A $3 Improvement for Your Vagabond Mini Battery

A $3 Improvement for Your Vagabond Mini Battery

Paul Buff’s Vagabond Mini is a great portable power source for flashes. I use these little gizmos all the time, and in many different situations. They charge quickly, and they allow for a fast recycle flash time. Here is a $3 improvement on the Vagabond Mini that has made a big difference for me.

I travel quite a bit for photo shoots. Many times I will rent equipment in our destination city. However, there are times when I will travel in with my own light kit for the photo session.

My biggest complaint against this product is the subpar stand mount provided with each unit. Frankly, the plastic casing can’t take the stress of the mount when you try to attach the battery to a stand. The plastic snaps off the bottom, leaving me with a cracked casing and a hole in the inverter.

I’ve broken multiple units this way. I’m using the unit as indicated by Buff, but it still breaks. After the casings cracked, I was forced to leave the battery on the floor or hang the battery using some other method. Once on the ground, the batteries were kicked and scraped, accumulated dirt and dust, and the hole in the bottom obviously left it susceptible to moisture damage. All of that dirt ends up in the Pelican case, too.

My assistant and I tried using the strap over-the-shoulder thing, but that only works if you are holding the light. Then we moved to a combination of two super clamps with 5/8-inch studs: One clamp on the lightstand, stud in the middle, one clamp outside. We wrapped the shoulder strap and screwed the outer clamp tight. It worked, but the battery swings around too much if you are carrying or holding the stand. Also, it’s too heavy for travel. We already lug enough equipment to throw my back out of whack. Adding 6 super clamps at 1.1 lbs each was too much. Six pounds makes a big difference when you are trying to meet the airline baggage weight requirements.

So here’s our quick and easy $3 solution. It’s lightweight, travels easily and will fit into nearly any case you might use to store and transport your batteries. Best of all, it requires no physical modification to the Buff battery or inverter.

You need two cable ties and one S-Biner per battery. Nite Ize is the company name. I like these because they have small slides that lock the clip closed. They come in all kinds of colors. I bought this one at a local hardware store for $2.97. The cable ties cost 3 cents each. So for $3.03, your battery isn’t sitting in the dirt anymore and you’ve eliminated 6.5 pounds of gear. Not too bad, right?

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21 Comments

Chuck Eggen's picture

Thanks for the tip. Love my PBVMs. This makes things more convenient.

Better off just wasting the cash and getting a proper mount.
http://www.joejackphotography.com/the-vml-bracket/

Aaron Ottis's picture

J F, those look nice. They're still large and require multiple super clamps to make that work.

Umbrella adapter into the screw hole, then attach a super clamp on to that. Now you can clamp this thing to anything no problem.

Mike Powell's picture

I'm with you... I use a super clamp too, works as a good counter weight too...I wouldn't trust $3.00 of plastic at a shoot or a wedding.

Aaron Ottis's picture

I'm not against something like this, but it's exactly how all of the other casings broke. The plastic/metal combination on the base can't support the weight of the battery.

I dont know, I have had mine setup this way for a long time with no issues what so ever.

Aaron Ottis's picture

If it works, it works. Go for it.

Dirk Franke's picture

After flying off the stands several times, my minis are now all gaffer-taped up. I will most certainly try your suggestion to prevent further damage!

Aaron Ottis's picture

Yep. Gaffer around the sides, gaffer over the base clips, gaffer all over the place.

Thanks for the mention, JF. These $3 "solutions" for mounting the VML seem great at first. But putting them in a real world scenario quickly reveals their flaws, and often times they end up doing more harm than good.

After years of trying to find a suitable mounting solution for the VML myself, I decided to design one and bring it to market in 2011-2012. Since then, The VML Bracket (http://www.joejackphotography.com/the-vml-bracket/) has become the industry standard for securely mounting a VML to…anything you want to. Once mounted, you don't ever have to worry about your VML falling off your stand, the threaded insert coming loose from the case of the VML, the case of the VML cracking, or having gaffer tape all over the place. Sure, there are other "cheaper" alternatives out there. But at the end of the day, hundreds of photographers around the world (16 different countries thus far) can't be wrong…The VML Bracket is the best mounting solution for the VML, hands down.

Aaron Ottis's picture

Joe, the brackets look nice, and I'm glad to hear they are working for you and many other photographers.

Matt Hadley's picture

This is genius!!! I've been trying so many things to attach my vagabond to the stand. Great tip thanks!

Austin Burke's picture

I just went with this option, a little more money but still not too pricey and it seems to hold up well so far.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00E83R4DG/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s0...

Super clamp, j-hook, and sash cord. The industry standard (and for good reason, that setup will outlive your grandkids)

@Aaron Ottis The company name isn't "S-Biner". I think you missed seeing the branding on the product. The real company is Nite Ize. Those were the first letters and words on the packaging. Nite Ize is a Boulder, CO based company. They make all sorts of cool things. This isn't their only product. Please revise your article with the correct information.

http://www.niteize.com/collection/S-Biner.asp

Aaron Ottis's picture

Thanks for the info Craig.

I had all items on hand so it was free for me! If you think that the zip tie wont hold up, simply double up for added peace of mind.

This is a great idea... thanks =D

Evan Wallis's picture

This is a great idea, I was using super clamps with a stud before but this saves my super clamps for other uses and has made set up incredibly fast and easy. Thanks!

hector torres's picture

WOW! this will save me so much trouble when running around with my vagabond mini, thanks.

The best solution I've found is from a seller on Ebay named "speed.lighting" http://www.ebay.com/usr/speed.lighting

He sells a simple clamp that locks the Vagabond rock solid to a lightstand, not dangling around like this $3 solution.