2013 Gift Ideas - What to Put Under the Tree

    With under two weeks until Christmas of 2013, I hope you've already done your Christmas shopping. But in case you haven't, we've put together a list of potential gifts, ranging from high end gear (perhaps for those looking to leave themselves, or their loved one something skydiving related under the tree), to smaller stocking stuffers that could be a good gift for friends and fellow jumpers.

    Cookie Fuel Helmet
    This open face helmet can be ordered as the helmet only for use as a basic, comfortable open-face helmet. Or it can be transformed into a full-on camera helmet with a top-mount, side-mount, cutaway chinstrap and outside access audible mount.
    Just as Cookie Composites revolutionized the full-face camera helmet with the G3, the Fuel looks to do the same for the open-face and POV camera helmet markets.
    The Cookie Fuel shell is made of a High Impact ABS / Polycarbonate Blend. It comes standard with pressed foam chin strap (non-cutaway) and blank side and top plates.
    The blank side plates will hold any audible altimeter, but the audible won’t be visible from the outside of the helmet unless the optional audible mount side plate is ordered.
    For more information and pricing visit:
    From Skydive Store
    From Chuting Star

    GoPro Hero 3 Black
    Capture and share your life’s most meaningful experiences with the HERO3+ Black Edition. 20% smaller and lighter than its best-­selling predecessor, it delivers improved image quality and powerful new features geared for versatility and convenience. SuperView™ is a new video mode that captures the world’s most immersive wide angle perspective, while Auto Low Light mode intelligently adjusts frame rate for stunning low­‐light performance. Combined with 30% longer battery life, faster built-­in Wi-­Fi and a sharper lens, the HERO3+ Black Edition is the most advanced GoPro yet.
    For more information and pricing visit:
    From Skydive Store
    From Chuting Star

    GoPro LCD Touch Bacpac
    Relive Reality Instantly with the GoPro LCD Touch BacPac.
    The LCD Touch BacPac is a removable LCD touch screen for GoPro cameras*. As a removable accessory, the LCD BacPac keeps your camera as small and light as possible, yet provides the convenience of an LCD screen when attached.
    Seamlessly attaches to the back of GoPro cameras
    LCD touch screen allows for easy visual control of camera (frame your perfect shot) and settings
    Preview + playback photos and videos including instant slow motion playback
    Integrated speaker with volume control
    3.5 mm headphone jack For more information and pricing visit:
    From Skydive Store
    From Chuting Star
    Gear Bags
    Looking to stash all your gear into a single bag, making carrying a breeze. These gear bags have plenty of room, for your rig, jumpsuit, camera and your accessories.
    For more information and pricing visit:
    From Skydive Store
    From Chuting Star

    Pro Track
    The ProTrack audible altimeter/electronic logbook is the standard for audible altimeters.
    The ProTrack continuously stores detailed information about the last 200 jumps and accumulates the total number of jumps and freefall time up to 10,000 jumps. The ProTrack has 3 selectable freefall warning altitudes.
    The Most Popular Skydiving Computer Loaded with advanced features, PROTRACK™ gives skydivers a full plate of information about their skydives INSTANTLY on the large LCD viewscreen.
    Whether you fly on your head, turn points like a banshee, dock first on a big-way, surf the clouds or are just learning to skydive, PROTRACK™ is the perfect audible altimeter solution for you. L&B; has also added special data collection parameters and preset dive types for both WINGSUIT FLIGHT and B.A.S.E. JUMPING making the PROTRACK™ even more versatile for every type of jump and every kind of jumper.
    PROTRACK™ can be easily set for 1, 2 or 3 loud and distinct freefall warning altitudes and will provide you with the ability to log up to 9,999 jumps! See your exit altitude, freefall time, average freefall speeds, maximum speed reached and deployment altitude of your skydive as soon as you land.
    No other audible altimeter available gives you the versatility, accuracy and reliability like PROTRACK™! PROTRACK™ is the most advanced, user friendly, and accessible audible altimeter electronic logbook/freefall computer available to skydivers.
    PROTRACK™is everything you would ever want in an audible altimeter. New technology advances in speed calculation have been developed by L&B; so that skydivers can now record and compare their freefall speeds accurately.
    For more information and pricing visit:
    From Skydive Store
    From Chuting Star
    Stocking Stuffers

    Flexvision Goggles
    Flexvision Goggles: the goggles with a friction lock adjustment and without an outer rim to fall off!
    Flexvision are made from a soft, flexible, long-lasting plastic that is scratch resistant. Each pair is individually sanded on the inside for a smooth finish, and offer a wide field of vision.
    A thick bungee strap pulled through a small hole in the plastic allows the user to adjust the tension without need to make a knot, just pull to the desired tension and release. The friction Lock is a unique feature, especially for students and tandems where there is a need to change settings often.
    The Flexvision Goggles come flat, but then conform and mold to your face as you put them on and tighten up the bungee.
    Keep an extra set in your jumpsuit! These are one of the longest-lasting goggles manufactured specifically for skydiving and give you an unobstructed field of vision.
    For more information and pricing visit:
    From Skydive Store
    From Chuting Star

    Neumann Winter Skydiving Gloves
    These gloves are the standard for winter hand protection for skydivers from the company that knows gloves: Neumann.
    These gloves have a thermal-lined back for extra warmth in the winter.
    Neumann Tackified Skydiving Gloves are:
    Designed To Fit Like A Second Layer Of Skin
    Meets NFL/NCAA Specifications
    Ensure Finger And Hand Sensitivity
    Tackified Leather Palms
    Machine Wash and Air Dry For more information and pricing visit:
    From Skydive Store
    From Chuting Star

    Skydiving Santa Christmas Cards
    What better Christmas card to send to friends from the dropzone than a skydiving Santa Christmas card.
    From Chuting Star

    Sugar Alpha
    "Skydiving and drug smuggling pioneer Roger Nelson lives life out of the box. Fueled by a love for adrenaline and adventure, Roger goes after everything he wants with gusto. But now Roger is ready to retire from smuggling. With a parachute center to run and a family to raise, Roger knows it is time to stop the cat-and-mouse games he has been playing with the authorities for years.
    He and his longtime partner, Hanoi, plan one final run to Belize, where they intend to fill their Douglas DC-3 with enough cannabis to set them up for life. But then Hanoi dies in a plane crash in an attempt to make some "legitimate bucks" flying fish in Alaska while they wait for the growing season to end.
    Left without a partner or plane, Roger remains determined to return to his family for good. To do so, he decides to stay true to himself and follow through with his retirement run. Roger must rely on a colorful cast of characters and the most unlikely airplane for a gig ever-Sugar Alpha, the legendary DC-3 with the secret fuel tanks and not-so-secret paint job-to help him complete the most daring run in the history of smuggling."
    The book has received excellent reviews and would make a great gift to anyone who enjoys a good book.

    Log Book Cover
    An inexpensive and useful gift for your friends who jump.

    For more information and pricing visit:
    From Skydive Store
    From Chuting Star
    Beer Mug
    For more information and pricing visit:
    From Skydive Store
    The Skydiving Handbook
    Parachuting, The Skydiver's Handbook by Dan Poynter and Mike Turoff is the one and only how-to, where-to, basic-to-advanced skydiving manual.
    This up-to-date book covers all training methods in great detail: static line, accelerated freefall, Instructor assisted deployment and Tandem. It traces the history of the parachute up to modern skydiving, year by year. The chapter on emergency situations is absolutely fascinating. Full of statistics, it reveals the best solution to every possible emergency situation.
    The book goes on to coach you in your freefall progression, from the basics through advanced relative work and free style, and in flying your canopy, from the basics to advanced canopy relative work.
    The equipment chapter is lengthy because this is where Dan Poynter has always been strongest. He tells you all about your gear, what to look for, what repairs you can make and when to take it to a rigger. Another chapter covers special jumps: at night, into the water, BASE, para-ski, high altitude, Smoke jumping, with cameras and much more. The Appendix directs you to the action by listing clubs, drop zones, equipment companies, books, magazines and videos.
    Never before has so much skydiving information been available in one place-and it can be yours.
    The Skydiver's Handbook. Completely revised, ninth edition, softcover, 5.5 x 8.5, 408 pages, 260 illustrations, four-color cover. Over 82,000 in print.
    For more information and pricing visit:
    From Skydive Store
    From Chuting Star

    By admin, in Gear,

    Squirrel Suits Release 'The Swift' Beginner Wingsuit

    Earlier this year we brought you the article Inside Squirrel Wingsuits, where we talked with Squirrel founder Matt Gerdes about the then new wingsuit manufacturing company. We discussed what set Squirrel apart from other wingsuits and where the company was aiming to go to from there. You can now find Squirrel wingsuits on a number of extremely skilled and well known flyers, and Squirrel is seemingly establishing itself as a trustworthy and reliable wingsuit company.
    The latest addition to the Squirrel inventory is the Swift. The Swift is a suit that is marketed as a beginner suit for both BASE jumpers and skydivers. While it is said to be easy to fly, it is stressed that the Swift is by no means limited to beginner flying and still a competent suit for intermediate and even experienced wingsuit pilots. When developing the Swift, Squirrel wanted to bring to the table a wingsuit that would be forgiving to fly, while at the same time providing the performance needed in a BASE environment and when flocking. There is also a focus on agility and the suit is said to be great for acro, backflying and other quick maneuverability.

    The Design
    The Swift's inlets are catered to efficiency, with the surface area being larger than on some other beginner wingsuits. Both arm and leg wing pressure is able to be adjusted using the internal zips, doing so will ensure that you are able to manage your ride to be softer, if you are a newer pilot.
    Leading Edge
    Leading edge construction is a pivotal and complicated matter in wingsuit design. While rigid structures on the arm would allow for enhanced performance, it would pose a safety risk, but at the same time an overly flexible design would cause a loss of performance. One of the key elements to developing a good wingsuit is to find the perfect balance between a rigid, high performance design and the safety that comes with the more flexible design. Squirrel suits say that they've found the right ingredients to allow the high performance, along with safety; thanks to their three-layer leading edge design. While the exterior layer is finished in Glideskin, a flexible, durable and smooth material, the middle layer is made from a static, non-flexible air-mesh material which is sized wider than the Glideskin. This stronger, more fixed middle layer ensures that the profile does not become deformed. Finally on the interior is a Lycra finish which provides a smooth surface. Only the first few centimeters of the wrist will allow for full flex, as to allow for easy BOC and brake toggle access.
    Squirrel have gone with a stance and sweep that is extremely similar to their more advanced wingsuits. This will allow those who begin flying on the Swift to easy adapt and progress to some of the more advanced Squirrel suits. Should you begin jumping with a Swift and then later move on to the Colugo, you'll find the transition easier due to a familiarity. Likewise if you had to move from the Colugo to the Aura.
    The Swift has taken its profile from the advanced Squirrel suit, the Aura; with adaptions made to the Swift's lower surface area and shorter chord. Squirrel say that the thickness of the Swift is similar to that of the Colugo, and was chosen because of the focus on stable trim flight.
    There is a focus that all performance enhancing features in a wingsuit should be standard. The aim from the company is to bring you excellent performance and features included in the price of the suit. All Squirrel suits include: Foam padded foot cavities, internal pressure-zips, nut-sack storage compartment, chest pocket / belly-cam access, mylar reinforced leading edge and rubber BASE soles.
    "Keep it Simple and Safe" has been the mantra for Squirrel and with easy BOC and brake toggle access being a focus in reliable deployments, the suit has been designed to allow for just that. Cutaways are totally unnecessary, says Squirrel, pointing out the extremely easy BOC access and ease of access for the brake toggles, in any situation. The Swift has been designed to bring the flyer the excellent performance while never compromising on safety.

    Force Feed - A 3D reinforced inlet with maximum intake to drag ratio. Developed as a primary safety feature.
    Innie-Outie (BASE Mode / Skydive Mode) - This feature allows you to easily change between BASE or skydiving mode. In BASE mode the harness will be located on the inside of the chest compartment, for reduced drag and optimum glide; this is enhanced by the zips being completely closed. In skydiving mode the handles are completely exposed at the chest, allowing for easy access and an increase in safety.
    RAD (Rapid Arm Deployment) - A simple arced cut at the wrist allows for increased ease in the reaching of the pilot chute and toggles. A small, yet highly effective feature.
    Get Stiffie - A Mylar-reinforced bottom surface on the leading edge ensures that the profile structure is maintained, as well as providing efficient feeding to the inlets.
    Get Stretchy - In BASE mode, the flexibility of the panels near the shoulder relieve stress on the suit during openings. Bar-tacks in areas also help prevent seam failure.
    Light Ribs - Porcher Sport Skytex ensures that the suit is light and durable, while at the same time being more stable than mesh. This helps in reducing weight and pack volume.
    Glideskin - This flexible and durable material is used on all Squirrel suits and is used on the leading edge, where it is able to provide a stable profile while at the same time allowing for flexibility at the wrist area.
    Airtight Construction - All Squirrel suits are tested thoroughly for airtight symmetry in order to ensure the highest build quality possible.
    Super Sexy Zippers - While safety and performance are at the top of the list, the Swift is also a good looking suit. The suit uses custom ordered YKK #10 Coil zips. You will have the ability to choose between five colors of zips when ordering your suit.

    By admin, in Gear,

    MarS A.S Product Service Bulletin

    A product service bulletin has been released for the MarS A.S m2 AAD. This after several reports of the device displaying the errors "Error No. 0" and "Error No. 1". These errors were not eliminated by turning the device off and then on again. The error has been traced to an issue with the device sensor.
    There is a mandatory compliance request for owners with affected devices to send said devices in for an inspection and subsequent replacement or repair. Costs involved in the procedure will be covered by the manufacturer.
    More information on this service bulletin and the affected serial numbers can be found at MarS A.S M2 AAD Service Bulletin pdf.

    By admin, in Gear,

    Birdman Announces Katana Wingsuit Release

    Just days after we brought you an article on the Ninja wingsuit by Birdman, they have come out with a press release for the anticipated Katana wingsuit. We mentioned the Katana in last weeks article, touching on whether or not the Katana was in fact a renaming of what was originally advertised as the Samurai, while in development. The Katana is Birdman's third wingsuit in their 2013 line, following the Blade III and Ninja. The Katana wingsuit has been developed by Jari Kuosma and Shin Ito and focuses on speed and distance, where as the Blade III was a flocking suit and the Ninja was an acrobatics suit.
    The Katana wingsuit sports large wings and quatro-wing design with a drag reduction system which enhances the flow of air on the top of the wing, allowing for quicker speeds and longer distance in flight. The design still allows for quick and flat turns without having to maximize the surface area. Birdman wanted to develop a wingsuit that while being large, was extremely quick and at the same time capable of easy maneuverability.

    Technical Specifications:
    Aerodynamically shaped, transparent reinforced sail material with BIRDMAN DRS.
    Emergency cut-away for arms.
    10 mm YKK zippers.
    Reinforced 3D air-intakes with air-locks.
    Hook knife pocket outside.
    Two inner pockets.
    Reinforced 2 mm thick leather bootie.
    High collar.
    210D double coated extra sturdy nylon.
    Semi- rigid long- and short ribs made from BoPET material.
    Fully breathable inner lining for comfort.
    Thick protective knee & bootie area.
    Leading edge: Aerodynamically shaped, transparent reinforced sail material.
    Thick, moisture absorbing back pad made from Spandex.
    Large size erected air-inlets with airlocks.
    Back deflector and leg wing DRS.
    Semi-rigid and shaped leading edge.
    10 mm wide YKK zipper. Sales for the Birdman Katana start in November 2013.
    Birdman is a company with a long history in skydiving and was one of the first companies to produce wingsuits to skydivers, over a decade ago. The company is has undergone some changes after taking a hiatus and now pushing their new line of products in 2013.

    By admin, in Gear,

    Birdman Ninja Wingsuit Revealed

    Seven months ago, Birdman re-entered the world of gear manufacturing with a new website, new products and what was almost a completely new team. Birdman took a hiatus in 2010, when the company went through a change in ownership structure. Earlier this year their website was back up, boasting a new look and advertising some new products, which included the branching out into watches designed specifically for BASE jumpers and skydivers. They immediately released the names of three new wingsuits that would be in development: The blade III, the Ninja and the Samurai. For more details on the resurrection of Birdman, check out The Return of Birman which was published in March. When the site went live they had only given information on the Blade III, while both the Samurai and the Ninja were said to be 'coming soon'.
    The Ninja has now been made available for purchase, along with information about the suit. The Ninja is selling at Birdman's online store for 149, 800 Yen, or $1527 US (at time of publishing). This is about $200 less than the Blade III. The suit seems to be aimed towards the intermediate to advanced flyer and is sold as a suit of high agility.
    Birdman's online store provides the following details for the Ninja:
    "NINJA is a brand new wingsuit concept from BIRDMAN®. It’s been designed to be the master of aerobatics, which means it has sharp and accurate turns, agility, easy recovery from all flying positions and ability to accelerate faster than any other suit in it’s class. Just like a true NINJA. This power is created from it’s drag decreasing quatro-wing design while the agility comes from it's aggressive profile and superior air-inlet / air lock design.. All this sums up to the best performing & funaerobatics wingsuit you have ever flown.. and, it’s BIRDMAN®
    *Recommend to try after completing FFC.
    The NINJA comes all included; Quattro-wing drag reduction, 9 large air-inlets with air-locks, semi-rigid ribs, mini-ribs, two large pockets, inner lining, high collar, easy access leg zippers, extra soft kneepads, extra sturdy booties & 10 mm YKK zipper and over the shoulder zip for easy dressing. It will be offered in 4 color scenes.
    Leading edge: Aerodynamically shaped, transparent reinforced sail material
    Emergency cut-away arms
    10 mm YKK zippers
    Five (5) reinforced air-intakes with air-locks
    Hook knife pocket outside
    Two inner pockets
    Reinforced 2 mm thick leather bootie
    High collar with NINJA and BM logo
    210D double coated extra sturdy nylon
    Semi-rigid long ribs made from BoPET
    Semi-rigid short ribs made from BoPET
    Full, fully breathable inner lining inside
    Thick protective & reinforced knee & bootie area
    Mini-ribs BACK
    Thick moisture absorbing spandex backpad
    Large air-inlets with airlocks
    Back deflector with air-pass
    Reinforced and soft shoulder blade
    Semi-rigid shaped leading edge
    Extra long 10 mm YKK zipper with QR pull tab
    Snaps for booties and leg wing" Also of interest on Birdman's websites is that there is another product on the webstore called the Katana which is said to be coming soon, though there is no mention of the Samurai. It's unclear at this point as to whether the Samurai and the Katana are two separate wingsuits we can be expecting the company to release, or whether there was perhaps a renaming at some point that hasn't yet synced up completely.
    Have you tried any of the new Birdman products? Comment below and let us know what you thought.

    By admin, in Gear,

    Introducing the Garmin VIRB Action Camera

    Get ready for the Garmin VIRB, the latest new action camera to be revealed. While Garmin are well known for their GPS navigation devices, the company also boasts a variety of other technology devices, many of which revolve around maritime activity. In recent years Garmin has released several marine radio communication devices, as well as dabbling in the production of camera technology. However, Garmin has decided to take a step in a new direction - joining companies such as GoPro, Sony, Contour and JVC in the production of POV action cameras. It's a brave step by Garmin, but if they manage to effectively integrate the device with their other products, there may well be room for them in the GoPro dominated market.
    Garmin VIRB Design
    Upon first sight the device is quite good looking with an appealing display screen on the top of the camera, and a large power button on the side of the device. For those who helmet mount their action cams, this small change from what other cameras typically offer can really make things easier, allowing you to feel whether or not the device has been turned on or off. The build of the device looks almost like a hybrid between the Contour and the Drift HD action cams. The main concern when looking at the VIRB design, is the convex lens, which seems to extend a fair degree out from the camera. While the Sony AS15 has a similar design, there is no getting around the fact that the exposure of the lens would in turn pose a risk of damage, especially in sports where you'd expect the camera to take a knock. Garmin do show an image of the VIRB with lens covering housing attached, but it remains unclear whether this extra housing is the underwater housing, which is an extra option. The device will be made available in either black or white.
    Technical Details
    The VIRB is as expected, a high definition recording device that will allow video recording in 1080p quality, with a 16 megapixel CMOS processor and allow for up to three hours of filming from a full charge. Data is recorded onto a MicroSD card, with a recommendation of Class 10 - as to be expected with HD recording. The device will also sport a 2000mAh rechargeable Lithium-ion battery. Out of the box the VIRB is waterproof for 30 minutes to a depth of 1 meter, while the purchase of a scuba diving housing device will extend that depth to 50 meters. The display screen is 1.4" large and while remaining on, uses very little battery life. The "WideVü" lens is comprised of 9-element glass and offers the user three modes of recording: Wide, Medium and Narrow. Built in lens distortion correction and stabilization enhances video quality.
    True 1080p HD Recording
    16 Megapixel CMOS Processor
    1.4" Chroma Display
    2000mAh Lithium-ion Battery
    ANT+ Wireless Connectivity
    VIRB Desktop Software
    Wi-fi Connectivity (Elite)
    Device Pairing
    It is clear that from the start Garmin would have to provide a form of functionality that separates them from other action camera manufacturers on the market, and this is where device paring comes into play. Using ANT+, the VIRB will be able to connect with other Garmin devices such as watches, remotes and cycling computers. While Garmin hasn't revealed exactly what one can achieve with the pairing of their devices with the VIRB, it certainly opens up a new avenue that most of the other action cameras lack.
    Options and Pricing
    There will be two VIRB options available, the basic VIRB device which will retail for $299.99 and then the VIRB Elite which will set you back $399.99. The differences between the two devices lie mainly in the functionality available. The VIRB Elite will offer wifi connectivity, allowing you to connect the device to your iPhone or Android smartphone. In my opinion the main selling point for the Elite is the ability to track your elevation, speed and other variables. This data will then be able to be overlayed on your video. While certainly limited to a small group of people, when in "Ski Mode" the device will also be able to detect whether or not one is on a chairlift and in turn pause recording for that period.
    With the VIRB scheduled for a September release, there isn't enough video footage to really make a claim as to the camera's quality. Though it's expected that the camera will rank up along with the other action cams out there, and it's certainly worth keeping an eye on. In the mean time, for a preview of the device's recording quality, you can view the official advertising video for the Garmin VIRB below.

    By admin, in Gear,

    GoPro Hero 3 - Firmware Update and Stability Issues

    After a hyped release and what looked on paper to be an outstanding action camera, the GoPro Hero 3 has come under all kinds of scrutiny since its release late last year. While there appears to be a large number of users who are happy with their purchase, there is also a fair sized pool of users who are not happy with their product.
    A page on the Gethypoxic website dedicated to listing each of the GoPro Hero 3's issues, as well as potential workarounds has seen comments from a vast amount of users who feel as though their purchase of the Hero 3 was a mistake, many of whom recommend that those with GoPro Hero 2s avoid the upgrade to the Hero 3, citing that the GoPro Hero 2 offers a more stable and in turn, better user experience. One user who claims to have more than 20 years of software experience, suggests that the Hero 3 was rushed out too quickly in order to meet seasonal demands. He goes on to cite the need for an 'out of the box' update requirement.
    The Issues
    One of the more noted problems with the GoPro Hero 3, is the lack of continuous exposure adjustment when using the 'Photo Every Second' mode, which takes a still photo every second. The Hero 3 Black will set the exposure when it is turned on and fail to then adjust to allow for still images to be properly exposed, should one move from a dark to a light environment. Instead the exposure is locked to the automatic exposure setting based on the lighting when the camera is first turned on. Of course this means that skydivers, who will be exiting into much lighter conditions, will almost always end up with washed out images. This renders the 'Photo Every Second' mode virtually useless to skydivers. One would have to start the camera once one had already exited, a less than desirable action to have to do.
    The GoPro Hero 3 has also been known to turn off at unexpected times, often during connection to a television display or when using the USB cable to download. The cause for these shutdowns are not known, but there is the assumption that it may be related to an overheating problem.
    There have been many accounts of cameras freezing or locking up during filming.
    Several other small and more isolated issues also exist with the GoPro Hero 3 range.
    A number of other issues were present at the time of the camera's release, though updates released by GoPro since then have managed to fix many of them. Is it all a bit late though?
    With the current action camera market seemingly exploding, steps such as releasing a camera before sufficient testing can prove dangerous. One thing that has to go to GoPro is that they are generally quite quick to release updates to fix certain issues. We are however surprised that the exposure issue, which proves to render an entire feature useless for a certain market - has not yet been fixed.
    Good News
    The good news for GoPro fans or those with the Hero 3 that are still encountering the exposure lock issue, is that GoPro have responded to the bug, which as it turns out - isn't a bug at all.
    A forum user posted the following response from GoPro regarding this issue:
    "Sorry about the problems with exposure locking in the two shortest time lapse intervals. Would you believe that was intended as a feature and it's not a bug? My understanding is that some folks in the skydiving community asked for it, but since then we've heard lots of complaints from other skydivers, so we've asked the engineering folks to make it an option you can turn on or off.
    For now be aware that in the two shortest time lapse modes, 0.5 and 1.0 seconds, the exposure will latch on to the values encountered at the first frame. For time lapse intervals of 2.0 seconds and longer each frame will be imaged using auto exposure.

    Remember that if auto-exposure results in flickering you can improve and smooth out the assembled video by invoking the De-flicker filter from the Advanced Settings menu of our free Cineform Studio software.
    Keep an eye on the forums and check in to the firmware update page every few weeks for when the update hits.

    Thank you so much for your feedback."
    GOPRO HERO 3 Black Firmware revision 02.37
    While the above quote seemed to suggest that there would be a fix for the exposure lock in the latest firmware upgrade, it seems that the new GoPro Hero 3 Black upgrade did not contain a fix to the problem. Rumours are now that the adjustment of the exposure lock issue will happen with the next update. The fact that GoPro are aware of this issue and seemingly aiming to solve it, it is a fair assumption that it won't be long before they release a new upgrade that will take care of this. As for now though, there's a lot of frustrated skydivers who were hoping that this new update would solve some of their problems.
    While GoPro do not have the changelog available on their site yet for the new firmware update, the following changelog has been published elsewhere.
    HERO3: Black Edition
    Current firmware version: HD3.03.02.37

    Wi-Fi version:

    Release date: 04/03/2012
    Feature Enhancements:

    FW version # is now visible on upon startup.

    Narrow FOV 1080p30/1080p60 (Protune)

    Narrow FOV 720p60 (Protune)

    Medium FOV 720p60 (Protune)

    Default start-up mode is now 960p48
    At this point it seems to be a wait and see scenario with regards to the fixing of many of the Hero 3's bugs, but we have no doubts that GoPro are working hard to solve these issues and that sooner rather than later, we'll see these issues being addressed in coming updates.
    Do you own a GoPro Hero 3? Comment below and share your experience with using this camera.

    By admin, in Gear,

    Replay XD: Is it the New Generation of Skydiving Camera

    In the earliest days of skydiving, photographers were excited about the advent of the “lipstick camera” for its small form factor and ease of use. The camera(s) could be mounted on a wing, helmet, or other foundation, cabled to a recorder, and used for new angles in aerial production. They were also horribly expensive.
    In modern times, we’ve seen the camera shrink in size, and dramatically improve in image quality. In many cases, this size-shrink inspires kludgy form factors, and this is where the Replay XD camera shines.

    With a nod to the stylings of the unobtrusive lipstick camera, the Replay XD is very slim in size (same diameter as a quarter), and easy to use. All electronics are packed into this small cylinder, where several features are found that no other camera offers.

    Replay XD shoots in one of three user-determined resolutions; 1080, 960, or 720. Framerates of p30 or p60 are user-selectable.
    The camera is powered up via a button mounted at the front. Users know it’s recording by the red indicator light and the haptic (vibration) feedback that occurs when the camera is put into record mode. The camera may be set up as a one-button record, or other modes may be defined by the user.
    MicroSD cards are used for storage, and the camera supports up to a 32GB card, allowing for ridiculously long record times (up to 10 hours, and Replay offers a battery pack to support long recording times).
    These small cylinder cameras may be mounted at any angle, any pitch, on any surface with great ease. The Replay XD is much smaller in overall profile than any of the other cameras, which is why it’s long been a choice in the motorsports and aircraft industry.
    Mounting the Replay XD is no different than mounting any of the other popular POV cameras; peel n’ stick the 3M tape, and put it where you want it to go. The camera can be rotated in its mount until it has been clicked in place. Once clicked, it’s locked and cannot be rotated.
    The Replay XD uses a 135 degree FOV (Field Of View) so it’s a bit more narrow than some of the other popular brands. However, this also provides for a more natural view, something many sports enthusiasts prefer, as the narrower FOV does not have a distorted image.
    I like that Replay XD offers lens replacement kits for 5.00; this means I’m not spending a lot of cash for scratched lenses, and lenses can be replaced in the field. Replay takes lenses fairly seriously; they’re the only POV manufacturer that offers lens adapters so that external lenses or more importantly, filters, might be added to the camera setup. This is a tremendous advantage for pro’s wanting the best image possible.
    With a mini HDMI connector on the back of the camera, it is the only live output to be found on any POV camera offering. This means that not only can the camera be connected to a broadcast device for live streaming (without the degradation of using low bitrate video via wi-fi), but that the camera may be connected to the battery-operated ReView monitor for checking camera placement, angle, level, exposure on a production-grade monitor. Lastly, the live HDMI output also allows users to plug straight into any television monitor while setting the camera on a helmet and checking the aimpoint.
    Another pro feature, is the ability to access the core functions of the camera and modify camera settings for specific purposes.
    Opening the .txt file at the root of the camera, allows users to modify bitrate (very important), white balance, exposure/compensation, saturation, contrast, audio gain, and more. The menu selections also allow the camera to be set to a one-button record, or one-button power up, second button-record mode. The file settings may be saved off, making it ridiculously easy for a camera monkey to set up multiple cameras.
    Replay XD is also the only POV camera that offers timecode in the stream, providing significant benefit for multicam operations or legal use.
    The camera is capable of shooting interval stills, at full resolution from a 5Mp sensor.
    Files may be custom-named in the .text file, or simply auto-named by the camera. The camera records mp4/AVC files and wraps them in a .mov package, readable by any NLE software or media player on any platform.
    A micro usb connector is used to charge the camera, and to transfer data from the camera to a storage device. Memory cards may also be removed for external read/transfer.
    The Replay XD isn’t waterproof, but I was able to dunk it to around 10’ of ocean, and in any sink or tub. It’s not designed for underwater use (they have a housing good to 100meters), but the camera is quite capable of going through rain, incidental water, and other “wet” situations with ease. The all-billet aluminum camera is ridiculously tough, as seen in this YouTube video where I drove a Dodge Challenger back and forth over a running camera, and even popped the clutch, spinning the camera out from under the car.
    Image quality is what I’d expect out of a POV camera. It’s subjective to say it’s better or worse than other POV competitors. The image sits quite nicely alongside media from high end cameras, and in fact, this camera is used for many broadcast television shows, including live feeds from NHRA and other race competitions. It’s been used in major-motion picture production, and sits nicely in the mix with other high-end POV cameras. The things that set the Replay XD aside are its form factor, the durability, and the features usually found only on broadcast equipment.
    The factory package comes ready to roll; battery is partially charged, memory card included, 2 mount systems, pads, charger, 12V charger, carry bag, USB cable, storage bag for camera, Cordura system storage bag./

    Things I really like about this camera:
    External audio/pro audio capability
    Live external monitor (to any monitor, but the ReView is very cool)
    Lens/filter adapters
    One button operation
    Super low profile/inobtrusive in a wide shot.
    Aluminum billet mounts
    Body durability/toughness
    Image quality with user-defined tweaks
    Timecode for multicam use
    Field-changeable lens covers
    The awesomely wide variety of mounts ranging from lightweight plastic for general use, to billet aluminum for more permanent or high-risk mount locations. What I don’t like:
    USB port. This is a Micro USB port, and the cables are nearly impossible to find in a crunch. If you’ve got the cable with you, great! But if you don’t, and your battery dies, you’ll wish you had a RePower charge kit with you.
    Rubber buttons. At first glance, these are great. But, it is possible to skin them off if they’re struck with great force at the inappropriate angle.
    Rubber water seal O-rings. These keep the camera watertight, but they also can fall off if the back is frequently removed.
    In a tight spot, it’s difficult to get to the release tabs on the low-boy mount. I did find that using a flat screwdriver or popsicle stick got me in there, yet one would think there is an easier way. The camera kit sells for 299.00 with all accessories, and is available from most skydiving supply stores.

    By admin, in Gear,

    The Return of BIRDMAN

    The Birdman is flying again! This past week, BIRDMAN® International ltd jumped back to life with the addition of some new content, along with a new website design. The company, which halted sales on gear in 2010 due to a change in ownership structure - now has blood pumping through its veins again. The press release that was posted to the website highlights a number of details regarding the company; it's structure, ambitions and new direction are all addressed. This news has caught the attention of wingsuiters everywhere, many eagerly anticipating the new products that are set to emerge from the restructured Birdman company.
    Birdman's Return
    The question on many lips surrounds what exactly went on during the past 30 months with regards to Birdman as a company. What structual changes were made, and where Birdman are headed from here. These are all questions that have addressed in the BIRDMAN® International ltd press release that they have posted on their site. One question that only time will be able to answer, is whether or not Birdman have what it takes to return to the market with the dominance they once held.
    Firstly, Risk Control Corp. will be the manufacturer and seller of BIRDMAN® International ltd suits under license worldwide from Japan. Risk Control Corp is run by Shin Ito, who is now seen as the strategic partner to BIRDMAN® International ltd. Shin Ito is a world renowned and record holding skydiver and specifically wingsuit flyer. Jari Kuosma, from BIRDMAN® International ltd states that Shin Ito has been the driving force behind the new birdman line as co-creator. Jari goes on further to say that while in the past BIRDMAN® International ltd had trouble in regards to the sewing of the suits, he now feels more comfortable in the manufacturing process - having professionals to work with, ensuring the best possible quality for the new Birdman suits.
    There is clearly a new focus on the Birdman products, and that focus seems to be quality. The company seems to have shifted away from the more economic suits and instead are focusing on supreme quality as opposed to an economic wingsuit option. The claims are that no corners were cut with the new line and that the aim was to create cutting edge suits that provide top quality. The paragraph closes with the wording "However, I dare to claim that the value of the new suits will be higher than the price tag. You'll see."
    The website indicates that the new line will come out with 3 new wingsuits. The Birdman Blade III has already been put live on the site, with detailed information publicly available, while the other two suits, the Samurai and the Ninja - are both yet 'to be announced soon'

    The Blade III
    A new wingsuit has also been made available by BIRDMAN® International ltd. The Blade III is said to be targeted towards experienced skydivers and will be the first product to be released having been created with the help of Shin Ito.
    An extract from the Birdman website says the following about the suit:
    "BLADE III is very powerful all-around wingsuit made for experienced wingsuit pilots who want to enjoy their flight from exit to landing. It is balanced perfectly giving pilot 100% control of pitch and speed. It’s drag-reducing quattro–wing platform has large, carved and specially shaped wings for best lift, agility and speed. This gentleman’s race craft comes all included; four wings, semi-rigid ribs & mini-ribs, pockets, inner lining, extra sturdy booties & 10 mm YKK zipper and over the shoulder zip for easy dossing. It will be offered in 5 color scenes."

    Birdman Watches
    It seems that wingsuits aren't the only products that BIRDMAN® International ltd are returning to the industry with. The company has also released information on a line of skydiving watches that they will be selling. The watches are supposedly designed with skydivers in mind and consists of a carbon fibre face, a case of aerospace grade 316-L stainless steel and 'virtually scratch-proof' sapphire crystal. The watches are said to be water resistant to 100 meters and the straps made from parachute nylon, so that you can be sure that they aren't going to snap under pull.
    The History of Birdman
    Birdman started out making wingsuits in 1999, at a time when the wingsuit manufacturer market was extremely small - in fact, Birdman is generally recognized as one of the first wingsuit manufacturing companies. They released the BirdMan s.u.i.t in '99, as their first commercial wingsuit. The year after that they released both the BirdMan GTi and the Classic. In 2001 they continued the new lines with the BM SkyFlyer and the Classic II being released. A year later they expanded into tracking pants, releasing the Birdman Tracking Pantz. In 2003 the SkyFlyer and S.3 were released, followed up in 2004 by the Phi. 2005 saw the release of the quite popular Firebird and Firebird-R wingsuits. Between 2006 and 2009, Birdman released several more suits including both the Blade and the Blade II in 2007 and 2009 respectively.

    By admin, in Gear,

    A Guide to Buying Your First Skydiving Gear

    This article by Alain Bard is meant as a general guide. We highly recommend contacting your local rigger and instructor before using any of the information provided in this article.
    In the years I’ve been a rigger, I’ve often seen the results of skydivers’ gear buying experiences. Most experiences go well, but some do not, and result in the buyer having to re-sell an inappropriate piece of gear they bought.
    In this article, I am going to try to lay down some advice on how to go about choosing gear. I’m going to try to not go into brand specifics, but rather which components you should get and in what order, buying new or used, and sizing.
    New vs. Used?
    Let’s tackle this one first. Should you buy new or used? Traditional advice is that if this is your first set of gear: you should buy used. You’ll probably only use your first set of gear for the first 100 jumps or so. If you buy used skydiving gear, you can save some money (over new) while jumping your first set of gear, and take your time figuring out what you really want before you commit to buying new equipment.
    Let’s break it down though.
    So to put together a rig, you have to get 4 components: a harness/container, a reserve parachute, an Automatic Activation Device (AAD) and a main parachute. Whether to buy each of these pieces new or used depends on the piece.
    Let’s start with the easy one: the AAD. Used or new does not matter, as you’re paying a fixed cost per year for these units. This fixed cost per year varies between $80-160 per year depending on which unit you choose. If budget is an issue, and you can find one used, grab it. Used AADs are rare as they expire faster than the skydiving gear they are in. If your budget allows, you can buy new. AADs are super easy to re-sell if you ever need to.
    Reserve Parachute
    Next up: the reserve parachute. For newbies, I always recommend buying a used reserve parachute, as you can save a significant amount of money here, and the benefit of a new reserve isn’t really justified over the cost of a new one. Reserve parachutes don’t get used very often, and even after 10 years, are usually in next to perfect condition. A 10-year old reserve of the same design is the same as a brand new one, it’s just cheaper to buy. Ensure the reserve has less than 5 or so “rides” and is no older than 15-18 years old.
    Also, ensure it has no holes, patches or repairs, or if it does, make sure the cost is much less, and consider sending it back to the factory to have it checked out first.
    Main Parachute
    For the main parachute, my advice is the opposite to a reserve. I recommend buying a main with as few jumps as possible (under 200 if possible). Buying a new main parachute is preferable, if budget allows. You will use this parachute to save your life 99.9% of the time. Its condition matters. Age isn’t really that much of a concern as much as the number of jumps. I like to make sure a main parachute still has its original lines, because you can tell the number of jumps by the condition of the lines. Trying to estimate the number of jumps on a canopy after a reline is sometimes difficult if the parachute fabric has been kept clean, dry and out of the sun. Another consideration is where the jumps were made. A parachute that was jumped in the summer in Canada or the US Northeast on green grass for only 6 months of each year will be in much better condition than one jumped all year round in desert-like or beach locations. Sand really eats away at the fabric coating and gets into the seams.
    If budget is really an issue, then a modern-design (last 10-15 years) used main parachute with more jumps is OK too, but make sure to have your rigger take a look and don’t pay too much for it, as it’s not going to be worth as much.
    Again, ensure it has no holes, patches or repairs, or if it does, make sure pay much less, and consider sending it back to the factory to have it checked out first.
    Last is the harness/container, for 80% of newbies, a used harness/container is probably the right way to go. Newbies tend not to land on their feet 100% of the time, and if you get a used harness/container a little dirty or scuffed up, it won’t matter as much. The problem is getting the right size for both the canopies *and* for your body (ie. harness size). Sizing for canopies is easy enough, but then sometimes it’s difficult to find the perfect sized harness. Having a harness that is a little too big or too small isn’t the end of the world, but it’s not as comfortable as a made-to-measure harness. If the harness is more than a little too big or too small, then resizing a harness is always an option, but it may cost more to have a harness resized than the harness/container is worth.
    For 20% of newbies, their body type makes it almost impossible to find a used harness/container. I’m talking about the 6’ guy who weighs 120lbs, or the 4’8” girl who weighs 95lbs, or on the other end of the spectrum, what you’ll find advertised as “big-boy rigs” for really large and/or heavy people. For these people that fall outside the average body types, while resizing a harness is sometimes an option, getting a new harness/container is sometimes a better option. Some manufacturers make basic rigs with no bells or whistles that end up costing less than a used, fully featured harness/container. I’m talking about rigs like the Shadow Racer and the Rigging Innovations Genera. These are great rigs at an even better price.
    Also, if you are a serving military member, some manufacturers offer incentives (up to 30% off) on new gear. This is a great deal, and a no-brainer. If you are eligible for such discounts, get new stuff!
    Before I move on, I want to mention that when you buy used, you will have to keep an open mind when it comes to colors. It’s the price you pay to save some money.
    So now WHAT should I buy, but more importantly – in what order?
    So you’ve been jumping a certain size main for a while and think you’re ready to downsize and get a different set of gear. Great! Let’s go through it.
    One of the biggest gear-buying mistakes is choosing (or buying) a harness/container first, and then trying to fit the canopies into a container that was not sized for those canopies, so….
    Here’s the order in which you should think about it:
    Select the Reserve canopy first.
    Select an appropriately sized reserve. Your reserve should be big enough to not seriously hurt or kill you in the event of an unconscious reserve landing (no flare). This means that your reserve should be sized according to your wing loading on that reserve.
    For most people, that means I recommend getting a reserve at least one size bigger than the main you intend to jump. So if you think you want to jump a 150-size main parachute, get a 160 or 170-size reserve, and if you're a big guy that jumps a tiny cross-braced canopy, you'll maybe still want a 170-sized reserve (4-8 times larger than your main). You’ll thank me when you actually need to use the reserve.
    Then, pick a main, any main. Well, not really, but decide on the size of main you want to jump. You can pick the type of main later, but decide on size now.
    Now you can think about a harness/container!
    Then and only then start doing the research on what brand of harness/container you want based on the features you think are important to you. Look at harness/container manufacturers’ published volume charts to see which size container you would need to fit the reserve. You want to pick a size of container that fits the reserve and is described as “soft” or “normal” fit (if those descriptors are available). Stay away from a “tight” reserve fit at all costs.
    You’ll quickly notice that not all the manufacturers offer combinations that will fit a reserve that’s larger than a main. That’s really a shame. You should really ask those manufacturers why they don’t offer this.
    An expensive solution to this problem is a low-bulk reserve, which is marketed a being able to pack one size smaller than a regular reserve. So, if you want a container combination that fits a regular 150-sized main, and only fits a 150-size reserve, a low-bulk 160 reserve may be an option. Careful though, it doesn’t scale down. For instance, a low-bulk 126 reserve may not fit in a 113-sized container, or it may fit but be so tight that it interferes with the normal deployment of the reserve. This is bad, and should be avoided.
    So you’ve picked a reserve, and you know what size of harness/container you need, only then should you start looking at the classifieds to see if you can find something that has the right size harness attached to it.
    If you find something that you think fits, or described by the seller as fitting someone your size, ask the seller for the serial number of the harness/container. Then contact the manufacturer of the rig (even if it was made 10 or 20 years ago), and ask them what size the harness was made to fit. Most manufacturers keep data on all the rigs they have ever built, and will be happy to disclose this information to you, and discuss whether it would fit you based on your measurements. There is no need for guessing games. You can know before you even buy whether or not the harness/container will fit you. The only exception to this rule is if the harness has previously been re-sized, which is uncommon.
    Main Parachute
    7-cell, 9-cell, F111, ZP, Hybrid, low bulk, square, semi-elliptical, elliptical, air locked, cross-braced, etc., etc… There are many mains on the market today. There is no right or wrong answer here. It depends on what you want to do. I’ll have to save this topic for another article. Refer to my comments above on age and condition.
    Don’t forget the AAD!
    The last part is to get an AAD. As long as the AAD in question is within its service life, has been maintained at the proper interval (if required), operates normally, and is approved for the harness/container you want to put it in, then you’re good to go.
    So there you have it. It’s not always obvious at first, so I hope this guide will help some of you out.
    Alain Bard has been an active skydiver since 2003.
    Alain holds the following CPSA ratings: D CoP, Skydiving Coach Level 2, Jumpmaster (JM), Ground Control Instructor (GCI), Skydive School Instructor (SSI), Skydive School Examiner (SSE), Exhibition Jump Rating (EJR), Parachute Rigger (RA).
    He is also a Tandem Instructor.
    Alain is a certified Hot Air Balloon Pilot (Transport Canada)

    Alain is a certified Paramotor Pilot (Transport Canada)

    Alain is a certified Paraglider Pilot (HPAC)
    You can find out more about Alain at his website: http://bard.ca

    By admin, in Gear,