Vivitar 285HV problems...

Jun 15, 2011
Kennewick, WA
Recently I picked up a used Vivitar 285HV and I immediately noticed it has issues with triggering. It fires fine via the "test" button, but when triggered via the shoe OR sync port it has a really funny habit of firing once and then not wanting to fire again until either the power is cycled or the test button is pressed once (first press of the test button in this situation doesn't fire the flash).

I got to thinking that maybe it had sat for a long time and the capacitor needed "reforming" so I cycled it through dozens of full-power pops and left the flash "charging" for hours. After this it started to show signs of working. First at full power, then after much more messing with it, 1/2, then 1/4 and so on all the way down until finally it would trigger repeatedly (without a power cycle or test button press in between) at all power settings. Weird!

Also I noticed that the flash would behave differently whether it had alkaline or NIMH batteries in it. I did finally manage to get it working reliably for a solid day and it was great! I figured everything was okay and then the next day it started doing it all over again.

Currently it will not fire repeatedly under ANY means other than the test button. So strange! The test button triggers it reliably every time. But as soon as you trigger the flash via the hot shoe or sync cable it "freezes" until the power is cycled (or test button pressed). I picked up this flash EXTREMELY cheap so I'm not worried about the money, I'm just determined to not let this thing beat me! The flash is in practically new condition, it obvioulsy hasn't had a great deal of use. I am resolved to get the thing working right!

I've come to the conclusion that the problem HAS to be a short-circuit or some kind of ground wire resistance issue in the hot shoe itself so I've ordered a replacement shoe (aftermarket metal one). There are four wires that go from the flash to the OEM shoe (red, black, white, green). When installing the aftermarket metal shoe you are supposed to cap off the green and white leads and only use the red and black (power and ground).

I want to ask the members of the forum here if anyone else has EVER experienced this type of behavior in a Vivitar 285HV. And also, does anyone have experience installing an aftermarket shoe on one of these flahses?
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