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yuri_base

Reverse engineering of gear, making a new copy of old equipment?

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Suppose you have a wingsuit, or canopy, or container, or jumpsuit, etc. that you've been using for years and it's well worn now and falling apart, but you love it and just want a fresh copy of it. Meanwhile, the prices for new gear are sky high. (Any new big wingsuit is now almost $2K!) Since you obtained the original piece legally, it's legal to make a copy of it for your own use. Right?

What are the options for doing this?

1) Do it yourself. - Not everybody has the skill.
2) Find a random tailor. - They will probably struggle with skydiving equipment, since it's so different from sewing regular clothes.
3) Find a rigger. - Hard to find one that would take on a big project like wingsuit.

So, why haven't anyone yet started a professional rigging shop that will specialize on this business idea? "Bring us your old gear - we'll make a new copy for ya!" I would gladly pay $1K for my old $2K wingsuit and continue flying the familiar suit, I don't buy all that marketing BS about how each year's suit is sooo-massively-better than the previous year.

Of course, the copy won't have any branding, won't have any guarantees, and there will be appropriate wavers in EULA to protect the shop, etc. etc. You simply asked them to disassemble and reverse-engineer your used gear and make a replica for your own use. And of course, they can't become a manufacturer using these designs. Just on per-customer basis.

Thoughts? Anything like this exists already?
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DougH

Why do you think purchasing a product gives you the license to make copies of it?



https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reverse_engineering#Legality

"In the United States even if an artifact or process is protected by trade secrets, reverse-engineering the artifact or process is often lawful as long as it has been legitimately obtained."
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The majority of the cost of a canopy or wingsuit goes into two different areas - the labor and the materials. The material alone will run you $300-500 for the materials for a wingsuit and that is not getting anything exotic like rubber soles or stiffeners. The amount of labor depends on how skilled the person is and how many times have they done similar work in the past. Ask a rigger to put a simple patch on a canopy and it might be an hours work and $5 of scrap material and they charge you $50. Ask a rigger to replace a rib of a canopy and your bill might be $300 or so despite the material only cost them $50.

Riggers rates tend to be about $30-50 an hour depending on the task. Average wingsuit is I am guessing 20-30 hours of time for the first couple and then you might get it down to 15-20 within 10 or so copies. At $50 an hour you are looking at $1000-1500 of labor cost and then add materials on top of it.

For me to copy your existing suit would be at least $1500 to 2000 of my effort and materials.

The manufacturers are making them using labor at a fraction of the cost of a rigger and can knock out a lot more of them since they know all the little secrets and order of assembly. Plus they can get you the latest designs with all the new updates.
Yesterday is history
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PhreeZone

The majority of the cost of a canopy or wingsuit goes into two different areas - the labor and the materials. The material alone will run you $300-500 for the materials for a wingsuit and that is not getting anything exotic like rubber soles or stiffeners. The amount of labor depends on how skilled the person is and how many times have they done similar work in the past. Ask a rigger to put a simple patch on a canopy and it might be an hours work and $5 of scrap material and they charge you $50. Ask a rigger to replace a rib of a canopy and your bill might be $300 or so despite the material only cost them $50.

Riggers rates tend to be about $30-50 an hour depending on the task. Average wingsuit is I am guessing 20-30 hours of time for the first couple and then you might get it down to 15-20 within 10 or so copies. At $50 an hour you are looking at $1000-1500 of labor cost and then add materials on top of it.

For me to copy your existing suit would be at least $1500 to 2000 of my effort and materials.

The manufacturers are making them using labor at a fraction of the cost of a rigger and can knock out a lot more of them since they know all the little secrets and order of assembly. Plus they can get you the latest designs with all the new updates.



I think most riggers most of the time work on small tasks - reserve repack, patches, lineset changes, etc. $30 here, $50 there. And suppose I have a huge roll of ZP and other materials and bring them to the rigger. Wouldn't there be a poor rigger somewhere who doesn't get a lot of work and who will be thrilled to get $1000 just for their work, materials excluded? There's lot of riggers out there who don't own a shop and light up like a Christmas tree when you ask them if they can do a repack for $60!

Besides, I'm talking about a professional facility with high capacity, multiple workers, etc. A well-oiled machine. It's just hard to believe they can't make a copy of almost anything at under the retail cost. Maybe even a shop in the same countries with cheap labor where the original gear is made (e.g. Vietnam, etc.).
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yuri_base

***Why do you think purchasing a product gives you the license to make copies of it?



https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reverse_engineering#Legality

"In the United States even if an artifact or process is protected by trade secrets, reverse-engineering the artifact or process is often lawful as long as it has been legitimately obtained."

I don't think that covers making copies.

For example, it would be perfectly legal to buy and take apart something (say a wingsuit) to establish how it is assembled and designed.

Making and selling copies of that, however, would not be 'reverse engineering', it would be counterfeiting.
"There are NO situations which do not call for a French Maid outfit." Lucky McSwervy

"~ya don't GET old by being weak & stupid!" - Airtwardo

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wolfriverjoe

******Why do you think purchasing a product gives you the license to make copies of it?



https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reverse_engineering#Legality

"In the United States even if an artifact or process is protected by trade secrets, reverse-engineering the artifact or process is often lawful as long as it has been legitimately obtained."

I don't think that covers making copies.

For example, it would be perfectly legal to buy and take apart something (say a wingsuit) to establish how it is assembled and designed.

Making and selling copies of that, however, would not be 'reverse engineering', it would be counterfeiting.

They won't be selling copies. The customer will just pay for their labor.

It's like some plastic part in your car broke and you make a 3D-printed copy of it in some shop. They're just taking measurements of the old part and printing a copy of it, and you're paying for their labor. This is not illegal. They're not "selling copies".
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While I can't speak to skydive gear specifically, in my experience in industry (electric utilities), reverse engineering a product to make a small number of copies is always MORE expensive than the original purchase price. The reason to reverse engineer and copy a product is because it is no longer made and unavailable, and your unique application makes it difficult or impossible to replace with currently available products. The only time I can think of where a product is reverse engineered to save money is if you plan to mass produce that product and benefit from economies of scale. This would only be relevant if the original patent expired, or if you live in a country that is loose on enforcing international patents.

Suck it up and just pay the $2k for a new wing suit. They know what they're doing, they're not running a scam operation (well I suppose some of them are; buy from a reputable manufacturer).
Max Peck
What's the point of having top secret code names, fellas, if we ain't gonna use 'em?

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AtrusBatleth

They know what they're doing, they're not running a scam operation (well I suppose some of them are; buy from a reputable manufacturer).



Making a copy of customer's existing gear is not a scam. If I bring an already-made templates to a local tailor and ask to sew them together, this is not a scam. If I bring a suit and ask to tear it apart and make templates for the parts, this is not a scam. Combine the two - I bring the suit and ask to make a replica for my personal use. This is not a scam.

Hire some sewing shop in Vietnam to make copies of used wingsuits. Customer sends in their used wingsuit, pays for shipping forth and back, receives an exact replica for $500. Many pilots would be happy to just have a fresh copy of their worn out suit they love. This is not a scam.
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pchapman

Just remember to use 1 little piece of the old gear in the new gear.

Then, like an aircraft "restored" from the data plate alone, you simply repaired your gear, not copied it. ;)



Good idea. Actually, for my own needs, I do not need a full replica. For example, my suit uses a flimsy material in some parts that easily tears apart (mine started tearing apart only after ~5 jumps in stress points). The bulk of the arm wings and leg wing can last for a long time; it's just some stressed areas on the torso. I don't want to constantly patch them, I want the the whole torso piece be built as a tank and last me as many years as rigs do. Most of the modern wingsuits don't even have reinforcement tapes! They are already built with obsoletion and quick degradation in mind. "Buy our suit every year!" $2K $2K $2K. Cha-ching!
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yuri_base

***They know what they're doing, they're not running a scam operation (well I suppose some of them are; buy from a reputable manufacturer).



Making a copy of customer's existing gear is not a scam...

You misunderstand me. I mean that manufacturers selling you a new $2k wingsuit are not scamming you. The premise for you trying to reverse engineer your wingsuit to save money is that you think it should not actually cost $2k, implying that manufacturers are ripping you off selling new units for $2k. I just don't think that's the case.
Max Peck
What's the point of having top secret code names, fellas, if we ain't gonna use 'em?

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AtrusBatleth

you think it should not actually cost $2k, implying that manufacturers are ripping you off selling new units for $2k. I just don't think that's the case.



Sorry for my misunderstanding.

I do think that the manufacturers are ripping us off selling suits for $2K. Look at their network of sponsored pilots and dealers and other affiliates. On every DZ there will be several who will show you brand new suits and try to convince you that it's so much better than anything before. And you know they're getting free suits and possibly $$ from the manuf. Then they have dozens of sponsored pilots who get free gear and paid travel to exotic locations. Then they have professional video editors and website developers. A good chunk of that $2K goes to all this. Pennies go to Vietnamese, Cuban, Mexican, Eastern European etc. workers. The bill of materials for a wingsuit is not so big, maybe $200. They get the materials in bulk, so it's not like buying 10 sq.ft. of fabric from Paragear.

We pay out of our pockets for all these luxurious expenses. We pay a lot for all this BS.
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yuri_base


They won't be selling copies. The customer will just pay for their labor.

It's like some plastic part in your car broke and you make a 3D-printed copy of it in some shop. They're just taking measurements of the old part and printing a copy of it, and you're paying for their labor. This is not illegal. They're not "selling copies".



Seriously? "printing a copy of it, and you're just paying for their labor" isn't 'selling copies'?

I won't disagree that it happens.

In fact, on a car forum I'm part of, there's a guy who is getting a file to 3D print a small interior part (window switch blank off plate). It's no longer available from the maker and used ones are scarce.
He will likely be making a bunch of them and selling them. There will likely be no consequences from the maker because they don't really care about 50 or so of these pieces being copied.

But that doesn't change the fact that he is technically making counterfeit parts. And if the maker decided to go after him, he would be in the wrong.

Quote

We pay out of our pockets for all these luxurious expenses. We pay a lot for all this BS.



No kidding. It's called 'marketing.'

I've heard that something like half the cost of a pair of Nike shoes goes for all the endorsements/advertising/marketing.
"There are NO situations which do not call for a French Maid outfit." Lucky McSwervy

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wolfriverjoe

I've heard that something like half the cost of a pair of Nike shoes goes for all the endorsements/advertising/marketing.



That why I don't buy expensive shoes and other things when there's a decent low-cost alternative. I don't like this feeling that I'm feeding this whole ecosystem of "rich will get richer" parasites.

For example, for years I've been buying climbing boots for BASE and hiking, typical low end cost 120-150 Euro. They have similar "Gorilla Marketing" (tm) tactics - new model every year, colorful booklets describe all the advanced materials and construction - and of course, everything is presented as revolutionary and that you'll appreciate the difference. Guess what? I've never felt any difference. (if anything, they're less comfortable than any cheap shoe because they make them so narrow!) They don't last long (2 seasons tops). They slip even on dry rock despite their Vibram BS sole. They make horrible blisters on toes when hiking down.

When my eyes became wide open from wide shut, I discovered an amazing low cost alternative - some hiking shoes at Walmart for about $35 that are comfortable, durable, have a good traction, and I've been hiking and jumping in them for about 3 years now and can't stop smiling! (and it looks like they will last at least 5 more years!)

Same with a lot of skydiving gear - helmets, goggles, gloves, altimeters - I started looking elsewhere and found great alternatives at a fraction of the cost.

Unfortunately, with wingsuits there's no budget alternatives.
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billvon

>I do think that the manufacturers are ripping us off selling suits for $2K.

It will be very interesting to see what your opinion is after you try to do that for yourself.



Unfortunately, there's a big difference between unskilled me and a skilled worker in Vietnam who gets $5 for 16-hour workday and can make two complete $2K suits in a day.
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If you were to build something noncommercialy for your self, I think you would be fine. Copy rites and things protect the commercial exploration of a design. Or at least that is my understanding. I don't think any thing can prevent you from building things for your self. I think it could be argued that the rigger is stealing the design and selling it commercially if he accepts money to build it for you.

Having said that. I could do some thing like this. I can do it because I have twelve different types of sewing machines lined up behind me and pallet racks of fabric to the left of me. So when I get board, yah, I do fucked up shit like that. But if even I set down and counted up the hours I had in one of these projects it wouldn't make since to do it. It's only practical if I'm idol and really board.

Prices are getting out of hand. I think you will start to see more of this. Like the guys building their own canopies. Mostly for fun at first but once the idea gets around, who knows. I could see some open source drawings getting out and it turning into a little kit plane kind of thing. Then they will start selling quick build kits, here are the pre cut ribs and panels...

Lee
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RiggerLee

Prices are getting out of hand. I think you will start to see more of this. Like the guys building their own canopies. Mostly for fun at first but once the idea gets around, who knows. I could see some open source drawings getting out and it turning into a little kit plane kind of thing. Then they will start selling quick build kits, here are the pre cut ribs and panels...



Can't wait for this! Maybe even wingsuit kits where there are pre-made arm and leg wings in several sizes, and then there's a jacket and pants, you just connect wings to them with zippers and bam! - you have a wingsuit, no sewing necessary! If parts are made in bulk in China or Vietnam or Bangladesh, I can't see why we can't have $50-100 arm/leg wings.
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Quote

I could see some open source drawings getting out and it turning into a little kit plane kind of thing



Just need somebody to make a Lonestar 2 kit.

I agree, I could see some open source equipment eventually becoming available. It is happening in so many areas, I don't see why it wouldn't happen here.
Cheers,
Jim

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RiggerLee

But if even I set down and counted up the hours I had in one of these projects it wouldn't make since to do it. It's only practical if I'm idol and really board.



I'm not a rigger and the most complex thing I can do with my hands is to pick my nose. So maybe my question would sound stupid to a pro, but so be it:

A customer brings their suit and all necessary materials. The rigger closely examines the suit and based on their prior experience (this won't be their first wingsuit done!) carefully unstitches it. Suppose it takes the full 8hr workday. On the second day, he puts the parts on top of fabric roll and makes outlines of them with a marker and cuts them with scissors (the old fashioned way, no expensive laser cutter, no computer necessary!) The whole day - just outlining and cutting. On the 3rd day, he puts together the main "envelope" pieces. On the 4th day, he puts all the ribs inside. On the 5th day, he sews in the zippers, inlets, grippers, pockets and other small parts. All this assuming this is not his first suit, he already figured out the general flow.

The suit replica is ready. For 5 days of work, he receives $1000 cash (and no material costs).

Then he has a normal weekend.

Next week, another customer, another suit, another $1000. Weekend.

Rinse, repeat. That's more than $4000 a month. Clean, hard cash.

Is this unrealistic? One full day for each step? Full workweek to copy a suit. $1000/week. No one would be interested? Maybe, riggers make $400,000 a month pencil-packing and $4K is a pocket change?
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Yuri Stop being ridiculous just go buy a squirrel, seriously!

You will have it in your hands in a shorter time frame than you will be able to over explain how to build one to a rigger/ suit maker. You will be much happier.

Now if you want a first generation Vampire 2 of medium size in brand new condition I will sell you one I have. Cheap! I also have a good condition X-2, worn but good condition.

But just stop being silly, get the squirrel and focus your time and energy into your instrument.

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>Unfortunately, there's a big difference between unskilled me and a skilled worker in Vietnam
>who gets $5 for 16-hour workday and can make two complete $2K suits in a day.

Last time I was in Thailand a few other skydivers found a local tailor willing to try to duplicate a Tony suit. The first one had the grippers on the front of the arms. And it looked like it fit pretty well while standing up - but you couldn't arch in it. And the lycra, while it looked good, was more akin to the sort of lycra you see in cheap bike shorts rather than the thicker lycra that jumpsuits use.

But it was pretty cheap.

I am sure if you iterated that 10x (and did some work on sourcing etc) you'd get something very close to a Tony suit. If that's worth it to you, then that might work.

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It depends on the complexity of the project. Having some thing to copy certainly helps. Coping peaces... you almost have to make pattern sets from them. Get the markings right. Order of construction. And then on the next one you're almost starting over from scratch. It's doubtful that they actually have any peaces in common. But yah, you could do it. You'd have to source all the materials and get good thread, etc. You could do it.

But at that point I think some one could argue that the rigger is actually in business illegally coping other peoples suits. I really prefer the open source idea and the kit plane materials concept. You can buy plans for an ultra light. You can buy the materials kit for an experimental air plane. You can buy the parts kit. You can even buy the "quick build" kit.

Lone Star could live again.

Being here in the US is one thing. But lets say you lived in some back woods country or one with tariffs. Look at Quag and his canopy project. No canopy manufacturers in the UK and it's kind of pricey to buy one from out side of the country over seas. I'm surprised their are not more home grown builders popping up in some of these countries. Theirs another guy in south america. He's working on a pilot rig. It's hard to get them down their.

Lee
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VectorBoy

Yuri Stop being ridiculous just go buy a squirrel, seriously!



I've never bought a squirrel before. I'm actually camping right now and there's a couple of very chatty squirrels in the trees near me. They were probably trying to sell themselves to me. Buy us! We're much better than the last years'!

Quote

Now if you want a first generation Vampire 2 of medium size in brand new condition I will sell you one I have. Cheap! I also have a good condition X-2, worn but good condition.



Can I get just the top of X-2? I cut my V-2 in half and left only the leg wing, making a rocket-fast leg wing pants. If I join them with the top of X-2, I will have a new Frankenstein suit - VX-2. It will fly at true L/D=7.0 measured with my instrument.

Or I can sell my V-2 rocket pantz for only $2K (only $10/mph, much cheaper than slow mattresses) so I can buy one of those squirrels.
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