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04-22-2019, 06:43 PM - 1 Like   #1
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Minimise Misfire Risk and some other Cactus specific stuff

I shot a wedding last Friday and had a few misfires with my set up, enough to make it annoying and want to really troubleshoot it. Mostly the misfires occurred outdoors. I'll get into my set up and what was going on in more detail;

- Two cameras (K-1 and KP) each equipped with a V6ii in Tx mode.
- 2x RF60x units
- Light stands and diffuser umbrellas with the RF60x's onboard.
- Ikea LADDA rechargable batteries in all Cactus equipment.

What was happening, for example, formal shots post ceremony outdoors. Using HSS and having the umbrellas/flashes camera left and camera right so I could assist in some fill light for the group shots. Sometimes one flash fired, sometimes both wouldn't. Sometimes I would try 7-8x in a row and they both refused to fire, yet when inspecting all equipment nothing seemed as it shouldn't be. Although the power settings were perhaps highish there was definitely significant down time between shots as discussions surrounding group dynamics took place (ie it just wasn't that intensive). I often had to turn all units off (triggers and flashes) and back on and try again, which seemed more often than not to fix the issue. Battery levels inspected and all came back fine. Changed coms from short to long, made no difference (flashes were pretty close by, within 2-3m from trigger which I think is fine for close range anyway?). It was just annoying, maybe a good 25-30% of the time misfires for the formal shots.

Mind you this was just on that occasion, later in the evening I set up a softbox with one flash and had no misfires (different location). So it feels like it could be 'environment' (even though both locations were outdoors) or perhaps more misfires occur when two units are involved rather than one?

So...

- Do I change channel? As currently I am just using the standard Channel 1 etc. Have people changed channels before and experienced better success? What's your fav channel!?
- Try other batteries? I say this only because some people have mentioned in Godox groups that the Xpro trigger is less reliable than their older Godox triggers, some users report changing from rechargable to alkalines made a big difference? Hmm...


And so some other issues with Cactus;

- I have a large 120cm octa softbox which is great, I can also put two rf60x units inside for additional power if need be, however with the misfires I am a little uncomfortable about placing two inside because I simply cannot verify when setting things up and judging the light and getting my power settings right, are both firing or only one etc. And if one stops firing in a session and the other one is firing, it should be obvious but then its hard to tell if the ambient light has changed etc. I really appreciated the fact that on the wedding day I split my flashes up and so could 'keep an eye on them' as I took the shot ensuring both were firing. This ability is lost once I place them both in softbox. So... do I make one be optically triggered instead? Or can you buy a cable which connects one speedlight to the other and triggers it? I'd actually rather have a complete misfire and nothing come out of the softbox rather than 1 firing and 1 not etc.

- I noticed with the V6ii, if I turned on all the flash units and connect things up, say I had flash A and B on, and A was at 32 and B 64 (manual power I mean), when I adjust the power it adjusts it globally, which is fine, I can increase power so that both are at maximum (so flash A is 1 and B is 1), however when decreasing power it didn't make them move together back down at the same power adjustment. A would stay at 1 and B would go to 2>4 etc and then flash A would then start to decrease (in essence it recalled their initial differences in power settings). How can I make that not happen? Like get both flashes to adjust in power at the same levels when toggling up and down? Does that make sense? I think the only way is to recall what power one flash is, turn it off on the V6ii, adjust the other flash to being the same, then toggle the other flash back on the V6ii and then adjust, is that right?

- If my K-1 has the Zoom on the V6ii at 85mm and power at full, and the V6ii on my KP has the power at 128 and zoom at 24mm... what happens between the shots taken? Say I take a shot with the K-1 first, and then directly press the shutter on the KP after that shot, is the KP shot still firing the same RF60x units in the settings used previously before (ie the RF60x units will be at 85mm and full power) despite it's V6ii trigger saying something different?
I shall do some testing of my own in this and report back, previously before I just tested if two v6ii units in Tx mode could control the same flashes (and they can) I just never considered how the differing settings on the V6ii units might factor in for the shots taken...

Ultimately I am pretty happy with the system, if I could minimise misfires and also have confidence when I can't see the actual flash units firing that they are both triggered that would be idea. Some of that is just down to experience, like I can tell sometimes that it appears the shot taken one flash didn't go off etc, I'm just not quite at that place of being experienced enough to know it intuitively yet. It's one thing to get a mannequin out and take test shots, another thing to actually do it with real people on the day under varying ambient light conditions and know with confidence whether both flashes fired or one didn't etc.


TIA!

Bruce

04-22-2019, 07:07 PM   #2
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Perhaps the interference came from 2 tx close together? Sounds annoying hope you get it figured out.
04-22-2019, 08:55 PM   #3
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I tried to replicate your situation. Two RF60X flashes one on group A, one on Group B. K1 with V6Iii on tx, K3 with V6ii on tx. Both transmitters in manual power adjustment (not TTL). With both cameras and transmitters turned on, firing randomly between the cameras, one of the flashes stopped responding, had to turn it off the get it to respond again even after I had shut one transmitter off. In this very unscientific trail, I concluded that there becomes a conflict between the two triggers and flashes.

This is the only time I've ran two triggers/cameras at the same time. Using the two flashes with one camera/trigger setup I've not had misfires, unless I'm two quick and don't let the flash cycle/recharge.

I don't know if this helps you, but maybe it gives you a direction to test. Good Luck.
I have been quite happy with the cactus setups, If I get time later I'll mess around with them some more.

Last edited by Roadboat24; 04-22-2019 at 09:01 PM.
04-22-2019, 09:14 PM - 1 Like   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Roadboat24 Quote
I tried to replicate your situation. Two RF60X flashes one on group A, one on Group B. K1 with V6Iii on tx, K3 with V6ii on tx. Both transmitters in manual power adjustment (not TTL). With both cameras and transmitters turned on, firing randomly between the cameras, one of the flashes stopped responding, had to turn it off the get it to respond again even after I had shut one transmitter off. In this very unscientific trail, I concluded that there becomes a conflict between the two triggers and flashes.

This is the only time I've ran two triggers/cameras at the same time. Using the two flashes with one camera/trigger setup I've not had misfires, unless I'm two quick and don't let the flash cycle/recharge.

I don't know if this helps you, but maybe it gives you a direction to test. Good Luck.
I have been quite happy with the cactus setups, If I get time later I'll mess around with them some more.
Thanks for testing, much appreciated. On the day that I did get issues I had the V6ii on my KP, KP on, V6ii on (in Tx mode), but it was just sitting down on the ground chillin', and the K-1 was having issues. Perhaps all that needs to happen is for another V6ii in Tx mode to be on to cause issues, perhaps turning it off will help...

I could always do what I did before which was to remove the V6ii trigger from one camera to the other when I wanted to use a different camera, I thought I was just saving time and headaches by having the KP ready with one but perhaps it was the main culprit it making things worse...

Thanks again.

04-22-2019, 10:02 PM   #5
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Don't know if this helps Eddy but you can set the sleep timer on the RF60 units to a longer duration.
04-22-2019, 10:09 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by pschlute Quote
Don't know if this helps Eddy but you can set the sleep timer on the RF60 units to a longer duration.
Thanks I'll look into that, I'm pretty sure this wasn't what was happening, and does a V6ii communication to fire the shot not wake them up? I factory reset my RF60x's before the event, what is the default sleep for the RF60x's? 15mins?
04-22-2019, 10:18 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by BruceBanner Quote
I factory reset my RF60x's before the event, what is the default sleep for the RF60x's? 15mins?
Did the factory reset maintain the firmware version ?

Cannot recall the default sleep but you can set it to 3mins-60mins or off entirely
04-22-2019, 10:25 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by pschlute Quote
Did the factory reset maintain the firmware version ?

Cannot recall the default sleep but you can set it to 3mins-60mins or off entirely
IIRC I think I factory reset then update firmware (as that thought crossed my mind), I know I'm all up to date with my triggers and flashes. I rarely look into deeper options tbh, I must tinker some more.

04-22-2019, 11:28 PM   #9
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I have had great feedback on Cactus website. You might reach out to that community as well

Photobill

---------- Post added 04-22-19 at 11:40 PM ----------

My technique to set both of the flashes powers the same.
Turn on the flashes & transmitter
Turn on "A" & B" on the V6II
Turn the power dial until one or the other "A" or "B" reads 1/1
Turn that one off (not flash but button on V6 II)
Turn dial until the remaining one reads 1/1
Then turn on the one you had turned off
Both should adjust equally at this point
Probably is an easer way but that's what works for me

I don't know why but after using Cactus transmitter & flashes for a period of time (weeks) I will start to have misfires. I will reinstall the same firmware and the problems will clear up. This was maddening to do the EXACT setup you had previously done only to have problems. Even the factory reset would not clear it up only reinstalling the firmware works for me.

Good luck,
Photobill

Last edited by Photobill; 04-22-2019 at 11:55 PM.
04-23-2019, 05:40 AM   #10
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Ok. Had another go at this. Apparently when trying to control the flashes with two triggers at the same time, same group, same channel, they get confused. Like trying to listen to two radio stations on the same frequency, they just get garbled. With mine, the flash would lockup and not respond, had to shut it off to reset it. If one trigger was off, the first would control like normal, if then shut first trigger off and turned second trigger on, it would control normally. I don't think this gains you anything over just pulling the trigger to the second camera. In any case, having two triggers trying to control a flash at the same time doesn't work. Good thing to know if your around someone else with a cactus setup....

---------- Post added 04-23-19 at 06:20 AM ----------

Ran across this...
Send power change signal each time flash is triggered ? Cactus Community

I tried this, it did seem to work.


as a side note, having one trigger set power level group A=1, B=256 and the second trigger set A=256, B=1, (and not flicking the adjustment) the flash would show one or the other setting but would flash at each triggers setting. If I didn't flick the adjustment as described, one flash would eventually lockup and would not reset even after flicking the adjustment until shut off. It seemed to be the same flash each time, maybe that particular unit has a defect,... Interesting problem though.

Last edited by Roadboat24; 04-23-2019 at 07:10 AM.
04-23-2019, 07:00 AM - 1 Like   #11
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The purpose of radio channels is to avoid conflicting transmissions. In principle, a number of photographers each with a transmitter and a number of receiver flashes can operate in the same area so long as they use different channels [and/or ID codes]. With one photographer and two Tx, it will be necessary to either (a) set the Tx to different channels and set the receiver flashes to the channel to be used, or, more practically, (b) keep one Tx unpowered when not in control.

P.S. There are 16 radio channels and 999 radio ID codes available, so a significant crowd of Cactus embracing photographers should be able to operate in close proximity if they coordinate their settings.
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Last edited by kaseki; 04-23-2019 at 07:16 AM.
04-23-2019, 10:10 PM - 1 Like   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Photobill Quote
I have had great feedback on Cactus website. You might reach out to that community as well

My technique to set both of the flashes powers the same.
Turn on the flashes & transmitter
Turn on "A" & B" on the V6II
Turn the power dial until one or the other "A" or "B" reads 1/1
Turn that one off (not flash but button on V6 II)
Turn dial until the remaining one reads 1/1
Then turn on the one you had turned off
Both should adjust equally at this point
Probably is an easer way but that's what works for me

I don't know why but after using Cactus transmitter & flashes for a period of time (weeks) I will start to have misfires. I will reinstall the same firmware and the problems will clear up. This was maddening to do the EXACT setup you had previously done only to have problems. Even the factory reset would not clear it up only reinstalling the firmware works for me.

Good luck,
Photobill
Yeah that is what I think I had to do to get both flashes to rise up and down at the same power levels, get them to match, toggle off one, toggle it back on etc, much like you wrote above.

Right now I don't know if my misfires are down to a second V6ii unit perhaps being on or whatever. I haven't fully exhausted my options but unless Cactus bring out a strobe in the near future I will likely be moving to Godox anyway out of necessity (and can only hope misfires on that line is less than with Cactus). I don't like the thought of selling and having to buy all over again but I am starting to feel the pressure of needing a strobe and I don't really want to start stacking stuff on my hotshoes to manage multiple light set ups with strobes...

QuoteOriginally posted by Roadboat24 Quote
Ok. Had another go at this. Apparently when trying to control the flashes with two triggers at the same time, same group, same channel, they get confused. Like trying to listen to two radio stations on the same frequency, they just get garbled. With mine, the flash would lockup and not respond, had to shut it off to reset it. If one trigger was off, the first would control like normal, if then shut first trigger off and turned second trigger on, it would control normally. I don't think this gains you anything over just pulling the trigger to the second camera. In any case, having two triggers trying to control a flash at the same time doesn't work. Good thing to know if your around someone else with a cactus setup....

---------- Post added 04-23-19 at 06:20 AM ----------

Ran across this...
Send power change signal each time flash is triggered ? Cactus Community

I tried this, it did seem to work.


as a side note, having one trigger set power level group A=1, B=256 and the second trigger set A=256, B=1, (and not flicking the adjustment) the flash would show one or the other setting but would flash at each triggers setting. If I didn't flick the adjustment as described, one flash would eventually lockup and would not reset even after flicking the adjustment until shut off. It seemed to be the same flash each time, maybe that particular unit has a defect,... Interesting problem though.

That Cactus forum link, the guy pretty much nailed it at what I was doing and experiencing at my wedding on Friday, two cameras, two different primes on each one, two different V6ii's with settings set for each one, different apertures and therefore needing different power settings. Swapping the triggers over is a bit of a pain so what you want is to kinda set things up and then just go between the two cameras. I will try his 'toggle the power one way or another and back again, then shoot' trick, because I wasn't doing that and I think it contributed somewhat to my issues (that and just general lock ups...).

I have some ideas for future commercial shoots where I try and make life simple for myself. The idea is to have one camera set up with a V6ii for using a FA77 and FA43, using fairly wide apertures like f2 or f2.5 etc. Get the V6ii to have a zoom setting that works (or half way between each focal length etc) and then despite lens swapping I will still hopefully get fine exposed images between the two primes for what I want.

The other camera has something like a Sigma 10-20, a wide angle, f4-5.6, and thus needs different powering settings with it's V6ii attached. And so I can generate 2-3 different style shots all from the same location to add versatility to the shoot, and do it with speed and efficiency, not swapping V6ii triggers and constantly adjusting power. Seems a simply roll fwd and back of the V6ii dial will fix things and hopefully I run into less problems.

---------- Post added 04-24-19 at 03:51 PM ----------

So I just had to check for myself... I did the following;

K-1 + V6ii, Group A, 1/256 power.
KP + V6ii, Group A, 1/1 power.

1x RF60x, Group A, I noted power says 1/Lo

I have no issue with power being weird from taking one shot with the K-1 (flash is weak) and one shot with the KP (flash is full strength), I can go back and forth between the two no issues in terms of them getting the right power from the shutter being fired, no need to send a signal to the RF60x unit via a change in power on the V6ii wheel (and back) for example.

So I'm just left with perhaps if continually going between the two it confuses one or both and they lock up...
04-24-2019, 10:45 AM   #13
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Hello,

I have to thank "BruceBanner" for posting usually very interesting threads.
I'm afraid this time I can not contribute much, except for more questions. There is a point that I'm missing here, let's see if I can explain it, this is what I understand:

* Cactus V6 II is announced as having multi-master capabilities.
* This means, for me, that I can have up to 20 triggers in Tx mode controlling one or more set of receivers with different settings, so when I fire a trigger, it's settings are sent to the receiver(s) and then, the fire signal. This is at least how it works for my Godox triggers.
* In multi-master configuration, triggers and receivers are set on the same channel
* A trigger is only transmitting when you change settings or send the fire signal
* So I don't see a problem with two or more triggers on the same channel, if you are not firing it exactly at the same time. What am I missing here ? , why just having two triggers set on the same channel, but doing nothing, can produce a malfuntioning on a receiver ?

I usually work with two triggers for my Godox lights and never saw a problem. Not all of my triggers have multi-master capabilities. I usually have the same power for all my lights, but any trigger fires different groups combination. All triggers and receivers share the same channel.

Finally, what's is an acceptable misfire percentage ? 0%... 1%... 5%... more ? In my case, I have a XproC with a 'fail ratio' of 4%, and for me, it's defective.


Regards.
04-24-2019, 05:49 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by morenjavi Quote
Hello,

I have to thank "BruceBanner" for posting usually very interesting threads.
I'm afraid this time I can not contribute much, except for more questions. There is a point that I'm missing here, let's see if I can explain it, this is what I understand:

* Cactus V6 II is announced as having multi-master capabilities.
* This means, for me, that I can have up to 20 triggers in Tx mode controlling one or more set of receivers with different settings, so when I fire a trigger, it's settings are sent to the receiver(s) and then, the fire signal. This is at least how it works for my Godox triggers.
* In multi-master configuration, triggers and receivers are set on the same channel
* A trigger is only transmitting when you change settings or send the fire signal
* So I don't see a problem with two or more triggers on the same channel, if you are not firing it exactly at the same time. What am I missing here ? , why just having two triggers set on the same channel, but doing nothing, can produce a malfuntioning on a receiver ?

I usually work with two triggers for my Godox lights and never saw a problem. Not all of my triggers have multi-master capabilities. I usually have the same power for all my lights, but any trigger fires different groups combination. All triggers and receivers share the same channel.

Finally, what's is an acceptable misfire percentage ? 0%... 1%... 5%... more ? In my case, I have a XproC with a 'fail ratio' of 4%, and for me, it's defective.


Regards.
Well I tested like I said above, I wasn't having issues going between two V6ii triggers in Tx mode with differing power settings to a single flash, it was working as you would expect, with the right power to being pushed out per trigger, nor misfires.

When I get misfires it's always at important gigs, sometimes it's user error, I accidentally pushed the RF60x into a different mode (which asks the question... is there a way to lock the RF60x to stop that from happening?). Othertimes it's not. Both flashes refusing to fire, both in the right mode, V6ii fine, nothing amiss, just complete failure and the only fix to turn everything off and on again.

Sometimes I think it's a battery issue, like I used 4xAA LADDA batteries in each RF60x for an entire wedding without changing batteries, they still were reading full at the end of the day... Hmm... I call BS on that. I'm starting to think my misfires are related to power issues and the battery indicator is not very good at judging the power remaining.
04-25-2019, 12:09 AM   #15
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Well... the plot thickens (slightly).

Today I was doing more testing of my RF60x units, outside under 1/1 power nonetheless. This RF60x unit is still carrying the same 4xAA's Ikea LADDA batteries that I charged last Thursday before the wedding I covered last Friday. It is now Thursday the following week and I haven't changed the batteries all throughout the wedding day nor since, and have done a small amount of test firing in the week as well.

The RF60x still shows full power on the battery indicator icon. I can't believe this is true... I mean during the wedding and a couple of misfires I suspected low battery power, yet checked and as always they both reported still being full... but that's a full days shooting with flash, and then a week of doing some more test shots... and they both still say full?

So... I check the manual and notice it says this;



And so I check the LADDA batteries and they are indeed Ni-MH batteries. It seems you cannot gauge the drain or health of these batteries in the RF60x units at all, and I bet this has a lot to do with my misfires.

Furthermore, on a Godox Facebook Group I asked people how they were finding the new Xpro trigger, and the type of batteries you use in the trigger was said to make a difference, saying to use Alkaline for less misfires.

Hmm... interesting.

Well... I would now like some advice of what other batteries I should consider for my Cactus range of equipment. Should I rock the LADDA's at home when misfires are not such an issue, but cover events with a set of Lithium or Alkaline batteries? Something like this?
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