dozen was hypothetical. Its a small niche market, but you still have a choice of audibles. There is only one 'leader' in the AAD market. Why? because they spent a humungous amount of money in research and development in order for us to have a reliable AAD, which is far from simple to create.
the plastic display window helps shield static electricity
Hmm - if it is a static e problem, I doubt it has anything to do with the display unit. The units are boxes with two lines - one to the display/control unit and one to the cutter unit. I don't think that enough static would build on just the display window to travel through the entire unit and activate the cutter. It seems more likely that a static charge is building over the entire rig (dragging cordura and nylon on carpet), and transmitting through the nearest path to the cutter, which could be on the cutter unit itself, considering the metal cutter is right next to a metal grommet on the rig. That part should be well shielded, but enough static e can get through a lot of shielding.
Ed to add - maybe the next must-have skydiving gizmo will be a drag chain that hangs from your hip-ring and drags on the ground, like the ones that drag underneath semi trailers. That way you don't build up a charge that would fry all these nifty electronic devices (AADs, audibles, cameras) that skydivers are becoming so fond of. Maybe even a little alligator clip so you can clip onto the airframe while riding to altitude.
(This post was edited by riddler on Apr 6, 2004, 4:07 PM)
billvon (D 16479)
Apr 6, 2004, 4:07 PM
Post #29 of 136
Pretty hard. The software is the tough part. If you just tried to do "fire if speed exceeds X at Y altitude" you'd get all sorts of misfires. That's what the early Astras tried to do. There are also a lot of reliability issues that make such a device far from a piece of cake.
If it was that simple, there would be a dozen brands to choose from...
Nope. You you could not sell many AADs, compared to CD or MP3 player, for example. And it likes all-or-nothing game: you could not fix your erros in second version. If your first device failed on marked, you lost everything. Too risky to start such business...
Even the CYPRES2 has some issues...But I have yet to hear of a misfire.
BTW I really do hope the Vigil or the Mpad or another GOOD AAD comes out. I am not happy with the CYPRES when it comes to service life. When I bought mine it did not have a life span. So when this CYPRES "dies" I will have to think about what I am going to do...Airtec has offered in my opinion a crappy deal for the trade in. I remember an AD that said something as "the last AAD you will ever need", and "it will last longer than you jump".
So I really do hope to have a good option instead of an Airtec product...
But I am not going to buy a sub standard product, or be a test jumper.
Did Vigil pick up the cost of the cutter and new repack?
So thats 3 ground fires, and one misfire at 3 grand right?
(This post was edited by Ron on Apr 7, 2004, 5:04 AM)
Nope. You you could not sell many AADs, compared to CD or MP3 player, for example.
If you would read my whole post, you will see that i was trying to make a point, that point being that an ADD is far from simple to design and produce successfully. Next time I will answer in an easier fashion for you: NO IT ISN"T SIMPLE.
Please read the attached documents. One is a mandatory service bulletin regarding the Vigil. The other is a letter from Jo Smolders, the owner of Advanced Aerospace Designs (the company in Belgium that designed and manufactures the Vigil.)
The reason for the service bulletin:
There were recently two Vigils that fired on the ground while the main was being repacked - one in the US and one in France. Once Jo heard about the French incident he went to the DZ to investigate. He recreated the exact environment at the DZ (repacking the main of a Vigil-equipped rig on carpet in very dry air) to the same result - the third ground fire. The Vigil was NOT switched on in both instances. The units were then taken back to Belgium and run through a gamut of tests. What was found is while the original shielding will protect the Vigil against high levels of electromagnetic waves, it did not protect it from extremely high levels of static electricity.
To fix the problem, the shielding of static electricity on the Vigil's printed circuit board (PCB) has been greatly increased. Vigils with the new PCB will soon come off the production line and AAD will replace EVERY Vigil manufactured before March 26, 2004 with these units.
While the exchange of Vigils takes place, AAD has stated that skydivers can jump their Vigil rigs, as any activation of the Vigil due to static electrical discharges would happen on the ground. Jumper should be aware of the environment in which they are packing their main, though, in order to avoid a not-likely but possible ground activation.
What this means to you...
* Your Vigil(s) will have to be shipped back to Vigil USA at: Vigil USA c/o Return Vigil 1645 Lexington Ave DeLand, FL 32724 * Please ship back the actual Vigil itself ONLY - if you still have the test cert that has the serial # on it, please send it. If not, no worries. Do NOT send the aluminum case, manual, or strap. * All Vigils will be replaced with brand new units. They will be replaced with a new Vigil and test cert/data card only. * Vigil USA will be receiving a limited amount of the new units around 4/19 and about 25 per week every week after that. * We will begin exchanging units as soon as this first batch comes in; we estimate that all Vigils in the US, Canada and South America will be exchanged by the end of May.
Best Regards, Kim ___________________________ Kimberly Griffin Vigil USA, LLC Sales Manager Tele: +386-736-8464 (M-F, 9-2 EST) Fax: +386-736-8468 (Anytime) firstname.lastname@example.org www.vigil.aero
I just received this from Kim (Vigil USA). I am fairly certain this shouldn't be a problem to post this, but I am certainly not representing the company. Until Vigil USA/ Kim chimes in, I guess this is not official.
SERVICE BULLETIN #1
Date : 31st March 2004 Subject : Vigil AAD ground activation due to static electricity Status : Mandatory replacement of the main printed circuit board on all Vigils identified below Identification : Any Vigil with a D.O.M. prior to 26 March, 2004
Despite years of intensive product testing, more than six months of active sales and at least 10,000 uneventful jumps worldwide, there were three Vigil misfires on the ground in March 2004. One was in Atlanta, USA, and two in Gap, France.
After extensively analyzing and testing these Vigils, it is concluded that the cutters fired due to interference generated by more than 15 K V static electricity.
It has been determined that a high level of electrostatic discharge on the ground can cause the cutter to activate on Vigils produced before 26 March 2004. Such ground misfires can only happen under very specific circumstances, for example: packing in a highly electrostatic environment, such as on a static floor in a very dry atmosphere.
To eliminate this problem, we decided to modify the Vigil’s main printed circuit board (P.C.B.) The new P.C.B. will ensure that the cutter’s electronic triggering system is much less sensitive to this extremely energetic electrostatic discharge.
As of 26 March 2004, production of the Vigil has been suspended and will only resume once the adapted P.C.B.s are in place. The adapted P.C.B. will be equipped with the same software as currently installed. This change will only reduce its sensitivity to electrostatic discharges.
At this time, we have also decided to replace every Vigil currently in field. This change is mandatory. During the time it will take to exchange all units, the Vigil can still be jumped since an electrostatic misfire can only happen on the ground.
We recommend that customers using Vigils at drop zones in a highly electrostatic environment contact us for a priority exchange service.
The new manual v2.0.2 is available on our website at www.vigil.aero
Feel free to contact us for more specific details at email@example.com
Jo Smolders Managing Director Advanced Aerospace Designs
ha.. ok, so you posted the email, and I posted the attachment.
I think they are doing the right thing in replacing it with a new unit, even though it will be a bit of time before every unit is swapped out I am sure.
I must assume that they are re-using most of the components (maybe just not the PCB). Otherwise, that is a lot of hardware to trash.
The only question in my mind is who pays for the riggers time. SSK/Airtec offered some compensation (batteries) for my riggers time to ship my Cypress 2 back for its static electricity fix. Although in some ways, Vigil offering a brand new unit gives 1-6 months or so of 'extended battery/life' .
Static Electricity? please! While Static electricity can fry sensitive electronic components, I don't see how this can happen on an AAD. I have a technical background. While I'm not an expert, I know that the plastic display window helps shield static electricity as well as the hard outer casing on the display unit.
An AAD isn't a 'sensitive electronic component'? I would contend that it is very sensitive, to measure barometric pressure as quickly and accurately as it does.
In reply to:
My computer (which I built) doesn't crash every time I slide it on the carpet out from under my desk.
Uh, yeah, but that is apples and oranges. Your computer is grounded. I have zapped more than one computer component from static (stupid me), when installing and not grounding myself properly.
Static can do a lot to electronics. I had to send back my Palm m515 and get a replacement because of a fairly common problem of static discharge when docking. The Palm worked fine, but couldn't hotsync anymore.
In reply to:
The cypres 2's display problems in my opinion, (and this is only my opinion) is the result of a short in the display from bad workmanship/quality control.
Not according to Airtec/SSK. They claim it is a problem with static electricity during deployment.
In reply to:
Why do I think this? Notice that only a handful of Cypres 2's have this problem. If it were static electricity, all of them would have had this problem by now.
Again, according to Airtec/SSK, they had instituted a design change that had different shielding. Also, they claim that there are only a handful of cypress 2's in the US that exhibit the problem. I asked specifically 'how many in the world have this problem', and they (US rep) wouldn't / couldn't give me a number.
But, irrespective, does a quality control problem give you a better warm and fuzzy ?
In reply to:
Thankfully, in the case of the cypres2, it's only a minor inconvenience.
I have contended all along that there is no way to know that it is only 'minor'. If it is, as you hypothesize, a quality control problem, it gives even less confidence that it is 'minor'.
In reply to:
With all the technology we have, it is difficult to understand why Vigil is misfiring on the ground.
How hard is it to build such a simple device.
I am fairly sure you don't really believe it is simple. Like someone else commented, FXCs do it all without these issues, but they certainly aren't very reliable at their deployment altitude.
But I completely agree with your point that this problem should be solvable from the outset. Trust me, I doubt there are many out there that are as frustrated with static issues, now that 2 our of 3 AADs needs repair/replacement (Cypress 2 and now my Vigil).
Ron: I know your feelings on new products, but I have to correct one of the problems you pointed out with the vigil.
The missfire in a jump was not at 3000 feet. The unit records jump information and here is what was explained by Vigil on that incident.
Brussels, 5 April 2004
To start, we would like to provide you with a brief history of the Vigil AAD.
Our production company, B&B Controls S.A., has been active for more than 30 years in developing and commercialising small electromechanical industrial automation systems.
After more than two years of research and study, we patented a new AAD that determines activation altitude in a sophisticated and accurate manner by calculating remaining freefall time. (European patent: EP 1084 950 B1-Smolders Jo and US patent: US 6.378.808 B1-Smolders Jo.)
This was the beginning of the Vigil concept. In all, it took us more than five years of designing and testing before we felt confident that the Vigil was ready for the skydiving market.
Several experienced skydivers worked with our engineering team to help us develop a very reliable and user-friendly AAD. Extensive testing was done in test chambers and on more than a 1000 practical jumps before the Vigil was given to exclusive, experienced jumpers to further test.
During this testing period (June 2003) we had our first incident on a sponsored Beta unit that was being tested by the French FS 4-way team. The misfire of this Vigil was due to the freefall/time calculation method being too sensitive – a simple problem to fix. During this time, the Vigil was not yet for sale – neither in France nor in any other country. A “Security Flash” was issued by the French Federation regarding this incident on 27 June 2003. But, it was removed on 3 August after a delegation from the French Federation analysed our documented test records and visited our production facilities.
At that time, we decided not to release the Vigil to the public until 3000 live jumps had been recorded without issue. We reached the 3000 jump mark in the beginning of September 2003. Therefore, the first Vigils were sold at the end of September.
Our policy in creating the Vigil was (and still is) that safety and reliability are the first and most important rules to abide by, especially:
“A Vigil must fire only when necessary.”
Over two years of testing there were more than 6000 documented, live test jumps made on Vigils. To date, there are currently over 10,000 total jumps on Vigils world-wide.
From September to December, we had no reported incidents.
In December 03, a Vigil fire occurred in Zephyrhills, Florida, USA, due to a jumper activating his main parachute at 1400 ft. His main was open at 1100 ft. After analyzing the Vigil’s data from that jump, we were able to see that the Vigil worked correctly in activating the cutter at 1100 ft. In PRO mode, the Vigil is set to fire at 800 ft but it can activate up to 300 ft higher during a low pull. This fact is due to the changing barometric pressure around the rig during an opening sequence. It is advised to activate a main parachute by 1800 ft, especially with an AAD in your rig.
During repack of this jumper’s reserve, the newly replaced Vigil cutter was activated on the ground. Upon analysis, it was observed that one of the two battery wires was pinched between the Vigil’s metallic housing cases. We believe that this created a short circuit and caused the cutter to fire. The battery wires on the first one hundred production units were long enough to need to be stowed away carefully. Before this incident occurred, the battery wires had already been shortened so that they no longer need special attention.
Another issue that came to light in December, 2003 is that a very small batch of the early units may have a shorter battery life than expected. This problem was due to using too high of a soldering temperature on the shielding cover. This only affects the power saver filter (which extends the life of the battery) only and has no effect on the functionality of the Vigil to cut the reserve loop when necessary. The only problem that may arise is that the message (BAT LOW) would come on before the 4-year mark, meaning the battery has to be replaced earlier than expected (this is under warranty).
These were the only problems recorded in 2003 on all the Vigils in use.
In March 2004, we had three ground misfires in the USA and in Gap, France. After analysing the French misfires (and by visiting the site) we noted very high electrostatic discharges. Both the French and US misfires in March happened during the repack of the main on the ground.
After this experience, we tested with a 17 KV probe and found that this very high voltage could in some cases trigger the cutter. Previously, we tested our units with static electricity up to 5KV without any incident.
During all previous testing in Maubeuge (Fr), Gap (Fr) and in Schaffen (B), we did not experience such electrostatic conditions.
To activate the cutter, there must be at least a 15 KV electrostatic discharge. This can only happen on ground under very specific circumstances (high electrostatic environment: dry weather + static floor).
We have also found in a few cases that an electrostatic discharge can affect the contrast of the LCD display, causing it to fade. This problem is only with the display’s contrast and not with the Vigil’s functionality. To alleviate the possibility of future ground misfires or fading displays, we decided to modify the Vigil’s main printed circuit board (P.C.B.) to neutralise the effects of electrostatic discharges. This will avoid future ground activations, even with very high levels of static electricity (up to 20KV).
Out of respect to our customers, we have decided to replace ALL Vigils currently in the field with a completely new unit. These units will have the new P.C.B. already installed.
In this letter, we would also like to apologize for the lack of marketing communication, which is mainly due to recent internal problems and a restructuring of our sales administration.
Due to these internal problems we were obliged to stop all marketing and sales actions done by “Aviacom”, a company owned by Karel Goorts. Our own sales company, Advanced Aerospace Designs S.A. (AAD), has reorganised the marketing and sales departments with a new team.
First and foremost, our mission is to produce an extremely reliable automatic activation device that satisfies the skydiver’s needs.
We are convinced that we have now reached this goal but we will, of course, continue to strive towards even greater advancements in AAD technology.
Over the next month or two our main focus will be on customer service - getting our customers a Vigil with the new P.C.B. Once that task is complete, we will greatly increase our attention to marketing and sales.
Once again, please accept our apologies for any lack of information concerning Vigil that you may have experienced. Questions on any part of this letter are welcome and will be answered as soon as possible.
We thank you again for your trust, interest and support.
Jo Smolders Managing Director Advanced Aerospace Designs
My emphasis added Again Ron, I'm not arguing about buying a new product before it has 2 years in the sport of real world testing.. these problems, while easily explained are the exact kind of thing you refuse to deal with if you can help it.
I chose to buy a Vigil, and while I'm unhappy I have to send it in, I feel like they are doing the right thing, the only thing more I think they should do is pay for the repack and the shipping.
Great! My Vigil was manufactured around March 17th!
At my dropzone, we are not allowed to jump without AAD's. Although it's still safe to jump at the moment, does that mean i'm grounded until i send & recieve it back? Can't they have an exchange scheme where once i recieve the new one, i can send the old one back!?!?!?
It took 3 months for the thing to arrive, had it taken an extra week (or so), i'd have a goodin.
I have just had my reserve re-packed, what a pain!
Well, i haven't heard of this one, but assuming that the Thai airforce was doing the dropping, it was military radar, not civilian. Military radar is operating with much more power (i remember a report of a soldier being severely burned by radar (microwaves) by walking right in front of a (supposedly shut off) dish). Obviously they couldn't have been that close, but that might be an explanation for the shielding being insufficient... Usually you are not allowed to jump that close to military installations using radar anyway...
Any word on that from Airtec yet? They're usually quite fast..