0

Gear

    $400 Contour+2 HD Action Camera with Live Streaming Launched

    This week Contour launched their new Contour+2. Like its predecessors the Contour+2 is a light-weight versatile full HD action camera. Contour took a look at their previous models and combined the best features from the ContourROAM and the Contour+ into the new easy to use Countour+2. By sticking the existing form factor they made sure the camera is still small and light, two of the most important requirements for any mounted action cam. The Contour+2 weighs only 0.2oz more than its immediate predecessor.



    What's in the box?

    Contour+2 Camera
    Micro SD Card (4GB)*
    Profile Mount
    Rotating Flat Surface Mount
    Rechargeable Battery
    USB 2.0 Cable
    Mini HDMI Cable
    Mic Cable
    Waterproof Case


    Specs:

    Full HD – 1920 x 1080 @ 30/25fps
    Tall HD – 1280 x 960 @ 30/25fps
    Action HD – 1280 x 720 @ 60/50 or 30/25fps
    Slow Motion – 854 x 480 @ 120/100, 60/50, or 30/25fps
    Photo Mode: Every 1, 3, 5, 10, 15, 20, 30, 45, or 60 seconds
    5MP Sensor
    Codec – H.264/AAC / File Type – MP4
    AAC Audio Compression
    32GB microSD Compatible
    Battery Life: 2-2.5 hrs


    While most of the improvements are to the video itself, there are some external changes that, on the face of it makes real sense and will probably make this an even more desirable little camera to have. Contour brought back the built-in tripod (1/4" - 20) mount, something that got lost between the ContourROAM and the original Contour+ that just didn't make sense. There’s also an Instant-on record switch and no more power button. Slide the slider forward and you’re ready to jump. There's a slide lock to prevent you from having a dreaded premature recording stop.
    The Contour+2 records full HD (1080p) at 30FPS video and SD (480p) video at 120FPS. However, it now also embeds “rich data” like speed, elevation and distance via a built-in GPS receiver as part of the recording. All of this can be edited and fused via their Storyteller app (PC/Mac). So, much easier to track and share your most excellent wingsuit jump.
    Other cool features include: a 270° rotating lens which allows you to mount this camera in almost any position you can imagine and the built-in leveling laser will help you get frame and get the picture right regardless. An external mic port, a 4GB microSD card and a mini HDMI cable for live streaming all included. Also part of the package is a 60-meter waterproof case and then of course the one we like, improved Bluetooth connectivity, turning your iOS or Android smartphone into and external remote viewfinder.
    Another great thing, at $399.99, you get all of this at about 100 dollars cheaper than the old Contour+!
    We hope to have a full review of the Contour+2 in the very near future for you. In the meantime, find out more about this camera on the Contour Website.

    By admin, in Gear,

    Argus AAD Discontinued

    According to Karel Goorts, Managing Director for Aviacom SA, production of the Argus automatic activation device (AAD) for the sport parachuting market has been discontinued. The current group of service centers will continue to provide service for units currently in use. A limited number of cutters and spare parts will be available. Many container manufacturers rescinded the approval of the Argus to be installed in their containers earlier this year, following questions about the effectiveness of the cutter. Argus owners should check with their container manufacturer to determine whether the Argus may be installed.
    Source: USPA
    Aviacom released the following press release on the situation:
    Dear Argus Customer,
    We thank you for the support and the confidence that you granted us over the years. The Argus has saved no less than 31 lives since 2006.
    The recent bans from major manufacturers forced us to discontinue further production for the sport market, due to the impossibility to use our AAD in most rigs. We have been lobbying in St.-Louis at the PIA meeting with all involved parties to get the Argus back in the air – to no avail.
    The manufacturers demand a brand new cutter design. This will take between 18-24 months and cost over 100,000.00 USD. We don’t get any guarantee that this solution will be accepted by those who issued the ban, so it is not a viable option.
    Our Service centers will be able to continue the 4 year check-ups and the remaining ‘old’ cutters still will be exchanged for free. A limited stock of spare parts will be available.
    The remaining stock of Argus SIS will be sold through our dealer network.
    We are sincerely sorry for this unfortunate situation.
    Kind regards,
    Karel Goorts

    Managing Director

    Aviacom SA
    P.S.: The Argus is allowed for use in the following rigs: Mirage, Wings, Dolphin, Racer, Infinity, Next and Basik.
    Source: Aviacom

    By admin, in Gear,

    Less Weight, Feels Great

    Tonfly is well known for their camera helmets. Designed in Italy, built in Slovakia, their carbon fiber helmet designs are a bit different than everyone else.

    When Giovanni Suzzi, president of Tonfly, offered up an opportunity to review his newest helmets, I was expecting them in the mail in two separate boxes. When UPS dropped the package at my door, I was certain an error had been made due to the lightness of the single package. I was shocked to find two helmets inside. These helmets weigh almost nothing, but yet are incredibly strong, solid, and as protective as any skydiving helmet I’ve ever worn.
    “The helmets are made from a tighter carbon fiber weave,” says “Sonic” Bayrasli, exclusive distributor for Tonfly in the USA. “This contributes to a marginally higher cost.”
    The 2X and 3X helmets are definitely a unique grade of helmet. The exceptional lightweight means less fatigue at the end of a long day of skydiving. This also allows for a thicker padding inside, thus quieting the helmet more than any helmet of the same class.
    Both helmets sport an audible pocket over the right ear, made specifically for the L&B; Optima, Solo II, or Protrack devices. This unique pocket allows for external access without crowding the wearer’s head. There is also room for a second audible over the left ear, perfect in size for a Flysight (wingsuiter’s tool) or other standard size audible.
    The ladder-strap chin cup provides for a secure mount. However, I discovered that if the chin cup isn’t reasonably centered in the ladder straps/on the chin, the release catches can easily be knocked loose. Equal tension on both sides of the chincup is fairly important for the most secure fit. As with earlier models of the Tonfly helmets, the 2X and 3X helmets use a carbon fiber chincup covered with a vanity cup emblazoned with the Tonfly logo. This vanity cup is available in many colors to match any custom color scheme a buyer might come up with.
    Speaking of custom… Tonfly offers the 2X and 3X in all sorts of custom colors with logos put in place as designed by a buyer. I asked for some unique logos and color combinations and Tonfly was more than obliging.
    Both helmets are designed for mounting a single camera on top. Neither helmet is designed as a helmet for both video and stills; these are made to be as light as possible. A Zkulls mounting ring is provided on both helmets (optional) along with a molded space for the GetHypoxic HypEye camera controller (optional). The 3X also provides a debrief port for the HypEye control/debriefing system (optional). This is very useful for team debriefs, viewing video immediately after a jump where a DV, HDV, or AVCHD camcorder is used and an HDMI cable isn’t available. This also means that the AV connector on the camera won’t need to be disconnected, thus saving wear and tear on the camera connector (a common point of failure).
    Two very unique features set the 3X apart from it’s brother; the air pump system that allows the base of the helmet to conform to the wearer’s head, and a “crown” that allows the user to quickly shift the angle of the camera by as much as 15 degrees forward or back.
    The air pump system is terrific for wearers with long hair; it makes the helmet ‘feel’ like a full face helmet in the way it contains hair. Those with short hair will appreciate the additional quiet that the custom conformation option provides. It takes 4-5 pumps to make the helmet tight against my head, and I have medium-length hair. The small air release nipple next to the pump provides an instant release of air, but in truth, it’s impossible to make the helmet uncomfortably tight, even with the air pumped as tight as the internal bladder allows.
    The slotted mounting plate allows users to change the camera angle, albeit not instantly. This is very useful for wingsuit pilots or freeflyers. Wingsuiters will like the ability to shift a camera forward (angled more downward) which allows for easier capture of a formation in a vertical slot, and freeflyers will like the additional angles for flying close in small groups. Changing the angle of the platform requires a slotted screwdriver and a couple of minutes. It’s very easy. However, the screws are also extremely light weight, so use care when turning them so as to not strip their threads.
    As mentioned before, the adjustable camera platform also provides access to the video debrief port found on the HypEye camera control system. On a personal note, I’ve found this feature invaluable not only because it reduces wear/tear on the camera AV port, but also because it allows for a very fast connection to both television and computer monitors (if equipped with a composite input).

    Wingsuit students use Tonfly Helmets at Skydive Elsinore. Each is equipped with a custom-color L&B; Optima, courtesy of L&B.; Both helmets share the same chincup and ladder characteristics.
    What I don’t like about these helmets:
    The screws that hold the camera platform to the 3X are thin metal and easy to strip. Tonfly could address this by including a couple of extra screws/receivers with each helmet (they’re very difficult to find here in the USA).
    The ladder straps on both the 3X and the 2X don’t hold as well as their older brothers in the CCM/CC1 realm.
    What I do like about these helmets:
    Super comfortable on the head. No pressure points anywhere.
    Extremely lightweight (hence the “X” in their name, perhaps?)
    Very strong. I’ve been knocked in the head by several students, one of them wearing boots sharp enough to chip the paint on the helmet, but I didn’t feel a thing. I was also hit by a newbie wingsuiter hard enough to cost me a battery, lens, and destroyed camera; one can only imagine how much of my skull was protected by this lightweight helmet.
    The fit. I don’t know what Tonfly does exactly, but I appreciate the way this helmet fits. Students often comment on how much they love the fit of the helmet too. Mine is a size 59; it seems to be an average size.
    The camera system on the 3X simply rocks. I love how it works, how it feels when I’m flying, and provides the angle I prefer with wingsuit students.
    Quiet. The 3X is the most quiet helmet I’ve ever jumped. Read more of DSE's writing on his blog.

    By DSE, in Gear,

    Understanding your AAD

    With all the recent issues that have been brought up by the Argus AAD ban by multiple container manufacturers, I wanted to make sure that everyone knows that while most modern AAD’s have a similar design, based on that of the CYPRES1 which was introduced in the early 90’s, they all have very unique differences, and these differences can cause major issues if you are unaware of them. Also, this is a good time to remind people about best practices to use if you have an AAD in your rig.
    Because of safety concerns right now it looks like most container manufacturers have
    at least temporarily prohibited the ARGUS in their containers, so this article predominantly relates to the CYPRES and the VIGIL. If the ARGUS is approved again for most containers, updated information will then be made available. Although not widely seen, there are also the FXC Astra (electronic with cutter), and the FXC-12000, an older bulky mechanical pin-pulling device. Introduced at the recent PIA Symposium, the MARS M2 from the Czech Republic and being imported by Alti-2, is another newcomer to the AAD market, which may be available sometime this year once the container manufacturers approve it for use.
    All the modern electronic AAD’s currently on the market in their “Expert mode” work by activating a cutter that severs the reserve closing loop when the user is falling at or greater than a given speed (typically around 78 MPH or faster) and at or lower than a given altitude (typically around 750 feet). This cut closing loop should then allow the reserve to begin its opening sequence. This is all the AAD will do (cut the loop). If the reserve has been correctly packed, the cutting of the loop should initiate the reserve opening sequence, and hopefully a reserve canopy will open between 200-500 feet AGL (barring a pilot chute hesitation, etc).
    KNOW YOUR EQUIPMENTAs always, consult the user manual for your specific make/model, and discuss any of your AAD questions with a qualified rigger. We are lucky to have SSK Industries, Inc., the US service center for CYPRES units located in Lebanon, Ohio, so please feel free to contact SSK for any CYPRES questions also.
    The first major difference between AAD’s is “active” mode. This is the altitude above the ground that the AAD would allow itself to activate if the conditions were met for an activation. The CYPRES\CYPRES2 arms at 1500 feet AGL. The VIGIL\VIGIL2 will move to active mode at 150 feet AGL. Both of these have different rationale behind their decisions. While a CYPRES will not active if the airplane only gets to 900 feet and you have to do an emergency exit, a VIGIL moves into active mode at a lower altitude and this has caused issues when the door of the airplane accidentally opened which caused a pressure difference that triggered activation. Counterpoint to this for the VIGIL is if you exit at 1200 feet and hit your head on the tail the unit is already in active mode and is able to potentially fire to start the reserve activation sequence. (Note that CYPRES is armed if you climb to arming altitude, then descend lower prior to exit.) The CYPRES also disarms when it goes below ~ 130 ft. AGL. The VIGIL will also disarm at ~130 feet on the way down
    A second major difference is in the shutdown timing. A CYPRES until has a hard shutdown at 14 hours after the startup sequence. This means even if you are on the airplane climbing to altitude or in freefall when that time is reached the unit will shut down. In this method of shutdown timing you must do a manual shutdown and restart of the unit if you are approaching the 14 hours since startup to ensure that the unit will remain active for any skydives that you are intending on doing. The VIGIL checks to see if it is at its “Ground Zero” altitude and if you are 150 feet or higher or lower than that altitude via pressure readings then the unit will remain on until you reach “Ground Zero” altitude again. This can cause an issue if you take your rig home and you live more than 150 feet above or below the field elevation at the airport since the VIGIL might remain on for days or weeks. Specifically this can cause issues if you are frequently traveling and leave the DZ at the end of the day and travel to a different DZ the next day since the unit might still be on and is using the altitude of the other airport as its “Zero” point. This could cause the unit to fire much higher or lower than expected. As a reference point Middletown Hook Field, the home of Start Skydiving is at 650’ MSL, Columbus (CMH) is at 815’ MSL, Indianapolis (IND) is 797’ MSL and Covington (CVG) is 896’ MSL. All of these areas may be at a large enough altitude difference that you may need to manually turn your VIGIL off when you leave the dropzone to keep it turned on until it is returned to Start Skydiving. Leaving the VIGIL on for extended time periods can lead to the battery going dead prior to the expected life of the unit or the unit failing to realize the difference in “Zero” altitude if you travel to another dropzone.
    A third difference is the way that the altitude reference offset data is stored in the units.. If you are doing an offsite demo jump, or jump at a DZ with an airfield with an elevation different from the landing area, there exists an option that, if you know you are going to be landing at a location that is hundreds of feet higher or lower then where you are taking off from, allows you to adjust the AAD so it knows about that difference, so it still will activate at ~750 feet above the ground at the intended landing location. Because of the CYPRES automatic weather correction feature, it will re-zero itself on the way back to the take-off location, so it is necessary to switch it off and reset the DZ altitude reference prior to each jump at the remote airfield. At the end of the self-test procedure, CYPRES-2 displays the previously set altitude offset so that it can be easily selected again. The CYPRES(1) unit does not have a memory of a programmed offset and will forget the difference each time the CYPRES is turned off. CYPRES automatically tracks weather changes throughout the day, and if the airfield and landing site are nearby and at the same elevation there is no need to reset it every time you need to re-zero your altimeter. If you travel by car back to the DZ, or walk back from a different elevation after landing with your CYPRES, it is recommended to reset it (switch off/on). As the VIGIL does not automatically track weather changes in the same way, it will retain the offset information in its memory until you go back into the menu and change it back to zero even if the unit is shut down or it reaches its 14 hour point and shuts off. The upside is if you are frequently jumping at a location that involves needing to input an offset the offset is saved for you. The downside to this is if you program in an offset and forget to reset it you could have the unit activating incorrectly since it thinks it still needs the offset. The VIGIL also recommends resetting the unit if you travel with it in a car or walk back from a different elevation.
    Yet another difference is the “Function” of the AAD. CYPRES units come in four versions that are easy to tell the difference of at a glance. CYPRES Expert units have a Red button, Speed units have a Red button that has SPEED printed on it. Student units have a Yellow button and a Tandem unit has a Blue button. Each of these models has unique activation parameters so refer to the user manual for specific information. A CYPRES-2 unit can be reprogrammed by SSK or the factory to change its functionality and it’s done at no charge. The VIGIL is a multifunction device that allows for the user to change it from “Expert” to “Student” or even “Tandem” in the startup sequence.) You do need to make sure the unit is in the right mode to get the correct activation parameters loaded. You can tell the mode the VIGIL is in by looking at the display once the unit is turned on and it will tell the currently active mode. Tandem Instructors especially need to ensure if the rig they are about to jump has a VIGIL installed that it is in the right mode since having the unit activate at the EXPERT or STUDENT parameters may not ensure the canopies will open in time to save your life.
    There are additional differences so please read your User Manual to really understand all the details of your AAD. While we try to use the “Set it and Forget it!” attitude towards AADs, they are somewhat complicated devices that you need to understand the details of, so that you can properly use the unit if it is installed in your container.
    Modern AAD’s since they were introduced with the CYPRES1 in 1991 have saved hundreds of lives. They have also caused issues and even fatalities when inducing two canopy out situations at times where jumpers have opened their main canopies very low or other complications. AAD’s have a very high success rate when needed but they are not 100% flawless either. Just by having an AAD installed does not mean that you are now perfectly safe. Many jumpers inform their friends and families that “I have this little device that will pull for me if I don’t” as a way of reassuring them around the dangers of skydiving. While it is true that having an AAD does increase your safety factor it is not to be relied on and the true risk involved in skydiving does need to be considered.
    Reminder of Best Practices for use of your AAD no matter which brand you use:
    1) Only turn your AAD on at the takeoff site, do not turn it on at home then drive to the DZ since it will think your home is “Zero Altitude” and may fire higher or lower than expected because of this.
    2) If a “multimode” device, ensure the unit is in the correct “Mode” for the skydive you are about to do.
    3) Notice any errors during the start up or during operations during the day and alert your rigger before completing another jump on the unit.
    4) Be aware of the shutdown timing on the AAD and if needed turn it off before you leave at the end of the day. Also be prepared to reset the unit if you will be doing more than 14 hours of jumping (Night jumps especially are of note on this)
    5) Only configure offset information into the unit if you are truly jumping at an altitude different than you are taking off from. Also be sure you know whether the unit retains the offset information or not.
    CYPRES2 User Manual:
    http://www.cypres-usa.com/userguide/CYPRES_2_users_guide_english.pdf
    or
    http://www.cypres.cc/index.php?option=com_remository&Itemid;=89&func;=download&id;=182&chk;=5ca53a980b98700d976eb51f9e1fc9c3&no;_html=1〈=enVIGIL User Manual: http://www.vigil.aero/files/images/ENGELS___DP_JUN_2010.pdf

    VIGIL SB on this topic: http://www.vigil.aero/files/images/Information_Bulletin___Airborne_Status_.pdfWith all the recent issues that have been brought up by the Argus AAD ban by multiple container manufacturers, I wanted to make sure that everyone knows that while most modern AAD’s have a similar design, based on that of the CYPRES1 which was introduced in the early 90’s, they all have very unique differences, and these differences can cause major issues if you are unaware of them. Also, this is a good time to remind people about best practices to use if you have an AAD in your rig.
    Because of safety concerns right now it looks like most container manufacturers have
    at least temporarily prohibited the ARGUS in their containers, so this article predominantly relates to the CYPRES and the VIGIL. If the ARGUS is approved again for most containers, updated information will then be made available. Although not widely seen, there are also the FXC Astra (electronic with cutter), and the FXC-12000, an older bulky mechanical pin-pulling device. Introduced at the recent PIA Symposium, the MARS M2 from the Czech Republic and being imported by Alti-2, is another newcomer to the AAD market, which may be available sometime this year once the container manufacturers approve it for use.
    All the modern electronic AAD’s currently on the market in their “Expert mode” work by activating a cutter that severs the reserve closing loop when the user is falling at or greater than a given speed (typically around 78 MPH or faster) and at or lower than a given altitude (typically around 750 feet). This cut closing loop should then allow the reserve to begin its opening sequence. This is all the AAD will do (cut the loop). If the reserve has been correctly packed, the cutting of the loop should initiate the reserve opening sequence, and hopefully a reserve canopy will open between 200-500 feet AGL (barring a pilot chute hesitation, etc).
    KNOW YOUR EQUIPMENTAs always, consult the user manual for your specific make/model, and discuss any of your AAD questions with a qualified rigger. We are lucky to have SSK Industries, Inc., the US service center for CYPRES units located in Lebanon, Ohio, so please feel free to contact SSK for any CYPRES questions also.
    The first major difference between AAD’s is “active” mode. This is the altitude above the ground that the AAD would allow itself to activate if the conditions were met for an activation. The CYPRES\CYPRES2 arms at 1500 feet AGL. The VIGIL\VIGIL2 will move to active mode at 150 feet AGL. Both of these have different rationale behind their decisions. While a CYPRES will not active if the airplane only gets to 900 feet and you have to do an emergency exit, a VIGIL moves into active mode at a lower altitude and this has caused issues when the door of the airplane accidentally opened which caused a pressure difference that triggered activation. Counterpoint to this for the VIGIL is if you exit at 1200 feet and hit your head on the tail the unit is already in active mode and is able to potentially fire to start the reserve activation sequence. (Note that CYPRES is armed if you climb to arming altitude, then descend lower prior to exit.) The CYPRES also disarms when it goes below ~ 130 ft. AGL. The VIGIL will also disarm at ~130 feet on the way down
    A second major difference is in the shutdown timing. A CYPRES until has a hard shutdown at 14 hours after the startup sequence. This means even if you are on the airplane climbing to altitude or in freefall when that time is reached the unit will shut down. In this method of shutdown timing you must do a manual shutdown and restart of the unit if you are approaching the 14 hours since startup to ensure that the unit will remain active for any skydives that you are intending on doing. The VIGIL checks to see if it is at its “Ground Zero” altitude and if you are 150 feet or higher or lower than that altitude via pressure readings then the unit will remain on until you reach “Ground Zero” altitude again. This can cause an issue if you take your rig home and you live more than 150 feet above or below the field elevation at the airport since the VIGIL might remain on for days or weeks. Specifically this can cause issues if you are frequently traveling and leave the DZ at the end of the day and travel to a different DZ the next day since the unit might still be on and is using the altitude of the other airport as its “Zero” point. This could cause the unit to fire much higher or lower than expected. As a reference point Middletown Hook Field, the home of Start Skydiving is at 650’ MSL, Columbus (CMH) is at 815’ MSL, Indianapolis (IND) is 797’ MSL and Covington (CVG) is 896’ MSL. All of these areas may be at a large enough altitude difference that you may need to manually turn your VIGIL off when you leave the dropzone to keep it turned on until it is returned to Start Skydiving. Leaving the VIGIL on for extended time periods can lead to the battery going dead prior to the expected life of the unit or the unit failing to realize the difference in “Zero” altitude if you travel to another dropzone.
    A third difference is the way that the altitude reference offset data is stored in the units.. If you are doing an offsite demo jump, or jump at a DZ with an airfield with an elevation different from the landing area, there exists an option that, if you know you are going to be landing at a location that is hundreds of feet higher or lower then where you are taking off from, allows you to adjust the AAD so it knows about that difference, so it still will activate at ~750 feet above the ground at the intended landing location. Because of the CYPRES automatic weather correction feature, it will re-zero itself on the way back to the take-off location, so it is necessary to switch it off and reset the DZ altitude reference prior to each jump at the remote airfield. At the end of the self-test procedure, CYPRES-2 displays the previously set altitude offset so that it can be easily selected again. The CYPRES(1) unit does not have a memory of a programmed offset and will forget the difference each time the CYPRES is turned off. CYPRES automatically tracks weather changes throughout the day, and if the airfield and landing site are nearby and at the same elevation there is no need to reset it every time you need to re-zero your altimeter. If you travel by car back to the DZ, or walk back from a different elevation after landing with your CYPRES, it is recommended to reset it (switch off/on). As the VIGIL does not automatically track weather changes in the same way, it will retain the offset information in its memory until you go back into the menu and change it back to zero even if the unit is shut down or it reaches its 14 hour point and shuts off. The upside is if you are frequently jumping at a location that involves needing to input an offset the offset is saved for you. The downside to this is if you program in an offset and forget to reset it you could have the unit activating incorrectly since it thinks it still needs the offset. The VIGIL also recommends resetting the unit if you travel with it in a car or walk back from a different elevation.
    Yet another difference is the “Function” of the AAD. CYPRES units come in four versions that are easy to tell the difference of at a glance. CYPRES Expert units have a Red button, Speed units have a Red button that has SPEED printed on it. Student units have a Yellow button and a Tandem unit has a Blue button. Each of these models has unique activation parameters so refer to the user manual for specific information. A CYPRES-2 unit can be reprogrammed by SSK or the factory to change its functionality and it’s done at no charge. The VIGIL is a multifunction device that allows for the user to change it from “Expert” to “Student” or even “Tandem” in the startup sequence.) You do need to make sure the unit is in the right mode to get the correct activation parameters loaded. You can tell the mode the VIGIL is in by looking at the display once the unit is turned on and it will tell the currently active mode. Tandem Instructors especially need to ensure if the rig they are about to jump has a VIGIL installed that it is in the right mode since having the unit activate at the EXPERT or STUDENT parameters may not ensure the canopies will open in time to save your life.
    There are additional differences so please read your User Manual to really understand all the details of your AAD. While we try to use the “Set it and Forget it!” attitude towards AADs, they are somewhat complicated devices that you need to understand the details of, so that you can properly use the unit if it is installed in your container.
    Modern AAD’s since they were introduced with the CYPRES1 in 1991 have saved hundreds of lives. They have also caused issues and even fatalities when inducing two canopy out situations at times where jumpers have opened their main canopies very low or other complications. AAD’s have a very high success rate when needed but they are not 100% flawless either. Just by having an AAD installed does not mean that you are now perfectly safe. Many jumpers inform their friends and families that “I have this little device that will pull for me if I don’t” as a way of reassuring them around the dangers of skydiving. While it is true that having an AAD does increase your safety factor it is not to be relied on and the true risk involved in skydiving does need to be considered.
    Reminder of Best Practices for use of your AAD no matter which brand you use:
    1) Only turn your AAD on at the takeoff site, do not turn it on at home then drive to the DZ since it will think your home is “Zero Altitude” and may fire higher or lower than expected because of this.
    2) If a “multimode” device, ensure the unit is in the correct “Mode” for the skydive you are about to do.
    3) Notice any errors during the start up or during operations during the day and alert your rigger before completing another jump on the unit.
    4) Be aware of the shutdown timing on the AAD and if needed turn it off before you leave at the end of the day. Also be prepared to reset the unit if you will be doing more than 14 hours of jumping (Night jumps especially are of note on this)
    5) Only configure offset information into the unit if you are truly jumping at an altitude different than you are taking off from. Also be sure you know whether the unit retains the offset information or not.
    CYPRES2 User Manual:
    http://www.cypres-usa.com/userguide/CYPRES_2_users_guide_english.pdf
    or
    http://www.cypres.cc/index.php?option=com_remository&Itemid;=89&func;=download&id;=182&chk;=5ca53a980b98700d976eb51f9e1fc9c3&no;_html=1〈=enVIGIL User Manual: http://www.vigil.aero/files/images/ENGELS___DP_JUN_2010.pdf

    VIGIL SB on this topic: http://www.vigil.aero/files/images/Information_Bulletin___Airborne_Status_.pdf

    By PhreeZone, in Gear,

    Phoenix-Fly Revamps Wingsuit Instructional Programs

    Phoenix-fly announces a new Coaching program to replace the Phoenix-fly Instructor Program.
    Rising up from out of the ashes is the Phoenix and the latest re-start at Phoenix-fly is the dismantling of their “Instructor” program and the birth of a new Coaching program, making room for a gradual move towards a more official training standard.
    “With the recent rise in wingsuit-related incidents and the tremendous growth in the wingsuit discipline, we felt it was time to re-examine our roster of manufacturer-endorsed instructors and determine a path for instruction that not only provides the best methodologies for training, but also provides an accessible, consistent system that Phoenix-fly can firmly stand behind,” says Jarno Cordia, Global Marketing Manager for Phoenix-Fly.
    Phoenix-Fly’s history is well known; president and founder Robi Pecnik was one of the first and easily the most innovative wingsuit designer in the early days of wingsuiting. Paired up with Jari Kuosima, they formed Birdman. Pecnik kept the company on the leading edge of suit design while Kuosima sold suits. Together they built a powerhouse product line, and over time they instituted a training program to help skydivers get their wings into the air. The program was primarily authored by Chuck Blue and Henny Wiggers.This was known as the “Birdman Instructor” program.
    In 2004, Pecnik grew dissatisfied with the direction Birdman was taking, and so left to form Phoenix-fly.
    Many Birdman Instructors (BMI) automatically received Phoenix-fly instructor ratings when the competitive company was formed, and the Phoenix-fly program moved forward and grew from that base of early instructors. It was later discovered that some of the BMI’s had received their ratings via email. In short, some of the new PFI’s had never received formal training of any kind.
    “We’ve found over the course of years that instructors were going uncurrent or teaching First Flight Courses to skydivers that didn’t meet the industry-recognized recommendation of 200 skydives in the last 18 months,” said Jarno, “We needed to address this, and with the spate of recent fatalities, we wanted to address it before someone was killed or injured during one of our training jumps. A high percentage of the recent fatalities fall well below the 200 jump minimum required by Phoenix-Fly and now by the new USPA BSR.”
    With this in mind, the old PFI or “Phoenix-fly Instructor” program has been dismantled and the replacement program being steadily brought online. “We made four Phoenix-Fly Coaches (PFC’S) this past June, with others lined up to obtain their rating in the fall months,” says Douglas Spotted Eagle (DSE) Director of US training. “With the new additions to the SIM that myself and a team of wingsuiters authored, the recent changes in the program Robi and Jarno wanted to make, and the USPA adding a Basic Safety Requirement related to wingsuiting demonstrated that now is the right time to change up the program.”
    Holders of the Phoenix-fly Instructor’s patch now hold a souvenir of the time they taught beginning wingsuiters. The Phoenix-Fly Instructional rating does not automatically translate to the newly founded Coach rating, and requires some re-training to merge into the new methodology of the PFC program, as well as a USPA Coach rating (USA-only).
    “The new program parallels the USPA Coaching program and in fact we now require, rather than recommend, that Phoenix-fly Coaches in the USA hold a current USPA Coach instructional rating,” says DSE (who also holds a USPA Coach Examiner rating). According to Cordia, “We’re looking at requiring something similar for our non-USA Coaches. We’re already in the process of training up a Coach/Examiner for South America and he’s a USPA AFFI, TI, and just finishing his Senior Rigging rating. These are the kinds of people we want teaching and evaluating potential coaches.”
    The newly developed program fundamentals came from the coaching techniques initially developed by Skydive University, discussions with other wingsuit coaches, and weaknesses observed over hundreds of student jumps.
    Kinesthetics, isometrics, visual imagery, and student repetition are all part of the revamped PF First Flight program. First Flight Courses take slightly more time and provide improved and up-to-date information regarding navigation, deployments, and emergency procedures. Scotty Burns of Z-flock points out, “We’ve been teaching wingsuiting based on methods developed in the early days of wingsuits but the suits of today are much bigger, faster, and potentially more dangerous than they were ten years ago. This new program arms students with the knowledge they’ll need as they undergo the wingsuit journey. I’m really excited about it. I’ve taught dozens of wingsuit students over the years and know what to expect in an average First Flight. Since I’ve started training with this new program, my students somehow have been flying better. This thing works!”
    “Having watched numerous wingsuit first flight courses, I can say with confidence that the PF coach program takes instruction to a completely new level, using various well thought-out techniques that deliver the best training I could think of,” commented recent PFC graduate Andreea Olea. “It's amazing how well it works with all kinds of students, from the most distracted to the most clumsy to the most cocky ones. Quality wingsuit training at its best - major kudos to Phoenix-Fly for setting such an excellent standard!”
    Phoenix-fly coach candidates that have obtained their USPA Coach rating should plan on attending a Phoenix-Fly Coach training session at Skydive Elsinore, Skydive Utah, Skydive City/Zephyr Hills, or at Raeford Parachuting School with Douglas Spotted Eagle, Scotty Burns, or Chuck Blue. There is one half day of classwork, some of which will recall training received during the USPA Coach rating process. The second half day is a jump day, in which students must receive two satisfactory scores in three possible jumps. The jumps are scored using criteria very similar to the USPA Coach evaluation form. Candidates are also required to pass a written test before receiving their Phoenix-Fly Coach patches.
    “Phoenix-fly Coaches must teach a minimum of six First Flight Courses per year and 15 coach jumps in order to remain current,” says DSE. Phoenix-fly Coaches receive special discounts on PF wingsuits, access to the PF training fleet for special events, and other unique discounts and opportunities via PFpartners.
    “Truly, we’ve changed up our program so it meets a standard consistent with the USPA methodology of training and coaching, and so that the new program is consistent with the new wingsuiting additions to the USPA SIM. We’re looking to insert additional Coach/Examiners so that there are more geographical points in the USA where potential Phoenix-fly Coach candidates can more readily receive training and pass the course,” says Cordia. “We believe we’ve built a new training program worthy of even the most challenging students.”
    “From the USPA perspective, we’re thrilled to see Phoenix-fly step up their training to prepare skydivers for bigger suits, low-tail aircraft, and overall safety. The fact that the program is consistent with existing USPA standards and training programs is a bonus for all, ‘ says Jay Stokes, President of the USPA.
    Former Phoenix-Fly instructors wanting to update their Phoenix-Fly rating, or anyone qualified to challenge the PFC course may contact one of the PF Coach Examiners to arrange for a training class.
    Phoenix-fly Coach Courses are currently available at:
    ~Skydive Elsinore (Douglas Spotted Eagle)
    ~Skydive Utah (Douglas Spotted Eagle)
    ~Raeford Parachuting Center (Chuck Blue)
    ~Skydive City/Z-Hills (Scotty Burns)
    -The Parachute Center, Lodi, CA (Ed Pawlowski)
    Contact Jarno Cordia for other countries/regions
    Dropzones are encouraged to check Phoenix-fly.com for information regarding the active status of Phoenix-Fly Coaches.

    By Deleted, in Gear,

    Gear Database Updates

    You have probably seen the previous article on the bonehead composites gear update. Well that was the first of what was almost a complete gear section update. It became evident that much of what is listed in the gear database wasn't entirely fresh and that there were some discontinued items which were still listed and some new gear out there which also hadn't found it's way into the database.
    Action has been taken in correcting this issue and making sure the gear section is as up to date as possible. I have both sent out e-mails to all involved manufacturers as well as manually gone through the list and updated what I could. The result is over 100 new gear items added to the database including a new category, "Cameras and Camera Equipment". Granted much of what is new on the site isn't new in production, but this now gives you a chance to review gear that was previously not listed.
    New gear items can be found under the following categories:







    Altimeters, Audibles and AADS


    - Alti-2 Inc

    - Free Fall Accessories

    - Larsen & Brusgaard

    - Parasport Italia



    Cameras and Video Cameras


    - GoPro

    - Sony

    - VholdR

    - Conceptus

    - Hypoxic

    - Ultimate Switch

    - Sky Tools

    - Skydance Headwear


    Harness and Container Systems


    - Altico

    - Basik Air Concept

    - Jump Shack

    - Para Avis

    - Para-Phernalia

    - Rigging Innovations Inc

    - Sunrise Manufacturing International

    - Thomas Sports Equipment


    Helmets, Head Gear and Goggles


    - 2K Composites

    - Bonehead Composites

    - Cookie Composites

    - Gath Head Gear

    - Headfirst Headwear

    - Parasport Italia

    - RAWA

    - Sky Systems

    - TonFly


    Jumpsuits and Clothing


    - Bird-Man Suits

    - Body Sport USA

    - Firefly Jumpsuits

    - GoCrazy

    - Kurupee

    - Matter Clothing

    - Phoenix-Fly

    - Sonic Flywear

    - Tonfly



    Main and Reserve Parachutes


    - Atair

    - Basik Air Concept

    - Flight Concepts

    - Icarus Canopies

    - ParaAvis

    - Parachute Systems

    - Performance Designs


    A complete list of the new gear items can be found - On the New Listing page.
    Though even with these updates I am sure there are still manufacturers which have slipped through and aren't listed in the database. And I will be trying my best to fill in these holes and hopefully create a comprehensive up to date gear section.
    Your assistance would be greatly appreciated too! Anyone who notices a manufacturer or gear item missing in the database can post information in the following thread - Gear Section - and I will add them. If you are also aware of products which have been discontinued, but aren't listed as such you can also alert me to this and I will go ahead and correct the issue.

    By admin, in Gear,

    Bonehead Composite Gear Update

    We're happy to announce that we've updated the Bonehead Composite gear page with plenty of new items. We've been somewhat out of date regarding some of the new helmets put out by Bonehead Composite, so there is lots to check out- some of which you may already be aware of or own. Though this gives you the chance to head over to some of the new items and rate them, should you already have experience with them.
    Here's some of the new items we have added:













    The ZEUS Helmet
    "Take a walk on the wildside... Zeus is a new way to look at video helmets. The ZEUS from BoneHead Composites Is designed to be a versatile camera helmet with its flat side and a space provided for a Cam EYE II. One of the first things you'll notice about the ZEUS is the Retro-Roman styling. ZEUS provides more frontal facial coverage and a brim to keep the sun out of your eyes without being aerodynamically obtrusive. The ZEUS comes standard with BH's ingenious Thermal-Fit liner, our new buckle chin-strap closure and the great finish quality that you have come to expect from BoneHead. This helmet does not require a chin-cup and there is not a cutaway system currently available"
















    The FLAT-TOP NARROW Camera Helmet
    "The other choice of professional camera fliers from around the world… The FLAT-TOP NARROW from Bonehead composites is the trimmed version of our almost famous FLAT-TOP PRO. The FLAT-TOP NARROW is a great all-around camera helmet for any discipline in skydiving. RW, freefly, tandem video or competition freestyle can be captured with your FLAT-TOP NARROW. This camera helmet is a rear-entry system to give the user better camera stability without sacrificing comfort. This NARROW version of the FLAT-TOP PRO has been made to allow the camera flyer less surface mounting availability and air drag but keeps the stability of the rear-entry configuration. The FLAT-TOP NARROW has plenty of space inside to run wiring, camera buttons, etc. to keep as much of the snagable surfaces to a minimum. You have the choice of where you would like a ring sight post placed. The FLAT-TOP NARROW comes standard with BH's ingenious Thermal-Fit liner, still camera adjustable platform, NEW cutaway system, and "Riser Slap" release button protector."
















    Hells Halo Camera Helmet
    "Hell's Halo is Boneheads latest and greatest camera helmet. There are 3 mounting surfaces for all your camera mounting needs. What makes this helmet stand out is an internal "halo" band that is adjustable using the ratchet clip on the back for last minute size adjustment. The helmet comes in two shell sizes along with our thermo-fit foam and an adjustable chin strap. If you still feel you need a chin cup, that accessory is also available. You can choose from our regular chin cup or our new concealed chin cup which hides the ladder straps!"




















    The MAMBA Helmet
    "Welcome to BoneHead's latest addition to Full-Face Flip-Up Helmets. The MAMBA from Bonehead Composites is a great choice for RW jumpers with its full face security and the ability to flip open the lens quickly and easily without sacrificing keeping closed in freefall. The new lens closing mechanism requires the jumper to squeeze the lens together to allow the closing pin to be released from it's locking position at the forehead area in order not to make a push-in button on the chin susceptible to knock and unwanted lens openings during the most intense skydives. The MAMBA features dual internal audible pockets on the inside of the helmet, great peripheral vision, a heavy neoprene neck liner to help with fogging lenses and noise, a FASTEX chin strap closure with padded strap, front Chin-Dam wind deflector to keep unwanted wind flow out of the inside of the helmet and a shape that allows full head movement and the ability to see and locate emergency handles. The MAMBA comes standard with BH's ingenious Thermal-Fit liner, chin-strap closure and also comes with the lens coated with anti-fog direct from the factory."
















    The ALL-SPORT Helmet
    "Refined Sleek Shape For All Types of Skydiving. The ALL-SPORT helmet from Bonehead Composites is now available from your favorite retailer! Customers all over the world wanted a helmet that was simple, sleek and of course had the quality and design that has made BoneHead Composites famous in the skydiving world.. and we delivered! The ALL-SPORT features a very simple shell design that is flatter on the left and the right so that camera mounts can be added easier. We took all the best attributes of the Guner and Mindwarp and combined them to make the ALL-SPORT. Internal audible pockets have been integrated into the helmet so that there is no need to build out the sides of the shell to accommodate audibles and still keep the interior comfortable. The ALL-SPORT comes standard with BH's ingenious Thermal-Fit liner, neoprene padded leather FASTEX chin-strap closure. "







    These are just 5 of the new 10 helmet and helmet items added today. Head over to the Bonehead Composite gear page to see the rest.

    By admin, in Gear,

    Voyages of a Skydiver

    Captain’s Log 2010, 0210, Manifest asks for proof of currency and jump numbers, along with the reserve data card from my rig…These are the voyages of Average Skydiver.
    Many of us grew up hearing a similar introduction to Star Trek episodes, as required by Starfleet Command. A captain’s log is nothing more than a logbook chronicling the journeys and adventures of a spaceship, boat, airplane, or other craft that carries persons or cargo.
    Logbooks are the basic standard of proving jump numbers in the world of skydiving. Jump numbers are a basic indicator of skydiving experience. A logbook may also be a means of keeping track of where you’ve been, what you’ve done, and who you did it with. Logbooks may be fun, or they can be boring.
    Skydivers are required to keep a logbook of sorts at the least until an A or other beginning license is achieved that indicates the “student” status has passed. Many dropzones require a written logbook if a visiting jumper wishes to jump. The logbook not only demonstrates the number of jumps, but should indicate skydiver currency as well.
    If the goal is to become an instructor of sorts, logbooks must be kept until 500 or even 1000 jumps, depending on where the skydiver lives. Riggers are required to keep logs of reserves packed, and it’s a good idea to keep a log for any major repairs done to any skydiving equipment for purposes of “present recall." The same can be said for keeping student logs, or at the least, logging information about students you've taught. Something may come up later in their jumping career. Remember your Coach course?
    Logbooks might be as simple as a logging audible that keeps track of jumps and as complex as handwritten journals that contain every last detail about each jump, and everything in between.
    A logbook is a journal of skydiving history. For some, bragging rights related to jump numbers may be enough. For others, recalling who was on a jump, the type of jump, the formations achieved, length of freefall, and much more become part of the bigger picture.
    Every AFF instructor learns how to fill out a logbook with encouraging information and reinforcement of a student jump while providing “code” so that any subsequent instructor has some information about the strengths and weaknesses of the student. Students will generally improve faster if provided specifics in their logbook, and the logbook will serve as a historical record of their first jumps.
    Logbooks also preserve records for those that come after someone has retired or deceased. A most special moment was at the memorial service for Gary Douris, where some of his logs were brought out for the attending public to view. Howls of laughter rang across the courtyard at S’nore as people read log entries saying that “So and so had been grounded” and “XXX couldn’t arch but he deployed OK, so he was ready for a longer delay."
    Samplings of logbooks can be seen here, courtesy of Eike Hohnendahl and myself.
    Some folks have expressed shock and awe at Eike’s logbooks, which are as meticulous as the man himself. Each jump is logged for place, date, exit point, landing point, participants in the jump, any exciting or interesting moments in the jump. Also included are copies of any payment for a jump, type of main used, and any special equipment used. In many cases, photos of the jump are also included. These logbooks take time, time that most are probably not willing to put into logging each jump. The skydiver making 15 jumps in a day likely isn’t able to log with such tremendous detail.





    Some skydivers may wish to only keep jumps logged in an electronic logger as mentioned above, and never enter data into any computer or logbook. This is perfectly fine too.
    CHEATING JUMPS
    A famous logbook entry, referred to as the “P-51” entry, is named for the kind of pen used to fill in the logbook with false/padded jumps.
    Although meant in fun, inflated jump numbers are no joke. Lying in a logbook is predominantly a game of lying to yourself, but may carry over into falsification of records, if the logbook is being used to affirm and prove jump numbers for the purposes of achieving ratings or participation in an event. Ultimately, falsified logbooks impress only yourself and no one else.
    INSTRUCTOR AND SPECIAL JUMPS
    My own method has been to keep a detailed record of every jump using the L&B; Jumptrack software, until I became an instructor. I keep a separate log of students and the type of instructional jump ie; Coach Jump, AFF jump, Wingsuit FFC, Wingsuit Coach, etc. The Instructional Logbook is kept in paper form, and in most instances I ask the student to sign the logbook, simply because I enjoy re-reading the logbooks at later points, and being able to show students “lookie here, remember when you did your AFF Cat D jump with me? That was a fun ride, yeah?”
    CHOOSING A LOGBOOK
    When choosing a logbook, consider how you’d like to log jumps. If you like to write, be sure the logbook has enough space and is comfortable to write in. Do you want to be able to put photos in the logbook? Be sure it’s large enough to hold those photos. If electronic logging is preferred, there are several applications available, including software as simple as Excel or other database software. Software tools like Paralog and Jumptrack interface directly with electronic loggers such as the Neptune, Altitrack, or ProTrack altimeters/audibles. Some logbooks allow for the import of GPS data for tracking jumps, wingsuit flights, or long distance canopy flight. The logging software may display a graph of exit point, speed, deployment, and offer fields to store indexed data such as total freefall time, type of skydive, aircraft used, etc.
    No matter how jumps are logged and chronicled, it’s a good idea to keep a logbook for at least the first 500 or 1000 jumps, if ratings are to be achieved. If nothing else, logbooks can provide great entertainment during the off-season or after a day’s jumping has occurred. They’re a great place to store phone numbers, email addresses, photos of special jumps, and to remember all those “beer” experiences.
    And when you're sitting around on a dark windy day with nothing to do but make up lies (No sh**, there I was) and drink beer with friends, a well-kept logbook will only add to the fun.

    By DSE, in Gear,

    USPA & PIA Team to Revise FAA Repack Rule

    Re-run with USPA permission.
    After years of effort by USPA and the Parachute Industry Association, the FAA has approved a new final rule that will lengthen the parachute repack cycle from 120 days to 180 days. The final rule appeared in the Federal Register last month, and will take effect on December 19, 2008. The effort had more twists and turns than a funneled 20-way, but the change happened when PIA and USPA joined together and finally convinced the FAA to grant a 180-day repack cycle.
    USPA initiated the first run at the change in 1998 when its board of directors approved a motion authorizing USPA to petition the FAA for the rule change. At the time, the FAA was preparing to revise Part 105. However, the FAA declined to include the lengthened repack cycle as part of its Part 105 revision in 2001, saying the initiative didn't have full industry support.
    In early 2005, Allen Silver, a well-known rigger and PIA’s Rigging Committee chair, initiated discussion with the FAA about accepting a petition for an exemption that would allow a 180-day repack cycle. Getting FAA agreement, PIA and USPA formed a task group to develop the petition language. This resulted in an effort in which all aviation groups, whose pilots used emergency parachutes, including the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, the Experimental Aircraft Association and the Soaring Society, among others, to join PIA and USPA in jointly petitioning the FAA for an exemption to the regulations addressing those parachutes. The exemption requested a 180-day repack cycle for the emergency parachutes worn by pilots, as well as the sport parachutes used by skydivers. The joint PIA-USPA petition was submitted in July 2005. Ironically, while the FAA saw good cause for a lengthened repack cycle, the agency said its own rules prevented it from granting an exemption to so many beneficiaries; exemptions were intended for small groups. The FAA denied the petition for exemption.
    However, acknowledging the support of so many pilots, riggers and skydivers, the FAA declared that it would publish its own Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to lengthen the repack cycle, which it did on May 22, 2007. At urging by USPA and PIA, nearly all of the hundreds of comments to the docket were in favor of the proposal. The end result is a final rule published this week granting the lengthened repack cycle.
    "This result shows what can happen when two organizations like USPA and PIA decide to work together on common goals," said USPA Executive Director Ed Scott. "We look forward to doing even more together for the benefit of skydivers." PIA President Cliff Schmucker said, "The 180-day repack rule change is a fine example of what PIA and USPA can accomplish working as one. Together we will endeavor to continue improving safety for parachute users.”
    For answers to frequently asked questions about the new Rule, please visit either the USPA or PIA (.pdf) online.

    By admin, in Gear,

    NeoXS from Parasport - Review

    Powerful, small, and flexible, the new NeoXS from Parasport is the newest product in audible altimeters available to skydivers. If you’re a freeflyer, wingsuiter, speedskydiver, or a relative work skydiver, you’ve probably already recognized the need and value of a trustworthy audible.
    Slightly smaller than other audible devices, it is also slightly thicker. The casing is a combination of heavy-duty cast aluminum and plastic. The NeoXS fits inside of any skydiving helmet set up for an internal audible, and with a little work can be made to fit on the outside of any helmet set up for external mounting. Although there is no cradle currently available for the NeoXS, it should be easy to mount on goggles if jumping without a fraphat or helmet.
    The Right Stuff-
    Heavy and tough, this is one tool you won’t have to worry about dropping on the floor. The test unit sent to me survived several drops from an 8’ height onto carpet, linoleum, and concrete without missing a beat. The aluminum case is available in multiple colors, making it easy to spot in a gear box or bag, or on the ground at the DZ. It also makes it easy to engrave your name and license number for quick identification and loss prevention.
    With three alarms for freefall and three alarms for swooping modes, the NeoXS may be set up for any skydiving discipline. Alarms may be set to various volume levels, and you’ll want to be exceptionally careful with the highest levels of volume. This small package is LOUD when set to the high-volume setting. On one jump, I used standard foam earplugs to see if I could hear the device at full volume, and the cutting pitch and squeals easily penetrated the foam ear plugs. This can be of significant benefit to hard-of-hearing skydivers or for those that like to wear earplugs in the aircraft, and would prefer to leave them in during freefall.



    The NeoXS is slightly smaller than most audibles, but not significantly so. It'll fit the audible pocket in any skydiving helmet. Skydivers that enjoy multiple disciplines will appreciate the various profile modes the NeoXS offers. Going from a tandem to an AFF to a wingsuit jump? No problem. This unit stores up to four profiles, allowing very rapid switching from one profile to another. Simply push the joystick three times to enter "edit" mode, move the joystick to the left to change the profile, and put the NeoXS back in the audible pocket. The audible always resets automatically but can be manually reset.
    Another benefit is the always-locked modes of the unit, making it impossible to accidentally change profiles when the unit is left in a gear bag.
    The unit may easily be reset for new MSL altitudes, simply by entering the configuration mode and using the joystick, reset the zero point of the device.
    What You'll Love (in a nutshell)
    3 freefall signals
    3 canopy warnings
    countdown timer
    real time altitude display while climbing to altitude
    simplified programming of warning altitudes
    4 user programmable profiles
    Can be set EXTREMELY LOUD (user selectable volume)
    May be programmed during climb to altitude
    It's heavy (durable aluminum). It won't crush in your gearbag
    The Not-So-Right Stuff-
    The owners manual could use some improvement. It’s not immediately clear how to program the profiles, or which profile is being used. Actually programming the unit makes the profile modes perfectly clear, however. The same may be said for swoop modes. Better diagramming might alleviate this small concern, or perhaps some on-line help. Once the programming dialog is accessed, the procedures for setting altitudes become readily self-evident.
    The only major concern with the unit is that the small joystick sits slightly higher than the recessed area in which the joystick is mounted. The recessed area makes it obvious that the manufacturer wanted to prevent the joystick from being accidentally knocked about, but the joystick does slightly protrude above the recess.

    The joystick is marginally elevated. Initially, this suggested a problem, but in working with the unit in real-world situations, it is not an issue due to the unit always being locked. Three button pushes are required just to unlock the unit, and then the joystick is used to enter programming modes.
    The unit also offers no backlight, making it difficult to set up for night jumps or in those wee hours of the morning. The LCD is clear and textually driven, however.
    What You Might Not Love
    Owners manual is weakly written
    Joystick button is slightly higher than body/recessed space
    No backlight for night-time programming
    It's heavy, weighs nearly double compared to other audibles (I personally like the heavier weight.)
    General Comments:
    Although the owners manual could use some improvement, the only real challenge encountered was figuring out how to unlock the unit. (This is achieved by repeatedly pressing the joystick until the lock icon first flashes and then turns off.) A quick glance at the owners manual was required to determine how to unlock the unit after a few minutes of trying to do it by instinct.
    Once I’d unlocked the unit, I put the manual down to see if I could self-start the programming procedure based. I could, and it was very instinctive once I’d reached the unlocked stage.
    The four main menu options are Profile, Swoop, Alarm, and Configure. Programming for Meters or Feet display is offered in the Profiles menu, with three altitudes available. Additionally, unique volumes may be programmed for swoop alarms vs freefall alarms.
    Alarm altitudes cannot be programmed lower than a subsequent altitude, thus preventing accidental programming errors.


    The NeoXS is easily opened with a normal screwdriver. No special tools or jewelers-sized screwdrivers are required. The unit does not need to be opened to change batteries (you can see the battery door in the housing), I simply like disassembling things to see what they're made of. The reason for the weight is obvious; this is not thin, easily crushed aluminum.
    *(Opening the NeoXS will void your warranty, do not try this at home, kids!)
    The alarms are varied, allowing for each alarm to play a distinct tone and pattern, thus eliminating confusion about what alarm is for what altitude.
    As a side note, I wouldn't mind seeing a manufacturer develop personally-created alarms such as one recorded by a user. Wouldn't it be cool to hear your own voice at the third warning saying "Hey buddy, it's time to pull?" All that would be involved is either a USB connection to a computer, or a microphone built into the audible. It would be difficult to output audio frequencies that cut through the noice properly, yet wouldn't a voice be more fun than a screech? But I digress...
    In evaluating the unit, the joystick could not be accidentally moved in “real-world” scenarios, but in putting it in the helmet and using fingers to move the unit around, I was able to “accidentally” hit and move the joystick but could not affect the programming modes, as the unit is virtually always locked. It is impossible to leave the unit unlocked, as it returns to a locked mode 30 seconds after programming input is ceased. Therefore, it’s impossible to accidentally change the modes by moving the unit around inside a helmet pocket or other location.
    The unit uses one CR2430 battery and offers a very long life. These batteries are easy to find at most any grocery or large retail store.
    All in all, I like this little audible. After having used it for a little over a month, I feel pretty good about the quality, durability, design, and how it functions. I’d first seen it when it was announced at Reno PIA 2007 when Paulo from Parasport overheard me complaining about a particular audible I had (A Cool n' Groovy Fridge Company audible) and its lack of adjustable features. When he set the NeoXS to screaming, it had everyone anywhere near covering their ears, it was so loud. The fact that it can be taken down to a nominal level is great for those that still have fully intact hearing. Levels may be checked on the ground, so it's not an exercise in aerial experimentation to determine which volume levels are best for you.
    At $170.00 USD, the price is right too, and makes it an accessible cost point for most any skydiver.
    Overall, this is a very tough, well designed and manufactured tool for skydivers and from my perspective, should be part of any consideration in purchasing an audible altimeter.
    ~douglas

    By admin, in Gear,

0