Improving the reliability of a Canon Speedlite 580EXII: The sexiest mod I have ever seen!!!

26 01 2010

Ever since discovering the Strobist site, I have been trying to learn as much as possible about getting my flash off camera. I know it is possible to use cheap manual flashes to achieve the same results but I got a Canon 580EXII and a 430EX so that if I wanted to,  I could make use of the Canon wireless ETTL system but for the majority of the time, I use manual. We modded the 430EX HERE!

The 580EXII is the first Canon flashgun that I know of that has any kind of external sync port, the crappiest PC connection EVER! I hated it, my most expensive flashgun and it didn’t work half the time. Time for some DIY.

We went into this project fairly confident we could do it but we had no idea what to expect when we got inside the flash, where could we put the mono socket? Other mod tutorials we’d seen involve drilling through the body or the foot of the flash.

The first thing we did was to remove the foot assembly from the flash so that we could see what was going on inside. We were pleasantly surprised to find that we didn’t have to get inside of the guts of the flashgun. Once the foot was off, we realised that the PC port could just be popped out of the plastic housing and just happened to be exactly the same size as the 3.5mm mono jack that it was to be replaced with, bonus!

Another bonus, as the crappy PC port was not going to be used EVER again so once that was binned, the connecting wires could be used to connect the mono socket. All this for a grand total of 99p and no butchery needed.

I guess this is where I should warn you not to try this if you are not confident in your ability to solder the connections or if you are a touch nervous about voiding your warranty! Here goes!

1. Remove the four screws (circled) to remove the foot from the flashgun.

Removing the foot

2. Remove the foot from the flashgun by disconnecting the cable (shown by red arrow). This is not essential but does make life a hell of a lot easier when it comes to making the connections.

Removing the foot

3. The PC socket just pops out of the foot housing, leaving the perfect 3.5mm mono jack socket sized hole. The mono socket was a tight fit so we had to file away a part of the inside of the foot to allow the socket to fit comfortably. The old (now removed) PC socket is shown circled in red, the green arrow shows where it fits through the body of the flashgun and the blue arrow points to the newly attached mono socket using the existing PC cables.

Removing the PC socket and replacing with the mono jack socket

4. The finished article, I’m well chuffed with this and so far, it has been 100% reliable!

The finished article

5. And just for good measure, Leighton did the SB-24. I couldn’t stay for this so I left it in his custody. Thanks mate, I owe you one!

Modded SB-24

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11 responses

26 01 2010
Si

hehe… Nice one mate! Good to see some ‘exploded views’ too! :)

18 02 2010
monkeyinabox

Can you clarify where the blue and grey wires are soldered to on the new 3.5mm mono jack ( I see the blue one in the photo, but those jacks seem to have more than two places to attach the wires)?

18 02 2010
andrewwdavies

@monkeyinabox The blue and grey wires were the existing wires from the PC socket. The grey wire is soldered onto the tab directly opposite to the one where the blue wire is attached. Leighton tested the circuit before actually soldering it just to be sure, to be honest, I don’t know enough about these connectors to explain what the other tabs are for, something I’ll check up on and maybe update here in the comments in the future or maybe in a separate post if it’s complicated ;-)

22 02 2010
John

I did the modification today to my 580exII. Works great! Thanks for putting this together.

22 02 2010
Wedding Photographer French Riviera

Great post – I’m not quite brave enough to try this on my 580 exII though.

Flashzebra produces a PC cord for the 580 ex II that screws in – works OK.

Thanks,

Blaise

24 03 2010
24 03 2010
pcunite

P.S. Where can I buy this jack in the US?

24 03 2010
andrewwdavies

Sorry, I’m UK based so I have no idea where you could get the socket.

24 03 2010
25 03 2010
pcunite

One more question, any particular soldering wire that is recommended for electronics like this?

9 04 2010
pcunite

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