THE BLACK BOX      1978 - 2019

The BLACK BOX is an American product built with selected and measured parts from all over the world.   It is 100% all US hand built, hand soldered and sealed, using only RoHS Certified appliance grade fire proof wiring.  

We pick the parts as long as they are better, and they come from 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 Chinese components are a last resort and as with most things today we have to put up with it.

In my negotiations with them for parts I have a 115% percent safety margin which means I get 15% more product free than I order in case something is bad.  With twenty guys all selling the same stuff from one plant in China (Go on eBay and see what I mean) I have customer protection.  

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.  How safe?  No restrictions from the Airlines and the FAA since Lithium has a problem with fires, and is unstable.

I was  a GA pilot and flew for 32 years and had an incident with a Lithium cell that went rogue. Bad enough if they caught on fire but the mash was capable of eating stainless steel control cables.  Inspections caught it and we replaced it with the standard two year battery.  


•   Our batteries are pro-rated to five years.  Four times what the litho boys give you.  The batteries are covered fully under the warrantee for one year and pro-rated for five years.

•   We have a multi stage charger as the simple instructions dictate.

•   The internal wiring and connectors are fireproof.  Appliance grade.

•   Our International dual stage charger allows consistent charging.  The second stage in standby mode keeps battery at 100% capacity.  

•   Internationally rated for worldwide usage.  (110-240 50-60 MGRTZ)

•   The box is custom cut on a CnC machine for a perfect fit.  

•   The twin HD DIN type Chromed ports are from Taiwan

•   Comes 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,

•   Included industry recognized finest HD UltraClip or the 764 by THE CLIP.COM Brand.

•   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 for two of those cables ...Voila! 

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

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.   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. 

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.  Basically the unit gets torn apart to zero, and rebuilt to give you further years of service, we have some in service twenty years. 

Our regulated two stage charger and the "A-C" series chargers are "switching" type devices which operate without the use of transformers. I.C.'s control and regulate current and voltage and automatically switch from the higher fast charge voltage to the lower float voltage when batteries are very close to being fully charged.  At the float voltage it is safe to leave the battery connected to the charger indefinitely, making charging pretty much fool-proof. 

My packs are fast and safe to the environment, and the shooter.  I just don’t push the word fast because there is another side to things. My pack is fast, fast enough to make some brands of flashes vulnerable.  I do not promote speed if it can make your flash go dead.  There are one or two makes and models faster but that takes a toll on the flash gear.  Nothing I can think of is slower than a blown flash because some idiot over clocked it and thats what accelerated flashes do.

My pack will keep up with the other type, the accelerated packs based on partial power settings which is what the pros use, manual and partial power settings. The Red Carpet guys do that but it has become a bizarre shooting event.  I call it the elusive “Nipple shot which can be on one frame and missed on another”.  The guys are speed fanatics. The newer cameras at their higher speed will exceed any pack when pushed.   And think about it, following the Oscars and Emmy’s simply put is a two day a year event and then find something else, very competitive.

An accelerated pack will recycle faster but will give you far less shots. Because they are keeping the energy going recycling the second flyback transformer or capacitor.  They also require using internal NiMH batteries for the units controller so you are right back where you started except higher maintenance, more often and dollars poorer.

Accelerated packs will eventually shorten flash life.  A flash can only operate at max for a while before there is trade off. You trade off your money for a new one.  With the rash of burnt units out there from too frequent a shooting and finally the unit overheats, you pay for the speed twice. 

The small but powerful strobes such as the SB-800, SB-900 and the Canon 580EX and EXII are basically pushing the electronics to the hilt and the accelerated packs push them over the cliff.  Just shooting too quick can do the same, the Nikon 900-910 has a shutdown mode if overheated or accelerated and will cause the heat meter to prevent a shot. Other strobes now have heat valves and new construction preventing higher packs.  Our pack helps that situation by not using internal AA rechargeable cells which can generate 130 degrees of heat.

With accelerated packs you have by-passed some of the safety mechanisms. I truly believe based on size measurements and a little research both Nikon and Canon have pushed their best selling units to the end of the power curve.  "Sort of tweaked to the nines".  Making the strobes bigger means potential size and hotshoe problems and smaller is whats happening today.  They just can’t make prosumer flashes any bigger, they’ll be bigger than the cameras.


You now have full 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.  And it 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.   SLA batteries do not suffer from memory effect. 

•  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 in fifty years challenged the SLA and we sent Singapore an E-mail of Condition. They did nothing.

•  Two ports - 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. And the red caps are for traveling on the airlines, do not throw them away.  Replacements are 2 for 5.75 includes postage. Yes, the postage is higher than the caps.

•  The black box comes with d-rings for a camera shoulder strap, 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 seconds.

•  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 NOTuse 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 ( NO SCREW GUNS)  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. Voila we promised field repairable and we meant it.

•  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.  See photo of cute battery that took the twelve volts for about 20 minutes and destroyed itself, and the nice handcrafted wooden workbench the fellow had.

•  Loose cables can occur at any time and nine times out of ten it’s when you about to take “ he 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. 

•   Modules the part of the cable that goes into the strobe that looks like batterie, 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. Nor is there lots of small print.  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.  

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. 

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 the information on the strobe you have, and t’s serial number which denote it’s synch values, 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.  

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, the  A/B of photographic web buying,  ADORAMA, and B&H.  


At the other end of the coiled Quantum cables you will see an RCA jack to contend with 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, and ground, 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.

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 cables, I have the ends.  About 2000 of them in stock.

Cables are the highways of my system or any system but cables are reliable and wireless is not.  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 if we are paid totally in advance including shipping.   

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 $7.00 for the DIN PLUG  and $7.60 Postage. Total of 14.60  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. $7.60 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.