Well I picked one of these up off Ebay and thought some people here might be interested in my thoughts
I'm still waiting to get some real lightning to test it out on but tested it at home in a few situations here are my thoughts. (I saw some bad reviews online maybe early versions perhaps)http://www.pmgadgets.net/
First up I got the 3 in 1 unit mainly for the ability to use the laser trigger as well for water drop photography or other things like that i have yet to have a go at.
I've give it a rating out of 5 for each area
Cost $150 from ebay 4/5 (not bad value for money)
Delivery - Pretty fast maybe a week 5/5 (getting anything delivered to Australia in this time is pretty good going)
First thing you notice is build quality is on the plasticy side of cheap. definately not rugged and you would want to make sure moisture stayed well away from it but its a convenient size and functions are quite well laid out, only has 3 controls, An on off switch, a Mode toggle button and a flimsy dial to change sensitivity. all worked on my unit.
BUILD QUALITY score 2/5
It takes a 9 volt battery which is a bit of a pain i would rather have had AA or AAA batterys so i could use rechargables and share with my flash and remote cable release /timer but not really a deal breaker. I haven't had it long enough to see what battery life is like
Connection, it has a cord with what looks like a 2.5mm stereo jack that goes into the unit and the other end connects to the same port as most devices on the camera its got a bit of length to it to allow you to set it up in from of the camera for use as a laser trigger or slip onto the flash mount for lighting trigger. the flash mount is just a block of cheap plastic with 2 slots in it no way to secure it. I have asked them if a standard 2.5mm stereo jack extension cable can be used to extend the control cable for easier use in a studio environment, no comment from the seller yet infact their communication isnt very good I can see why some people got upset with them especially if they had problems ( i'm hopeing it can be extended easily).
Ok the lightning trigger function. to test this i simply put the camera (1D mk3) on a table plugged it in and turned the unit on then used a 580EXii to try and trigger it. It worked really well from all over the place. i had to play with the sensitivity a bit as on the low end it was a bit hit and miss whether the patchmaster would trigger the camera so i cranked sensitivity right up and that was overkill as ambient light was setting it off randomly so put it mid way and it was pretty sweet, seems to be a good amount of tuning adjustment here which I think will be valuable in real lightning shooting so all good at this end. still waiting for a storm so i can try it out for real but its looking promising!!)
LIGHTNING TRIGGER OPERATION 5/5
Next Laser trigger function first up. I no idea how this was supposed to work until i realised you need to supply your own Laser pointer to set up the beam and point it exactly at the little LED looking reciever on the front of the unit. (Hmm fidley) this is going to need me to make up a rig to use properly but I think it will be doable. so i dug out a pen i had with a laser pointer in the butt and gave it a try. problem with most laser pointers is you have to hold the button in to keep them on so i wrapped some velcro around the pen trigger button to keep the beam on the balanced it on a chair so the beam sat steady on the reciever. waved my hand through the beam and bang she triggered. Once setup it worked every time and the adjustment of sensitivity controls the delay in fire once the beam is broken so it looks quite tunable in increment ranges of 100 ms. It would be nicer if patchmaster actually supply a laser transmitted with the unit that can be turned on and left on perhaps with a hotshoe mount and a 1/4 screw under it so it can be mounted to most studio gear. it would probably only cost them and extra $2 to make since you can buy laser pointers on ebay for $1.5.
LASER TRIGGER SCORE 4/5 (works well but they lose a mark for being cheap and not giving us a laser beam)
3rd and final function TIME LAPSE, well this looks to be next to useless unless you just want to burn through a camera shutter in no time, all it does is fires the trigger in whatever number of second increment the sensitivty is set to and it doesnt stop until you change mode or turn it off. So as a time lapse device there are plenty of much better and much cheaper alternatives on ebay for under $20 use one of these instead as this doesnt have anywhere near the level of control you need to shoot any form of effective time lapse, the setting range is just a span of seconds. I dont know maybe there will be a use its perfect for but I cant think of one right now.
TIME LAPSE 1/5 (it functions and it gets a point for that but is useless so it doesnt get anymore)
So in my most objective summary, would I recommend this unit?
Overall its a nice unit that looks like it works well, time will tell how it survives reallity in the field
my overall rating 3.6/5 (I gave a double weigthing to the lightning trigger and laser function so came out with 36 out of 50
PROS : overall value for money is good in my opinion it fires reliably and has a good level of control for the 2 functions that matter and is lightweight and compact and has a useable length cable which looks like it can be extended easily and cheaply. Its easy to use.
CONS : very low build quality, Battery being square 9v is annoying, communication from the company is bad / nonexistent, lack of laser transmitting component is being cheap, and the useless timelapse setting is not worth the effort
It would be interesting to see what anyone else with this unit thinks about it?