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Eclair ACL 1.5 newbie questions (with pictures!)


Duncan Brown
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Actually, the questions will come later, I'm pressed for time, but I wanted to get the ACL 1.5 porn pictures posted.  I always wish I had detailed pictures of things before I buy them and it never happens, but if I can help someone else in the future, then yay!

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Wow! Terrific pictures. Thank you for posting, as this is a camera about which there doesn't seem to be much information around (in English, anyway).

I recently was about to buy a camera on ebay. I asked the seller for just a few more pictures before buying, to check something. He happily obliged, and also decided to bump up his price, guessing I must have been interested if I was asking for just a few more pictures. That didn't impress me and I didn't buy that camera.

There are some good buys out there but you have to be really careful and know what you are looking for.

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Just stuff like "how does that lens adapter system work, anyhow?" which isn't explained anywhere but is very obvious with detailed pictures.  Also interesting that the film loop comes back into the feed side of the magazine, and passes through to the takeup side internally - I hadn't seen that described anywhere, but becomes pretty obvious when you have good closeup pictures.

Now some questions...

-- If you wanted to make some more battery connection cables, where can you buy those Jaeger connectors?  I see the right connector is still in their catalog, but I don't see a mere-mortal vendor of them anywhere (like DigiKey, Mouser, Newark, etc here in the States)  The Cannon connectors I can find (but woo boy are they pricey!)  My camera has a Jaeger to 4 pin XLR cable so making up battery packs is easy, but I want a wider assortment of cables that hook to the camera.

-- Am I correct in thinking that there is no "press to run" shutter button on the camera?  If you press the button you light up the "exposure meter" (such as it is) [if it's installed] but you need to slide it one direction where it locks on to start the camera...or you slide it the other direction where it locks on and enables the optional grip trigger?  So the "press to run" functionality only comes with the optional grip(s).  This isn't really different from the Arri S, where on-camera it only locks on, but if you have one of the optional grips or braces with the trigger button that actuates up through the tripod socket then you can have press-to-run.

-- Where are all the optional accessories hiding?  I pretty much never see anyone selling anything for the ACL.  Or is it just a matter of posting wanted ads here and hoping they come out of the woodwork?  I could use another motor so I'd have something to run the camera with while tearing into mine to sort out its issues.  A grip with trigger would be nice.  I would think Pilotone box would just be gathering dust and could be picked up cheaply.

-- Speaking of motors has anyone posted schematics for the guts of the MIMUL or MIVAR motors?  I'll post what I figure out when I eventually tear mine apart.  And I've seen MIMUL (original heavy duty 75fps) and MIVAR (later with mirror parking and all crystal speeds?) and Cinema Products modified MIMUL and AZ-Spectrum modified MIVAR...were there ever any other motors available?  Seems like there were dozens of choices through the years for the NPR, I'm surprised to not see so many for the ACL.

Duncan

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Hi Duncan!

Some answers to your questions:

Quote

-- If you wanted to make some more battery connection cables, where can you buy those Jaeger connectors?  I see the right connector is still in their catalog, but I don't see a mere-mortal vendor of them anywhere (like DigiKey, Mouser, Newark, etc here in the States)  The Cannon connectors I can find (but woo boy are they pricey!)  My camera has a Jaeger to 4 pin XLR cable so making up battery packs is easy, but I want a wider assortment of cables that hook to the camera.

Two years ago Brenda Collins wrote:

"www.SealconUSA.com  

Part numbers for mini jaeger connectors male and female. 

SJ533800006

SJ533811006"

However, if you are handy with soldering iron, you could just replace the Jaeger connector with a XLR connector. I have done that -- there is a "tail" coming out of the camera. Works great. If I did it now, I'd probably test if a mini XLR connector would fit.

Quote

-- Am I correct in thinking that there is no "press to run" shutter button on the camera?  If you press the button you light up the "exposure meter" (such as it is) [if it's installed] but you need to slide it one direction where it locks on to start the camera...or you slide it the other direction where it locks on and enables the optional grip trigger?  So the "press to run" functionality only comes with the optional grip(s).  This isn't really different from the Arri S, where on-camera it only locks on, but if you have one of the optional grips or braces with the trigger button that actuates up through the tripod socket then you can have press-to-run.

You are correct. Only sliding switches here. But if you get a 9-pin mini-itt connector, you could wire a sticking button to it for running the camera like the one on the ergonomic grip is. That button activates the motor when the sliding switch is locked in the other position.

Quote

-- Where are all the optional accessories hiding?  I pretty much never see anyone selling anything for the ACL.  Or is it just a matter of posting wanted ads here and hoping they come out of the woodwork?  I could use another motor so I'd have something to run the camera with while tearing into mine to sort out its issues.  A grip with trigger would be nice.  I would think Pilotone box would just be gathering dust and could be picked up cheaply.

Here and there. I guess those who own more tend to stay silent about the treasures they own 😉 Motors -- you are pretty much out of luck. Those are rare and expensive! Which is why there are lots of ACL bodies without motors going around. Fortunately, a new motor is in the works, but it won't use the original electronics. As for Pilotone boxes -- I'm pretty sure there must be some people who might occasionally visit this forum and own one, but aren't selling them on Ebay since they aren't worth much in the current digital reality. And those, who sell everything probably don't know they are ACL Pilotone boxes, even if they have inherited such pieces...

Quote

-- Speaking of motors has anyone posted schematics for the guts of the MIMUL or MIVAR motors?  I'll post what I figure out when I eventually tear mine apart.  And I've seen MIMUL (original heavy duty 75fps) and MIVAR (later with mirror parking and all crystal speeds?) and Cinema Products modified MIMUL and AZ-Spectrum modified MIVAR...were there ever any other motors available?  Seems like there were dozens of choices through the years for the NPR, I'm surprised to not see so many for the ACL.

There have been the single speed motor and then the two different variations of heavy duty. The Cinema Products modified motor is based on the original single speed motor. There was also in the early 2000s Clive Tobin's TXM-25A that replaced the camera base, but those seem to be rather rare. And as I mentioned, there is going to be a new motor later this year 🙂

The issue with the original motors is that they were manufactured by the French defense contractor Thomson-CSF. I have asked about schematics but those who know more than I do say that such schematics don't exist and that these motors used non-standard components which is why they can't be repaired. The single speed motor even has one of the boards and components painted brown!

I know that AZ Spectrum has been able to repair some motors, but apparently it's much easier to replace the motor innards that regulate the motor speed with entirely new electronics.

BUT: There is also this guy I found by accident, who apparently has schematics for the heavy duty motor. He has done the work. You could ask if he would be willing to sell you the schematics: https://pouch4.wixsite.com/index/eclair

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Heikki,

 

Quote

Two years ago Brenda Collins wrote:

"www.SealconUSA.com  

Part numbers for mini jaeger connectors male and female. 

SJ533800006

SJ533811006"

However, if you are handy with soldering iron, you could just replace the Jaeger connector with a XLR connector. I have done that -- there is a "tail" coming out of the camera. Works great. If I did it now, I'd probably test if a mini XLR connector would fit.

Hey, I will have to contact them and see if they can get those connectors.  They just link to the Jaegar catalog for those style connectors ("Natto") like everyone else, but at least they're in the US.   I like keeping things as original as possible unless there is a reason not to (parts utterly unavailable, or inferior) so I'll start with trying to source those connectors.

 

Quote

Here and there. I guess those who own more tend to stay silent about the treasures they own 😉 Motors -- you are pretty much out of luck. Those are rare and expensive! Which is why there are lots of ACL bodies without motors going around. Fortunately, a new motor is in the works, but it won't use the original electronics. As for Pilotone boxes -- I'm pretty sure there must be some people who might occasionally visit this forum and own one, but aren't selling them on Ebay since they aren't worth much in the current digital reality. And those, who sell everything probably don't know they are ACL Pilotone boxes, even if they have inherited such pieces...

I will just continue to keep my eyes open I guess.  It does seem like a complete replacement of the electronic guts, using the original motor but more modern components, would be the way to go these days, but given such a tiny market...

Quote

The issue with the original motors is that they were manufactured by the French defense contractor Thomson-CSF. I have asked about schematics but those who know more than I do say that such schematics don't exist and that these motors used non-standard components which is why they can't be repaired. The single speed motor even has one of the boards and components painted brown!

BUT: There is also this guy I found by accident, who apparently has schematics for the heavy duty motor. He has done the work. You could ask if he would be willing to sell you the schematics: https://pouch4.wixsite.com/index/eclair

I will try contacting that guy.   And if I take my motor apart I'll document what I can, including developing schematics, but I really hate to do that without a backup motor in hand.  My first step is going to be to get one of those tiny Cannon connectors so I can easily power up the motor "on the bench" apart from the camera.  I'm pretty sure the problems are all in the motor, nothing to do with the camera, but it would be good to verify that for sure.  The symptoms are: at any dial position except for "75" the motor runs at the same speed, with the sync light dimly illuminated.  With my tachometer app on my phone it's hard to tell if I'm seeing the actual speed or some multiple or fraction of it... so I can get the image to freeze when dialed in to 23.1fps, but to my ear it sounds like it's running more like 11.55fps.  At 75 it runs MUCH faster, with the light coming on brightly for a moment, then settling back to dim.  I frankly don't want to run it at that speed long enough to see what speed that is with the app, since it doesn't matter; there are other more important problems with the motor and I don't want to damage the camera.

Duncan

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Re: Jeager connectors- I bought two xlr to jaeger cables made to order from another member on this forum, Jean Louis Seguin- this was in 2020 so not sure if he still has the connectors but I’d give him a shot.

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Duncan,

Show and tell time, that's what they called it at my son's kindergarten (pre school).

I wonder what the weight is down to with the small base and the orientable Ang viewfinder. The ACLII with big base, big motor, big Kinoptik viewfinder, video tap, ergonomic handle and battery gets heavy, like an SR, even without a zoom. The ACL I with small motor, early Ang viewfinder, zoom with battery on your belt was really light on your shoulder and nimble. If you have separate battery and are plugging/unplugging a lot with hand holding then the XLR-4 would be better at that.

I'm not a fan of on board batteries, not at the weight of NiCad/NiMhi. Maybe a Lithium Ion batt is light enough. The other issue is the fore and aft mass distribution of the camera on your shoulder. Even with a prime, it's a bit front heavy, and I always dream up ways to shift the battery to the rear. So a design opportunity I think, maybe integrating rod base, handle, battery support, shoulder pad.

I tried to read everything and make some notes...

- I didn't understand your observation that "..the film loop comes back into the feed side of the magazine, and passes through to the takeup side internally..".  It just takes an oblique path through the dividing wall, from feed to take up....Moving on. If it's a while since CLA, it doesn't hurt to take the light traps off and check for dust etc. While there check that all the rollers feel super light and free. 

- The Jaeger connectors on the camera get a lot of wear and tear and stress (this is less important if you aren't using it a lot). The Jaeger connector on the cable, even worse. Having the Cannon (XLR-4) on the camera like on the ACL II is a better idea (the II has the camera and battery connectors switched). On the ACLI there didn't look like there was enough depth in the base castings to do it. If the 1.5 is maybe deeper and you can do it..?

Generic XLR-4 connectors are quite cheap. I gather you are good with small fiddley soldering etc. Soldering/fitting the Jaeger I found trickey, but my skills in that department are meagre. Cannon (XLR-4) is pretty easy.

- The sliding run switch does feel odd at first, you get used to it. On my ACL I I had a custom double handle casting pointing to the front and it was easy to start the camera with my thumb while hand holding. The original bottom handle I don't like much. The factory ergonomic handle is really nice but give not enough position options for good hand holding.

So there's some freedom to explore useful options for design of front/side handle/rods...I've seen pics of a custom made handle that fixed near the end of a rod that extended forwards, downwards 400mm at about 45deg. If using a ready made two handle set that fits to a 15mm rod set, I think some rod base designs may not be strong enough for the weight of the ACL at the rod, base connection. 

The little handle mounting module on the RH side that you are missing has a rossette that is a good mount for handles. It's attached to the camera with two small screws. I think the engineers think like aero engineers, applying load cases to find critical loads, and allowing for limit loads and failure loads. The result is very small screws, that may not be big enough for the modifications, adaptions and accessories that third parties apply.

- The availability of components (motors, viewfinders etc) maybe comes in waves. Five or ten years ago there were quite a few components on eBay. If the weird prices from camera brokers make it hard to know what things are worth.

- What's with the custom tape spacers on the motor to body connection? Was someone trying to adjust the noise level that way. Some people do it by making tiny adjustments to the motor mounting screws. Also, I see some extra holes drilled in the rubber drive block (see it at the centre of the motor mounting plate on the camera)

Re these drive blocks. On a thread about flicker, Dirk DeJonghe jumped in with the comment that back in the day when ACLs were numerous and busy, a flicker problem was often traced to the rubber drive block, easy to replace. I quizzed him on what it was about, had it lost it's mechanical properties, were the holes worn, was there some untoward resonance between motor and camera, but he didn't know.

Cheers,
Gregg

 

 

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Gregg,

I can weigh my body/base/motor just for comparison.

The NPR feeds out of the feed side of the magazine, and back in to the takeup side of the magazine.  The ACL comes back in the same side, then passes through the wall internally.  Just noting the difference.

I'll see how possible it is to put an XLR-4 connector on the base instead, but it seems more useful at this point to simply have an easy supply of the connectors to make adapter cables (Jaeger to XLR4) that mostly just stay in place once fitted... but to be able to have options (short, long, etc).

This camera had Du-all stickers all over it originally, I wonder if those tape spacers were something they did.  The extra "holes" in the rubber coupling simply look ot be where someone fitted the motor in the wrong position and then cranked down the screws, making coupler pin impressions deep into the rubber.  No harm no foul once it was put together properly,  At least these rubber couplings are simply enough to make from rubber rod stock, unlike say the Arri-S couplers, if it comes down to it.  This one seems in nice shape other than the dents!

Duncan

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7 hours ago, Duncan Brown said:

....I wonder if those tape spacers were something they (Du-all) did.  .......At least these rubber couplings are simply enough to make from rubber rod stock.....

I'm thinking the tape spacers offset the motor a tiny bit, allowing motor mounting screws to adjust the motor/camera alignment for noise.  The tape may have lost it's thickness dimension and  elasticity so the exercise might have to be repeated. The differences in thickness of the various original spacer offsets may have been very small, hard to measure, but I would be curious and  lay a rule between spacers and vernier down to the motor mount plate.

Without carefully measuring, roughly how thick are the spacers? There is a faint chance that someone offset the motor to make it easier to press the drive pins into the rubber rather than align to the holes. Quelle horreur..! Or maybe the rubber block was non standard dimension.

Probably you will just remove the spacers and see what the natural motor alignment feels like. Maybe someone can measure a rubber block for you if you want to check yours.

When mounting motors be really careful and gentle. The drive pins and holes in the rubber block you can align just by eye to some arbitrary axis and they will slot in. The original plastic 9 pin cannon connectors need care when fitting the motor. You hold the motor offset in correct position and gently wiggle till the connector and drive pins slot into place.

Were you able to test the rotary speed selector switch?

Gregg

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Just thought how easy it would be to make up a rod base with handle mount(s) for your 1.5. All load taken through the 3/8" mount under the camera base. I prefer to do my thinking with drawings rather than thinking out loud but....

An aluminum angle with a vertical face on the RH side. Chinese rossette for a side handle. 9 pin cannon connection safely hidden behind vertical face. Chinese15mm rod clamps screwed to the front of the horizontal face.

The two handle version. An aluminum C section so you have vertical faces on left and right sides of camera, so a rossette each side. Same 15mm rod clamp idea. One needs to look carefully at the drawings or model first, but some people just do, fiddle, play, refine...

The ideas that I thought about before on this type exercise.

- The hand held rig will fit straight onto a tripod.

- Maybe a shoulder pad can fit to the quick release plate.

- Need good access to the original switch even if switching with the 9 pin cannon on the RH side.

- Rod mount must be close enough to the body so that follow focus can reach prime lenses.

- Develop some extension to the rear that allows battery position to the rear. Maybe a single rod offset from the mag.

Cheers,

Gregg.

 

Edited by Gregg MacPherson
Added the word "so".
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Gregg,

I'll peel off one of the spacers to measure it when I get a chance.  They look to be all the same thickness, which is about the thickness of cloth tape, which is what it looks like.  They look to just be evenly spaced around the perimeter, not carefully placed to offset one part more than another.  I'll also dig out the rubber block and measure that.

It's not clear to me why they used plastic Cannon connectors instead of the metal versions, sure would have been less delicate.

The rotary switch is multi-level and sealed and tightly tied into the whole mess with soldered wires.  So it's going to be bit of a challenge to test separately, or replace for that matter.  But it's also entirely possible it's the circuitry that's got the problem, not the switch, now that I see it is a sealed unit.  Those usually last pretty well.

I've gotten a quote from a Jaeger distributor, which I haven't had time to study yet and figure out my order.  Pricey little buggers, and unlike 4-pin XLR or even those itty bitty Cannon connectors, there is simply no supply of them on the old-stock or slightly-used market; they're just too obscure.

Duncan

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For the Jaeger, did you try Jean Louis Seguin? He may have some old stock or some ideas. 

The original plastic cannon 9 pin, with tails, I have got from VP before, was $25 then, they probably still have. But if the metal body ones are interchangeable it's worth the money.

Gregg.

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I want to stock up on the Jaeger parts so I just went new.  Everything has gone up due to supply chain issues - those Cannon connectors run $50-ish now.  The metal body ones may not be interchangeable in terms of the mounting, but the mating should be the same.  They could have accommodated any mounting thickness differences in the design.  I'm sure they had some reason for going with the plastic.  It's also possible that when new the plastic wasn't so delicate.  I'll figure this all out when I disassemble the motor (which I'd really prefer to not do until I have a second one in hand but that search isn't going anywhere quickly!)

I did get in an old-stock Cannon connector for $25 that will mate to the motor so I can bench test it.  Maybe this weekend.

Duncan

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3 hours ago, Duncan Brown said:

The metal body ones may not be interchangeable in terms of the mounting, but the mating should be the same.  They could have accommodated any mounting thickness differences in the design.  I'm sure they had some reason for going with the plastic.  It's also possible that when new the plastic wasn't so delicate.  I'll figure this all out when I disassemble the motor (which I'd really prefer to not do until I have a second one in hand but that search isn't going anywhere quickly!)

The issue with metal ITT connectors is that if I remember correctly, the connector for the motor on the base side doesn't fit unless it is cut down (I have had to replace it because it broke). With plastic that's much easier done...

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35 minutes ago, Gregg MacPherson said:

What was that like to do? Difficult?

Tedious! If one has to do that, it's best to systematically clip one wire at a time from the connector and solder it straight away to the new connector's wires and only then move to the next wire. That way the risk for mixing the wires is very low, one can hold the connector the right way around and compare. Before that, the connector should be made fit the base.

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Am I understanding you correctly...You just made joins in the wires rather than take the tails of the new connector all the way to the original destination. That's the way I first thought of doing it, then I wondered if there was any reason not to. One of the guys at Panavision Auckand was going to charge NZD300 labor to replace the connector on a camera body, which made me wonder if he was going to do it the harder way. I never asked.

Gregg.

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RE: the connector not fitting - but I think they could have designed it so that the metal connectors would fit if they had tried (but I could be wrong!)  It also seems unnecessary to me to have used such an itty bitty connector.  3 of the connections are ground, and two are power, if they had used something bigger whose pins could handle more current they wouldn't have needed so many of them so that would have regained some space.

I haven't opened things up enough to see for sure, but the part numbers they spec in the manual are for connectors with 9 yellow wires!  So yes, one wire at a time is the best way to proceed.  (They do make versions with all the wires different colors, not sure why they didn't use those.)

Duncan

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IMG-20220331-144539-HDR.jpg

Here's how the motor connector looks like in ACL with the mid size base. As you can see, most connectors available won't fit. The right side accessory port is different: there a full size connector with the side "wings" fits.

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