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Gear

    Robert Harris Explains His Homemade Wingsuit Project

    We recently talked with Robert Harris, who took it upon himself to build his own homemade wingsuit. After years of motocross racing, Robert started skydiving five years ago, and since then has attained over 1600 jumps, his D-license as well as AFF and coach ratings. However, what made us want to talk to him, was having seen that he had developed his own DIY wingsuit at home. He talks to us about what inspired him, how he made it and most importantly, how it flew.
    What made you want to develop this DIY wingsuit?
    I have always liked knowing how things are made, when I was a kid I took everything apart to try and figure out how it worked and hopefully put it back together before my parents found out. This didn't stop as I got older, although it changed to learning, so I could make things.
    Shortly after I started wingsuiting I decided I was going to make a wingsuit someday. So last year I asked for a sewing machine for Christmas and didn't get one as no one knew what kind I wanted and I didn't either. I had gotten to use a sewing machine back in middle school home ec class but didn't care about learning sewing, wish they had told me I could make parachutes and wingsuits back then as I would have paid way more attention.
    After talking to my dz's rigger Sally and some other people and decided to get a singer 20u, after over a month of trying to buy one I found one on Craigslist from an old lady that really never used it for 400$. Then I started sewing. First a pillow case, then a miniature version of my Leia that I made into a traction kite, a belly band, canopy continuity bag, and weight belt. After all of those projects I finally decided it was time to start my wingsuit project.
    What experience do you have in aeronautics or aviation product development?
    I don't really have much, but I have started an online class on Aeronautical Engineering to learn more about designing airfoils. I hope to learn to do some equations to determine glide and speed of a given airfoils parameters and hopefully eventually learn CFD(Computational Fluid Dynamics) to push the envelope of what can be done in wingsuits I make later.
    What were your expectations when starting this project?
    I was told by quite a few people that I was crazy for wanting to make a wingsuit or that it was too hard and I didn't have a chance. I didn't really care about the designing process when I first started I just wanted to assemble a suit and fly it. I didn't care if it was the best performing suit I just wanted to say I had done it. Although I think I have caught the bug, now I want to make another one and try some new ideas we haven't seen in the wingsuit world yet.
    Could you explain your creation process to us?
    When I started I picked one of my wingsuits as a starting platform. I took measurements all over the outside of the suit, and decided to change the arm wings completely as I didn't want to outright copy the suit. I simplified some parts trying to make it out as few as pieces as possible. After all the outside pieces were made came the challenging part of making the ribs. I was originally going to make it with back fly vents so tried to make an airfoil shape that would be as good either on back or belly. I drew out where the ribs would be placed and measured how long they would need to be on the top and bottom skins and as far as thickness goes I knew how wide I wanted the thickest one and the thinnest, to figure out the rest I used some math to taper from the biggest to smallest.
    After I started sewing I scraped the backfly vents but left the ribs how they where as after putting the fronts on I didn't want to deal with the headache of the backfly ones as well. I spent a couple days making patterns and writing everything down as I did it to make it easier for possibly making another one. After the patterns were all done and checked for fit against each other I started cutting them all out of some parapac I got from JoAnn's fabric with my new hot-knife my girlfriend got me for my birthday. This part went relatively quickly and only took about a day total. Then came the weekend and jumping time, it was hard to pull myself away from my project but I needed to train for the last swoop meet of the season. As weather got crappy I started the sewing. I figured it would be best to get the hardest part done first the arm wings as if I couldn't get those done there was no point in even making the tail.
    I started with sewing the ribs to front or bottom skin of the suit and quickly learned the sewing the ribs and vents on together was a pain. I did every step on both wings at the same time so I could try and make it as symmetrical as possible and knew they where both put together in the same order. I felt really accomplished when I finished both arm wings and was ready to push through the tail wing quickly before my swoop comp. The tail wing went together pretty easily after making the arm wings and before I knew it I had 3 wings that needed to be put together. After missing a couple of weekdays jumping as I sat busy behind my blue Singer I had finally finished! I was so excited after 23 hours of sewing to go jump it but jumping had already stopped for the day.


    And how did it fly when you took it out?
    I really wanted to get some outside video of its (cough cough) first fight. Go figure, none of the normal wingsuiters where around, I eventually asked my friend Paul who has done only a handful or two of wingsuit jumps if he would try. I gave him an I-bird I use for teaching and rig to borrow so he wouldn't be jumping his velo. We talked about the dirt dive and manifested for a load. As we climbed to altitude all I could think about was my family and girlfriend and how dangerous this could be. I did a lot of practice touches of all my handles and went through my emergency procedures as I always do but did way more of them.
    On the 2 min call we did all the normal handshakes and then I buckled my helmet and zipped up my arm wings. As all the other jumpers were getting off the plane my heart started racing, I used all my yoga experience to get my breathing in check as I walked to the door of the Twin Otter, I could tell Paul was nervous as well. I had him exit before me as I wanted a nice exit shot, as I hopped out from a poised position in the door all I could think was please don't let the suit blow apart! I made sure to keep all my wings shut down on exit and waited to see the tail before I ever so slowly opened my wings.
    I got my wings open and started flying, I was ecstatic at this point as the suit was staying in one piece. I started my first turn shortly after and was surprised at how stable it was. It took a little bit for Paul and I to get together but around 10k we got together shortly after my practice pull to see if there would be any issues and it was the easiest one I have done in awhile. We flew with each other for a bit and then about 7k I wanted to see what I could do with it.
    I started a small dive then went in max flight. I decided I would pull higher then normal as I was still jumping my normal wingsuit canopy a Jfx 84 at 4,500 feet. I came in to land with 90 degree turn for nice little swoop. Shortly after Paul landed close by and celebrated an awesome jump!
    I have never been so excited and nervous on any of my 1600 plus skydives or 4 base jumps yet alone together. After I landed I had to message family and girlfriend to let them know I was ok, they were all pretty scared about me doing it. Since the 1st jump I have only done 1 more on the suit and it was a time run, I got 2 min and 20sconds out of it, which was defiantly shy of the 3-3.5 min I should have gotten out of that size suit. Turns out the fabric I used was my biggest downfall, it didnt have a coating on it like parapac used in other suits so it was constantly bleeding air out and never achieved max pressure.
    What was the biggest challenge in creating your wingsuit?
    The biggest challenge by far was trying to figure out what order everything gets put together in, I spent a couple days alone trying to piece it together in my head to figure it out. Although I had to unpick a few parts because of misalignment I did not have to unpick anything because of the order I put it together in.
    Do you feel that your venture was a success?
    In the end I feel I achieved my goals I set out for the project and learned tons along the way! I look forward to starting my next suit when I return from visiting my girlfriend in London. I already have tons of things I want to try try and do but the major thing will be a fabric that has zero porosity.
    About Robert Harris (D-31584): I grew up racing motocross at a early age and after many years of racing I stopped because I was tired of breaking myself. I still rode and one day on the way from riding I got a call about getting to do a free tandem. Of course I said yes much to my parents dismay, they thought skydiving was too dangerous at the time and realize now its more dangerous then motocross. I had loved motocross for the jumps as I loved the feeling of flying through the air. Skydiving was just that pure flying and as soon as I landed I signed up for Aff. One year after I started I had 200 jumps and started wingsuiting on jump 201. My 2nd year in I had my D-license and got interested in Canopy Piloting as well. Since then I have gotten my coach and Aff ratings and am currently on my 5th year of skydiving and have just over 1600 jumps.

    By admin, in Gear,

    10 Things To Note Regarding Malfunctions

    Image by Juan Mayer When are you going to be alone in the sky with a useless bag of laundry and two little handles?
    If it hasn’t happened yet, it’s going to. Sure, there are skydivers with thousands of jumps who have never had to make alternate nylon plans. But don’t be fooled: your first reserve ride is not a question of “if.” It’s a question of “when.” If you don’t feel ready, you’re not alone. Here are ten proven ways to boost your confidence and safety.
    1.Stay current
    Long lapses between jumps are dangerous. Time on the ground dulls skills, sharpens apprehensions and weighs down your jump with the clammy fog of unfamiliarity. Most importantly, it unravels the easy muscle memory you’ve spent so much time and effort to develop -- and muscle memory is of primary importance in the event of a reserve ride. Especially at the beginning of your skydiving career, you’ve got to make the effort to jump at least every couple of weeks.
    2. Give ‘er a spin
    Do yourself a favor and deploy your reserve for every repack. You’ll learn the unique direction of pull for your gear, and you’ll be able to feel out the force you’ll need to exert. If your rigger watches the process, he/she can keep an eye on the deployment and identify potential problems. (Even if you have deployed your own reserve, a repack is an unwasteable drill opportunity for a refresher.)
    3. Just touch your stupid handles, Mr. Bigshot, OK? Sheesh
    Touch your handles in sequence before you enter the plane. It is not beneath you. Being blasé about basic safety doesn’t make you more awesome -- it just makes you more blasé. While you’re at it, check that your reserve handle is seated (so you don’t end up on a reserve ride without the yeehaw fun of a malfunctioning main).
    4. Don’t overthink it
    It’s simple, really. If you believe that your main is unlandable, you’re going to have a reserve ride. Sure -- lots of skydivers have landed under reserves only to realize in hindsight that they could have solved the problem. However, lots of skydivers have gone in while striving to sort out malfunctions that did not improve. If those are the choices, which would you rather be?
    5. Get your priorities straight
    Do not worry about stability. This is the very least of your problems. Worry about altitude. cutaway) handle no lower than 1,000 feet. Initiating a reserve ride below 1,000 feet isn’t always deadly, but it has an unnerving tendency to be. Don’t take the chance.
    6. Hold on tight
    After you pull your handles out completely, hold on to ‘em. You’ll save some money, and you’ll save face when you land.
    7. Make sure it’s out
    This is kinda your last shot at nylon, so you’ll want to be sure it’s working. Arch and look over your shoulder for the reserve pilot chute. Reserves deploy fast, so this head position is gonna butter your bread – but if the pilot chute is somehow caught in your burble, this should either shake it loose or make it clear to you that you need to do some burble intervention, stat.
    8. Don’t chase after your ex(-parachute)
    I’m going to go out on a limb here and tell you not try to run after it and grab it in the air. (People have, y’know, died doing that.) You broke up with each other for a reason, after all; you can reconcile after everybody’s had a little time to cool down. Instead, get your head together and use landmarks to identify where the gear is headed. Then take a deep breath, leave it to the fates, and work on navigating your meat to a safe landing.
    9. Tell the peanut gallery to sit and spin
    When you land a reserve, you’re going to be the talk of the DZ (for about five minutes, usually). During that five minutes – longer, if the loads are turning slowly – you’ll probably be approached by a receiving line of would-be mentors. They’re gonna question your malfunction, and they’re gonna be eager to discuss your decision to cut away.
    My advice: speak to your trusted mentors and co-jumpers about your little adventure in private, and tell the rest to go suck an egg. You were there. They were not. When you need to save your life in the sky, you are absolutely alone. In the entire world, there exists only you and two handles. Your cutaway is your business.
    10. Go to the liquor store
    Buy a bottle of posh booze for the rigger who packed the reserve you rode. It’s tradition.

    By admin, in Gear,

    SFly Release Ridge Wingsuit

    SFly have just announced their latest addition to their wingsuit products, with the release of the Ridge. The Ridge has been in development for a while, and saw extensive testing taking place over the past months. The suit will cater towards the more advanced flyers and was developed with skilled BASE jumpers in mind.
    Introduction
    The new SFLY RIDGE is a wing suit 100% designed for mountain flying. The RIGDE has been developed since the very beginning for the demanding and experienced wingsuit BASE jumpers who open always­ shorter exits and seek for new lines requiring more and more glide performance without compromising on speed.
    Its key features are :


    ­ Ultra short starts


    ­ High glide ratio


    ­ High speed


    ­ Ultra clean pull
    The RIDGE development has been made possible by a 15 month collaboration between Stephane Zunino, original SFly designer, François Gouy, mountain guide who has opened numerous exits, and Julien Peelman, aerodynamic engineer mostly known for its high performance parachute canopies designs like the Icarus Petra and the Icarus Leia by NZ Aerosports.
    Numerous test­ pilots have tried the various prototypes that have led to the final version: Soul Flyers Fred Fugen and Vince Reffet, as well as the Frenchies from Vercors: Maël Baguet, Vincent Cotte, Jean­Philippe Gady, and Matthieu Leroux.
    Last summer François Gouy used a RIDGE prototype to open mythical exits in the french Alps, such as Ceüse or Les Rouies, thanks to both the short starts and the high glide performance.

    Overall Design
    The RIDGE is probably bigger than other suits.
    The RIDGE has a high arm sweep, and a longer and thicker leg wing than other wing suits in this category.
    Leading edge

    The RIDGE leading edge is designed to match both the best possible aerodynamic performance with the easiest pull. That is why we have split the sleeves in 2 parts: the upper arm, made of parapack with an under layer of soft foam the lower arm, made of neoprene. And we have assembled these 2 parts with a diagonal cut so as to maximize the surface of the combined parapack­foam leading edge.
    Finally we have added an inflated cell behind the arm in order to fully fill­ in the sleeve and to get rid of that empty space between the back of the arm and the arm wing. This cell is connected and inflated by the arm wing.


    Partitioning
    The RIDGE is partitioned in a way to offer the a super tight fit around your body.
    This allows better wing control at all times and a great agility.
    Start
    The large inlets with opened airlocks allow an ultra fast inflation of both arm wings and leg wing.
    The higher arm sweep and the larger surface of the RIDGE enable the wing to catch air as on as soon as your feet lift from the ground. Because of its thicker profile the RIDGE starts flying even at very low speed, allowing quicker forward motion start. These unique features give the Ridge an unmatchable exiting profile.
    Glide
    The high glide performance of the RIDGE is the result of the balance between surface and profile.
    Because of its unique profile/surface balance, the RIDGE has an excellent glide ratio. Whatever the wind conditions, our test pilots have experienced and recorded a better glide ratio than with with other wingsuits.
    Speed
    The drag created by the large surface and the thickness of the suit is compensated by the extended length of the leg wing, allowing the RIDGE to easily match and outcome in speed the other wingsuit of its category. The RIDGE is remarkably fast and easy to fly in any wind conditions.
    Agility
    The unique partitioning and tight fit around the body make the RIDGE an easy and fun wing suit to fly, yet very responsive. The RIDGE allows aggressive dives as well as sharp turns without loosing control. What’s more, because this wing suit is highly pressurized, it has a incredible lift power in flight.
    Opening
    The pull is ultra clean thanks to the bevel shaped wrist end of the sleeve. The soft neoprene patch behind the elbow gives extra freedom of movement to ensure an easy bending of the arm and a clean pull. Your hand will reach the pilot chute handle naturally no matter how long you’ve been flying.
    Canopy deployment
    The neoprene half sleeves allow both an easy punch­out and a high risers reach-
    up.
    More information can be found at the SFly Website

    By admin, in Gear,

    Garmin Announces New Virb X and Virb XE HD Cameras

    Garmin have just announced two new action camera models that will be released this summer. The Virb X and the Virb XE are the latest attempt from the US founded company to establish themselves as more than just a sports equipment and navigation manufacturer. The original Garmin Virb action cam was released just less than two years ago, and showed that Garmin can do cameras too. After the release of the Virb, which was met with overwhelmingly positive reviews from both users and critics alike, they then introduced the Virb Elite, which added new functionality and recording options.
    The new Virb X and Virb XE cameras seem to be quite a step up from the Virb Elite, and it appears that the duo is a response from Garmin to the GoPro Hero 4 series which was released last year. However, the focus of Garmin seems to be different to that of GoPro.
    First thing we noticed, was the change in design from the original Virb cameras. Garmin have moved away from the flatter, elongated design that we saw in their first models and instead have adopted the more square approach, resembling that of the Sony and GoPro devices. In their press release Garmin brings attention to the flat lens cover in the front, aimed to help water in sliding off easier.
    At this point, with the original Virb being released in 2013 - we decided not to focus on how Garmin has improved on its previous Virb - but rather with how it compares to one of the most popular modern action cams out there today, the mid-level GoPro Hero 4 Silver.
    Recording vs Connectivity/Functionality
    Many would have expected the new Virb X and Virb XE to support 4k video recording, as it's a direction where most action cam manufacturers seem to be focusing. However, the Virb X will only offer a maximum recording resolution of 1080p, while the Virb XE will allow for 1440p at 30fps. By comparison, the GoPro Hero 4 Silver offers users up to 15fps at 4K, 30fps at 2.7k and up to 48fps at 1440p - as well as offering the standard HD recording options.
    Instead of focusing on increasing resolution, Garmin have put their trust in the development of connectivity and storage. Despite falling short on recording options both the Virb X and the Virb XE surpass the Hero 4 Silver in terms of connectivity and increased storage capability. Whether or not this will be as easy to sell as telling people that the camera can record 4k video, is yet to be seen, but perhaps Garmin is onto something. Despite the ability to record in 4k video, in every day practice it is not often that one will actually be able to make proper use of that resolution of recording, and most individuals still record at 1080p.
    Of particular interest to skydivers, is the added ability to overlay recorded data through both standard camera functionality, as well as extra information which can be included through the connectivity between the camera and a sports device. This means that pitch and roll data, speed data, elevation and more can be recorded and overlaid onto the video. See the video below for a demonstration of what is available with the new Virb cameras.
    Unlike the Hero 4 Silver, both of the new Virb cameras will come with GPS built in. Both the Virb and Virb XE will take Micro-SD cards, and support up to 128GB cards. Both the earlier Virb Elite and the GoPro Hero 4 Silver support up to 64GB cards, so the fact that the new Garmin cameras can handle double the storage space, will definitely be marked as a big positive by many.
    Other noteworthy functionality:
    The inclusion of a gyroscope based accellerometer is another feature that is not present in a lot of the other action cameras currently on the market.
    Both the Virb X and the Virb XE will also be waterproof to 50m, without needing any additional casing.
    Both cameras will have multi-camera live control and preview for up to 10 cameras.
    ANT+ connectivity


    Pricing
    On paper it appears as though the Virb X and Virb XE are going to be valid choices to look at when looking to buy one of the new action cameras on the market. They look good, offer some great functionality and did I mention that they were well priced?
    The Virb X will retail for just $299 while you'll need to drop $399 for the Virb XE.
    Final Thoughts
    Despite being stuffed with great new connectivity and some nifty new features, there are some questions

    raised over the choice to stick to limited recording options for both cameras. Currently the Virb X offers

    very limited options even for recording in 1080p in comparison to its competition. The Virb X offers only 25 and

    30fps at 1080p, where we would have liked to see 60fps being offered. Similarly, Garmin could have really

    put their foot down by offering 4k recording on the Virb XE.
    Because of the low price though, if 4k recording isn't on your list of priorities but you find yourself

    wanting the flexibility of being able to shoot at 1080p/60fps, the Virb XE can offer you that.
    The real test is yet to come when subjects like how it handles transition between lighting conditions, low

    light noise levels and video quality can be tested hands on.
    Compare the Virb X, Virb XE and GoPro Hero 4 Silver





    Feature
    Garmin Virb X
    Garmin Virb XE
    GoPro Hero4 Silver




    Wifi
    Yes
    Yes
    Yes


    Bluetooth
    Yes
    Yes
    Yes


    Accellerometer
    Yes
    Yes
    No


    Preview Screen
    No
    No
    Yes


    GPS
    Yes
    Yes
    No


    Recharge Method
    USB
    USB
    Mini-USB


    Recording Time
    2 Hours
    2 Hours
    2 Hours


    Storage Type
    Micro-SD
    Micro-SD
    Micro-SD


    Maximum Storage Size
    128GB
    128GB
    64GB


    4K Recording
    No
    No
    12.5/15 fps


    2.7k Recording
    No
    No
    24/25/30 fps


    1440p Recording
    No
    30 fps
    24/25/30/48 fps


    1080p Recording
    25/30 fps
    24/25/30/48/50/60 fps
    24/25/30/48/50/60 fps


    960p Recording
    25/30 fps
    50/60/100 fps
    50/60/100 fps


    720p Recording
    25/30/50/60 fps
    25/30/50/60/100/120 fps
    35/50/60/100/120 fps


    WVGA Recording
    120 fps
    240 fps
    240 fps


    Camera Megapixels
    12 MP
    12 MP
    12 MP


    Burst Mode
    10 p/sec
    30 p/sec
    30 p/sec


    Sport Computer Control
    Yes
    Yes
    No


    ANT+ Connectivity
    Yes
    Yes
    No


    Sport Data Overlay
    Yes (Garmin Apps)
    Yes (Garmin Apps)
    No


    Phone Remote Connectivity
    Yes
    Yes
    Yes


    Multi-Cam Control
    Up to 10 Cams
    Up to 10 Cams
    No


    USB Connection
    USB
    USB
    Mini-USB


    Micro-HDMI
    No
    No
    Yes


    Price
    $299
    $399
    $399



    By admin, in Gear,

    Alti-Force Sensor Pack - GoPro Addon

    With the increased popularity of action cameras over recent years it's not surprising that we've seen an increase in the manufacturing of third party hardware that makes use of the GoPro camera to add additional value to users. Hypoxic recently released their Turned On product, which allows skydivers to see whether or not their camera is recording or whether there's any errors, without having to ask their buddy.
    The company Alti-Force has just released a product of their own that attaches to the GoPro camera and like the Turned On device, will seek to add some extra value to skydivers. When in use the Alti-Force Sensor Pack will be able to overlay information about your flight over the video. The device is able to record and display both altitude and the acceleration/G-Force of your jump.
    The visual representation of Gs can be useful for those looking to maximize performance, by using the information to identifcal optimum body positioning and technique.
    Features

    Subtitled video playback for your GoPro® camera
    Altitude subtitles selectable as feet or meters
    Acceleration G-force subtitles selectable as X-Y-Z axes or total magnitude
    Compatible with GoPro® Hero4 Black and Silver, Hero3+ Black and Silver, or Hero3 Black
    Fits in GoPro® cases with BacPac™ backdoor² (not included)
    Compatibility

    GoPro® Hero3 Black – YES – firmware v03.00
    GoPro® Hero3+ Silver – YES – firmware v02.00
    GoPro® Hero3+ Black – YES – firmware v02.00 | v03.00*
    GoPro® Hero4 Silver – YES – firmware v02.00.00
    GoPro® Hero4 Black – YES – firmware v02.00.00
    All efforts will be made to maintain compatibility with future firmware versions but cannot be guaranteed

    *v03.00 disables camera’s USB mode, use of memory card reader is required
    Any that support .SRT subtitle files (check your player’s specifications)

    Includes most TVs and VLC media player (for all OS platforms)
    Video must be played via USB mode or memory card reader
    If copied off camera, video .MP4 and subtitle .SRT files must be copied to same location
    Note: Windows® Media Player and QuickTime do not support .SRT subtitles
    Camera Modes
    The Alti-Force Sensor Pack records data/subtitles in Video Mode only.
    All standard video resolutions and frame rates are supported.
    The Alti-Force Sensor Pack does not support Time Lapse and Looping video modes, and is disabled in all Photo modes.

    Mechanical
    Size: 2.36 x 1.38 x 0.40 in (60 x 35 x 10 mm)
    Weight: <1 oz (18 g)
    Electrical
    Standard camera voltage: 3.6v (powered from camera)
    Minimal current draw: <2 mA typical
    Accelerometer
    Tri-axial | ± 16 G’s | 0.1 G resolution
    Barometer
    Absolute Pressure: 300 to 1100 mbar | ~0.1 mbar resolution
    Altitude range: -2000 to 30,000 feet | 1 ft resolution
    Pressure to Altitude conversion assumes standard conditions.
    Sampling RateHero 3/3+: approx 4.5 samples per second
    Hero 4: approx 6.5 samples per second
    Subtitle Settings
    Altitude: Feet | Meters | Both | None
    Acceleration: XYZ axes | Total magnitude | All | None
    G-bar: On | Off
    Temperature: °F | °C | None
    — Additional options —
    Data CSV file (saves all raw sensor values): On | Off
    Altitude offset: Feet only
    More information on the Alti-Force Sensor Pack can be found on the Alti-force website.

    By admin, in Gear,

    Squirrel Aura 2 Pre-Orders and Teaser

    The latest addition to the Squirrel inventory has been made available for pre-order this week. The Aura 2 will be the successor to the originally Aura suit, which saw favourable reviews and quickly established itself as a popular BASE jumping suit.
    While no information has been provided yet by Squirrel, as to the specifications and features of the new suit, it's expected that the Aura 2, like its predecessor - will be a BASE focused wingsuit. Even with the original Aura design though, Squirrel ensured that the suit was catered as much as possible to skydivers, with several features including a 'Skydive Mode'.
    More information about the Aura 2 will be provided when it's released by the company. But for now, all we have is 40 seconds of teaser footage.

    By admin, in Gear,

    Sony Announce Two New Action Cams

    Sony FDR-X1000V Sony have started off the first quarter of 2015 with a couple of action camera announcements that are likely to excite fans of the Sony series. At CES 2015, which was hosted last week, Sony unveiled two new models of action cameras, venturing into the 4k action cam market. Sony are no newcomers to 4k recording products and have been selling 4k recording devices for a few years already, but moving in the direction of smaller and cheaper recording devices such as action cameras is a big step towards general consumers. Along with the new announcement for the 4k action camera, was the announcement of a new HD action camera, a new version of one of the company's popular cameras.
    The first of the two cameras announced at CES is the FDR-X1000V, the 4k action cam product that will aim to compete with the new GoPro Hero 4. The X1000V will be able to record 4k video (3840x2160) at 30fps, with focus also being placed on enhancements to the HD recording options, stabilization and frame rate. The enhancements in stability come from an upgrade to the company's trademarked "SteadyShot" technology, which is promoted as being 3 times better at handling certain vibrations. With stabilization being such an important part of recording skydiving footage, it will be interesting to see how the X1000V does in comparison to the other Sony action cams on the market. Also beneficial, especially to skydivers - is the new, enhanced wind noise reduction.
    While the focus of the X1000V definitely appears to be the ability to record in 4K, the camera also boasts some impressive recording abilities at both full HD and standard HD. Up to 120fps is supported for Full HD recording, while Standard HD allows for 240fps recording.

    Sony HDR-AS200V The second camera to be announced is the new HDR-AS200V. Last year Sony unveiled the AS100V, which in turn became quite a popular action cam. The AS series of Sony action cameras have in fact probably been the most used Sony product for skydivers, with the releases of the AS15, AS30 and AS100 in just a few short years. We've done extensive testing on some of these models in the past, and they have always performed well, with the Sony AS30 coming out on top in our Action Cam Shootout last year.
    The AS200V will receive the same boost in stabilization and noise reduction as the above-mentioned X1000V, while offering recording in 60fps at 1080p, 120fps at 720p and 240fps in the WVGA video format.

    New Features For X1000V and AS200V
    Sony have extended most of the new features they have developed to both of these cameras, and it appears that the only real differences between models will be the ability for 4k recording on the X1000V, as well as a more enhanced underwater casing that is provided with it.
    Built in GPS & Action Cam Movie Creator
    Action Cam Movie Creator is software that is included with both the models and allows for the easy creation of videos, which can also use the built-in GPS to display the GPS details in an overlay of the video.
    Highlight Movie Maker
    For those who don't want to spend the time creating a movie from a series of clips, the Highlight Movie Maker will offer the ability to quickly and easily produce smaller mp4 video format highlights of a video, along with being able to add music to the video. The Highlight Movie Maker uses an algorithm to detect where the action is happening within the video, and then cuts out scenes which it detects as unimportant.
    Live View Remote
    With the new cameras come a new live view LCD remote. The Sony RM-LVR2 is a waterproof (to 3 meters) offers extensive control over both the AS200V and the X1000V, with the ability to control recording, playback, deletion of files. The live view functionality also means that you'll be able to get a clear preview of what is being recorded.
    Release Dates & Pricing:
    The X1000V and AS200V will be available from March with the X1000V being priced at $500, packaged with the enhanced SPK-X1 waterproof case. For the live view remote bundle, you will be paying $600.
    The AS200V will go for $300, and include the SPK-AS2 waterproof case and tripod mount. The live view remote bundle will also cost $100 extra, and set you back $400.

    By admin, in Gear,

    Turned On by Hypoxic

    In May of 2014 the skydiving-focused electronics company Hypoxic began a Kickstarter campaign that sought out a goal funding of $30,000 in order to develop a status indicator for the GoPro action camera. Despite dominating the market for several years, neither GoPro or its primary competitors come with a feature or piece of hardware that allows the user to easily determine the status of the camera or its recording. For sports where the GoPro is mounted out of sight, such as the popular helmet mounting method, this can often cause hesitation when trying to remember whether you may have pressed record or whether you put the SD card back. Hypoxic's goal was to try and provide a useful and easy way of determining whether the camera is functioning as it should, while also removing that hesitation from the minds of the jumper.
    As quoted from the Kickstarter page: "In our sports, these uncertainties are not just unsettling: they’re dangerous. As an athlete, you know: before riding down this line, starting this race, jumping out of this plane, launching down this mountain, you need an absolutely clear head. Nothing good can happen when personal safety takes a backseat to a blinking light."
    By the end of June last year, the Kickstarter campaign had raised $43,049, more than $13,000 over the original target amount. Incentives for backers ranged from stickers for those that pledged $5 or more, to Turned On units with early shipping for backers that pledged over $180.
    Over the past 6 months the Kickstarter units have been sent to the backers of the campaign and were well received. The Turned On units have now begun shipping to outlets and are available for public purchase.

    What Does It Do?
    The Turned On unit makes use of 3 colored LED lights to provide information as to the status of the camera. When the camera is recording, the light will be solid red. When it is on standby a blue light will be displayed. When an error is present it will display either a solid yellow or a flashing yellow light. When the light is flashing yellow, it indicates a potential impending interruption to recording, such as low card space, low battery or high temperature. A solid yellow light indicates an error and in this case, the camera will not be able to record, such as in situations where the card is missing or corrupt.
    The device will work in all modes, and show the active recording light whether you're recording video or shooting a series of images in burst mode.
    What separates the Turned On indicator from other indicators on the market is the detailed level of information provided. Most other indicators simply use an on/off system that will display whether or not the camera is recording or even just whether the power is on, which is often unreliable - especially in cases when the camera may be in stand by mode.

    Compatibility and Support
    Currently there is limited compatibility with the Turned On, and will require one of the following GoPro cameras: GoPro Hero 4 Black, GoPro Hero 4 Silver, GoPro Hero 3+ Black, GoPro Hero 3 Black.
    Supported Versions
    GoPro Hero 4 Black - v1.02.00

    GoPro Hero 4 Silver - v1.0.2.00

    GoPro Hero 3+ Black - v1.04.00

    GoPro Hero 3 Black - v3.00.00
    There are two build of the Turned On available, the H3+/H4 and the H3. The H3+/H4 is designed for use with the GoPro Hero 3+ and GoPro Hero 4 cases, while the H3 model is for use with the GoPro Hero 3 case.
    Hypoxic are already looking to expand the development to include more of the GoPro models and claim to be exploring compatibility that goes back to the GoPro Hero 2.

    Where to Get One?
    Dealers that are listed with selling the Turned On units are as follows:
    Chuting Star - Skydive the Farm, GA

    Patrick Kaye - Skydive Dubai, Dubai, UAE

    Para-Gear - Skokie, IL

    Ranch Pro Shop / Tonfly USA - Skydive the Ranch, NY

    The Drop Shop - Skydive Chicago

    Gold Coast Skydivers - Gold Coast Skydivers, LA

    Sunshine Factory - ZHills, FL

    Rock Sky Market - Chicago Skydive Center, IL

    Xtreme Video - Skydive Carolina, Chester, SC

    HYPOXIC - Chandler, AZ
    As of the release of this article, the MSRP for the Turned On units was listed as $99.
    More information and installation guides can be found on the Turned On Website.

    By admin, in Gear,

    Performance Designs Announces New Valkyrie Canopy

    Over the past several weeks Performance Designs have been dropping hints about their latest product, with a cryptic advertisment in Parachutist magazine at the end of September, that had a few readers scratching their heads and trying to establish what exactly PD were advertising. Clearly the marketing tactic worked, as interest grew about just what it was about. One community member, "Zlew" - suggested that the advert may be about a product with the name "Valkyrie", based off the design and the style of the 'V' that was present in the image.
    Today Performance Designs have confirmed this suspicion, with the public announcement of their this new canopy, the Valkyrie. The Valkyrie is a mean little 7-cell design with inflatable stabilizers/wingtips, and is quite similar to the Peregrine in both look and planform. It's a freefall canopy with focus on quality openings at terminal speeds.
    - Zero-Porosity material.

    - Standard configuration: Collapsible drawstring slider and 500 Orange Vectran, optional RDS and 300 Orange Vectran (for competitive/subterminal use)

    - Sizes: The Valkyrie

    We spoke to Performance Designs about the Valkyrie, and they addressed some of the questions one may have about the company's new canopy.
    Q: Who is this canopy for?


    A: This canopy is far more responsive than a Velocity or Comp Velocity, and not lacking in power or speed. It was designed for expert skydivers who are experienced and highly competent on high performance, cross braced canopies.

    If you are very proficient jumping a Velocity or Comp Velocity and want to take it to the next level, this is the canopy for you.
    "The openings are amazing. Best opening canopy I can recall jumping. Never once got it to open hard no matter what I tried (freefly to a quick pull, tracking hard to a pull, etc)." - Ian Drennan,PDFT
    Q: How are the openings?

    A: This canopy opens like a dream. Even though it is extremely responsive to input, you will find the openings to be smooth, well-staged and with less tendency to search for a heading during inflation.
    Q: How are the flight characteristics?

    A: The Valkyrie is more responsive on all controls. The flare and stopping power of this canopy is incredible, and it also has great glide capabilities. All around, this canopy is awesome to fly. But don't take our word for it.
    Q: When can I get one?

    A: We will be accepting orders from PD's Authorized Dealers on December 1, 2014. Standard crossbraced production time will apply to the Valkyrie. These lead times are posted on the performancedesigns.com home page.
    Q: How do I buy one?

    A: The Valkyrie will be sold through PD's Authorized dealer network.
    Interested customers should contact their local dealer to discuss if this canopy is right for them, and should be prepared to demonstrate expert canopy pilot skills and/or provide references. Potential pilots should be highly competent on a more traditional crossbraced canopy, prior to considering a Valkyrie.
    "The Valkyrie is a carving machine! You get so much more lift, control, and smooth flight when carving a swoop, than with a Velocity. The toggles are more responsive, and flare a lot more powerful." - Alejandro Ramos, Tribu Freefly
    Q: When will stock canopies be available?

    A: We are planning on producing stock canopies by early February 2015, but are anticipating heavy demand for this stock. The best way to assure a quick and efficient Valkyrie delivery will be to place your order in early December 2014.
    "The feedback we have been getting on this new product is incredibly positive, with regards to openings, flight characteristics and performance.
    We are very excited to make the Valkyrie available to everyone (*with the required experience)."

    Comp Velocity
    With the ever growing trend of people using the Comp Velocity for every day purposes, we have decided to make changes that will make it readily available for non-competition use.
    Introductory Retail Price: $3200

    Additional for RDS: $250 (instead of standard slider/subterminal use)
    The standard configuration of the Comp Velocity will include a collapsible drawstring slider, instead of the RDS, and 500 size lines.
    This will also cause a price adjustment for this product.

    Retail Price: $3050

    Additional cost for RDS:$250 (instead of collapsible drawstring slider/subterminal use)
    "We have also included a number of additional line options for the Comp Velocity. The new order form will offer 300 or 500 Orange Vectran, 500 or 700 HMA, 500 or 750 Vectran. Current stock will remain with 300 Orange Vectran and RDS. We will begin to include the collapsible drawstring slider & 500 line configuration on our stock Comp Velocities in the near future.
    We anticipate these pricing, stock and order form changes to occur on or around December 2014."

    By admin, in Gear,

    GoPro Hero 4 Silver vs Black - Hypoxic Comparison

    We recently announced that GoPro had planned to release their latest action camera, the GoPro Hero 4. The Hero 4 is set for release this month, and since at the time of our original article, we had little to no footage of what the Hero 4 performed like, specifically in a skydiving environment, we couldn't really make a call on value between the different editions.
    Hypoxic has now however released a video showing a comparison between the Hero 4 Silver and the Hero 4 Black, and the initial results are a little surprising.
    View Full 1920x1080 Hero 4 Silver Image
    View Full 1920x1080 Hero 4 Black Image
    The video was recorded at 80fps for the GoPro Hero 4 Black and at 60fps for the Hero 4 Silver, though little noticible difference is seen in the smoothness of the video in standard playback. There are however some differences between the two cameras, as can be seen when comparing screenshots of the video. We decided to analyze the screenshots from the video and see who really comes out on top between the Hero 4 Silver and the Hero 4 Black. All example pictures are 1080p (1920x1080) cropped at 100%.
    The first thing we looked at when examining the video, were the noise levels. In the example shots above, noise can be seen in the gradient of the sky. Noise levels for both these cameras were good, and it is difficult to pick a clear winner, though for this test I would suggest that the Hero 4 Black comes out on top, though still not a bad result for the Silver Edition.
    Next we took a look at some of the primary aspects of image quality, focusing on sharpness and detail levels. This is where we were quite surprised, with the Hero 4 Silver taking a very clear lead over the Black Edition on sharpness and detail. This is an area where many would expect the top tier camera to perform at its best, and give the buyer a reason to spend the extra $100. Instead we find that the Black Edition lacks in sharpness.
    In the image above, one can note the sharpness/clarity difference easily by examining the helmet and rig on the top two images. The "Mirage" text is sharp and easily readable on the Hero 4 Silver, while on the Black Edition it's blury and hard to distinguish. Also take a look at the buildings on the top images, on the right of the screenshots. Again the Hero 4 Silver is sharper, both with objects in close range to the camera and in the distance. Comparing the skydiver in the orange and blue jumpsuit on the bottom images, also show you that facial details are picked up much better by the Silver Edition.
    Finally we looked at the contrast and saturation, and again we were a little surprised. It was much closer between the two cameras with this test and with regards to saturation, neither of the cameras look oversaturated and they both seem to handle the dark gray and black quite well. When examining the socks of the skydiver, it does seem to handle the whites a bit better on the Silver Edition, both are quite close and very much acceptable, but there appears to be a more crisp whiteness in the left image. This test however is hard to establish with certainty, as the increased sharpness in the left image may suggest crisper colours, while the Hero 4 Black's may appear a bit more washed out due to a lack of sharpness in the image.
    It's important to note that in camera manufacturing, there are variables that can result in batches or individual cameras performing poorer (or better) than the standard. So it's possible that this was the case with the two cameras above. Though whether this is to blame for the Hero 4 Black's lack of image performance, will likely only be told with time, as more footage is shot and released.
    A much more likely reason for the decrease in performance when looking at grabs taken from a video, as pointed out by the user "cbjetboy" in the comments below. Is that the Black is recording at 80fps as opposed to 60fps. This increase in frame rate is likely to have a negative impact on the result seen from a screenshot, as opposed to as if it had been recorded at a lower fps. It is difficult to say exactly how much of an impact this had on the results, but it seems we will need to wait for further comparative testing before we can come to a solid conclusion. Though when comparing the videos themselves side by side, there is little to suggest that the Black Edition comes out any better than the Silver.
    Based on what information we do have though, if you assume that both these cameras are operating at their normal performance levels, unless you're looking to use the 30fps 4k recording that's available solely on the Hero 4 Black, these early tests suggest that you may be just as well of sticking to the Silver Edition and saving yourself $100. The Silver Edition also comes with the perc of having a touch screen for easier navigation and image/video previewing.

    By admin, in Gear,

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