GetHypoxic HYPEYE D ProBy douglas spotted eagle on 2009-01-13
Settle back with a cup of good coffee as this is going to be lengthy; the product does a lot more than meets the eye!
I received my HYPEYE D PRO controller and expansion in the mail today; I was overjoyed. I knew it would be a good product, as I already owned two HYPEYE MINI camera indicators.
Just in case you ve been in the air too long, don't fly a camera, or simply haven't paid attention to technology, the camera control protocol known as LANC or (Local Area Network Control) is not a part of the crop of new camcorders being issued by Sony (or Canon). LANC is a tape-based protocol, and none of the new camcorders are tape-based, but rather are Hard Disk Drive (HDD), DVD, or Flash memory-based in design.
Tape is very much on its way out, and will not exist as a common format in the foreseeable future. Absent a LANC controller, camera flyers struggle to start/stop the camcorder, not to mention the lack of an indicator usually mounted on a ring sight to indicate the status of the camcorder. True, a small mirror might be mounted on an altimeter to view camera status, and of course, camera flyers can cut large holes in their camera boxes for access to on/off switches and record switches, so it s not as if all is lost with the disappearance of LANC. But it is terribly inconvenient for most of us.
Sporting a rubberized/weather proofed recessed button, this unit is solidly built. Early camera switches were fairly unreliable and affected by riser slap, high humidity, water, or the camera helmet being laid upon the ground and accidentally triggering the camera button. None of the above has any impact on the operation of the Get Hypoxic HYPEYE D PRO (damn, that s a long name) camera controller, due to the way it s built.
Designed to be mounted either inside or outside the helmet, the switch housing offers a threaded hole in the back of the unit allowing for an included nylon screw to mount it to the outside of a helmet or other mounting surface. Even though this may expose the switch to a riser slap, the nylon screw should break/release in an entanglement.
The switch housing is identical in size to the pre-formed port found in many camera helmets, allowing for a .65 to be drilled, allowing for a flush switch on the outside of the helmet with the bulk of the switch housing inside the helmet. Double stick tape or gaffers tape (not included) can be used to secure the switch to the helmet or mounting chassis. That s not all, nor is it the only way to be mounted - more on that later.
The other rubber plug is an access port for the HYPEYE D PRO EXPANSION CABLE KIT. This is the kit that got me really excited about the unit because it adds so many features to the HYPEYE D PRO. In my opinion, this is what makes the HYPEYE so spectacular. The Expansion Cable Kit is optional at a cost of $29.00 USD.
So what does the Expansion kit add?
- A plug that connects to an L&B Optima audible altimeter. This allows a separate set of LED s on the HYPEYE indicator to flash when the Optima is triggered. The indicator will flash slow flashes at the first altitude set in the Optima, faster flashes as the second altitude is reached, and very fast flashes when the final altitude is reached by the Optima. This feature isn't only for the camera-flyer; deaf skydivers will find this feature very useful. Unlike the L&B indicator which is fragile and stiff, the HYPEYE indicator is on a flexible cable and can be mounted any number of ways to suit the users desire and need.
- Bite Switch input. Yup, the Expansion Kit allows owners to plug their existing 2.5mm bite switch cable into the system, triggering stills from a video camera. Some cameras can only shoot 3 stills during a jump, but camcorders like the Sony CX7 or HC5 may be turned into a still-only camera, allowing for reasonable quality stills to be taken with these small HD camcorders.
- External Switch/Remote Switch connection. This allows the rubberized nipple switch found in the HYPEYE housing to be bypassed and the system controlled by a third party switch. This is what I've done with my system. All electronics are mounted inside the recesses of my BoneHead Flat Top Pro helmet, and I've mounted my own softswitch on the side of the helmet. This is useful for custom buttons, but also would allow a pilot to trigger an exit camera or similar.
- Zoom Memorization. Ever gone on a jump only to find that the zoom button had been moved, and everything was blurry, deeply zoomed, or both? This feature tells the camera to be zoomed in at a user-defined point. This will hopefully reduce the number of absolutely ugly vignettes found in so many skydiving videos, allowing users to slightly zoom in past the point of the lens adapter rings.
- Remote on/off of camera functions. Imagine this; you re in the door of the aircraft ready to jump, and notice that you've forgotten to turn on the camcorder. The count begins as you yell WAIT! With the HYPEYE D PRO, pressing the switch will turn on the camera even if the on/off switch of the camera is in the off mode! (this is camera model dependent, and won't work with all cameras, but it s great with the CX and SR series cameras)
- A audio/microphone input rounds out this system very nicely. If the camera is in a typical housing, the internal microphone is buried, often under Neoprene or other material designed to securely hold the camcorder. An external microphone isn't only helpful, but essentially necessary for tandem interviews in this situation. Or you can just connect your ipod and burn to DVD for your 4way team with no post production work at all.
Here is where users will find a weak point in the HYPEYE system; the installation instructions for the Expansion Kit recommend placing a dab of glue on top of the connector. After a quick call to Get Hypoxic I learned this was to prevent years of vibrations from inadvertently dislodging the cable. I needed to either use a hot glue gun or fingernail polish to create a bead on the cable once installed in the switch. It wasn t difficult, but I wondered why a swage or something similar wasn t molded to the otherwise well-designed cable. It would save users the headache of finding a glue gun or borrowing fingernail polish from someone. I used the hotglue, it was easier. See the GetHypoxic website for very detailed photos and instruction on how to achieve this.
What's to love
- Weatherproof, recessed nipple button
- Audio/ Line-Level Microphone input
- Audible altimeter connection
- Super-bright LEDs
- Debrief port
- Zoom memory
- Bite Switch ready/input
- Remote control of all camera modes
The camera connection side of the system is an AVRemote S cable system exclusive to Sony camcorders. What makes this unique is that these right angle cables will fit inside of most camera boxes where a straight connector absolutely will not. It s obvious that Get Hypoxic designed this connector and its slim profile, as the Get Hypoxic name is molded into the cable connector, as it is in the Expansion Kit fantail.
The indicator side of this unit has several micro LED s in it. These indicate a number of different functions depending on the mode in which the camera is operating. Ready/Standby is indicated by a blue LED, Record indicated by a red LED, and warnings for batteries, sleep, error, or tape end indicated with a yellow LED. However, double-clicking the switch will put the camera automatically into different modes. Want to switch from video mode to stills only mode? No problem, just double-tap the HYPEYE switch. Wanna go from stills to playback? Same action.
What's Not So Lovable:
- Big round cables are space-killers in tight helmets
- Zoom reset is slow
- Requires tools and additional adhesives for certain setups like the Expansion Kit
- Debrief port is part of switch, making it inconvenient for in-helmet setups
WARNING: THESE LEDS ARE BRIGHT!
Users may find them too bright if they're mounted close to the eye such as in a ring sight configuration. Using a Morse code-like tap sequence, the LED s may be dimmed in five different levels. (Out of the package settings are at the most dim preset) Military users will appreciate the exceptionally dim light in those covert training ops, and night jumpers will appreciate not being blinded by the camera flyer s indicators as well. These same LED s will also indicate altitudes triggered by the Optima, if the Expansion Kit is part of the setup. Be aware that the batteries in the Optima will affect the brightness of the altitude indicators. Camera status indicators are not affected by the Optima battery level.
Speaking of military users, Get Hypoxic has said that they ll soon have an armored, aluminum billet version of the HYPEYE available at a higher cost. (comes stock set at a low brightness level, for your protection)
There are some things I wish were different. The HYPEYE uses a very high quality silicone-covered rounded cable. A flat cable would have been more appropriate given the very tight confines of most helmets, yet it should be mentioned that flat ribbon cable is very expensive and not terribly durable. The molded fantail/distribution point of the Expansion Cable kit is also somewhat larger than I would have liked. In my Tonfly CC1, it took significant effort to keep the cables from impacting how the helmet fits, but it is possible. As my TonFly helmet does not have a ring sight (used for wingsuit camera) I appreciated the very stiff plastic in the indicator side of the HYPEYE D PRO. The user-programmable zoom depth is slower to get to zoom point than it should be, yet this is camera-dependent, so not really GetHypoxic's fault.
Cable size aside, I feel this is one of the best-designed tools available to camera operators in any sport application where space and control are considerations whether they re using tape-based HDV camcorders, newer DV cams, or AVCHD camcorders. Congrats to Get Hypoxic for presenting a very well thought out, fully-featured product that skydivers can actually use, that seems to be very tough (I have only 22 jumps on my system). This tool is 110% real as far as I m concerned. It s hot, not hype.
Get the Hypoxic HYPEYE D PRO Remote Camcorder Indication and Control System at Get Hypoxic or most skydiving gear outlets.
HYPEYE D PRO-$99.00 MSRP
PRO Expansion Kit-$29.00
HYPEYE D PRO Debrief cable kit-$10.00
The Hypoxic Hypeye D Pro is also available on Amazon: Hypoxic HYPEYE D Pro Remote Camcorder Indication and Control System.
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