Vivitar 285 Flash Repair
July 14, 2009
Last year Emily and I were taking some engagement photos for a couple in the Asheville area. At one point we set up an umbrella for some fill light. Unfortunately the wind got hold of it and pulled the stand over, flash and all. As you can see the result was a broken foot on one of my Vivitar 285 flashes.
My original plan was to mount a 1/4 x 20 stud somewhere on the flash. Apparantly though I’m not the only person that had this problem because I found a booming parts market for these things. These particular replacement shoes have a metal foot and a real PC sync socket built into them. At six or seven dollars a pop, they were also much cheaper than any home rig I could have come up with.
When you remove the old foot from the 285 you will find four wires—red, black, white, and green. Using a good soldering iron and a steady hand you can detach the red and black wires from the old foot. Disregard the other two wires and merely cut them loose. On the replacement shoe there is a solder tab in the center and another to the side. The red wire goes to the center and the black wire goes to the side. I recommend testing the unit at this point as some people have reported duds from the factory.
Once you have the new foot firmly seated on the flash and screwed in place it is good to test it again. It looks like it would be fairly easy to short out the two conductors when you are forcing everything back together.
The job is simple and only takes about fifteen to thirty minutes per flash. The soldering is the hardest part of the job because of the short wires and the tiny solder lugs. I found that tinning everything first freed up a hand to get the wire where it needed to be. The end result is a more durable flash that has a useful sync port. We will see in the future if these PC terminals are less prone to misfires than the old Vivitar plugs!