Nice idea guys. I’m starting to think the people at Pocket Wizard are barely capable of basic electronic design after working with the Pocket Wizard PowerMC2. It does do what it’s supposed to for the most part as far as remotely controlling the power output of the strobe but leaves much to be desired as far as logical, functional, non breakable design. Also sporadically the modeling light will turn on without warning which was supposed to be fixed in the most current version of the firmware for the Pocket Wizard Flex system but I was able to fix that by removing the bulb. Since I run exclusively on batteries having the modeling light kick on at random is a scary situation because it is a high wattage bulb that will drain the batteries extremely quickly leaving me without my high power flash.
First, I’ll have to qualify why I am annoyed with Pocket Wizard. In 2010 I bought several Flex TT5 wizards to embark on a wonderful journey into high speed, off camera sync. Little did I know that Pocket Wizard really did not have a clue what they were doing and being a Canon user I got screwed because I had the flagship flash from Canon at the time; the 580 EX II. Pocket Wizards ineptness in the design process for the Flex TT5s was dramatically exposed when the device would BARELY function with the 580 EX II because of interference generated by the flash. Interference generated, that they probably should have known about being that they are an radio electronics company designing a tranceiver specifically for that flash. But apparently they didn’t care and started shipping the Flex with a cute little baggie to put your 580 in to reduce the RF emissions. A called it a shroud of doom because after using it twice my 580 got fried and needed to be sent back to Canon for repair. I suppose we could say it was a coincidence, but after putting the death shroud on the flash died. I’ve noticed that Pocket Wizard has not commented on the kill the flash experience that others have had so perhaps I just imagined it. Right.
Now this isn’t rocket science. I know rocket scientists and wow are those people smart. I also know some RF engineers and while they are smart they are not putting a man on the moon. I don’t think Pocket Wizard ever really addressed these issues and tried to make Canon 580 owners feel bad about owning the flagship flash from Canon. I suppose if I had made a mistake that large and was the industry leader and standard in the business of radio flash control I would have fixed the problem not villainizing Canon. Bad move Pocket Wizard and you have reaped the rewards with terrible reviews of what would have been a revolutionary product. I suppose they are feeling the heat of other RF EEs (Pocket Wizard will know what that means when they read this review) who were fed up with being limited by the industry standard who made their own manual control radio transmitters such as RadioPopper. Don’t need high speed or Einstein control and want consistent manual control? Go RadioPopper JrX Studio Kit with Transmitter and Receiver. Just don’t forget the RadioPopper RPCube for Canon. They’ve got one for Nikon too.
So I sold all of the Flex Pocket Wizard stuff and bought Radio Popper gear which performed excellently for remote power control on multiple flashes. Very good stuff and very inexpensive. But I kept finding that I wanted to go back to high speed sync and manually control the power with simple idiot-proof knobs so I bought the Pocket Wizard Flex again and added the AC3 Zone controller for manual high speed control. Plus I wanted a more precision main strobe for most of my wedding and portrait work and bought the Paul C Buff Einstein, a beautiful high power strobe with excellent color and output control. Pocket Wizard made the only remote manual receiver for the Einstein that would work with Canon strobes and the Einstein so I also bought the Pocket Wizard Power MC2. A cute name, but a flawed design. This is where the monkeys that apparently took over Pocket Wizard for the initial design of the Flex system took over the shop again and came up with this:
The dimension of the receiver that is sticking out of the Einstein is about 1″ wide by .25″ thick but about 3.5″ long. This example is shown sans the stiff plastic antenna cover after it was knocked off at this weeks wedding. Both times that the antenna cover/cap has been popped off it was barely tapped against something during transport from one place to another. One good whack a little bit lower and the case to the receiver itself could have happened and then I would be without control of my strobe. That is not acceptable on a shoot and certainly is not acceptable at a wedding. I do not enjoy leaving pieces of my gear strewn around when I leave a shoot.
I’m sure it is recommended by the company that you remove the receiver each time you relocated but that is not acceptable. Being in a fast pace business I demand excellence from the tools that I use and taking them apart each time I have to relocate is not acceptable especially for the premium that is paid for Pocket Wizards. It shows the laziness of the designers of this device and puts another very poor view of Pocket Wizard in my eyes. I’ve scrawled how the receiver should have been designed on a scrap of paper below:
This child like drawing shows what the PocketWizard MC2 receiver should have looked like. My new and improved design reminds me of the Calumet Litelinks. Go ahead Pocket Wizard, take my scrawl and use the design to improve the product because when I snap it off at a wedding and am left without a receiver to control that strobe I will start producing videos that rip you a new one. For wedding clients reading this, this device breaking doesn’t leave me high and dry. I have other strobes and controllers with me. It’s just incredibly annoying.
Sadly I do have to admit that not all of the blame goes squarely on Pocket Wizards mighty shoulder. Paul C Buff’s radio control system, the CyberSync receiver for the Einstein is equally stupid in it’s design. They just seemed to have enough sense to not have the device be as tall as the Power MC2. All around no one gets much credit and everyone gets the blame. Mostly Pocket Wizard though.
To solve this issue since there is not a solution anywhere, I’ve decided to develop a flat cable to insert into the Einstein strobe and string to the Power MC2 flatly velcroed to the side of the strobe. This will take a way the issues of ripping off the Power MC2. Below I have a few pictures to show the temporary solution. Hopefully I can source some parts from Digikey that will make a more permanent solution but I’ve got to do more research on electronic parts before that can happen. This was a Fry’s special pile of wires for an Arduino add on kit.
Found these wires on Amazon for $7 bucks and they came with the header parts and the wires with square ends to fit on the PowerMC2. If you are so inclined to trying to make your PowerMC2 less breakable snag this jumper wire kit to make this little project.