standing in the surf,  or robberies… Depends on condition of the box.


05/30/2021 — I Just Rebuilt A 1999 Version For A Customer In  

Atlanta And Sending Him Back A 2021 Upgrade...


The Black Box was a safe common sense application of stable extra power, while eliminating useless power robbing, troublesome at times, poorly made electronics being offered from overseas at slave labor rates, and quality controls by intimidation. 

 Yes, Sealed Lead Acid Batteries (SLA) are declared non-hazardous for air shipping with caps in place and secure. Exceptions do happen if you get an uninformed inspection officer as with an incident on Singapore Airlines.  Only one I have known of in fifty years challenged the SLA and we sent Singapore an E-mail of Condition.  And we git an apology...


Open For Business  —  Black Box Upgrades — 2021 Standards 

 SPECIAL $75.00 PLUS RETURN POSTAGE. (15.60 USPS) Subject to case availability and  condition of your unit

  • Total Disassembly of entire unit, with some alterations as needed.
  • Even change the rivets sometimes, and rebuild it with the 2021 schematic. 
  • Clean and polish the case within reason, fix a few dents, dings, cracks, and basically try to make it as good as new.
  • We do remove old decals and clean case as best.  
  • Cases may be sanded, polished or cosmetically enhanced as well as can be.
  • Fittings - D rings replaced as needed. New rivets.
  • Back Tab reinstalled and rivets drilled out, removed and reset. As needed.
  • 2nd DIN added and RCA removed, two matching Dins Installed in 2020 configuration.
  • All new RoHS high capacity fireproof wiring installed. (Airline proof) hand soldered, all insulated, no connectors
  • RED CAP the DIN PLUGS for the airlines
  • Charger is checked and cable upgraded if needed with connectors and DIN plug.
  • Flash cables checked, fixed free, upgraded, cleaned of heat and corrosion, retested and field checked.
  • New battery installed and tested.
  • Usually a one day turnaround, complete upgrades average about 75.00 as a worst case scenario
  • Inspections and checkups are free, I only charge for shipping.  
  • No fees for diagnostics (Quantum does charge)  No minimum fees, except the Post Office, and most repairs are back to you within a week.


I Ship United States Postal Service Priority Mail, Period, Flawless for Decades...

  • PRIMARY - I prefer for you to use USPS PRIORITY MAIL.  No signature needed. I have a secure location. And the carrier is my friend.  Do not ask for a signature card, Priority mail has the best rate and record for two to three day delivery for what I ship and Priority mail is fast, trackable and is free insured to 50.00.  We use saran wrap for waterproofing, zip locks, regular newspaper as the filler.  Our hot glue seal packaging prevents theft and “slit grabbing”.
  • If sending a package, call or email first, let me know you are sending me something, when it’s expected and what’s wrong or if it’s just a routine safety check.
  • Enclose a check or money order,  PayPal for the return postage. Note: It's $15.60 for the return postage as we only use PRIORITY MAIL. 
  • Put your name on your gear with a sticker or business card.  
  • Please enclose the charger and /or cable so we may test the whole system and include the module for the flash.   If you do, we'll check the cable, tighten things clean and polish the contacts at no charge. Then we’ll both sleep that night. 
  • More important - I am a cancer care-giver and peanuts are an affront to me and my patients and re-used peanuts or really dirty packaging will be refused.   I cannot take the risk with Covid-19.  You will get the package back.  
  • The contacts are covered with red caps as per shipping and airline regulations.  DO not throw them away, the airlines want to see them.  
  • Take the email below and print out or a note of our discussion and stick it in the package with your address and phone numbers.  
  • On Windows machines —    Windows key + Print Screen    —  To capture your entire screen and automatically save the screenshot, tap the Windows key + Print Screen key. Your screen will briefly go dim to indicate that you've just taken a screenshot, and the screenshot will be saved to the Pictures > Screenshots folder.  Crop and Print
  • On Macs you may use three keys —   It brings up a screen shot:   
    • Command-shift-4 
    • Draw a box around the form using mouse, creates the screen shot...
    • Press return and print from preview
    • Fill in info, drop in box

SCREEN SHOT KEYS ON MAC - Command —  Shift —  4 



We Have To Know What Flash You Are Using  — 

  • Each brand of flash and even different models of the brand might have different battery layouts and thus different cables.  Cables are getting harder to find…  not stocked by B&H nor Adorama.  Check eBay and used .See the “YOUR FLASH" CHARTS for the most common off  of the shelf cables and to make sure you get the right Quantum cable for your flash.  I will convert them free.  

  • I am emphatic when I say be careful of used cables.  Any breaks or cuts on the rubber coils is not acceptable.   Other sources have been dumping all kinds of old used bad, crappy cables in the box and we had to send them back. 

  • There are as many cables in photography as stars in the sky.  Most driven by proprietary interests which is defined by making more money with selected accessories for the manufacturer and making your wallet slimmer.   The kind that looks like four batteries laying flat on one end,  in line is a MKZ-3 and very popular The MKZ3 fits quite a large percentage of Nikon, METZ and Olympus, flashes.
    Another layout is the MB-A MB5, MB2 series and these are either in a square or trapezoidal aka "drunk rectangle shape.  This list is ever changing as new models come out, but these have also been very popular down through the years, the MB-5, MB2 is popular with Canon units.
    The four-square is the MB2 used on the 600RT, 580EX II, 430 EX and 430 EX II and the trapezoidal is used on the older first born 580-EX older series.  The MB2 works on the METZ 50 but must be contoured and reversed by me to make it function.

  • Cables may look the same but they are not,  the difference is the location of the hot (+) and cold (-) contacts. They are not interchangeable, but may be taken apart, de-soldered  and with skill reassembled correctly. 
    The reason is contact placement.  I do this all the time.  You don’t and it’s confusing and dangerous. Mistakes may be indicated by a horrible smell, and a small burn in your table or a toasted flash unit. 



We Can Power Older Units For Slaves or Backups If We Can Secure A Cable 
By Using  A Direct Internal Soldered Permanent Connection

Achiever, Most new Canon,  Old Canon,  Chinon, Cobra,  Dynamite, Fuji,  Fujica,  Hanimex, Honeywell, Konica, LumoPro,  all Cobra Metz,  Metz handle mounts  Minolta,  Most new Nikon, old Nikon, Nissan, Olympus, Pentax, Phillips, Phoenix, Polaroid, Popular, Pro Spec, Promaster, Aromatic, Ricoh, Rokunar, Sakar, Sigma, Simon, Sony, Old Sunpak, Toshiba, 283-285 Vivitar, Yeshiva,  Older Yong-Nuo,  Zykkor,    Just give me a call 727-812-8101 or eMail me at ajacobs2@tampabay.rr.com



Non-Invasive Information  — 

  • I need some basic information for shipping and tracking purposes, we also make custom cables, other  products, and for my records for follow up.  
    It is kept in the strictest confidence, what goes on here stays here just like Vegas.  
    Just list the items or services you want in the "message section" and we'll take it from there. We do not nag or bother you.

  • Also people call me with one name and then ship to me under another name, and the PayPal is yet another name and no phone numbers. I am not Carnac the Magician.  He retired so I can’t call him anymore.  
  • Email me at    ajacobs2@tampabay.rr.com

  • Just use one of the several formats above and fill out the form and put it in the box.  Below, you may email on the form, fax, copy, scan, cut and paste, scribble, type a letter, papyrus and squid ink, carrier pigeon, or chisel and hammer the info to me.  I need this to keep the workflow simple.

  • Enclose a check or we prefer PayPal  —   It's a better idea for me and you. I do not wish to do business with five different credit card companies and PayPal is the safer, easier way to pay.  I also do not wish to know your credit card number, or your mothers maiden name, or what was the name of your first dog. 
  • I want you to be happy with my product. And I want you to share that happiness with others. Years ago I adapted the policy of no advertising, spend it on the customers who might need it and let the good word abound, and it will be fruitful.  It works, not exactly Wal-Mart statistics, and some days I think being fruitful meant better tomatoes at the supermarket…but I am here to help you.  

  • Don’t be shy, call me if you have a problem. Ninety-nine out of one hundred calls I can fix or diagnose over the phone.   Calling, real voices, communicates faster than idiot texting does. I have large fingers and if i wanted to type, handling six blogs and being a reporter I would have paid more attention in typing class other than being the only guy in a class of twenty eight girls which was not bad… it was a social thingy…

  • Father Time, Mother Nature, and her lover Sir Murphy-Lawes sometimes create simple trials like lightning strikes, tornadoes or a flood, surges and brownouts.  The weather this winter and summer have been brutal and spikes are killers.  Obviously with a charger plugged in all the time there is the chance a charger got killed by a spike as during a storm or during a brownout or the eight million lights on your house during Christmas fried the whole block.  
    Not all of the electrical stuff blows because of God.  Man does a fair job of blowing stuff up all by himself and thats why we cover electrical against defects, it is not covered by winding up in the dishwasher, swimming pool, spa or the Atlantic Ocean. 

  • Strange Things Happen— 
    • Over the years, I have gotten boxes that were rescued after being fished from the surf and survived better than the shooters camera and flash.   Completely salvageable to 100%,   No charge  except for one or two new parts and shipping.
    • One fellow forgot his camera bag was not in the back of his pickup, it was under his back dual wheels as he was loading his kids in the truck. Not repairable neither were half his gear.  he thought he could claim it under his auto insurance, as his agent explained there was no category under “ stupidity” or “ lack of thinking”.
    • One idiot thought his twenty four volt car battery charger would charge his black box faster.  It did for about one minute then it took the fire department help to put the mess out.
    • The best story of usage was when one of my boxes was used to smash the head of someone trying to rob the photographer, the bad guy got 4.5 amps of trouble right to the brain in a simple horizontal motion by the heavy strap increasing it’s speed and potency.   The bad guy suffered more than the box, which broke open but so did the guys head, I gave him a new box for free.  When paramedics and police arrived,  and he was arrested is for both attempted robbery, also assault, and since value was over 100 dollars value a felony.  I kept the box on my shelf for years as a tribute to strong attachment components and it still worked… I used the good parts on the repair  __ 

  • I will gladly look at your unit and advise for which there is no charge except return postage.  If an upgrade is needed the price is posted here as long as it’s external condition is  good,  I will discuss it by the device called a telephone.  Typewritten long drawn out explanations are available, at my Writers Certification Fee of 100 dollars per page, use the phone it’s free

  • Over five years old we go into upgrade mode.  A bad wire, weak, solder joint, anything correctable that is an anomaly, we take care of and we do not charge you. Even the best of solder joints ages and I can easily redo them.  Any neglect or abuse is on your dime. 

If your unit is old, and having  a problem, return it  after we speak on the phone, I am not a lover of texting nor long emails,  Please contact me at 727 – 812-8101  I have call blocking for phone numbers unknown to me or with no name so email me first and I’ll call you back if you disguised your phone name.


 ajacobs2@tampabay.rr.com   

NOTE:  ALL OUTBOUND SHIPPING VIA USPS PRIORITY MAIL


06/04/2021   aljacobsladder.com