DIY Sync Cables

I will admit, sync cables are not the sexiest piece of kit and is perhaps one of the least contemplated gear purchases one can make. In most cases the cables that came with your triggers are probably all you need and there is not really a reason to give the subject more thought until  you inevitably replace them as the junctions with the connectors break. There are plenty of options on the market, Pocket Wizard and Paramount both make a large selection of suitable cables to suit nearly every configuration possible. Most of these cables are pretty reliable, but also cost about $15-20 a pop. Another option would be to use the cheaper, standard 3.5mm patch audio patch cords commonly used to connect music players to their various accessories. If you choose this option, make sure you buy at least a few spares because the cheaper cables don't seam to last very long.  The third option, and the one that I chose, was to make my own cables using ultra high quality, but very affordable components. There are a few reasons why I chose to make my own cables. After reading this you may decide that it's just not worth the effort to make your own, but that is up to you to decide.   O.K. The biggest reason that I decided to build my own sync cords is illustrated above. On the left is my home made cable and on the right is a PW branded cable that cost around $15. Obviously the left cable is a little more durable in design, but it's best feature is that is cost less than half of what the commercial cable did. The conductors in each wire are about the same gauge, but the jacket on my cable is much thicker and of a bit softer material. Basically, you are getting a much longer wearing cable that costs less and can be repaired if necessary. You can also see how I re-enforced the plugs with an extra layer of shrink wrap. There is a layer that covers the solder points under the housing and a layer that goes over the housing to reduce the chance of kinking and breaking of the wires.Under normal circumstances, this would probably be a little overkill but I found last winter that in the cold it doesn't take that much strain on the joint to crack the stiffened outer jacket and once it is cracked the cable is soon broken. To fix this problem I ended up using a pro audio cable with a more flexible jacket that was more resistant to cold weather.So, a cable that is both cheaper and more durable then a standard cable, win-win right? well, there are a few little rubs. One is that because of the increased size of the connector there may be some compatibility issues with some models of triggers. As shown above, you cannot use both the pass-through and output on the Phottix Atlas at the same time (Pocket Wizards don't have this problem). The other issue is that because the cable is now beefed up, the weak link is now the probably the connector on the radio trigger. Breaking a $175 trigger will negate any money that you saved with these cables, just sayin. There is the potential for more leverage to be applied to the jack do to the increased size of the plug, just be careful. I would say that the biggest advantage to these cables is their durability in cold weather. If you don't often work in the cold, then I would think hard about whether these are something that you need. If you rarely break cables then I would advise against DIY cables simply because of the increased risk of damaging a flash or trigger. If it ain't broke, don't fix it -or whatever. That being said, I can never seem to have enough on hand, so I build a dozen or so at once, and swap them out if they become damaged. The connectors are reusable so repairing a damaged cable only costs as much as a new piece of cable.