THE BLACK BOX      1978 - 2018

The BLACK BOX is 100% all US hand built, hand soldered and sealed, using only RoHS Certified appliance grade fire proof wiring.  

We use better parts from the USA, Denmark, Taiwan, and Japan for findings and components when we can after we tested Chinese equivalents and decided they were inferior in quality and consistency.  

The Black Box  uses a Sealed Lead Acid battery designed for long term usage. Our 4.5 AMP HOUR battery is not rated in milliamps, thats full amps like your car battery and it is safe - Airline Certified Safe at a 20 Amp drawer.

Our batteries are pro-rated to five years.  The batteries are covered under the warrantee for one year and pro-rated for five years.  We have a unique thinking charger as the simple instructions dictate and the internal wiring and connectors are fireproof.  The box is custom cut on a CnC machine for a perfect fit.

The twin HD DIN type Chromed ports are from Taiwan with Red POLY Caps as shown for the DIN plugs for when traveling on the airlines. (Included)  

The heavy duty strap rings of 3/16 Zytel / Steel 1/8 ( 3000 PS) rivets with backing plates front and rear and the industry recognized finest HD UltraClip or the 764 by THE CLIP.COM Brand.  

Our International dual stage charger allows consistent charging and second stage in standby mode keeps battery at 100% capacity.  Internationally rated for worldwide usage.  110-240 50-60 MGRTZ. And as an added bonus you can use most Quantum cables for your strobes you might have and we offer free conversion at time of purchase.  

Weight: - 2.5 LBS,  Width: - 3.3/4”,  Height: - 6”,  Depth: - 2”  

BLACK BOX’S DO NOT AGE - Neither do Tuxedos
Because you want to be at the top of your game, we can take that five or ten year old Black Box and make it into a 2018 and at an average cost of about 65 dollars plus 13.60 return USPS.   

A Black Box never wears out, it is always upgradeable. Got one eight to ten years older or more we’ll upgrade it, return in a week, upgraded to latest configurations as long as you didn’t split the case by driving over it as some have, or destroyed it during sports events. Or if it is at the bottom of the Grand Canyon or the middle of the Atlantic.  If the case is bad, broken, driven over or been in a pool a few dollars extra. ( Actually I can fix one from a pool if you get it to me, I rip it down to basics clean it in my parts cleaner and start over to make it new)

We take upgrades seriously.  If you have an older BLACK BOX or one of the TUXEDO’s  vintage 2008-9 or older, call me if you do not know.  The ideal time for upgrades is when it is in for service because it is inexpensive, you already shipped it, paid postage and reduces shipping costs.  And not just a bluff and shine, or tweak shown above. Basically the unit gets torn apart to zero, and rebuilt to give you further years of service

 SPECIAL $65.00 PLUS RETURN POSTAGE. (13.60 USPS)            

•   Total Disassembly of entire unit, with some alterations as needed.
•    Even change the rivets sometimes, and rebuild it with the 2018 schematic. 
•   Clean and polish the case within reason, fix a few dents, dings, cracks, and basically try to make it as good as new.
•   We do remove old decals and clean case as best.  
•   Cases may be sanded, polished or cosmetically enhanced.
•   Fittings - D rings replaced as needed. New rivets.
•   Back Tab reinstalled and rivets drilled out, removed and reset. As needed.
•   2nd DIN added and RCA removed, two matching Dins Installed in 2018 configuration.
•   All new RoHS high capacity fireproof wiring installed. (Airline proof) hand soldered, all insulated, no connectors
•   RED CAP the DIN PLUGS for the airlines
•   Charger is checked and cable upgraded if needed with connectors and DIN plug.
•   Flash cables checked, fixed free, upgraded, cleaned of heat and corrosion, retested and field checked.
•   New battery installed and tested.
•   Usually a one day turnaround, complete upgrades average about 65.00 as a worst case scenario
   Inspections and checkups are free, I only charge for shipping.  No fees for diagnostics (Quantum does charge)  No minimum fees, except the Post Office, and most repairs are back to you within a week.

You now have control of your flash unit with a higher reserve of power from a simple to operate, overbuilt photographic electrical storage product designed by a working pro photographer. The Black Box is a common sense application of stable extra power, while eliminating useless power robbing, troublesome at times, poorly made electronics being offered from overseas at slave labor rates, and quality controls by intimidation. Hand built in the USA.  One at a time.

The unit comes with a brand name Charger with 110VAC-60Hz to 240 VAC - 50 Hz input voltages and offers worldwide capability. In most cases for travel overseas, all you need to purchase is a simple plug adapter; you do not need an inverter for the country you are visiting.  If you lose it, it will cost $45.00 to replace plus shipping.  I stock them.   This is a digital float charger and keeps the battery on constant charge with full capacity.

Sealed lead acid batteries do not suffer from memory effect.  When you over exhaust the battery below say 5.8 volts, a safety device we built in the charger might refuse to re-charge the battery.  There is a work around.  This is a failsafe built into the charger and can be recharged or Send it to me.

Check the charging device periodically to ensure it is working properly. 
Sealed lead acid battery life is determined by many factors. These include temperature, depth and rate of discharge, and the number of charges and discharges.  Generally up to five years.  The record is ten.

BUT with the speed and power of the battery and strobe combination, don’t be  a showoff,  you’ll blow the strobe before the battery, trust me it’s a good sized (capacity) low-voltage (safety) battery. The number one killer of strobes is heat and fast cycling. Showing off can ruin your unit.

Yes, Sealed Lead Acid Batteries (SLA) are declared non-hazardous for air shipping with caps in place and secure. Exceptions do happen if you get an uninformed inspection officer as with an incident on Singapore Airlines.  Only one I have known of.

It is simply an added value extra port and you may use it as such. Run two flashes off one battery.  The main constraint is that both strobes should be close, preferably the same make and manufacture so they will charge simultaneously.   

Do not throw them away.  Replacements are 2 for 4.75 includes postage. Yes, the postage is higher than the caps.

Users tell us the neoprene straps made and sold by OPTEC are the most popular, work best, they don’t slip and very comfortable.   The pack also comes with THE CLIP, suitable for belt use and with Velcro work great on a light stand.






If the battery is low after say after 1000 shots, the charger will shift from green to red for a fast high voltage charge quickly bringing it to 85-90% of capacity.  At that point the charger will shift into a lower power mode to gently fill the rest of the battery.    The light will turn green at this point and completes the charge. When it peaks, the charger will shift into maintenance mode.  It may be left in this mode indefinitely the charger goes into maintenance mode and checks the battery every thirty minutes.

We guarantee the battery pack for one-year parts and labor.  Most repairs are deemed free if the unit has not been abused like being driven over, twice this year, smashed off a barstool, three times, went swimming, once.

All rechargeable cells have a limited lifetime, usually about 700-900 recharges. These will go further if used a lot. This amount can vary depending upon how the battery was used. Standard warrantee is one year on parts and labor but we will prorate batteries. Chargers are warranted for a one-year period.  I can’t control your electrical provider and anything plugged in is susceptible   Repairs are handled on a priority basis with shipping being the only delay.

The sealed lead acid batteries must be disposed or recycled properly, dropped at any battery store,  and please do not throw them in the trash.  Send the pack to us, we'll overhaul it completely, install a new battery, dispose of the old one and the average cost for all this,  two day service, new wiring and parts, excluding boxes is about $65.00.  CONUS MAIL is 13.60.

The cable from the battery to the module that goes in the flash can be cleaned for maximum efficiency.  Things get dirty when strobes get hot, as it might exhibiting poor performance after it has been heavily used, or pushed, abused etc. 

If it shows a tan or brown-reddish coloration on the module tabs, clean it with ISOPROPYL ALCOHOL, which must be 93% or better, I use a wire Dremel with soft wire blades. then the alcohol.

Also a soft eraser done away from your gear and lenses, with a vacuum cleaner running while you do it to prevent any abrasive from going internal especially on camera contacts. There is no charge for me to clean any and all cables you send in with a box for upgrades. We do it as we test the upgrade. FREE!

And if you live and shoot near the seaside, especially California or Long Island, sea air contains a lot of salt... send me the box, charger and cables.   Even with the best of connections salt air plays with metals.  DO NOT use rubbing alcohol as  it is alcohol, water and oil and actually creates more corrosion.

Ordinary Pledge or something similar lightly on a rag is all the outside ever needs. When it comes in for service we will clean it, and apply a special anti-degauss finish which keeps the box indefinitely.  No charge part of the cleanup.

Sometimes the battery in the box will get loose.  A loose battery tells me the battery dis-lodged usually by dropping, but sometimes temperature extremes can loosen the tac that holds it in place.  It is easily home repairable, we’ll talk you through it, and it does not stop its use in the field.  

We will fix it for free, It is designed to continue functioning even when it is loose which is why we used heavier impact stranded fire-resistant RoHS Appliance grade wire.  That wire is the same used in commercial washing machines so you know it is tough.  Solid or hard wire might break thus we use the stranded and it can take a heck of a lot of punishment.  

If you have a loose battery and wish to fix it yourself.
1-  Remove the four face screws carefully open the box and gently pull on the battery
2-  Get a hair dryer on hot and redo the glue on the shell and battery to “Wet” with heat.
3-  Press the battery back into place equally so the screw holes are even on the bottom sides.
4-  We made things field repairable and thus insuring you get the job done. But if you overheat and melt the plastic, now we have a problem.

•   They made a toaster out of it;  Two of our customers thinking their 12 volt car charger with ten amps would be faster to recharge the black box did not know the laws of charging which states on an SLA battery you cannot exceed 1.25 per volt.  

•   Most likely due to sheer stupidly, they did not set the charger to 6 volts which was still too much passed on the amperage. Its similar to the sound system being played in your football stadium hooked to your hearing aids.

•   Loose cables can occur at any time and nine times out of ten it’s when you about to take "The Shot Of The Year".  Thats another reason why we eliminated the RCA jack they pulled out, locked on too tight and could not be removed, or a fan of the blades fell off and shorted the cable. 

•   High power and fast pops without cooling the flash is common to sport shooters, paparazzi, and nervous wedding shooters, I call it shellac syndrome and in reality most manufacturers strobes are not made for abnormal usage. 

•   Ever try to solder with a dirty solder iron tip. It doesn't work, does it , thats why you clean the tips.  Several ways to clean the module it but this is how I do it. 

•   The modules can also be inserted wrong, doing damage, as in the word BACKWARD.  Call if it is not clear.  Some of the modules are easily confused. In that case you can short the strobe. Call or ask if you don’t feel comfortable. Two dots of red nail polish, one on the module and one on the flash adjoining surface will keep you in battery nirvana.

•   Do not stretch the cables beyond reasonable.  The cable from the module and also the charger are the same construction, it connects and fits DIN ports only one way.  That is look for the bump or key to align the cable and port properly. 

•   Again make sure the switch on top is  “on”.   If the battery is drawn down far enough the green will go to red.  If the usage was minimal, a short portrait session for example, it might not be down enough and will stay green.   

•   The red is the high power charge and can go as long as five hours. The battery will get slightly warm, as the charger is freshening and de-sulphation of the lead cell. At that point flip the switch to “OFF” and then back “ON “again.  This time it will stay green and it can stay that way till your next shoot.

•   Do not expose the (any) charger unit to rain or moisture - use indoors only.  No charger is waterproof.  If you don’t believe me, toss your charger and flash into your fish tank with your prized $2500 Clarion Angel and soon he will float belly up, well lit.

•   The plug must be plugged into an outlet that has been properly installed and grounded in accordance with all local and national codes and ordinances.   Do not attempt to recharge non-rechargeable batteries or use this charger on any other device.  

•   Do not leave chargers plugged in when they are not connected to a battery. We have no control over the voltage or amperage coming into your home from spikes and brownouts originated by your power company.   

•   The safest way to protect the charger is when you unplug the battery to go on assignment, take the charger out of the wall.  Bring it with you. 

•   Thus, do not operate charger if it has received a sharp blow, been dropped, or otherwise damaged in any way and make sure you re-charge any and all batteries in well ventilated areas to prevent build-up of explosive gases.  Allow space around the charger and adequate air circulation to reduce internal heat build-up.

•   Check the small screws on the DIN plug of the charger and module to see if they are tight.  If the screw is loose you may use clear Teflon nail polish on the threads available in any drug store, or BLUE Locktite. Do not use superglue, it eats more than it glues and do not use RED Locktite.

•   Please be advised that specifications, performance, parameters, appearance, and dimensions of our products are subject to change without notice. Since we have a liberal upgrade program, you may request assistance at any time. For more up-to-date information about Jacobs Photo/Graphics, Gear Heads, Al Jacobson, contact me at

•   There are no stupid questions. Questions have cause or they wouldn’t be asked.  There are however mistakes by those too embarrassed to ask a question. This is why we build landfills. The landfill is loaded with ideas, thoughts and questions that never were asked resulting in the incredible amount of junk created by those who failed to ask the right question at the right time. 

 2012 and older version - The BLACK BOX came with the CLIP.COM BELT CLIP.  As simple as it is, it is the finest on the market,and this is the original, not a cheap knockoff.  They are one of the best  fabricators of plastics and I am proud to offer their products in conjunction with mine.  The clip goes on the back of the box, hold the clip HORIZONTAL, slide on, you will hear a click, and then it clips to your belt.. This belt clip is identified by the spoon shape of the opening.

The clip slides onto the tab on the back only when the clip is held in a horizontal position. For those not familiar with the word HORIZONTAL, it refers to a late state of intoxication, flat out, east-west, right to left, the opposite of up and down.

To remove said clip, make sure the clip is HORIZONTAL (See last paragraph) press the button and slide the clip off.  Failure to do so will result in a broken clip, $5.00, or a broken tab $20.00 and an unhappy boss, your employer or spouse.  Thank you for reading this and this safety bulletin was produced by the

2013 and newer versions - The horizontal tab has been changed to a rounder heavier tab and the lock device deleted, we had to do this since it seems no one reads instructions anymore. It will open in all directions.


There are as many cables in photography as stars in the sky.  Most driven by proprietary interests which is defined by making more money with selected accessories for the manufacturer and making your wallet slimmer.  

There was power for flash, power for camera, power for static lights, printers , monitors, transceivers, and this is basically why wireless became so popular.  People are getting sick of cables.  But, wireless has faults and when it fails, you wish you had cables.  I use both for redundancy. These are the cables you will need, Quantum makes them, I modify them to make them more bulletproof.  One per strobe.

In the photo above the kind that looks like four batteries laying on one end,  in line is a MKZ-3 and very popular especially with Nikon of the 800-900 vintage.  The MKZ3 fits quite a large percentage of Nikon, METZ and Olympus, flashes. 

Another layout is the MB-A MB5, MB2 series and these are either in a square or trapezoidal aka "drunk rectangle shape.  This list is ever changing as new models come out, but these have also been very popular down through the years, the MB-5, MB2 is popular with Canon units.

The four-square is the MB2 used on the 600RT, 580EX II, 430 EX and 430 EX II and the trapezoidal is used on the older first born 580-EX older series.  The MB2 works on the METZ 50 but must be contoured and reversed by me to make it function.

Cables may look the same but they are not,  the difference is the location of the hot (+) and cold (-) contacts. They are not interchangeable, but may be taken apart, de-soldered  and with skill reassembled correctly. The reason is contact placement. I do this all the time.  You don’t and it’s confusing and dangerous. Mistakes may be indicated by a horrible smell, and a small burn in your table or a toasted flash unit. Minimum repairs on Nikon flashes and others are about 90.00 dollars.

If you do not see your brand on our chart, we have access to over one hundred other models and some may be modified. Email me for the correct fit and if it takes AA batteries I can make a cable for it.

Each flash unit has to have a cable that goes from the battery pack (the Black Box) to the flash itself,  and this is the power for the flash. You may use two flashes at once if they are compatible.  The only thing to remember is.  DO NOT TRY TO CHARGE AND DISCHARGE THE BLACK BOX AT THE SAME TIME.

We usually do not stock the flash modules as there are hundreds of flashes made and stocking them all would be suicide financially… The best source for your cable, after you locate the right one will be the A/B of photographic web buying,  ADORAMA, and B&H.  I use them as a warehouse, it keeps pricing down by not stocking dead items.  Free freight sometimes, no sales tax, and they drop ship direct  to me saving you time and postage.
Since I do not sell flashes, the information I give you is straight forward, I do not solicit, take bribes nor contradict any information labeled “bullshit “ from forums, gurus and politicians. You will get it straight and you may not like it, but it will be honest.

•   At the other end of the coiled Quantum cables you will see an RCA jack to contend with and I am the arch-angel that hates RCA jacks and we will freely upgrade your cable, making it better by replacing the RCA jack with a heavier jack called a DIN plug.  

•   We do not like RCA Jacks because they can have problems. We upgrade them FREE, you are allowed two per Black Box purchase. We went to this more expensive connection system because our packs last longer and wanted related components to be just as strong.

•   My packs come standard with two identical usable ports on top, both called DIN ports or plugs. My DIN plugs lock securely, not a friction lock. As you can see from the photo on the left this is a very robust piece of metal.  

They were selected for their highest reliability, life, quality and grounding ability.  The cables we use from Quantum unfortunately come with less expensive RCA ends. We remove them and substitute our heavier jack.

•   We do sell and reuse them to make great stuff like Video cables with locking ends for the MONSTER CABLE CREW.  That application is  low voltage, no slip, generally indoors.  We recycle parts again to save our customer money and keep prices down. Call me if you want to make better sound cable, I have the ends.

Cables are the highways of my system or any system but cable are reliable and wireless is not. I have seen it when the wireless and interference did a dance together.   And like most highways they exhibit quite a bit of usage and damage.  On this site there are sections on specific cables with specific instructions under flash units and cables. 

The main damage to cables other than they are from China and of dubious quality (See NIKON and CANON CABLE REPAIR) is the possibility occurring when the cables are stretched beyond their range. Many claim they don't stretch the cables.  This shot taken at a local Lambada Dance contest got the photographer who was so into the music he just grabbed this incredibly gorgeous young lady and almost won first prize taking his own portrait selfie at the same time. 

The last thing about cables is old age.  Sometimes we get and rebuild an older Quantum Cables no longer being used.  Depends on condition and I need to have it in my hand, to test it.   

We can do that for the Vivitar or make you a great extension for a two cable rig. Only if I deem the cable is OK, will I update it.  Cables can corrode internally and the copper has turned green or the rubber has disintegrated and literally falls off.   Unseen breaks and we run continuity checks.    Anything other than 100% perfect and we dump them. 

On new orders payment must be made before we ship or start any work.  
We build to order and ship fast, then a box sits around for three or four days because the customer forgot a phone number or we could not confirm their shipping address. So work with me.   

The cables from flash to battery box are not free.  We don’t care whether you prefer you to order them and drop ship to me, they come with an invoice with your name on it and we know it's yours.   We’ll order them for you if you wish.  Cables may be ordered from B&H, Adorama, or any camera store you prefer. I have however found these two to be the most professional, competitive, timely, and usually have it in stock.  

You get two free cable upgrades, two new dins first or second at time of purchase.

Additional cables $6.00 for the DIN PLUG  and $7.15 Postage. Total of 13.15  Thats cost, just a courtesy for you to get more use out of your purchase.  With a Black Box purchase you are allowed two free for each Black Box.

You are at the post office anyway, grab a few empties in assorted sizes, you can’t beat the deal. $7.15 or  UPS, no insurance, no signature. You may also use the bubble wrap envelope with the usual information if you prefer UPS or FEDEX or FIRST CLASS and want your cable crushed and delivered a week late.