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Shipping of AlienBees MAX monolights delayed  
Tuesday, July 7, 2009 | by Rob Galbraith
Lighting maker Paul C. Buff has begun informing pre-order customers that delivery of the AlienBees MAX monolights will be delayed while the company undertakes a power supply redesign. A revised release date has not been set. Other recently announced Paul C. Buff products, including the high-efficiency PLM umbrella system, new-design reflectors, Cyber Commander and CyberSync Transceiver (CSXCV) wireless remote units are on track to ship before the end of this month.

More information is in the notice to customers below, from company founder Paul Buff. It includes information on how the AlienBees MAX power supply revamp will and won't impact the feature set of the 320ws AB MAX 320 and 640ws AB MAX 640.

July 7, 2009

From Paul C. Buff

AlienBees Max

As you may be aware, AB Max has been in development for approximately 7 months. I have personally done the entire overall concept and core electronics design as well as all of the mechanical engineering, mold designs, etc. In this process we have been working with a professional consulting group in the development of some portions of the design - particularly the complex and all-important "Switching Power Supply" portion. This work was projected to take three months.

Throughout this process we have had ongoing lack of comfort level with the contracted power supply design team, and a less-than-optimal communications and agreement with the engineers. In short, the power supply design has drug on beyond our control, with many changes and bug fixes.

At this point we have complete functioning AB Max pre-production units under test. However, I have made the determination that the power supply design is still not up to the standards we demand for our products. Accordingly, I made the decision not to proceed with the AB Max design as it stands today. Thus, regretfully, we will not be able to ship AlienBees Max units during July as anticipated. This decision was made on July 6 when my testing of pre-production samples failed to meet our expectations for the power supply in terms of projected reliability, radiated Electro Magnetic Interference (EMI), cost effectiveness and serviceability.

Instead, I am now personally engineering a tried-and-true analog power supply rather than the complex "Switching Power Supply" we have invested so much time and money in via consulting engineers. I am an expert at analog power supply design, having engineered all previous Paul C. Buff products personally, together with our Chief Engineer, Michael Morgan, Sc.D. I expect to be able to complete the new design rather quickly, but we are not prepared to announce accurate delivery dates at this point.

The analog power supply will be globally auto-adjusting from 100 VAC to 260VAC, 50/60HZ, and will (unlike many competitive products) tolerate the "brown outs" associated with battery inverters. The housing design will remain the same, as will the 250W quartz modeling lamp (auto adjusting from 100VAC to 260VAC), LCD display, glass lamp cover and all other mechanical refinements.

The only detriment to the analog power supply will be that it will not be able to function properly on non-pure-sine-wave inverters and will thus require Vagabond type pure sine inverters for field use. This is true with virtually all lights from other manufacturers.

On the positive side, the product will retain full digital control of all parameters, and certain new capabilities will be added to the design.

In our testing of AlienBees Max units, the output and color consistency has proven exceedingly accurate and repeatable over the entire power control range, as it will be with the new power supply design.

Consideration and compensation for Pre-Order customers

We realize this announcement will be disappointing to many customers who have placed pre-orders for AlienBees Max and who have placed their confidence in our projections and announcements. First, I hope you will accept my personal apology for delaying factors we could not control.

In order to attempt to compensate you for the inconvenience and disappointment this announcement may cause, we make the following offers to customers who have placed pre-orders prior to July 8, 2009:

1. Once the product is finally available for delivery, we will extend a 10% discount to all items on pre-order prior to July 8. This includes AlienBees Max, all PLM components, Cyber Commander, the CyberSync CSXCV Transceiver and all the new reflectors on the pre-order list.

2. If you need flash units and/or wireless receivers prior to the release of AlienBees Max, we will extend the absolute satisfaction guarantee for any AlienBees or White Lightning flash units and CSR+/CSRB+ purchased after July 1, 2009, thus allowing you to trade these items with full credit of the purchase price (less shipping) towards AlienBees Max and CSXCV transceiver modules once the AlienBees Max units are in production.

Cyber Commander, PLM System, New Reflectors, CSXCV

All of these items are still expected to be ready to ship during July.

We have working pre-production samples of Cyber Commander. Some amount of programming remains in progress and we are quite happy with the results thus far. For those interested, Cyber Commander can be used in conjunction with CSR+/CSRB+ receivers on all current AlienBees, White Lightning and Zeus products. Once AlienBees Max becomes available you can upgrade to the all-digital CSXCV Transceiver per the offer above.

The reflector molds are all made, but we are modifying two of the molds to achieve optimum performance after our testing of first samples. We should have new samples of all reflectors in the next ten days and expect to begin production immediately thereafter.

All PLM components have been tested and are performing completely to our expectations. They are going into production now. We are awaiting information on the earliest partial production run release now, and will air freight the first production run as soon as they can be made. These should all be available before the end of July.

We will keep you advised of our progress on everything above regularly. In accordance with our 27 year "customer first" policies, we will do everything in our power to serve you. If you need clarification of anything contained here, please email info@paulcbuff.com or call us at 1-800-443-5542.

Best regards,
Paul C. Buff


An overview of the new products is in a previous article.

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