Finally, the details of the modification of the Norman 200B for low voltage sync…
DISCLAIMER: The high voltage inside a Norman 200B can be lethal. Never measure with bare meter probes; use something like these Pamona test clips. Always allow the capacitors inside the 200B to discharge by turning the power switch to the off position for a long time. Perform this modification at your own and your equipment’s risk.
Here is a partial schematic of the controller board:
The SYNC connection goes out to the head and test switch. With the components shown, the SYNC voltage is somewhere around 100V. I have seen several controller boards with two 33k Ohm resistors in place of R1 and R2. These boards have a SYNC voltage of around 30V. Note that the case of t he 200B is positive (+BATT) and that the SYNC connection is negative relative to the case.
The TRIG connection also goes to the head. It sits at around -400V. The voltage charges the trigger capacitor in the head. When the SCR fires, it shorts the capacitor across the trigger coil which then fires the flash tube.
As drawn, the SYNC side of the diode is slightly more negative than the R2 side, which is around -80V. In the steady state, capacitor C1 (0.02uF) has about 320V across it. When the SYNC terminal is shorted to +BATT, C1 temporarily acts as a short circuit, pulling the gate of the SCR positive and causing it to fire, triggering the flash tube.
In order to convert the SYNC connection to a lower voltage, the values of R1 and R2 need to be lowered to reduce the voltage. To get about 12V at the SYNC connection, the resistances should be changed so that R1 is 120k and R2 is slightly lower, say 100k. The resistors can be replaced altogether or appropriately sized resistors can be piggy-backed onto the existing ones to yield the equivalent parallel resistance.
When the divided voltage is lowered, though, the flash will no longer reliably fire. This happens because when SYNC is shorted to +BATT, the positive spike on the SCR gate is smaller because the voltage across C1 increases when SYNC is made smaller. To correct this, the capacitance of C1 and the resistance of R3 both need to be increased. I found that adding a 0.1uF @ 500V capacitor in parallel with C1 and replacing R3 with a 330 Ohm resistor worked well to keep the current in the SYNC line when first shorted and then held about the same as with all the original component values.
Now, here’s a photo with the components labeled:
If a SYNC voltage lower than about 12V is desired, then the resistors dividers will need to be changed accordingly. Then R3 and C1 may also need to be adjusted for reliably triggering the flash.
Please forgive me for not actually inserting photos of the modification itself – if I wait until I get a chance to take them, this will never get posted… Please also forgive me for not giving real explicit details; the reason is twofold: 1) If you know what you’re doing, you can figure it out and 2) I’ve seen component value variations in the 8-10 boards I’ve touched which makes providing explicit details somewhat pointless.
The next project is to replace the analog logic performed by the op amps (which really should been comparators instead of op amps, but I digress…) with a microcontroller board that monitors the SYNC connection, triggers the flash, and controls the capacitor recharging. Using the microcontroller allows watching for pre-flash pulses used by Nikon CLS/AWL, which then allows the 200B to be remotely controlled. If I get really ambitious, I can kludge a way for the micro to control the power but that’s very much less trivial given the high voltages and currents in the capacitor/flash tube path.