After my post on the Aputure Trigmaster Plus 2.4G, I received a very helpful comment from Chris at Christographer in the UK (cheers, mate!) who gave me some tips on what to do to reset these units to not hop channels. I followed his steps, and mine are apparently different to his, because they still hopped channels. So I started playing with the things. I discovered that pressing hard on the front of the built-in hot shoe would make the channel skip, which indicated to me that it was not related to the flash but to the basic structural design of the Trigmaster Plus. I could replicate the channel skip across all four of my Trigmaster Plus units, so I could confidently state that it was definitely a basic design flaw.
So, bravely defying the warranty gods, I decided to go upstairs and disassemble one.
Those of you who know me know I’m a fairly competent modeler, meaning I build plastic models, and I am a fair hand at scratchbuilding. So armed with the knowledge of how plastic works, here’s what I did. You can see the bits of the Academy P-38F Lightning I am currently working on around this project.
1. Remove the batteries and cover, and remove the two screws that hold the Trigmaster Plus 2.4G together. (actually, it’s not really necessary to remove the batteries and cover, but I did anyway to avoid possible damage to the units)
2. Pop the Trigmaster Plus unit apart. The top by the antenna are snap-hook type attachment points, to GENTLY pry it apart starting with the hot foot base end. It should just pop apart. BE CAREFUL that the switches do not pop out and become sacrifices to the Carpet Monster.
3. Notice the little fins in the middle of the upper half of the unit, with the circuit board towards the hot foot. This is the problem area. The fins are not long enough to reinforce the shell of the unitl; all they do is separate the channel indicator LEDs so that you can clearly see what channel you’re on (before it randomly changes, of course). Here is where the reinforcement will be done.
4. Take a piece of thick card stock plastic (I have no idea what gauge it is; I have so much scrap card lying around it’s not funny and grabbed the thickest I could find) and cut it into a strip that is deep enough that it extends a millimeter or so beyond the ends of the fins. I did not measure this depth; I found a depth that worked and cut all four from that strip, so you can do this by trial and error too. In addition, I cut a smaller piece to glue at a right angle to the reinforcing strip as a brace.
5. Make sure that the main reinforcement bulkhead is short enough that it does not interfere with either the silver electronic component or the black plug on the other end. Glue this in place with a liquid model cement (NOT superglue or any other kind of cyanoacrylate cement — this stuff gasses off and can damage the circuits in the unit). I used Tenax 7R. It sets up quickly and is odor- and fume-free.
6. CAREFULLY reassemble the unit. It goes back together pretty easily, but just make sure that all the little wires are not being pinched (and are still connected), and that the antenna is correctly installed.
7. Replace the screws, install the batteries and the battery cover, and retest the unit to see if your handiwork has had its desired effect. In my case, they all seem to work perfectly – I cannot replicate the previous issues, but only time will tell whether the modification was totally successful. I will be using them at a shoot tomorrow night, so I’ll post on their performance when I am finished with that shoot.