Looking through a bunch of the advice articles in 2006 when I was just getting started on strobist photography (when it was a new word) I kept seeing recommendations about the Wein Pocket Peanut.
When I found that it wouldn't trigger reliably with my flash, I blamed the PC connectors. Perhaps this is still part of it, but I've seen a lot of other folks griping about the Pocket Peanut. The plug is designed to fit in either a Vivitar or a PC connector and pretty much doesn't work perfectly in either connector
Presently, I cannot find my Pocket Peanut.
I figured (incorrectly) that the Wein brand might be more reliable than any random cheap made-in-China-for-100-different-stores optical trigger, so I got the kind that fit on the hotshoe.
Except now one of those failed.
Oh, and there's another annoying quirk. See, the modern Vivitar 285HV flashes that don't fry your camera with 250 volts of power straight from the high-voltage end of the flash send the battery voltage instead. With 4 NiMH batteries, that's somewhere around four and a half volts, which is under five volts and therefore just enough that none of the Wein triggers work anymore.
Oh, did I mention that, since you can't get a Sunpak 383 Super any more, I've started buying Vivitar 285HVs as the smaller-than-a-potatoe-masher flash option? No, I didn't, but I will write more about it soon enough.
But, as a spoiler for the next article in the series, the current route is that I have the Sunpak 622 optically triggered, the Vivitar 285HV cable-triggered, and the remaining operational optical slave working around the poor flash trigger in the Sunpak Digital Flash.
So, clearly any money I spent above the cost of a cheap no-name optical flash was wasted. Which is sad, given that my friend Joy just complemented me on how stingy I am about buying stuff. I'm going to have to spend some money on cables and other little bits real soon, which I'm not totally pleased about. You should realize that I spent pretty much all of 2008 trying to decide the best way to do flash triggering moving forward. I'd much rather buy things that really count like film and lenses and flashes and whatnot.
On the Strobist Flickr forum, somebody took apart one of the Wein flashes, although not my model, and found that the batteryless trigger actually contains a battery and if you replace the battery, it'll work again. I haven't felt like finding out. As soon as I get the new triggering setup, the Wein is going to emergency backup duty.