So, in thinking about and planning some of the night shots of the jumps at Mont Ripley one of the biggest challenges I was going to have to overcome was triggering all of the lights. I am working on this project with my friend Jeff and between us I think we had 8 or 9 strobes, 2 Pocket Wizards, and a handful of ebay triggers. Initially I was thinking that we could use the Pocket Wizards to fire the ebay transmitter which would be placed in close proximity to the the lights. This would probably work just fine, but even on the best of days I could only expect about an 80% fire rate with my old set. So, since the snow has kind of sucked and we haven’t been shooting all that much, I decided to look into some alternative ways of triggering the strobes which would hopefully be more reliable.
Enter Add-a-Tap and Zip Cord!
If you haven’t heard of either of these products, and are into lighting, you are going to be glad you stumbled upon this post. Zip Cord is just your basic 18 gauge 2 wire lamp cord. Add-a-Taps are these little clip on gadgets that let you add a female household (HH) plug inline. These components are commonly used in gym’s and arenas to fire dedicated strobe setups. This is a cheap and very effective way of triggering multiple lights. Add-a-Taps are about $0.71/each and a 250′ spool of Zip Cord goes for just under $30 at Light Trader.
Hold on… we aren’t finished yet. You still need a way to connect your strobes and trigger – in this case a pocket wizard – to the Add-a-taps. Fortunately there is a company called FlashZebra.com that sells a variety of cords at very reasonable prices. For my purposes I picked up 1 HH –> MiniPhone, and 3 HH –> PC cords. The HH–>MiniPhone will be used to connect my pocket wizard to the system, and the HH–>PC cords will be used to connect my strobes.
So, for relatively little money, you can pickup equipment that will allow you to expand your flash triggering abilities without going into debt. Even if you wanted to fire 15 strobes, it would cost you less than $125. Compare that to 16 Pocket Wizards at ~$2700 and you can see why this isn’t a bad way to go.
Anyway, if you found this interesting of useful please let me know. If you found it boring and useless… please let me know. I don’t want to waste my time or yours, so your feedback is greatly appreciated.
Below you can see how the system goes together. What I like about this system is how reliable it should be. All of the strobes are hardwired to the receiver, and I have the freedom to place the receiver in a position that minimizes the risks of misfires.
Here is an up-close shot of the add-a-tap/zip cord/HH plug assembly.