Pocket Wizard trouble shooting

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by NikNikon, Oct 4, 2009.

  1. NikNikon

    NikNikon TPF Noob!

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    Hey all, new to the forum. I Googled "Pocket Wizard Forum" and this is the first site that came up. I realize this isn't exactly what I was looking for but there seems to be some knowledgeable people here so I figured I give it a shot.

    Today in the middle of a on location photo shoot my pocket wizard system stopped working. At first I checked the cord going to the flash (Alien Bee 800) and it was plugged in correctly. Next I checked the test button on the PW receiver and the flash fired. Next I hit the test button on the PW transmitter and nothing. Batteries are fresh and everything on the units were flashing like normal. Next I tried different channels to no avail.

    Not wanting to waste my clients time I put off any further trouble shooting and spent the rest of the session plugged directly to the transmitter or using my hot shoe flash (which I totally hate using now, spoiled big time on the off camera flash look).

    Later at home I tried a different set up, plugged the units into my hot shoe flash with a different cable. When I switched the receiver on this time the LED's stayed on. After a minute or so they went back to blinking. Eventually I could get the flash to fire by hitting the test button on the transmitter but it wouldn't fire every time. When I put in on the camera I couldn't get a thing. I'm stumped, my next stop is checking some units on Ebay but I thought I'd see what kind of feedback I could get here before I commit to buying more units.

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Welcome to the forum.

    I've had some trouble with pocket wizards from time to time. It seems that most of the time, it's a connection problem...which can usually be fixed by changing out the cord or adjusting/holding the cord in a different way. Do you just put the PW in the hotshoe or do you use the PC port on the camera? You can even use both.

    Sometimes though, the problem isn't easily identifiable and of course, there is not time to really figure it out...you just have to try something else and keep shooting.

    One thing to double (and triple) check, is that the batteries really are fresh. NiMH batteries, for example, loose power even without use, so they need to be charged often.

    I'm not 100% sure which mode they should be in, but I remember once that trying different modes (camera/flash/both) seemed to work...even though it should have worked with the initial settings.
     
  3. NikNikon

    NikNikon TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the reply Mike. I'm running the PW in the hot shoe. I almost positive that the problem I am having is on the receivers end. The status LED on the particular unit stays on solid, when the unit was functioning correctly it blinked. I always charge my batteries right before each shoot, and have tried a series of different batteries so I'm pretty certain they are not the problem. Also, since the LED on the unit is on solid I haven't been able to get the flash to fire. In the meantime I've ordered a 40 ft. 1/8 male to male cable to get me by providing my old cheap China wireless unit doesn't do the job on location shoots (I've only used it inside)

    On a side note I remember reading just recently to keep clear of big metal objects with the PW's, I was shooting between 2 large railroad cars when they stopped functioning. I can see this being a temporary reason for it's failure but I'd think once you were in a different area they would return to normal. Any chance this is why it's broken?
     
  4. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I agree with you, rail cars may cause an interference but I can't see them actually affecting the PW permanently.

    I've heard of all sorts of things affecting their range (like holding them horizontally, rather than vertically) but that's your problem.

    I don't think you mentioned which PW units you are using. I just assumed it was the Plus II transceivers. If that's the case, have you tried swapping the camera unit to the flash and vice versa? That, at least, might help you figure out which unit is causing the problem.

    If you need them for a shoot, you could maybe just buy a new one and get the defective one looked at. Providing, of course, that you can isolate the problem to one of the units.

    I've been using the Cyber Syncs (from Paul Buff/Alien Bee) and they have been working great, certainly much better than the cheap Cactus triggers I have.
     
  5. NikNikon

    NikNikon TPF Noob!

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    Hey Mike, unfortunately I only have the Pocket Wizard Plus units so I am unable to swap them around. You're the second person to recommend the Paul Bluff sync units to me. Since they are cheaper than the PW's maybe I'll look into a new set up, get my other PW unit fixed and Ebay them. Too bad, I was under the assumption that the Wizards where THE remote triggers to have.
     
  6. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Most pros that I know, do use PWs....and really seem to like them a lot. Of course, they all use the Plus II models. I do know one or two who did use the older models but they have long since upgraded.

    I guess you are just unlucky to have had one crap out on you.
     

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