Nikon F Motor Battery Packs and Accessories

Standard (Cord) Pack

The Cord Pack is for use with both the F36 and F250. It is a fairly basic item which holds eight 1.5V "C"-type batteries. The original kit included a shoulder strap and a 1m (3.3ft) connecting cord, which plugs into the power socket on the front of either drive. A 10m cable was available.

The top of the Cord Pack contains, in addition to the power socket, a S/L/C (Single, Lock, Continuous) collar surrounding a shutter release. This control completely overrides the one on the back of the F36 and F250, and provides some measure of remote control.

Cordless Pack for F36

After the success of the American Remopak (and other such items, including one made by Jacobsen), Nikon finally released a fairly compact battery unit for the F36, one which does not interfere with bellows units or any lens, including fisheye types. A nice bonus is the scalloped handle, which allows the self-timer lever to be turned, set, and operated (although self-timer with a motordrive isn't really necessary, and Nikon got rid of this "feature" with the MD-1/2). The Cordless Pack accepts 8 1.5V "AA"-type cells.

The batteries are loaded through the battery-chamber cover, which is located on the right (i.e. opposite to the grip) side of the pack, and is removed via a coin/thumbscrew. Immediately below this screw is the external DC-power socket. On the opposite side of the Pack are the S/C rocker switch and the remote control socket, which looks like a standard US AC mains socket. It cannot be said enough: this socket is only for low voltage devices, which may be fashioned with a spare length of, say, lamp cord, but should not be plugged into a mains outlet. At the very top of the grip is the shutter release (with surrounding lock collar); at right angles to it is a fastening knob, which holds the Pack firmly to the body.

Mounting the Cordless Pack to the F36 is relatively simple:

  1. insert the "terminal adapter" into the power socket on the front of the drive
  2. put the Cordless Pack on, taking care to line up the electrical contacts with those of the "terminal adapter
  3. attach the attachment screw to the F36's tripod socket, using a coin
  4. push the fastening knob (at the top of the grip, facing forward) and tighten

One bit of trivia: the Cordless Pack incorporates a micro-relay, which obviates the need for the Relay Box for many cases of remote controlled trickery. After all, the F made its name not just for its reportage mastery, but also for its amazing flexibility, including all kinds of remote-triggering devices.

Again, the S/C selector on the side of the Pack overrides the selection on the back of the F36. The F36 with Cordless Pack was what the classic studly photojournalist of the 1960's packed into all situations (one image in particular that sticks out in my mind is that of Ron Galella, with a football helmet on and a F (eyelevel) and F36/Cordless with Honeywell Strobonar, following at a safe distance behind Marlon Brando, who'd just broken Mr. Galella's jaw).

MA-1 AC/DC Converter

Input Voltage:
100-120 or 200-240V AC (at 50 or 60 Hz)
Input Power:
Output Voltage:
9V and 12V DC (changed over)
Output Current:
400mA continuous
1.8A instantaneous maximum
Current for Automatic Overload Protection Circuit:
1.8 - 2.5A
Stability of Output Power:
+/-100mV for 10% fluctuation in input voltage
+/-100mA for loads 0-400mA
Permissible Ambient Temperature:
-10 to +40 deg. C
Remote Control Terminal:
S/C switch:
Dimensions and Weight:
70 x 135 x 140mm; 2.3kg
2.8 x 5.4 x 5.5 in; 5 lb.
input cord
motor-drive connecting cord (1m long)

Why doesn't it surprise me that, like everything else in the F36 arsenal, the MA-1 comes with its own shutter-release button? It has a remote socket for the MEx interconnects to the various other accessories, including the NC-2 and Wireless controls.

ME3, ME6, ME15, ME30 Interconnects

These were especially designed for connecting power supplies to the Relay Box or connecting remote devices together. They all have the two-prong plug on each end, and the number refers to their length in feet, e.g. the ME15 is a fifteen-foot long cord.

AE-1 Tripping Button

This is basically a switch with the two-prong plug on one end.

AE-2 Alligator Clip Cord

Ok, not really a cord, but rather an adapter: it has a two-prong socket on one end and alligator clips on the other. It was designed mostly for use with the MEx cords and a 12V power supply.

AE-3 Twin Lug Cord

Ok, not really a cord, but rather an adapter: it has a two-prong socket on one end and twin lugs on the other.

AE-4 Mini Plug Cord

Ok, not really a cord, but rather an adapter (are you sick of my cut-and-paste yet?): it has a two-prong socket on one end and mini plugs on the other.

AE-5 Banana Plug Cord

Ok, not really a cord, but rather an adapter: it has a two-prong socket on one end and banana plugs on the other.

250-Exposure Bulk Film Loader

Because I am being exceptionally lazy, I'm just going to repeat the F250's loading instructions:
  1. put the bulk-film supply on the film drum spindle, with the film coming over the axis, not under.
  2. put the MZ-1's spindle on the winding spool
  3. trim leader (to appox. 3cm long and 2cm wide) and thread film into the MZ-1's spindle, taking care to engage the sprockets and passing film over the axis of the MZ-1's spindle
  4. swing the film pressure lever over the film
  5. pull and turn the exposure-frame dial to set the total number of frames to be wound
  6. wind (at appox. 2-3 frames/sec) until you reach the preset, which will cause the winding to stop
  7. cut the film approximately halfway between spools

Remember to do all this in a darkroom. The preset dial has glow-in-the-dark numerals to help you along, although they are possibly made from tritium instead of phosphorescent paint.

MZ-1 250-Exposure Cassette

The MZ-1 is one of Nikon's most enduring accessories, meaning that the same cassettes you bought for your F250 can be used in your MF-24. Not even the BR-2 can be used so nicely.

Yes! I hope to bore you by again describing how to open the cassette:

  1. press the silver button under the "J" in "Japan"
  2. rotate the shell relative to the top plate until the openings in the two halves line up
  3. separate the two halves

If that wasn't enough, here's how to close it, again!

  1. slide "bottom half" over "top half"
  2. turn "top half" clockwise until you hear two clicks, meaning that the catch has fallen into place

36-Exposure Cassette

Nikon's reloadable standard cassette, recommended for use with the F36, doesn't have any felt. As a result, it is probably a bit faster to use and more battery-efficient (less drag), but given the cheapness of batteries and the convenience of preloaded film, there is no compelling reason to use it today. This is a three-piece affair, consisting of an inner shell, outer shell, and internal spindle.

The bottom of the outer shell has a film-speed reminder index; to properly use it, line up color film (red figures) speed with the white dot for unexposed film, and with the red dot for exposed film; black and white film (black figures) should be lined up similarly for unexposed and exposed film. But how do you load the cassette?

  1. press the small button on the end of the cassette (it's on the inner shell) with the spindle projecting out of it
  2. rotate the shells clockwise until both shells' openings line up with each other
  3. pull the inner shell out
  4. go into the darkroom (or put the pieces into a changing bag)
  5. trim the end of the film to form a tongue for the spindle
  6. thread the tongue through the larger opening of the spindle
    1. orientation: spindle's projection facing down
    2. film coming from the right side of the spindle
    3. emulsion side facing away from you
  7. wind the film onto the spindle, emulsion side downward
  8. replace the film-laden spindle in the inner shell, with the spindle's projection facing out of the hole in the inner shell
  9. slip the outer shell over the inner shell, making sure to leave the leader of the film outside
  10. turn the inner shell counterclockwise until you hear two clicks

Pistol Grip

This Pistol Grip has a microswitch and may be used with either motorised or non-motorised cameras, as it accepts both the motor connecting cord or a cable release. It is appropriate for motorised cameras with the Cord Pack and has a cable for its attachment. It offers single-shot or continuous mode.

Pistol Grip Model 2

This Pistol Grip is appropriate for only motorised cameras with cordless battery packs (i.e. Cordless Pack or MB-2/3). It connects to the motor drive via a cord; it offers single-shot or continuous mode. With all pistol grips, don't attach it to the tripod socket of the old non-AI 300f/4.5, as the F36 with Cordless Pack will interfere with the fit.

Wireless Control Model 2

Transmitter (using 4 transistors)
Receiver (using 20 transistors)
Transmission Frequency:
27.120 mHz (or any other frequencies specified by respective countries) (ed. -- not sure if it's Mega or milli-Hz)
f0: 2300 Hz
f1: 2500 Hz
f2: 2700 Hz
f3: 2900 Hz
1 km (0.6 mi) maximum
300m (1000 ft) typical
Power Source:
Transmitter: 8 1.5V "AA"-type cells
Receiver: 4 1.5V "AA"-type cells
Dimensions and Weight:
Transmitter: appox. 40 x 68 x 200mm; 760g (w/ batteries)
Receiver: appox. 40 x 85 x 200mm; 800g (w/ batteries)
Transmitter: appox. 1.6 x 2.7 x 7.9 in.; 27 oz. (w/ batteries)
Receiver: appox. 1.6 x 3.3 x 7.9 in.; 28.5 oz. (w/ batteries)

You can directly hook the receiver into the Cordless Pack via a special cord. Otherwise, you need a different cord to hook the receiver across R1 and R2 of the Relay Box, for use with the Cord Pack. Since the receiver has two "OUTPUT" sockets, you can connect a couple of remote motorised cameras to fire simultaneously.

The cord that comes standard with the Wireless Remote set has the appropriate plug for an "OUTPUT" socket on one end and two leads coming out the other end, one red and one black. These are meant to be plugged into the R1 and R2 terminals of the Relay Box, but may be adapted (via a two-prong plug) to use on the Cordless Pack. Button 1 on the Transmitter fires "OUTPUT 1", Button 2 fires "OUTPUT 2", and Button 3 fires both "OUTPUT"s. It is important to keep the button depressed as long as necessary -- 50 msec for shutter speeds 1/125 and faster, 1.5 sec for slower shutter speeds -- to fire the shutter.

NC-2 Intervalometer

Time Intervals:
0.5, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 15, 20, 30, 40, 50 sec. available as base intervals
base intervals may be multipled by 2, 4, or 10 times
Power Source:
8 "AA"-type batteries
external 12V DC source (no amperage given)
Size and Weight:
115 x 150 x 115mm, 661g
4.5 x 6 x 4.5 in., 1.5 lb.

The Nikon NC-2 offers fairly good accuracy (+/- 3%) in timing, and is remarkably flexible. One large knob selects the base time delay between consecutive shots, and a smaller knob to its left selects the "multiplier" factor; e.g. to set a 4-second delay, you could either set the "multiplier" to 1x and the base interval to 4 sec. or "multiplier" at 4x and a base interval of 1 sec. Immediately below the "multiplier" knob are two switches: one toggle switch controls the power (on/off/savings) and one push button controls the timer start. The power switch may be turned to the "save" position to select a battery-saving circuit when the NC-2 is to be used for longer than three hours. The push button is depressed once to begin automatic timing; while the NC-2 is timing, it may be depressed at any time to immediately fire the shutter (the automatic timer does not reset after you press this button, so it will operate as scheduled, regardless of how many times you press).

Three sockets are on top of the NC-2, a remote control (two-prong) socket and external power (coaxial) socket on the left and a timing out (two-prong) socket on the right. When the external power socket is in use, the batteries inside the unit are disconnected. The timing out socket is connected to either the Cordless Pack (via the MEx cords) or the Relay Box (via the AE-x cords); AE-x cords may be connected to the remote control socket to remotely begin timing or immediately fire the shutter, as the push button on the front of the NC-2 does.

Relay Box

The Relay Box made all kinds of remote-control photography possible with the F and F36 or F250. It is a fairly unassuming box not really bristling with terminals, but with enough to cause some confusion. The left side of the box has four terminals; the ones close to the top edge, from left to right, are the power-supply terminal to the motor (labelled "M") and the power-input terminal from the battery pack (labelled "B"). Near the bottom edge are the DC input terminals, clearly labelled "+" and "-", which may be used in lieu of the battery pack input. The right side has two terminals, R1 and R2, which must be connected by a switching mechanism of some kind, via one of the AE-x cords (or by a switch of your own design). The top of the box has a S/C rocker switch and a shutter tripping button. Yes, this one, too, overrides the one on the back of the F36 or F250. The Relay Box is most appropriate for long runs of remote cords or adapting the Cord Pack to more remoteness.

The Relay Box is probably amazingly difficult to get. If you want to drive yourself crazy, you might want to hunt up the accessory AC mains adapter for the Relay Box (which hooks into the DC input terminals and supplies DC current sufficient for up to 4 motorised cameras) So long as the resistance across R1 and R2 does not exceed 100 Ohms, your wire can be as long as you like (my source quotes 1-2 mi. (1.6-3.2km)!). It looks as though the time lag between closing R1 and R2 and releasing the shutter is approximately 40-80 msec, with a synchronisation error between simultaneously-fired cameras of around 20 msec. Just to make your hunt harder, the Relay Box was originally supplied with a 1m connecting cord between it and the battery pack.

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