THE BLACK BOX 

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PART TWO — EVOLUTION and CONVOLUTION


Dear Customers and Friends  —  

Thank you for your support over the past five decades  --  Getting a bit personal, I am officially retired.  This  year my very competent Internist and Cardiac Doctor did not like what he saw on my usual yearly EKG.  He is an incredible doctor and human being.

He referred me to another star, the best Cardiac Catherization leader at the best hospital in Tampa Bay all part of Bay Care.  In my mind, I was in great hands, as it is a community whom I just happen to know.  I was totally comfortable with all the procedures.

I was OK and the next morning admitted. Three or four hours later my stents were in and I woke up in recovery  staring into the most beautiful blue eyes I have ever seen in my entire life —  

I was a bit groggy but simply asked  “ What went wrong?”  —   She said, “ Nothing was the reply”.   “ You mean I’m not in heaven, you’re not an Angel?”   No, I'm your nurse and you are doing fine… Apple juice or Orange juice?   I drifted off  —  

It was then I made a decision to finally retire after trying three other times  — I had made it to 78 and time to go fishing — 


I Am Limited — But Not Quite Erased Yet —  

Never in the fifty years I have been building packs did I think anyone whom I dealt with was a customer.   I called them friends, it was great dealing with those of common interests also those with skills and intellect. Many became friends over the years and I visited with them. they all have been very kind to me

As long as I have some access to the parts of the Black Box and my sanity, no depression, no Alzheimers, no illness,   I’ll still do repairs and service upgrades taking care of those who supported me.  Till I run out but will still try to help, thats what kept me going  for fifty years.  Take care of your customers, they’ll take care of you. My problem is access to certain parts and quality.

I realized in the hospital, you have a lot of time for thought,  I am operating in a limited phase since the entire photo industry has migrated and collapsed for any thoughts of production work again — or going out on assignment and chasing sports and politicians.  Three things convinced me  —  AGE  — COVID  — FLORIDA HEAT — = SURVIVAL

 Alzheimers is only one type and I have seen enough of it,  I lost my younger brother and he suffered.   At 78,  I made a program of light exercise, walking in air conditioned malls before opening, mental testing and keeping my brains productivity at a high level.  

Nerve cells are like muscles, you have to use them or loose them.   It’s working so far, I did better on my cognizance test than T-RUMP did and he had a cheat sheet and a socially corrupt and cowardly doctor.  I’m doing OK — I just miss having a business.  And the phone ringing off the hook all day with calls from friends.   


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

  • Quantum has slowed or stopped cable production since being bought out  —  
  • Strobes today have protective barriers built in to prevent external sources  —  
  • And those who distribute parts have doubled prices —  
  • My closest electronics store is an hour away 60 miles south — 
  • My closest Camera Store of any consequence is Orlando 110 miles from Tampa  —   
  • Amazon sells in bulk,  need one you get twenty, when I go to heaven,  nineteen parts 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 limited 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 — I’ll stick with Power Sonic in small fresh orders for the time being  —  
  • I don’t need a ton pallet in my living room — 
  • Covid killed the Wedding Business, 75% of my clientele were shooters and that market is quietly dead
  • COVID is back with a vengeance, that will kill whatever is left —  


Photography  —  Fifty-Nine Years And Was Going Strong  —  History  —   

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 who got hernias 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 and hernia surgery quite popular.  

Our products using 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.   

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


History  -- 1968 - 2020  —  The BLACK BOX WAS AND IS an American product built with selected and measured parts from all over the world.   It was 100% all US hand built, hand soldered and sealed, using only RoHS Certified appliance grade fire proof wiring.  We never had a failure, batteries have a life but the box goes on forever since we had great components.

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.  Replace menus and part of the upgrade is to make the box do it yourself.  Part of the upgrade and all you need is a screwdriver.

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.

Yes, Sealed Lead Acid Batteries (SLA) are declared non-hazardous for air shipping with caps in place and secure.  


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.
  • Change or polish years off of the rivets
  • Rewire if unit has the old wiring, most of the time I rewire it anyway since you can’t see corrosion internally 
  • It is rebuild with 2021 schematic and the fats battery changing upgrade.
  • 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.  We save them for you.
  • Cases may be sanded, polished or cosmetically enhanced as well as can be.
  • Fittings - D rings replaced as needed. New rivets as needed  — 
  • Back Tab reinstalled and rivets drilled out, removed and reset. As needed  --
  • 2nd DIN added and RCA removed, two matching Dins Installed in 2021 configuration if your unit is old.
  • All new RoHS high capacity fireproof wiring installed. (Airline proof) hand soldered, all insulated, new 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,  Flawless for Decades...

PRIMARY - I prefer for you to use USPS PRIORITY MAIL.  And 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

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”.

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 dangerous to me and my patients. 

The contacts are covered with red caps as per shipping and airline regulations.  DO not throw them away, the airlines want to see them.  

Screen Shot this form, fill it out and enclose  with your box  —  




Cables  —  I can still fix cables.  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 .  

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. 

The most common layouts,  is the MB-A MB5, MB2, MB3 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, 

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.    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.  

We also rebuild these units for spelunkers, bike riders at night powering a really bright light.  We have upgraded 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,  and we share with no one.  Just list the items or services you want in the "message section" and we'll take it from there. 

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.  

Enclose a check or we prefer PayPal  —  Same as my email  -- 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.

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. 

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.  Not all of the electrical stuff blows because of God.  Man does a fair job of blowing stuff up all by himself — 

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.

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 and 2.5 pounds of lead right to the left side of his brain.   The bad guy suffered more than the box, which survived, luckily so did the guys head.  Paramedics and police arrived,  and he was arrested for both attempted robbery,  also assault, and since value was over 100 dollars value a felony not a misdemeanor. the hospital bill was excessive.  Crainial MRI and stitches.


If your unit is old, and having  a problem, Please contact me at 727 – 812-8101  NOTE:   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


PART THREE — DIGITAL SCANNING

06/04/2021   aljacobsladder.com