Sunset Couples

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Pocket Wizard AC9 setup, tutorial, and technical support for Nikon version

Well we just got the Pocket Wizard AC9 for Alien Bees B1600 and could not get it to work. No one on the internet had any helpful advice to get the AC9 for Nikon to work, which is why we created this support page. We called Pocket Wizard and they could not get it to work either. They said we were the first to call for the Nikon version. But we found the solution on our own. As you know we proudly use Nikon therefore we are one of the first to use the AC9 for Nikon. What you have to do to get it to work:

Go to Pocket Wizard utility (open)>  plug in your TT5 with the AC9 attached> Click on the little blue gear on the bottom left corner of the Pocket Wizard utility (the configure updates button)> Click on the firmware updates tab (note: simply updating firmware to the latest update wont do it, you have to manually get the beta test firmware)> Click on "yes i would like to have access to the beta test firmware (version 2 build 146 or Latest Beta)> Hit OK and download the firmware (version 2- build 146 or Latest Beta)> Then repeat the process for the rest of your TT1's and TT5's and your good to go. (Note: make sure you have the dummy mini sync cord in to shut down the optical slave)

Let us know on our blog if this was helpfull to you, and please "LIKE" us on Facebook for the helpfull hints or contact us through our website

Take care fellow photographers!
DeVende Photography


Randy said...

I just received the ac9 and couldn't get it to work. I'm hoping your solution works. Will have to try it tonight. Why would they start shipping the things if they didn't work out of the box? That is what I can't figure out.

DeVende Photography said...

Thats what we said, but we had the same problem also with the Sekonic L-358 light meter module RT-32N, NO WHERE does it say you have to go to the Pocket Wizard utility and set TT1's or TT5's to Basic Trigger Mode to fire your strobes. I guess we can be thankfull that they stepped it up for Nikon at least.

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for the information.


DeVende Photography said...

No problem John, all of you be so kind as to let us know if it worked for you, and "Like" us on Facebook if you wish. Your next question is how to set up hypersync, and YES we have been using an Alien Bee B1600 at 1/8000 of a second, Wow! Just like a speed light! We will post in a couple days how to set that up easy!

Anonymous said...

I am bald now after pulling out my hair for 2 days trying to get the thing to work. Thank you so much for your timely tip!

DeVende Photography said...

No problem, feel free to ask us any questions on our blog regarding these units. We usually respond pretty quickly. (Since we are instant gratification people ourselves) Happy shooting, and suggest us to your friends that need the support as well on Facebook.
DeVende Photography

Buggs said...

Thank you, I played with it and played with it, I was getting ready to just send it back, but after the frim upgrade, which is a Beta, why i ha dnot upgraded, you saved that day!!!!!!!!!!

DeVende Photography said...

You are so welcome, the goal here is to prevent such frustrations. Buggs enjoy it, it is a beautiful technology. On the bottom left hand corner of your Pocket Wizard utility (with your unit plugged in) click on advance mode> then click on the sync timing> choose which strobe your using (default is AB 800)> then under "HYPERSYNC TRANSMITTER CONTROLS" move the bar to (0) and start from there> every Strobe is different, so start shooting at high sync speeds and if you see the curtain on your image then move up or down till it goes away. (the more power you are using the less curtain you will see) Happy shooting guys! Add a "LIKE" if you like!

Anonymous said...

I wonder if you would be willing to go over exactly how you configure the flex TT5 to work with the Sekonic L-358. I did set up for the basic trigger mode in configuration 2 but no luck (and I do have the RT-32N). Thanks for your help.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if you would be willing to go over exactly how you configure the flex TT5 to work with the Sekonic L-358. I did set up for the basic trigger mode in configuration 2 but no luck (and I do have the RT-32N). Thanks.

DeVende Photography said...

Absolutely! Plug in your Flex TT5 and open the pocket Wizard utility> Go to Channel tab> (there is transmit and receive, it would be receive since it's receiving from the RT-32) > Uncheck "Use control ITL for receive channel> below that you will see standard receive channel 32 (default) you can change it to any channel you want 1,2 whatevs. > then change the channel on your Sekonic to match and fire away! This will work for any PW including Plus 2's. Let us know if it works! And as always your "LIKES" on Facebook for DeVende Photography is always appreciated! Happy Shooting!

DeVende Photography said...

Oh yeah, I know you already mentioned it but then go to > MISC tab and click on "basic trigger mode". Sorry about that!

Alex Hill said...

Wow nice find! You should take a stab at cracking the Da Vinci Code now?

Just received my AC9 a couple of days ago and unwittingly was about to go out for a photo shoot without trying it out, but thought it might be a good idea.

Like everyone else, I spent hours swearing at an inanimate object and couldn’t for the life of me get it to work.

After a quick Google, I stumbled on this troubleshooting page, which was exceptionally well explained, and I got it functioning with only minutes to spare.

Glad you were able to figure it out, because I undoubtably would not have been able to do so.

DeVende Photography said...

Glad you found this useful Alex! By the way nice work displayed on your Website. And for everyone else, we noticed that when using the AlienBees flash heads, it is best to dump the flash (e.g if you lowered your flash output, and need to dump the existing flash power) by using the test button on your TT1 or TT5 (commander) as opposed to hitting the dump switch on the back of your flash head. We noticed it sometimes is a little glitch otherwise.

DeVende Photography

Alex Hill said...

Thanks again!! Worked perfectly.

Louis said...

First off: A giant “thank you” for your info. I excitedly came home today with my bag (well, boxes really) of next-gen Pocket Wizards (2 FlexTT5s, AC3 & AC9). It was supposed to be the future. Well, perhaps; but it turned out the be the one where the machines became self-aware and launched their attack upon humanity.

After much trying and more than a little swearing I couldn’t get my Ab1600 to fire with the AC9 (even tho I could get my SB800s to trigger).

Found you page, followed the instructions; and things now work*.

* = The behavior I’m now seeing with the 2.123 firmware is the following: On my D3s I have a FlexTT5 and the AC3 (set to Manual mode). On my AB1600 I have a FlexTT5 and AC9. When I dial down the power with the AC3, my “first” shot doesn’t transmit the new (lower) power setting. The second shot, however, does. But: If I adjust the power up (on the AC3) the very first shot *seems* to set the AB correctly. So, short version: Going down, two shots to get the things to talk – Going up, they talk every time.

Oh – and I’m also sometimes they just stop talking altogether. Shut *everything* down, power back up (in sequence) it works again… for a while.

Clearly, the Flex system isn’t ready for Prime Time. It’s the way of things… as a shameless plug, I’ll have a full review on my own blog soon (

But thanks so much again for all your hard work and help.


DeVende Photography said...

No problem Louis, we noticed the same little transient issues also, however we noticed 2 things, first off when the units are powered on give it about 5 seconds and then hit the TEST/Learn button to fire the initial flash. That seems to reduce the little issues, I also stay away from the lowest power setting on the AC3 because that seems to exacerbate the transient to frequent little issues. Glad it helped you and others. Thanks all, and be sure to check out our Facebook and don't be afraid to hit the "LIKE" button. Thanks again!

Simon Mittag said...

Louis I think the reason you need to fire a shot when you dial down the power on the AC3 is the same reason you occasionally need to press the "dump" button on the back of your AlienBees - they simply need to discharge the excess load once they were set to a higher rating in the previous shot.

Also a massive thank you to the author of this article, I like many others failed to get the Ac9 to fire the Alienbees without the beta firmware upgrade.

I have now used powertracking once but i find it's auto compensation confusing. Manual power adjustments are the way to go.

High speed sync worked nicely and i'm sure i'll try it out in the studio.

DeVende Photography said...

Simon is absolutely correct, if you use a lower power setting dialed in from the AC3, the previous higher setting will still be present and will be at the same previous setting unless it is "dumped" we hit the TEST/LEARN button to accomplish this to preserve the remote feature of this device. However on your speed lights you don't have to do this.

JMK Photography, LLC. said...

Thank you so much for taking the time to post this. You just saved me hours of frustration!


DeVende Photography said...

Okay guys, a new Beta release has come out. It is Beta version 2 (build 146) we just updated ALL our radios to the new version. We will let you know if we find any issues.

Bob Durbeck said...

Thanks for the clear instructions! On another note, do you know if it is possible to test lighting ratios with the Sekonic L-358 if I shoot with an AC3, and if so, how? I am thinking I cannot use the light meter to trip the lights and get accurate values, but rather need to trip the strobes from the mini-TTL. If that is the case, do I need to fire the shutter or can I just use the test button? Thanks in advance!

DeVende Photography said...

Okay Bob, here it is. The answer is somewhat yes, but mostly NO. The main problem, which Pocket Wizard is probably going to address is the Sekonic module RT-32 or RT-32N is on the old basic plus 2 and Multimax channels e.g 1,2,3...With that being said you would have to be on basic trigger mode and not on the TTL channel to fire your strobe. Therefore you would NOT be able to use your AC3 sending out the TTL frequency since your strobes are awaiting the basic trigger channel from an RT-32 and not the iTTL. The other NO is if you downloaded the new firmware (Beta 2 version 146) you will notice you cannot use the Test/Learn button without the system going wacky. LPA designs (the designer of the flex radios) is working on a solution, and are currently working on a new firmware to fix this after we brought this to their attention. So until new firmware arrives, DON'T USE THE TEST/FIRE BUTTON. That will seal the deal on a bad, frustrating, and embarasing shoot! (Not that it happened to us or anything....) So in short, use your shutter release to fire your strobes until pocket wizard comes out with an RT-33,34 that transmits the TTL channel perhaps? Last but not least, if your looking for accuracy on ratios, we noticed manual control is the way to go. The 1/3 over a 6 stop range of the AC3 does not appear to be accurate enough. While we are on extreme accuracy, go for the Einstien lights instead of the B1600. It is digital and over a 9 stop range as apposed to a 6 stop range and much more precise in ever way (color temp, power etc.) In all reality if your doing ratios, you would probably be in the studio anyways which that would not be a huge deal to use manual control. We know that is not what you wanted to hear but there it is. Hope this helps not only Bob but everyone else. If you like the advice, go to our Facebook and hit the "Like" button.

Take care, and happy shooting!
DeVende Photography

Alex Hill said...

I had my AC9 in combination with the FlexTT5, triggered by the MiniTT1 with AC3 (say that ten times!) working totally fine up until the last week or so, then all of a sudden I can only seem to fire off an initial shot, then after each subsequent fire the power on the AB1600 dwindles down until it doesn’t fire at all.

If you shut everything down and leave it for ten minutes, it will fire again, but repeat the same pattern.

Tried the usual troubleshooting tactics, but to no avail.

The mini, AC3 and Flex seem to work fine with the SB900, so I’m wondering if it is the AC9 itself?

I haven’t messed with any of the settings recently in the PW Utility, and as I said, it worked fine before.

Running latest Beta Firmware.

Any insight would be greatly appreciated.


DeVende Photography said...

LOL! Okay Alex, did you update your firmware and then you started to have problems? Or did this just start happening all of a sudden? If it happened all of a sudden you should change the RJ-11 cord (telephone jack) That could be bad. Have you plugged in your optical slave kill? Are you using the test/fire button?If so that could also be the problem, the current beta firmware has a problem with the test/fire button (don't use it) if you need to dump your flash, hit the trigger on your camera instead. Hitting the test/fire button will cause it not to work all together until you reset everything.....UGGH! Someday LPA will come out with a firmware that will resolve this problem, we hope. Hope that helps, also make sure you have set the right flash selected in your utilities.


Alex Hill said...

Thanks again for your help. I have tried some of these suggestions during my troubleshooting mode, but didn’t try the telephone jack. I’ll give it a go.

Yes, it worked fine up to a week ago, now it is sporadic at best in its performance. Totally doesn’t respond to the AC3 either, in terms of power level.

Alex Hill said...

Just to update you, I purchased a new five-inch phone cable from a Radio- Shack-esque store and it works like a charm again! Great diagnostics on your part.

That was my last act of desperation after trying almost everything, including apologizing to it if I had somehow offended or betrayed it recently...

Since this is a pretty new item that appears to have as many downsides as upsides and is obviously incredibly temperamental, I thought I would share this fix as I suspect this won’t be an isolated incident with just me.

Thanks again for your quick help.

Dave said...

Great Info! Quick question:

I have 3 TT5's for Nikon and although a little flakey sometimes, I like them for my SB-900s. I'm about to pick up a couple AC9's.

It sounds to me like you are saying that the TT5s have to be in basic trigger mode to work with the AC9/Alienbees. But then if I want to use i-TTL with the SB-900s I have to switch it back?

Can you confirm that I would have to reconfigure the TT5s everytime I wanted to switch back and forth between speedlights and ABs?

Much appreciated.


DeVende Photography said...

Hi Dave, actually you do not have to switch the TT5's with AC9's attached to "basic trigger mode", In fact we typically use AB's with Sb900 as hair lights. That is only as regards to using Sekonic light meters with RT32's. Here's why you would NOT set TT5s with AC9s to Basic trigger mode, the TT5 picks up the Nikon CLS signal and relays it to your SB900, 800 etc. The AC9 picks up that signal and translates the signal into something Alien Bees can understand, the catch in this scenario is that you would need an AC3 from your mounted TT1 or TT5 on your camera to tell it what to do. e.g power output. The instructions at the top of the blog post are EXACT and if you follow it word per word they will work just fine for you. Hope that helps. Happy Shooting Dave

Anonymous said...

thanks for this info I was running off of an older version 2.something and was getting upset. now version 3 has the ac9 working like a charm. just hope i will still have the same consitency when using my strobes as i heard there was some problems with the new ver3 f.ware that had been solved earlier
thanks again saved me a lot of frustration and hours of googling and forum posting and searching

Bob Durbeck said...

So, it is confirmed that we can move from the version 2 beta to version 3.003 and AC9 works properly? Just want to be sure before I make the leap, as it seems anymore that firmware upgrades are a one way trip. :-)

Thanks in advance! :-)

Simon Mittag said...

Hi I found a new problem when trying to get rear curtain sync working with the AC9. My configuration is Nikon D3S on rear curtain sync in manual mode, Mini TT1 (tried with and without Ac3 adapter), TT5 and Ac9 on the Alienbees B800. So far so good.

Now, when firing a shot between 1/6s and 1/125s I do get rear curtain sync. But nothing slower than 1/6s. If I set the shutter speed any slower the flash won't fire. Now i've tried 2x different SB800 flashes and 2x different Pocketwizard TT5 transceivers with the same result. When i decrease shutter speed from 1/6s to 1/5s or anything slower i have no flash.

From reading the Pocketwizard Wiki: I get the impression this should be 8s for Nikon.

Has anyone else had issues with rear curtain sync and slow shutter speeds for the AC9?