Vintage Stroboflash

Why I developed the RBPS Rechargeable Battery Power Supply for the Stroboflash line of photographic strobe units.


I have been involved in photography and electronics all of my life. At age 8, I was processing film in my bedroom closet and doing contact prints. In 7th grade (1965) my buddy Bill and I built a Tesla Coil for the school science fair. We eventually won 3rd place at the City of Chicago citywide science fail. In 8th grade (1966) I built a charge pulse ruby LASER for the same science fair.

During my years at University of Illinois College of Engineering I ran a photographic service doing fraternity / sorority party and dance pictures. That is where I developed my LUST for Stroboflash equipment. Stroboflash equipment at that time was the defacto standard issue portable flash equipment for professional photographers. Stroboflash units NEVER let me down and actually made a bit of money for me.

After graduation I became a building contractor. In the eighties I discovered the Zen of computers and opened a computer software company. No time for photography or electronics.

Fast forward to 2006.

My wife bought me a Nikon D70 for Christmas and I was again hooked on photography! I dragged out all my old Stroboflash equipment and discovered that the batteries cost $80 each!! I was just not going to pay $160 for one time use batteries. I used to pay $12 each in the 70's, and that was too much. The first thing I did was build a plug in the wall power supply for the Stroboflash. That worked great and I decided to sell one on EBay. The guy who bought it was satisfied but one of the guys who did not win the bid contacted me about building more AC power supplies. I turns out he is the worlds largest collector of Stroboflash equipment. We developed quite an email / internet relationship. He convinced me that the world would sink in to oblivion unless I designed a rechargeable battery power supply for the Stroboflash. Not wanting to spend the rest of my life living in oblivion, I spent the better part of 3 months developing the RBPS.

The first prototype used parts that I had on hand. From my workshop I grabbed the battery off my Dewalt circular saw, using it for the RBPS power. The unit worked the first time I turned it on and I was STOKED (surfer talk - means whoopee!). I sent a prototype to my new found buddy, the collector, and he had to purchase a large supply of DEPENDS because he was peeing in his pants!

The Dewalt battery worked great but did not quite fit in the case. There was no commonly available connector to connect to it so we decided to use off the shelf robot / radio controlled car batteries. Twenty C sized cells connected in series turns out to provide a huge amount of power. I am quoting 400 flashes per charge but that is very conservative. After several hundred flashes the unit never slows down. I suspect the actual number of flashes per charge is much closer to 1000. Much, much more if you fire at lower power settings.

So that is the story. The RBPS is a really solid design. If you have Stoboflash equipment you really need some RBPS units to power them. They will be available 08/2006. We are waiting on the production PC boards to come back from the manufacturer. I will assemble and test them here at my shop in Florida.

Best Regards

Stroboflash AL


RBPS Prototype #1 (05/2006)
Uses one Dewalt 18v NiCd drill battery. Nice for a first prototype but a little kludgy.


RBPS Prototype #3 (Pre-production model) 07-2006
Uses two widely available 12volt NiMh RC car batteries.