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Found 156 results

  1. The world of skydiving offers those who choose to take the leap of faith a rush like non-other. The sport has grown far beyond anything its pioneers could have ever imagined. This growth has raised the demand for the establishment of advanced safety protocols in drop zones around the world. Container systems, main and reserve parachutes and basic safety procedures have all made this sport safer for all its users. One particular invention however, stands out above the rest and it is the automatic activation device or AAD for short. An AAD is a small, technically advanced device which activates a cutter that severs the reserve closing loop when the user is falling at or greater than a predetermined speed (roughly 78 MPH) and at or lower than a predetermined altitude (roughly 750 feet AGL). The device is equipped with a small computer designed to compute the skydiver’s speed of travel by using the surrounding air pressure. AADs have been common to skydivers for decades but recent years have brought about amazing change to this industry. CYPRES and Vigil AADs have become two of the leading manufacturers of AADs in recent years. When turned on, the AADs computer chip uses an advanced pressure monitoring system to determine a skydiver’s altitude and fall rate. If a skydiver passes the predetermined altitude at a faster than predetermined fall rate, the system sends a signal to a small cutter built into the parachute’s container. Once activated the cutter severs the reserve line retaining pin, causing the reserve chute to immediately deploy. Essentially, both CYPRES and Vigil AADs are meant to perform in very similar ways. Historically, each company has built and fine-tuned their respective devices to fit various disciplines in the sport. Cypres 2 AADCYPRES which is short for Cybernetic Parachute Release System was developed by AirTec, a German company founded in 1990. Company founder Helmut Cloth decided to replace the old and faulty technology for opening devices of the time with a more reliable device. The result was revolutionary: the first CYPRES was ready in 1991 and became the first electronic opening device in the skydiving world. Shortly after hitting the market the CYPRES AAD sales grew to nearly 5,000 units per year. Developers continued working hard on making sure all the feedback from its users was implemented into their new products. In a little over a decade, CYPRES AAD sales rocketed to over 80,000 units. Airtec saw the overwhelming demand for their product and in 2007 developed the CYPRES 2. Within two years the CYPRES 2 broke the magic barrier of 50,000 units sold. The successes and reliability of the CYPRES 1 and 2 were celebrated throughout drop zones worldwide in 2011 during CYPRES’ 20 year anniversary. Since then the company has continued to provide a great piece of equipment with the backing of thousands of saved lives all over the world (CYPRES, 2014). The Vigil AAD shares many similarities to its competitor and was also designed to add a wider range of safety measures for skydivers. Nearly a decade after CYPRES’ great successes, Vigil was introduced. Immediately after being marketed the Vigil began flying off the shelves in record numbers. Designed by the Belgium company Advanced Aerospace Designs in 1999, the Vigil AAD system offered its users unique patented features. Features such as: a patented cutter device (circular knife) that cuts the reserve loop twice, water resistant technology, and a multimode option which allows for three different modes: PRO – STUDENT – TANDEM, all make the Vigil unique. These features make the Vigil a highly sought after piece of equipment for skydivers of all disciplines but even more so by drop zone management staff wanting to use one AAD for multiple modes of operations. In addition to calculating a skydiver’s rate of travel by using the surrounding air pressure, Vigil also uses an additional activation technique. Once the door opens and you leave the airplane, the Vigil AAD will calculate the time left over before reaching the activation altitude (Vigil, 2014). Since its appearance, the Vigil has sold upwards of 70,000 units and continues to increase sales annually. Vigil AADAside from their successes, the overarching factor in this equation is the consumer, as is in any supply-demand industry. The initial cost of purchasing an AAD unit is about the same, approximately $1,400. Many consumers view this as a steep price to pay especially when also calculating the maintenance costs throughout the lifecycle of an AAD. The additional cost of ownership includes battery replacement and scheduled maintenance, which calculates to be roughly $75 per year. The Vigil AAD claims to have a 20 year lifespan with no mandatory service requirements. The CYPRES AAD, however, is said to have a 12.5 year life expectancy with required maintenance at the four and eight year marks after activation. Many skydivers take these two factors well into consideration before committing to any purchase. Thankfully the CYPRES and Vigil AADs are readily available to ship to locations worldwide. The ease and effortlessness involved with purchasing an AAD makes it very convenient for anyone in the market for one. The decision of which one is the better choice is strictly up to the buyer’s personal preference and skill level. Both CYPRES and Vigil have been tried and proven over many years and thousands of documented lives saved. All in all, the sport is lucky that jumpers have a good choice of automatic activation devices. Few jumpers wore them before they came to their present level of accuracy and reliability, and members of the gray-haired set who still remember friends they lost when no-pulls/low-pulls dominated the fatality reports will mostly agree that the added cost of skydiving due to AADs has been worth it (Parachutist, 2010). Thanks for reading, Blue Skies!
  2. admin

    Toggles Matter

    It is often the little things in our skydiving day that change the way things go. Paying attention to the details can make all the difference when it comes to preventing malfunctions, and when we get lazy, tired or complacent, our attention gets fuzzy and unfocused. That is when we make mistakes that we regret. One area that often results in malfunctions is errors in stowing our toggles, and there are quite a few ways in which we can perform this seemingly simple act incorrectly, only some of which will be discussed in this article. The most obvious aspect of this necessary part of packing that we can mess up is the depth of the toggle in the keeper. If we do not push the toggle sufficiently into its fabric keeper, the toggle will eventually unstow during deployment. Premature brakes releases result in countless cutaways each year. Each time we chop, we risk losing our main canopy and our freebag; a very expensive mistake. Another facet of stowing our toggles that can result in a premature “brake-fire” is insufficient tension on the portion of the brake line that leads to the canopy. This slack can allow a sharp tug of the brake line near the toggle, causing it to pop out of the keeper, and even snap the line itself. A healthy practice when setting your brakes is to pull upward on the brake line above the toggle, ensuring that everything is loaded against the toggle properly. Yet another common error when stowing the steering toggles is to pass the toggle through the brake line above the guide ring. This will almost always result in a premature brake release. It will also usually result in damage to the fabric toggle keeper, as the load on the brake line will go directly to the keeper rather than to the guide ring. I see this one quite a lot, and the jumper is always blown away when I point it out while they are packing. Better a moment of embarrassment on the ground than a premature brake fire in the sky. On that note, if you experience a premature brake release, or snap a brake line during deployment, your canopy will turn. On many parachutes, this turn can be quite fast, and it is likely to increase in both airspeed and rate of rotation. This means that time is of the essence when dealing with this kind of malfunction. This, however, does not mean that the correct response is to claw for the stowed toggle like a crazed monkey. Yes, you do need to unstow the remaining toggle, but having this singular goal in mind has resulted in many cutaways, AAD fires and even some fatalities. When you open up in a spin, your first job is to try to stop the spin, while remaining aware of your altitude. If you apply opposite harness input or simply pull the rear riser on the side of the canopy that has experienced the toggle release or broken line, you will slow the situation down. By holding a heading, you will be losing much less altitude, and will afford yourself the time and brain power to properly execute whatever procedure is next. Also key to your safety is the condition of your equipment. For instance, if the toggle keeper has become loose due to wearing over time, even sufficiently stowed toggles will unstow prematurely. Since we stow the toggle in the same way every time, the toggle eventually becomes deformed, narrower at the load point, which can cause the toggle to jam when you try to release it. Also contributing to this possibility is the inevitable shrinkage of the “cat’s-eye” hole in the brake line on spectra lined canopies. This is caused by heating of the line due to friction as you unstow your toggles. The melting point of spectra is 297 F and the material’s response to heat is shrinkage, unlike George Castanza. Most cat’s eyes begin at about 25 millimeters on new canopies, and by 3 or 400 jumps, it reduces to a 19 or 18 millimeter passage. When combined with a narrow point in the toggle, a brake-lock malfunction is quite likely. This problem can easily be avoided through regular replacement of the mid and lower brake lines, and pinching of the toggle with plyers to create a uniform width. When the tip of the toggle fails to extract from the cat’s-eye, it is possible that the jumper unstowed the toggles in a gentle, slow motion, allowing the friction to hold the toggle in place inside the brake line. This phenomenon can often be avoided by making it a habit to always unstow the toggles with a sharp, snapping motion. This method has served me well for many years, and has totally eliminated the “stuck toggle” malfunction for me. On the topic of toggles that do not want to release, we have another malfunction that shows up from time to time. There are many things you can do with your excess brake line, depending on your particular riser design and your personal preferences. Some skydivers choose to pass the excess line through keepers on the opposite side of the riser. This is perfectly acceptable. If, however, the free end of the brake line is passed down through the keepers and then around the bottom of the toggle, a complete failure to release is possible. This occurs when the upward relative wind blows the brake line up over the toggle during opening. The jumper then can grab the toggles below this loop of line and unstow, causing an irreparable knot around the keeper loop on the opposite side of the riser. Another way that jumpers sometimes cause a toggle-lock is by passing the excess brake line through the soft links, and then securing the end of the loop through the tip of the toggle. Although this method has proven to be perfectly safe, and may make it easier to pull the slider down after opening, a serious danger exists. If the soft links are not sewn in place with tack-cord, the loop of brake line can get caught on the tab or ring on the soft link, causing a locked toggle malfunction. It is true that a toggle-lock does not need to result in a cutaway. If the jumper cuts the brake line with a hook knife, the parachute will fly straight. Nevertheless, this fix requires the canopy pilot to land with a rear riser flare, something that many are not prepared to do. If you have never performed this maneuver in premeditated circumstances, you are not likely to perform the task well in an emergency. As I often say, there is no such thing as an emergency if you have practiced the solutions; it is just a change of plans. The last toggle-related problem that I will discuss is failure to stow the excess brake line at all. It is true that many jumpers have been leaving “free range” brake line for many years without incident. In most cases, these are jumpers with small canopies who have very little excess brake line to deal with due to the size of their parachutes. Regardless, it is my experience that it is just a matter of time before this free line snags on something. It might be your GoPro. It might be someone else’s GoPro. It might be the door of the airplane or something even worse that I can’t even think of. The bottom line is, the procedure of stowing your excess line costs you only a few seconds, but it can save your life. Deal with it, please. It is the smallest of details that usually result in the worst and best experiences on the dropzone. Skydiving is a sport of tiny issues that add up to big consequences, and if we continue to enjoy the process of paying attention to these little particulars, we can continue to enjoy the sport for a very long time. If we flippantly skip off the tops of the waves so-to-speak, and pretend that the danger does not exist, this sport will prove us wrong in the most painful and terrifying ways. We are always at risk when we skydive, but fear is not what keeps us safe. It is attention to the details, and the positive emotions that come as a result of knowing that we are doing everything we can think of to stay alive. If we are happy, we are more skillful, and skill definitely increases the chances of a happy landing. About the Author: Brian Germain is a parachute designer, author, teacher, radio personality, keynote speaker with over 15,000 jumps, and has been an active skydiver for 30 years. He is the creator of the famed instructional video "No Sweat: Parachute Packing Made Easy", as well as the critically acclaimed book The Parachute and its Pilot. You can get more of Brian’s teaching at Adventure Wisdom, Big Air Sportz, Transcending Fear, and on his vast YouTube Channel
  3. The issue of helmets with cameras interfering with the deployment sequence is well-trodden, to include on dropzone.com. In France, new safety regulations produced by the Federation Française de Parachutisme, the sole, recognized sports authority for leisure skydiving, have become extremely stringent regarding camera mounts, and in particular, the way they protrude. So a French skydiver, Olivier Hiolle, developed a helmet specifically integrating the most current cameras of the day, i.e., GoPro 3 and 4 series. The result is astounding. The GoPro is fully inside the helmet, which has a frontal window. The top of the helmet is flat in order to accommodate other cameras. Of course, that would be a departure from the initial idea of having no protuberance, but there is no other way to carry larger devices. The helmet itself is a "true" helmet, in the sense that it is made of strong, resilient fabric and serious cushioning that will effectively protect the head in case of shock. We are well beyond the degree of protection afforded by basic helmets, in moulded plastic, whose protective function does not go much further than just providing a convenient attachment for a camera. I have ordered one and flown with it a dozen times. The fit is extremely comfortable and natural. I have a GoPro 3+. I purchased, as an extra, a USB cable that remains coiled inside the helmet. That way, I never manipulate the GoPro directly, apart from activating the bluetooth by slipping my little finger into the lodgment of the camera. From then on, I use the remote control. When I wish to download the pictures or load the battery, I just pull the cable out of its lodgment and plug it where it needs to go. The angle is perfect, no vibration whatsoever, and good sound under canopy (in the sense that I can hear myself grumbling and commenting on the approach). This is a new one-man firm, who makes each helmet by hand, to include the color. Prices are reasonable, including options such as color (other than white or grey for the fiberglass version), cable, chin strap. By design, the strap, whether chin or basic, has a quick release handle. This is the website: http://www.skyvisionpara.com/index.html, which, at present, is only in French. Be aware that the photos I lifted from the webpage are not as good as the current product. It is a much more polished work than that. But the photos do give an idea of the design.
  4. The guys over at Squirrel have just released a video for their latest canopy, the Epicene. The almost 4-minute long video, which includes a "Rick Roll", also discusses why the Epicene is a great canopy for wingsuit pilots. While Squirrel have historically focused primarily on BASE orientated products, the Epicene is focused towards the skydiving community, though wingsuit flyers in particular. Squirrel have stated that while the Epicene is the best choice for wingsuit flying, it is also perfectly adequate for free flyers as well. The Epicene is built with wingsuit openings in mind and is made in such a way that it reduces the risk for line twists and unpredictability, while at the same time opening quickly and also catering to the responsiveness. The video also puts focus on the pack size of the canopy, with both TJ Landgren and Mike Swanson praising the F-111 hybrid canopy's pack volume. While Squirrel first began releasing information about this canopy mid-2014 it only fairly recently went on sale to the public, and you can find more information on the Squirrel website. Editor's Note: Adjustments were made to this article regarding previously misstated information relating to time of release.
  5. We recently talked with Robert Harris, who took it upon himself to build his own homemade wingsuit. After years of motocross racing, Robert started skydiving five years ago, and since then has attained over 1600 jumps, his D-license as well as AFF and coach ratings. However, what made us want to talk to him, was having seen that he had developed his own DIY wingsuit at home. He talks to us about what inspired him, how he made it and most importantly, how it flew. What made you want to develop this DIY wingsuit? I have always liked knowing how things are made, when I was a kid I took everything apart to try and figure out how it worked and hopefully put it back together before my parents found out. This didn't stop as I got older, although it changed to learning, so I could make things. Shortly after I started wingsuiting I decided I was going to make a wingsuit someday. So last year I asked for a sewing machine for Christmas and didn't get one as no one knew what kind I wanted and I didn't either. I had gotten to use a sewing machine back in middle school home ec class but didn't care about learning sewing, wish they had told me I could make parachutes and wingsuits back then as I would have paid way more attention. After talking to my dz's rigger Sally and some other people and decided to get a singer 20u, after over a month of trying to buy one I found one on Craigslist from an old lady that really never used it for 400$. Then I started sewing. First a pillow case, then a miniature version of my Leia that I made into a traction kite, a belly band, canopy continuity bag, and weight belt. After all of those projects I finally decided it was time to start my wingsuit project. What experience do you have in aeronautics or aviation product development? I don't really have much, but I have started an online class on Aeronautical Engineering to learn more about designing airfoils. I hope to learn to do some equations to determine glide and speed of a given airfoils parameters and hopefully eventually learn CFD(Computational Fluid Dynamics) to push the envelope of what can be done in wingsuits I make later. What were your expectations when starting this project? I was told by quite a few people that I was crazy for wanting to make a wingsuit or that it was too hard and I didn't have a chance. I didn't really care about the designing process when I first started I just wanted to assemble a suit and fly it. I didn't care if it was the best performing suit I just wanted to say I had done it. Although I think I have caught the bug, now I want to make another one and try some new ideas we haven't seen in the wingsuit world yet. Could you explain your creation process to us? When I started I picked one of my wingsuits as a starting platform. I took measurements all over the outside of the suit, and decided to change the arm wings completely as I didn't want to outright copy the suit. I simplified some parts trying to make it out as few as pieces as possible. After all the outside pieces were made came the challenging part of making the ribs. I was originally going to make it with back fly vents so tried to make an airfoil shape that would be as good either on back or belly. I drew out where the ribs would be placed and measured how long they would need to be on the top and bottom skins and as far as thickness goes I knew how wide I wanted the thickest one and the thinnest, to figure out the rest I used some math to taper from the biggest to smallest. After I started sewing I scraped the backfly vents but left the ribs how they where as after putting the fronts on I didn't want to deal with the headache of the backfly ones as well. I spent a couple days making patterns and writing everything down as I did it to make it easier for possibly making another one. After the patterns were all done and checked for fit against each other I started cutting them all out of some parapac I got from JoAnn's fabric with my new hot-knife my girlfriend got me for my birthday. This part went relatively quickly and only took about a day total. Then came the weekend and jumping time, it was hard to pull myself away from my project but I needed to train for the last swoop meet of the season. As weather got crappy I started the sewing. I figured it would be best to get the hardest part done first the arm wings as if I couldn't get those done there was no point in even making the tail. I started with sewing the ribs to front or bottom skin of the suit and quickly learned the sewing the ribs and vents on together was a pain. I did every step on both wings at the same time so I could try and make it as symmetrical as possible and knew they where both put together in the same order. I felt really accomplished when I finished both arm wings and was ready to push through the tail wing quickly before my swoop comp. The tail wing went together pretty easily after making the arm wings and before I knew it I had 3 wings that needed to be put together. After missing a couple of weekdays jumping as I sat busy behind my blue Singer I had finally finished! I was so excited after 23 hours of sewing to go jump it but jumping had already stopped for the day. And how did it fly when you took it out? I really wanted to get some outside video of its (cough cough) first fight. Go figure, none of the normal wingsuiters where around, I eventually asked my friend Paul who has done only a handful or two of wingsuit jumps if he would try. I gave him an I-bird I use for teaching and rig to borrow so he wouldn't be jumping his velo. We talked about the dirt dive and manifested for a load. As we climbed to altitude all I could think about was my family and girlfriend and how dangerous this could be. I did a lot of practice touches of all my handles and went through my emergency procedures as I always do but did way more of them. On the 2 min call we did all the normal handshakes and then I buckled my helmet and zipped up my arm wings. As all the other jumpers were getting off the plane my heart started racing, I used all my yoga experience to get my breathing in check as I walked to the door of the Twin Otter, I could tell Paul was nervous as well. I had him exit before me as I wanted a nice exit shot, as I hopped out from a poised position in the door all I could think was please don't let the suit blow apart! I made sure to keep all my wings shut down on exit and waited to see the tail before I ever so slowly opened my wings. I got my wings open and started flying, I was ecstatic at this point as the suit was staying in one piece. I started my first turn shortly after and was surprised at how stable it was. It took a little bit for Paul and I to get together but around 10k we got together shortly after my practice pull to see if there would be any issues and it was the easiest one I have done in awhile. We flew with each other for a bit and then about 7k I wanted to see what I could do with it. I started a small dive then went in max flight. I decided I would pull higher then normal as I was still jumping my normal wingsuit canopy a Jfx 84 at 4,500 feet. I came in to land with 90 degree turn for nice little swoop. Shortly after Paul landed close by and celebrated an awesome jump! I have never been so excited and nervous on any of my 1600 plus skydives or 4 base jumps yet alone together. After I landed I had to message family and girlfriend to let them know I was ok, they were all pretty scared about me doing it. Since the 1st jump I have only done 1 more on the suit and it was a time run, I got 2 min and 20sconds out of it, which was defiantly shy of the 3-3.5 min I should have gotten out of that size suit. Turns out the fabric I used was my biggest downfall, it didnt have a coating on it like parapac used in other suits so it was constantly bleeding air out and never achieved max pressure. What was the biggest challenge in creating your wingsuit? The biggest challenge by far was trying to figure out what order everything gets put together in, I spent a couple days alone trying to piece it together in my head to figure it out. Although I had to unpick a few parts because of misalignment I did not have to unpick anything because of the order I put it together in. Do you feel that your venture was a success? In the end I feel I achieved my goals I set out for the project and learned tons along the way! I look forward to starting my next suit when I return from visiting my girlfriend in London. I already have tons of things I want to try try and do but the major thing will be a fabric that has zero porosity. About Robert Harris (D-31584): I grew up racing motocross at a early age and after many years of racing I stopped because I was tired of breaking myself. I still rode and one day on the way from riding I got a call about getting to do a free tandem. Of course I said yes much to my parents dismay, they thought skydiving was too dangerous at the time and realize now its more dangerous then motocross. I had loved motocross for the jumps as I loved the feeling of flying through the air. Skydiving was just that pure flying and as soon as I landed I signed up for Aff. One year after I started I had 200 jumps and started wingsuiting on jump 201. My 2nd year in I had my D-license and got interested in Canopy Piloting as well. Since then I have gotten my coach and Aff ratings and am currently on my 5th year of skydiving and have just over 1600 jumps.
  6. SFly have just announced their latest addition to their wingsuit products, with the release of the Ridge. The Ridge has been in development for a while, and saw extensive testing taking place over the past months. The suit will cater towards the more advanced flyers and was developed with skilled BASE jumpers in mind. Introduction The new SFLY RIDGE is a wing suit 100% designed for mountain flying. The RIGDE has been developed since the very beginning for the demanding and experienced wingsuit BASE jumpers who open always­ shorter exits and seek for new lines requiring more and more glide performance without compromising on speed. Its key features are : ­ Ultra short starts ­ High glide ratio ­ High speed ­ Ultra clean pull The RIDGE development has been made possible by a 15 month collaboration between Stephane Zunino, original SFly designer, François Gouy, mountain guide who has opened numerous exits, and Julien Peelman, aerodynamic engineer mostly known for its high performance parachute canopies designs like the Icarus Petra and the Icarus Leia by NZ Aerosports. Numerous test­ pilots have tried the various prototypes that have led to the final version: Soul Flyers Fred Fugen and Vince Reffet, as well as the Frenchies from Vercors: Maël Baguet, Vincent Cotte, Jean­Philippe Gady, and Matthieu Leroux. Last summer François Gouy used a RIDGE prototype to open mythical exits in the french Alps, such as Ceüse or Les Rouies, thanks to both the short starts and the high glide performance. Overall Design The RIDGE is probably bigger than other suits. The RIDGE has a high arm sweep, and a longer and thicker leg wing than other wing suits in this category. Leading edgeThe RIDGE leading edge is designed to match both the best possible aerodynamic performance with the easiest pull. That is why we have split the sleeves in 2 parts: the upper arm, made of parapack with an under layer of soft foam the lower arm, made of neoprene. And we have assembled these 2 parts with a diagonal cut so as to maximize the surface of the combined parapack­foam leading edge. Finally we have added an inflated cell behind the arm in order to fully fill­ in the sleeve and to get rid of that empty space between the back of the arm and the arm wing. This cell is connected and inflated by the arm wing. Partitioning The RIDGE is partitioned in a way to offer the a super tight fit around your body. This allows better wing control at all times and a great agility. Start The large inlets with opened airlocks allow an ultra fast inflation of both arm wings and leg wing. The higher arm sweep and the larger surface of the RIDGE enable the wing to catch air as on as soon as your feet lift from the ground. Because of its thicker profile the RIDGE starts flying even at very low speed, allowing quicker forward motion start. These unique features give the Ridge an unmatchable exiting profile. Glide The high glide performance of the RIDGE is the result of the balance between surface and profile. Because of its unique profile/surface balance, the RIDGE has an excellent glide ratio. Whatever the wind conditions, our test pilots have experienced and recorded a better glide ratio than with with other wingsuits. Speed The drag created by the large surface and the thickness of the suit is compensated by the extended length of the leg wing, allowing the RIDGE to easily match and outcome in speed the other wingsuit of its category. The RIDGE is remarkably fast and easy to fly in any wind conditions. Agility The unique partitioning and tight fit around the body make the RIDGE an easy and fun wing suit to fly, yet very responsive. The RIDGE allows aggressive dives as well as sharp turns without loosing control. What’s more, because this wing suit is highly pressurized, it has a incredible lift power in flight. Opening The pull is ultra clean thanks to the bevel shaped wrist end of the sleeve. The soft neoprene patch behind the elbow gives extra freedom of movement to ensure an easy bending of the arm and a clean pull. Your hand will reach the pilot chute handle naturally no matter how long you’ve been flying. Canopy deployment The neoprene half sleeves allow both an easy punch­out and a high risers reach- up. More information can be found at the SFly Website
  7. Garmin have just announced two new action camera models that will be released this summer. The Virb X and the Virb XE are the latest attempt from the US founded company to establish themselves as more than just a sports equipment and navigation manufacturer. The original Garmin Virb action cam was released just less than two years ago, and showed that Garmin can do cameras too. After the release of the Virb, which was met with overwhelmingly positive reviews from both users and critics alike, they then introduced the Virb Elite, which added new functionality and recording options. The new Virb X and Virb XE cameras seem to be quite a step up from the Virb Elite, and it appears that the duo is a response from Garmin to the GoPro Hero 4 series which was released last year. However, the focus of Garmin seems to be different to that of GoPro. First thing we noticed, was the change in design from the original Virb cameras. Garmin have moved away from the flatter, elongated design that we saw in their first models and instead have adopted the more square approach, resembling that of the Sony and GoPro devices. In their press release Garmin brings attention to the flat lens cover in the front, aimed to help water in sliding off easier. At this point, with the original Virb being released in 2013 - we decided not to focus on how Garmin has improved on its previous Virb - but rather with how it compares to one of the most popular modern action cams out there today, the mid-level GoPro Hero 4 Silver. Recording vs Connectivity/FunctionalityMany would have expected the new Virb X and Virb XE to support 4k video recording, as it's a direction where most action cam manufacturers seem to be focusing. However, the Virb X will only offer a maximum recording resolution of 1080p, while the Virb XE will allow for 1440p at 30fps. By comparison, the GoPro Hero 4 Silver offers users up to 15fps at 4K, 30fps at 2.7k and up to 48fps at 1440p - as well as offering the standard HD recording options. Instead of focusing on increasing resolution, Garmin have put their trust in the development of connectivity and storage. Despite falling short on recording options both the Virb X and the Virb XE surpass the Hero 4 Silver in terms of connectivity and increased storage capability. Whether or not this will be as easy to sell as telling people that the camera can record 4k video, is yet to be seen, but perhaps Garmin is onto something. Despite the ability to record in 4k video, in every day practice it is not often that one will actually be able to make proper use of that resolution of recording, and most individuals still record at 1080p. Of particular interest to skydivers, is the added ability to overlay recorded data through both standard camera functionality, as well as extra information which can be included through the connectivity between the camera and a sports device. This means that pitch and roll data, speed data, elevation and more can be recorded and overlaid onto the video. See the video below for a demonstration of what is available with the new Virb cameras. Unlike the Hero 4 Silver, both of the new Virb cameras will come with GPS built in. Both the Virb and Virb XE will take Micro-SD cards, and support up to 128GB cards. Both the earlier Virb Elite and the GoPro Hero 4 Silver support up to 64GB cards, so the fact that the new Garmin cameras can handle double the storage space, will definitely be marked as a big positive by many. Other noteworthy functionality: The inclusion of a gyroscope based accellerometer is another feature that is not present in a lot of the other action cameras currently on the market. Both the Virb X and the Virb XE will also be waterproof to 50m, without needing any additional casing. Both cameras will have multi-camera live control and preview for up to 10 cameras. ANT+ connectivity PricingOn paper it appears as though the Virb X and Virb XE are going to be valid choices to look at when looking to buy one of the new action cameras on the market. They look good, offer some great functionality and did I mention that they were well priced? The Virb X will retail for just $299 while you'll need to drop $399 for the Virb XE. Final ThoughtsDespite being stuffed with great new connectivity and some nifty new features, there are some questions raised over the choice to stick to limited recording options for both cameras. Currently the Virb X offers very limited options even for recording in 1080p in comparison to its competition. The Virb X offers only 25 and 30fps at 1080p, where we would have liked to see 60fps being offered. Similarly, Garmin could have really put their foot down by offering 4k recording on the Virb XE. Because of the low price though, if 4k recording isn't on your list of priorities but you find yourself wanting the flexibility of being able to shoot at 1080p/60fps, the Virb XE can offer you that. The real test is yet to come when subjects like how it handles transition between lighting conditions, low light noise levels and video quality can be tested hands on. Compare the Virb X, Virb XE and GoPro Hero 4 Silver Feature Garmin Virb X Garmin Virb XE GoPro Hero4 Silver Wifi Yes Yes Yes Bluetooth Yes Yes Yes Accellerometer Yes Yes No Preview Screen No No Yes GPS Yes Yes No Recharge Method USB USB Mini-USB Recording Time 2 Hours 2 Hours 2 Hours Storage Type Micro-SD Micro-SD Micro-SD Maximum Storage Size 128GB 128GB 64GB 4K Recording No No 12.5/15 fps 2.7k Recording No No 24/25/30 fps 1440p Recording No 30 fps 24/25/30/48 fps 1080p Recording 25/30 fps 24/25/30/48/50/60 fps 24/25/30/48/50/60 fps 960p Recording 25/30 fps 50/60/100 fps 50/60/100 fps 720p Recording 25/30/50/60 fps 25/30/50/60/100/120 fps 35/50/60/100/120 fps WVGA Recording 120 fps 240 fps 240 fps Camera Megapixels 12 MP 12 MP 12 MP Burst Mode 10 p/sec 30 p/sec 30 p/sec Sport Computer Control Yes Yes No ANT+ Connectivity Yes Yes No Sport Data Overlay Yes (Garmin Apps) Yes (Garmin Apps) No Phone Remote Connectivity Yes Yes Yes Multi-Cam Control Up to 10 Cams Up to 10 Cams No USB Connection USB USB Mini-USB Micro-HDMI No No Yes Price $299 $399 $399
  8. With the increased popularity of action cameras over recent years it's not surprising that we've seen an increase in the manufacturing of third party hardware that makes use of the GoPro camera to add additional value to users. Hypoxic recently released their Turned On product, which allows skydivers to see whether or not their camera is recording or whether there's any errors, without having to ask their buddy. The company Alti-Force has just released a product of their own that attaches to the GoPro camera and like the Turned On device, will seek to add some extra value to skydivers. When in use the Alti-Force Sensor Pack will be able to overlay information about your flight over the video. The device is able to record and display both altitude and the acceleration/G-Force of your jump. The visual representation of Gs can be useful for those looking to maximize performance, by using the information to identifcal optimum body positioning and technique. Features Subtitled video playback for your GoPro® camera Altitude subtitles selectable as feet or meters Acceleration G-force subtitles selectable as X-Y-Z axes or total magnitude Compatible with GoPro® Hero4 Black and Silver, Hero3+ Black and Silver, or Hero3 Black Fits in GoPro® cases with BacPac™ backdoor² (not included) Compatibility GoPro® Hero3 Black – YES – firmware v03.00 GoPro® Hero3+ Silver – YES – firmware v02.00 GoPro® Hero3+ Black – YES – firmware v02.00 | v03.00* GoPro® Hero4 Silver – YES – firmware v02.00.00 GoPro® Hero4 Black – YES – firmware v02.00.00 All efforts will be made to maintain compatibility with future firmware versions but cannot be guaranteed *v03.00 disables camera’s USB mode, use of memory card reader is required Any that support .SRT subtitle files (check your player’s specifications) Includes most TVs and VLC media player (for all OS platforms) Video must be played via USB mode or memory card reader If copied off camera, video .MP4 and subtitle .SRT files must be copied to same location Note: Windows® Media Player and QuickTime do not support .SRT subtitles Camera Modes The Alti-Force Sensor Pack records data/subtitles in Video Mode only. All standard video resolutions and frame rates are supported. The Alti-Force Sensor Pack does not support Time Lapse and Looping video modes, and is disabled in all Photo modes. Mechanical Size: 2.36 x 1.38 x 0.40 in (60 x 35 x 10 mm) Weight: <1 oz (18 g) Electrical Standard camera voltage: 3.6v (powered from camera) Minimal current draw: <2 mA typical Accelerometer Tri-axial | ± 16 G’s | 0.1 G resolution Barometer Absolute Pressure: 300 to 1100 mbar | ~0.1 mbar resolution Altitude range: -2000 to 30,000 feet | 1 ft resolution Pressure to Altitude conversion assumes standard conditions. Sampling RateHero 3/3+: approx 4.5 samples per second Hero 4: approx 6.5 samples per second Subtitle Settings Altitude: Feet | Meters | Both | None Acceleration: XYZ axes | Total magnitude | All | None G-bar: On | Off Temperature: °F | °C | None — Additional options — Data CSV file (saves all raw sensor values): On | Off Altitude offset: Feet only More information on the Alti-Force Sensor Pack can be found on the Alti-force website.
  9. The latest addition to the Squirrel inventory has been made available for pre-order this week. The Aura 2 will be the successor to the originally Aura suit, which saw favourable reviews and quickly established itself as a popular BASE jumping suit. While no information has been provided yet by Squirrel, as to the specifications and features of the new suit, it's expected that the Aura 2, like its predecessor - will be a BASE focused wingsuit. Even with the original Aura design though, Squirrel ensured that the suit was catered as much as possible to skydivers, with several features including a 'Skydive Mode'. More information about the Aura 2 will be provided when it's released by the company. But for now, all we have is 40 seconds of teaser footage.
  10. Sony FDR-X1000VSony have started off the first quarter of 2015 with a couple of action camera announcements that are likely to excite fans of the Sony series. At CES 2015, which was hosted last week, Sony unveiled two new models of action cameras, venturing into the 4k action cam market. Sony are no newcomers to 4k recording products and have been selling 4k recording devices for a few years already, but moving in the direction of smaller and cheaper recording devices such as action cameras is a big step towards general consumers. Along with the new announcement for the 4k action camera, was the announcement of a new HD action camera, a new version of one of the company's popular cameras. The first of the two cameras announced at CES is the FDR-X1000V, the 4k action cam product that will aim to compete with the new GoPro Hero 4. The X1000V will be able to record 4k video (3840x2160) at 30fps, with focus also being placed on enhancements to the HD recording options, stabilization and frame rate. The enhancements in stability come from an upgrade to the company's trademarked "SteadyShot" technology, which is promoted as being 3 times better at handling certain vibrations. With stabilization being such an important part of recording skydiving footage, it will be interesting to see how the X1000V does in comparison to the other Sony action cams on the market. Also beneficial, especially to skydivers - is the new, enhanced wind noise reduction. While the focus of the X1000V definitely appears to be the ability to record in 4K, the camera also boasts some impressive recording abilities at both full HD and standard HD. Up to 120fps is supported for Full HD recording, while Standard HD allows for 240fps recording. Sony HDR-AS200VThe second camera to be announced is the new HDR-AS200V. Last year Sony unveiled the AS100V, which in turn became quite a popular action cam. The AS series of Sony action cameras have in fact probably been the most used Sony product for skydivers, with the releases of the AS15, AS30 and AS100 in just a few short years. We've done extensive testing on some of these models in the past, and they have always performed well, with the Sony AS30 coming out on top in our Action Cam Shootout last year. The AS200V will receive the same boost in stabilization and noise reduction as the above-mentioned X1000V, while offering recording in 60fps at 1080p, 120fps at 720p and 240fps in the WVGA video format. New Features For X1000V and AS200VSony have extended most of the new features they have developed to both of these cameras, and it appears that the only real differences between models will be the ability for 4k recording on the X1000V, as well as a more enhanced underwater casing that is provided with it. Built in GPS & Action Cam Movie Creator Action Cam Movie Creator is software that is included with both the models and allows for the easy creation of videos, which can also use the built-in GPS to display the GPS details in an overlay of the video. Highlight Movie Maker For those who don't want to spend the time creating a movie from a series of clips, the Highlight Movie Maker will offer the ability to quickly and easily produce smaller mp4 video format highlights of a video, along with being able to add music to the video. The Highlight Movie Maker uses an algorithm to detect where the action is happening within the video, and then cuts out scenes which it detects as unimportant. Live View Remote With the new cameras come a new live view LCD remote. The Sony RM-LVR2 is a waterproof (to 3 meters) offers extensive control over both the AS200V and the X1000V, with the ability to control recording, playback, deletion of files. The live view functionality also means that you'll be able to get a clear preview of what is being recorded. Release Dates & Pricing: The X1000V and AS200V will be available from March with the X1000V being priced at $500, packaged with the enhanced SPK-X1 waterproof case. For the live view remote bundle, you will be paying $600. The AS200V will go for $300, and include the SPK-AS2 waterproof case and tripod mount. The live view remote bundle will also cost $100 extra, and set you back $400.
  11. admin

    Turned On by Hypoxic

    In May of 2014 the skydiving-focused electronics company Hypoxic began a Kickstarter campaign that sought out a goal funding of $30,000 in order to develop a status indicator for the GoPro action camera. Despite dominating the market for several years, neither GoPro or its primary competitors come with a feature or piece of hardware that allows the user to easily determine the status of the camera or its recording. For sports where the GoPro is mounted out of sight, such as the popular helmet mounting method, this can often cause hesitation when trying to remember whether you may have pressed record or whether you put the SD card back. Hypoxic's goal was to try and provide a useful and easy way of determining whether the camera is functioning as it should, while also removing that hesitation from the minds of the jumper. As quoted from the Kickstarter page: "In our sports, these uncertainties are not just unsettling: they’re dangerous. As an athlete, you know: before riding down this line, starting this race, jumping out of this plane, launching down this mountain, you need an absolutely clear head. Nothing good can happen when personal safety takes a backseat to a blinking light." By the end of June last year, the Kickstarter campaign had raised $43,049, more than $13,000 over the original target amount. Incentives for backers ranged from stickers for those that pledged $5 or more, to Turned On units with early shipping for backers that pledged over $180. Over the past 6 months the Kickstarter units have been sent to the backers of the campaign and were well received. The Turned On units have now begun shipping to outlets and are available for public purchase. What Does It Do?The Turned On unit makes use of 3 colored LED lights to provide information as to the status of the camera. When the camera is recording, the light will be solid red. When it is on standby a blue light will be displayed. When an error is present it will display either a solid yellow or a flashing yellow light. When the light is flashing yellow, it indicates a potential impending interruption to recording, such as low card space, low battery or high temperature. A solid yellow light indicates an error and in this case, the camera will not be able to record, such as in situations where the card is missing or corrupt. The device will work in all modes, and show the active recording light whether you're recording video or shooting a series of images in burst mode. What separates the Turned On indicator from other indicators on the market is the detailed level of information provided. Most other indicators simply use an on/off system that will display whether or not the camera is recording or even just whether the power is on, which is often unreliable - especially in cases when the camera may be in stand by mode. Compatibility and SupportCurrently there is limited compatibility with the Turned On, and will require one of the following GoPro cameras: GoPro Hero 4 Black, GoPro Hero 4 Silver, GoPro Hero 3+ Black, GoPro Hero 3 Black. Supported Versions GoPro Hero 4 Black - v1.02.00 GoPro Hero 4 Silver - v1.0.2.00 GoPro Hero 3+ Black - v1.04.00 GoPro Hero 3 Black - v3.00.00 There are two build of the Turned On available, the H3+/H4 and the H3. The H3+/H4 is designed for use with the GoPro Hero 3+ and GoPro Hero 4 cases, while the H3 model is for use with the GoPro Hero 3 case. Hypoxic are already looking to expand the development to include more of the GoPro models and claim to be exploring compatibility that goes back to the GoPro Hero 2. Where to Get One?Dealers that are listed with selling the Turned On units are as follows: Chuting Star - Skydive the Farm, GA Patrick Kaye - Skydive Dubai, Dubai, UAE Para-Gear - Skokie, IL Ranch Pro Shop / Tonfly USA - Skydive the Ranch, NY The Drop Shop - Skydive Chicago Gold Coast Skydivers - Gold Coast Skydivers, LA Sunshine Factory - ZHills, FL Rock Sky Market - Chicago Skydive Center, IL Xtreme Video - Skydive Carolina, Chester, SC HYPOXIC - Chandler, AZ As of the release of this article, the MSRP for the Turned On units was listed as $99. More information and installation guides can be found on the Turned On Website.
  12. Over the past several weeks Performance Designs have been dropping hints about their latest product, with a cryptic advertisment in Parachutist magazine at the end of September, that had a few readers scratching their heads and trying to establish what exactly PD were advertising. Clearly the marketing tactic worked, as interest grew about just what it was about. One community member, "Zlew" - suggested that the advert may be about a product with the name "Valkyrie", based off the design and the style of the 'V' that was present in the image. Today Performance Designs have confirmed this suspicion, with the public announcement of their this new canopy, the Valkyrie. The Valkyrie is a mean little 7-cell design with inflatable stabilizers/wingtips, and is quite similar to the Peregrine in both look and planform. It's a freefall canopy with focus on quality openings at terminal speeds. - Zero-Porosity material. - Standard configuration: Collapsible drawstring slider and 500 Orange Vectran, optional RDS and 300 Orange Vectran (for competitive/subterminal use) - Sizes: The Valkyrie We spoke to Performance Designs about the Valkyrie, and they addressed some of the questions one may have about the company's new canopy. Q: Who is this canopy for? A: This canopy is far more responsive than a Velocity or Comp Velocity, and not lacking in power or speed. It was designed for expert skydivers who are experienced and highly competent on high performance, cross braced canopies. If you are very proficient jumping a Velocity or Comp Velocity and want to take it to the next level, this is the canopy for you. "The openings are amazing. Best opening canopy I can recall jumping. Never once got it to open hard no matter what I tried (freefly to a quick pull, tracking hard to a pull, etc)." - Ian Drennan,PDFT Q: How are the openings? A: This canopy opens like a dream. Even though it is extremely responsive to input, you will find the openings to be smooth, well-staged and with less tendency to search for a heading during inflation. Q: How are the flight characteristics? A: The Valkyrie is more responsive on all controls. The flare and stopping power of this canopy is incredible, and it also has great glide capabilities. All around, this canopy is awesome to fly. But don't take our word for it. Q: When can I get one? A: We will be accepting orders from PD's Authorized Dealers on December 1, 2014. Standard crossbraced production time will apply to the Valkyrie. These lead times are posted on the performancedesigns.com home page. Q: How do I buy one? A: The Valkyrie will be sold through PD's Authorized dealer network. Interested customers should contact their local dealer to discuss if this canopy is right for them, and should be prepared to demonstrate expert canopy pilot skills and/or provide references. Potential pilots should be highly competent on a more traditional crossbraced canopy, prior to considering a Valkyrie. "The Valkyrie is a carving machine! You get so much more lift, control, and smooth flight when carving a swoop, than with a Velocity. The toggles are more responsive, and flare a lot more powerful." - Alejandro Ramos, Tribu Freefly Q: When will stock canopies be available? A: We are planning on producing stock canopies by early February 2015, but are anticipating heavy demand for this stock. The best way to assure a quick and efficient Valkyrie delivery will be to place your order in early December 2014. "The feedback we have been getting on this new product is incredibly positive, with regards to openings, flight characteristics and performance. We are very excited to make the Valkyrie available to everyone (*with the required experience)." Comp VelocityWith the ever growing trend of people using the Comp Velocity for every day purposes, we have decided to make changes that will make it readily available for non-competition use. Introductory Retail Price: $3200 Additional for RDS: $250 (instead of standard slider/subterminal use) The standard configuration of the Comp Velocity will include a collapsible drawstring slider, instead of the RDS, and 500 size lines. This will also cause a price adjustment for this product. Retail Price: $3050 Additional cost for RDS:$250 (instead of collapsible drawstring slider/subterminal use) "We have also included a number of additional line options for the Comp Velocity. The new order form will offer 300 or 500 Orange Vectran, 500 or 700 HMA, 500 or 750 Vectran. Current stock will remain with 300 Orange Vectran and RDS. We will begin to include the collapsible drawstring slider & 500 line configuration on our stock Comp Velocities in the near future. We anticipate these pricing, stock and order form changes to occur on or around December 2014."
  13. The Squirrel Snatch is a revolutionary new product that sees the first BASE targeted development of a toroidal design for a pilot chute. Although the design has been used extensively in the development of non-sport parachutes for over 40 years, until now it's never been manufactured for BASE or skydiving. The idea was born from a discussion between the company's co-designer and CRW expert, Jim Rasmussen. The toroidal design (also known as a Pulled-Down-Apex design) that the Snatch uses, is a complex and costly product to produce and was no small undertaking by the company. The Snatch has a three dimensional partial toroidal shape and is joined together with two mesh cones, allowing for extremely high drag co-efficiency. Squirrel Wingsuits discuss the differences between the shape of a toroidal design and that of the common pilot chute by saying, "Traditional PCs are two circles sewn together around the edges, typically one of ZP and one of mesh, with a piece of line or webbing connecting the center of each circle together at a specific distance. When pulled from the center of the mesh circle and dragged through a fluid, it inflates into a rough approximation of a pulled-down-apex shape, but with a large amount of distortion and error, with a wrinkled and asymmetric circumference. Imagine crumpling up a single piece of paper until it forms the 3D shape you want to design - it won't look good, nor be an accurate representation of a 3D surface. Yet that is the current basis of traditional PCs: an approximate and inefficient 2D design meant to perform a task that requires a 3D shape." Squirrel used an ellipse with a 7:10 (H:W) ratio, with an axis offset of 20% of the width in the development of the torus. The tangent formed with the cones and partial torus was calculated precisely to ensure that the ZP had a smooth transition with the mesh. This allows for the ability to maintain a smooth error-free perimeter on the pilot chute. Innovation aside, the most impressive part about the Snatch is the enhanced performance over regular double circle pilot chutes. Because of the shape of standard pilot chutes, the surface area is usually met with an imbalance of stress, with some areas being pulled more than others, and material being "loose". The randomness aspect that is present in these regular pilot chutes gets minimized with the toroidal design of the Snatch. Unlike normal PCs which are constantly changing shape as airflow moves around the creases and wrinkles, the toroidal design inflates to its intended shape and remains that way, without the pulsing that is usually witnessed. When inflated, the Squirrel Snatch takes the shape of a 3D object, with specifically calculated gores. This increase in inflation performance is easily seen in testing where far superior stability was witnessed in both wind tunnel and field testing. Symmetry is one of the most important factors in the performance of a pilot chute, and each Snatch is guaranteed to be symmetric, with the build tolerance being set at a stringent 1mm +/-. The focus with the Snatch has not only been on general performance and innovation, but also on safety. Squirrel decided that due to the suggested risks involved with heavy handles, and their involvement in entanglements, that they wanted to produce the lightest possible design, without compromising on durability. The decrease in weight means that bridle entanglements become less likely. The Snatch uses hexagonal carbon-fiber handles for sizes 32, 34, 36 and 38. The 42 featured a pad-patch top with no carbon, while the 46 and 48 are handle-free, for hand held use. The Snatch already has several skydivers wondering whether or not they will be able to use it on their skydiving rig, or whether the company plans to release a skydiving specific toroidal PC in the future, as well as whether or not this is a development that could change the development and focus of PCs in general. Squirrel have open sourced the design, in the attempt to get more BASE jumping what they consider to be a higher performance and safer design. For those looking to build their own toroidal PC, you can get in contact with Squirrel via e-mail and they will provide you with the 2D patterns for all sizes.
  14. We recently announced that GoPro had planned to release their latest action camera, the GoPro Hero 4. The Hero 4 is set for release this month, and since at the time of our original article, we had little to no footage of what the Hero 4 performed like, specifically in a skydiving environment, we couldn't really make a call on value between the different editions. Hypoxic has now however released a video showing a comparison between the Hero 4 Silver and the Hero 4 Black, and the initial results are a little surprising. View Full 1920x1080 Hero 4 Silver Image View Full 1920x1080 Hero 4 Black Image The video was recorded at 80fps for the GoPro Hero 4 Black and at 60fps for the Hero 4 Silver, though little noticible difference is seen in the smoothness of the video in standard playback. There are however some differences between the two cameras, as can be seen when comparing screenshots of the video. We decided to analyze the screenshots from the video and see who really comes out on top between the Hero 4 Silver and the Hero 4 Black. All example pictures are 1080p (1920x1080) cropped at 100%. The first thing we looked at when examining the video, were the noise levels. In the example shots above, noise can be seen in the gradient of the sky. Noise levels for both these cameras were good, and it is difficult to pick a clear winner, though for this test I would suggest that the Hero 4 Black comes out on top, though still not a bad result for the Silver Edition. Next we took a look at some of the primary aspects of image quality, focusing on sharpness and detail levels. This is where we were quite surprised, with the Hero 4 Silver taking a very clear lead over the Black Edition on sharpness and detail. This is an area where many would expect the top tier camera to perform at its best, and give the buyer a reason to spend the extra $100. Instead we find that the Black Edition lacks in sharpness. In the image above, one can note the sharpness/clarity difference easily by examining the helmet and rig on the top two images. The "Mirage" text is sharp and easily readable on the Hero 4 Silver, while on the Black Edition it's blury and hard to distinguish. Also take a look at the buildings on the top images, on the right of the screenshots. Again the Hero 4 Silver is sharper, both with objects in close range to the camera and in the distance. Comparing the skydiver in the orange and blue jumpsuit on the bottom images, also show you that facial details are picked up much better by the Silver Edition. Finally we looked at the contrast and saturation, and again we were a little surprised. It was much closer between the two cameras with this test and with regards to saturation, neither of the cameras look oversaturated and they both seem to handle the dark gray and black quite well. When examining the socks of the skydiver, it does seem to handle the whites a bit better on the Silver Edition, both are quite close and very much acceptable, but there appears to be a more crisp whiteness in the left image. This test however is hard to establish with certainty, as the increased sharpness in the left image may suggest crisper colours, while the Hero 4 Black's may appear a bit more washed out due to a lack of sharpness in the image. It's important to note that in camera manufacturing, there are variables that can result in batches or individual cameras performing poorer (or better) than the standard. So it's possible that this was the case with the two cameras above. Though whether this is to blame for the Hero 4 Black's lack of image performance, will likely only be told with time, as more footage is shot and released. A much more likely reason for the decrease in performance when looking at grabs taken from a video, as pointed out by the user "cbjetboy" in the comments below. Is that the Black is recording at 80fps as opposed to 60fps. This increase in frame rate is likely to have a negative impact on the result seen from a screenshot, as opposed to as if it had been recorded at a lower fps. It is difficult to say exactly how much of an impact this had on the results, but it seems we will need to wait for further comparative testing before we can come to a solid conclusion. Though when comparing the videos themselves side by side, there is little to suggest that the Black Edition comes out any better than the Silver. Based on what information we do have though, if you assume that both these cameras are operating at their normal performance levels, unless you're looking to use the 30fps 4k recording that's available solely on the Hero 4 Black, these early tests suggest that you may be just as well of sticking to the Silver Edition and saving yourself $100. The Silver Edition also comes with the perc of having a touch screen for easier navigation and image/video previewing.
  15. ConceptLeia is born from a simple idea: bringing the Petra technology to the open market! After bringing Petra to the CP competition scene three years ago, we have had many more orders than we could reasonably deal with. Everyone wanted one! But as I was going through the infamous ‘list’, I realized that about half were not the original target market of Petra. People were asking for bigger lines, insisted on a ZP version¹... They wanted the fun of it but were not planning to compete. It became quite obvious we would have to go back to the (computer aided) drawing board to infuse some of the Petra DNA into a more accessible canopy and create Petra’s little sister. She would have to fit in a small Freefly container and be jumpable every day and so we could see her first curves appearing: ZP No hassle Good openings She also needed to keep Petra’s epic flight characteristics such as a high roll rate, a very long dive, high harness sensitivity and the widest speed range ever covered by a parachute (Petra can fly with a tandem or a wingsuit without trims). The picture was getting clearer: High ellipticity Powerband² Steep trim Compact aspect ratio Development 1. BridgetWe first decided on a 7 cell format and we couldn’t wait to learn more so we cut two cells out of a big Petra. Bridget was born. This was a fun experiment but it wasn’t quite right. The aspect ratio was too small, the toggle range was weird and the flare wasn’t powerful enough. Why Bridget? In a nutshell, this prototype was a little frumpy looking, but still kinda hot! Her low aspect ratio gave her some luscious curves. And while we love curves, we reckon a sleeker wing might suit our purpose better for this project! 2. CandyWe gave it more thought (and more computer simulations) and used our secret recipe… a mix of science, beer, experience, overheating computers, head scratching, experiments, overheating sewing machines and beer. And finally went back to the dropzone with a much better design. We gave it a more reasonable aspect ratio and ditched the Mini Ribs³ that appeared useless on this type of design. She was awesome and the test jumpers were looking for excuses to keep jumping her. When they couldn’t find any more, they started fighting to get her in their personal rigs. And so she started to go around... a lot! We thought that was a good sign. She was truly flying like Petra so we thought about calling her Petra Lite but she deserved better than being her little sister forever. She needed a personality of her own to grow big in this world. We called her Candy, for her acid drop colors and sweeeeet openings. 3. LeiaWe knew we were onto something so we kept looking for things to improve. We changed the lineset, refined the panel designs, put more beers into it and made sure every detail was worth her surname... Here is Leia... We invited TJ Landgren, Katie Hansen and Nick Batsch to try it while they were visiting NZ this summer and they all loved it. Nick did an impressive 175m swoop on it on his first jump (nil wind and at sea level) confirming the awesome potential of the canopy! He didn’t say much straight away but his smile left us confident that she is better than any other ZP competition wing on the market. TargetWe said everyday, not everyone... Leia is a very high-end design targeted to the most experienced jumpers out there. The way we see it, Leia will NOT be the best choice for: First Crossbraced canopy Distance world record WingsuitingBut will be an awesome wing for: Awesome swoopers who want to fun jump, work and play with their canopy, and swoop the shit out of it too – competitively or not! Zone accuracy (currently tested by some of the very best pilots) Everyday canopy that flies similar to Petra to stay current while working Competition wing Mountain flying XRW Something you guys will come up with. Specs Cells: 7 Chambers: 21 Structure: Crossbraced Tip chord to Center chord ratio: 0.4 (!) Aspect ratio: 2.65 Wing loading: 2.2 to ? Features: No stabilizers, Integrated slider stops, Powerband², No Mini-Ribs³ Deployment system: Normal slider, RDS available on demand Materials: ZP (maybe a hybrid version later on) Lines: Black HMA 400 (maybe HMA 600 later on) Sizes: Any Price: The price hasn’t been decided yet but it will be around 3100USD. Availability: Leia is our current project and we are proud to share it with you but this is not an available product at the moment. We hope it will become available sometime in 2014 or 2015. 1. Petra is only made out of Sail fabric. This is a generic and misleading name for a range of Polyurethane coated nylons developed for paragliders. It gives more rigidity and a better controlled shape to the competition canopies thanks to its low stretch characteristics. Unfortunately, it also packs bigger and doesn’t last as long as our good old ZP (Silicone coated nylon) so it needs to be treated with much more precaution. To learn more about how to increase its life span, contact [email protected] 2. We call the Powerband the black part on the top leading edge. It is visible on Petra and makes it easily recognizable. It helps defining and controlling the shape better in this critical area where lift is created making a real difference in performance. 3. The Mini-Ribs are partial ribs covering about 20% of the chord starting from the tail. They allow better shape control on the tail and a sharper trailing edge decreasing the wake turbulence and form drag. This is a design feature commonly found on paragliders and on some wingsuits but Petra is the first parachute using it. Keep checking this space or our Facebook page to check the new stuff we are working on!
  16. GoPro have announced the specs and release date for the highly anticipated Hero 4 action camera, which will come in three models. The new series of GoPros are scheduled for release around the middle of October this year, and will feature the standard GoPro Hero 4, a GoPro Hero 4 Silver and then the top of the range GoPro Hero 4 Black. New Key FeaturesSome of the highlights with regards to the specifications of the new GoPro range is the addition of 30fps recording at 4k resolution that is found with the Black Edition, which sees a big step up from the previous models 4k video recording, which only allowed for 15fps recording at 4k. The increase in frames from the Hero 3 will mean that users will find more versatility with their high resolution video recording. Another exciting new addition is that of a touch screen on the Silver edition. While GoPro has always been a reliable camera with regards to build and video quality, one aspect that many have found lacking has been the usability of the camera menus, which are handled with the on camera buttons and a small display. Now GoPro have gone and added what is likely to be a very welcomed addition in that it has introduced for the first time in the GoPro series, a touch screen which will no doubt allow for easier navigation of the menus, as well enabling the ability to preview your images (worth noting that the Hero 4 claims to have a new interface for quicker menu navigation too). It is however unusual that the touch screen feature is only available on the Silver edition and not on that of the more expensive Black edition, nor the entry level version of the Hero 4. The most likely reason for the inclusion in the Silver edition is that GoPro is marketing the new series towards three general groups of people, and the mid-range target market is more likely to desire the touch screen, without having to purchase the LCD "BacPac" accessory, which sells for another $80. Though of course it is still possible for one to use their smartphone as a remote for the camera. As customary with a new GoPro release, the company has focused on increasing the general image quality achieved and further enhancements have been made on ensuring better quality in low-light. GoPro Hero 4 Black The GoPro Hero 4 Black, is as mentioned above, the top of the range for the Hero 4 series and thus the most powerful of the lineup. A new processor is claimed to be twice as fast as that found in it's predecessor. The Hero 4 Black will not only have video performance enhancements, but also step up the game with far superior audio recording. There are three modes of shooting with regards to field-of-view: Narrow, Medium or Ultra Wide. There will be the ability to manually adjust settings like ISO limit, exposure and colour for both video and photos. The camera will include built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Waterproofing down to 40 meters will be standard. GoPro are seemingly targeting the Hero 4 Black to those looking for the absolute best quality and features available in an action camera, specifically professional use and dedicated adventure sports enthusiasts who are looking to create high quality video footage using the camera. The Hero 4 Black will cost $500 on release. GoPro Hero 4 Silver The GoPro Hero 4 Silver seems to be targeted to your average action cam user, from the weekend surfer to the seasoned hiker, or even tourist. The touch screen that is included on this model will make it easier to navigate and preview what you've taken. This is especially useful for those who want to use the photographic functions and treat it as both a still camera and video camera. The image sensor on the Silver, like the Black - allows for 12 megapixel images at 30fps. This model is still more than adequate to provide quality video footage and also offers 4k resolution video recording, but only at a maximum of 15fps. With functionality such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Waterproofing being the same as that of the Black, one can see why there is only a $100 price difference between the two. The Silver will sell at around the $400 dollar mark. GoPro Hero 4 The Hero 4, is the entry model for the series and comes in at an extremely affordable $130. It records in full 1080p resolution at 30fps or 720p at 60fps. The sensor of the camera allows for 5 megapixel images, offering 5fps bursts. The market for this entry level camera would be those looking to enjoy the benefits of an HD recording camera, while not having to fork out more than they need to. The use of action cameras in every day life has become exceedingly common and this camera will offer more than enough for a large portion of GoPro users. This camera could also work for those who are perhaps wanting to try something brave with their camera to get a certain shot, but do not want to risk the potential damages to a higher priced model. We haven't seen much video footage yet, so it is difficult to put these models side by side to see exactly what one can expect from each one, and the difference in quality between models - but it will no doubt only be a matter of time before we see what this latest range is capable of.
  17. Squirrel have recently released two new products to their wingsuit inventory, with an entry level wingsuit called the Hatch and an advanced wingsuit called the Colugo 2. The Colugo 2 was announced for release in June, but was delayed until the Redbull Aces event, which saw the testing of technology included in the suit. Andy Farrington who was flying a Squirrel prototype which included this new new technology found in the Colugo 2 came first in the event. Colugo 2The original Colugo suit was met with positive reviews from owners of the suit, with many noting how quick it was to start in a BASE environment. The Colugo 2 has taken the strengths of its predecessor and included new technology and enhancements in order to make it an even stronger wingsuit. The Colugo 2 has a smaller surface area than the original with a slight change in the arm wing design. These changes were made to increase the efficiency of the profile and leading edge. Squirrel advise that while the Colugo 2 is an ideal choice for experienced wingsuit BASE jumpers, the Aura remains the best suit for more technical exit points. The Colugo looks to be great for both BASE jumpers and skydivers, with the suit catering well to glider-performance focused based jumps and skydive flocking. A better trim speed and glide range makes the Colugo 2 fly both further and faster than the original Colugo wingsuit. The handling of the C2 is said to be far superior to that of the original Colugo, with a thinner profile and more efficient leading edge. The C2 is all about speed as well, with the reduced surface area and less drag - you can expect to experience higher speed than those produced by the Colugo. The Colugo 2 from Squirrel is an agile mid to large sized wingsuit that aims to provide high performance flying in a competitive slalom environment, focusing on carving and speed. Though the suit is also able to provide pilots with quality floating. One of new features on the Colugo 2 is the AFLE (Andy Farrington Leading Edge), as they've called it. The AFLE is a new design of the leading edge, where the arm zipper on the wing chord has been moved to increase the amount of 'effective edge', in turn improviding the shape and smoothness - which then increases performance. Pre-orders are now open with the suit expecting to ship by the end of August. Read more about the Colugo 2 Wingsuit HatchThe new Hatch suit focuses primarily on being the easiest suit to fly, aimed at beginner wingsuiters who are looking for something easy, comfortable but also reliable. The Hatch has many of the features found on the other Squirrels suits, including the RAD system, tri-layer leading edge construction, reinforced inlets and innie-outie zips. The Hatch doesn't require cutaway cables, and in turn allows for direct access to the risers and brakes during and after deployment. A safety feature that Squirrel feel is vital to every wingsuit. The leading edge of the suit is said to be based on the tried and tested method Squirrel have used in their other suits of combining both comfort and performance. The Hatch is certainly aimed at those looking to purchase their first wingsuit and for skydivers that are new to wingsuiting. Though Squirrel seek to stress that the Hatch is not only for beginners and is a competent flyer in situations where agility and versatility are required. It is also recommended as a good suit for more advanced wingsuit pilots who may be new to backflying or acrobatics and are looking for a comfortable, low surface area suit to practice with. Prior to the release of the Hatch, the Swift seemed to be Squirrel's go to suit for less experienced pilots looking for something easy to fly. It will be interesting to see how the two suits hold up against each other. Read more about the Hatch Wingsuit
  18. Sony has unveiled its latest action camera which focuses on reducing size. The Sony Action Cam Mini (HDR-AZ1VR) was announced earlier this month at the IFA 2014 electronics show in Germany. While Sony's action cameras have always been small, the electronic giant decided that they could reduce the size even further by removing the GPS functionality from within the camera and instead moving it to an accompanying wrist-mounted device. The Sony AS30 and Sony AS100 weighed 90 and 67 grams respectively. The new Action Cam Mini weighs in at 4 grams lighter than the AS100, at just 63 grams with the battery included. The size of the camera itself is quite a bit smaller than both the AS30 and AS100 with a Width/Height/Diameter measurement of approximately 24.2 x 36.0 x 74.0 mm, while the AS100 had a height of 46.5mm. The smaller size is going to be good news for skydivers who are looking to minimize the risk of snag for cameras that are helmet mounted. As to be expected the Action Cam Mini will shoot in full HD with options to either shoot at 1080p at 60 or 30fps, or to shoot at 720p with the option for 120 fps slow motion recording. The camera will include an F2.8 Zeiss lens with a 170 degree field of view and an Exmor R cmos sensor. Still photographs can be shot at an impressive 11.9 megapixels. It will also include Sony's trademarked SteadyShot image stabilization and be splash proof, with a waterproof housing included that allows for 5m of depth protection. The wrist mounted device that comes with the Sony Action Cam Mini allows for data transfer between the camera and the internet, allowing users to live stream camera footage. Something else the wrist mount does that may prove invaluable to those who have the camera mounted, is that it both acts as a remote and offers live view. This will allow users to see exactly what is being recorded and adjust body position if needed, to achieve specific angles. It can control up to five cameras at once and will be water resistant. While we have yet to see any footage from this incredibly small camera, if Sony's other action cameras are anything to go by, we can expect a lot from the Sony Action Cam mini. During our action camera shootout we were extremely pleased by the results of the Sony AS100, which took the top spot. Release date for the Sony HDR-AZ1VR is late October. Specifications Image sensor 1/2.3-type back-illuminated Exmor R CMOS sensor with 11.9 megapixels (effective, approx.) Image processor BIONZ X Video formats XAVC S:  1920x1080 60p/50p(50Mbps) 1920x1080 30p/25p(50Mbps) 1920x1080 24p(50Mbps) MP4: PS:  1920x1080 60p/50p (28Mbps), HQ:  1920x1080 30p/25p (16Mbps), STD: 1280x720 30p/25p (6Mbps) SSLOW: 1280x720 120p/100p (6Mbps) VGA:  640x480 30p/25p (3Mbps) HS120(HS100): 1280x720 120p/100p (28Mbps) Lens type ZEISS Tessar® F2.8 Angle of view SteadyShot OFF: approx. 170° SteadyShot ON: approx. 120° Image stabilisation SteadyShot Audio Stereo microphone Data Multi/Micro USB Terminal (Supports Micro USB compatible devices) Wi-Fi/NFC GPS Dimensions WxHxD 24.2 x 36.0 x 74.0 mm (approx.) Media card compatibility MP4: Micro SD/SDHC/SDXC Memory Card (Class 4 or higher), Memory Stick Micro™ (Mark 2) XAVC S: Micro SDXC Memory Card (Class 10)
  19. DSE

    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.
  20. Fluid Wings is a new and innovative company based in DeLand, Florida - which is aiming to close the gap between the parachuting, speed flying and paragliding. The company was born through a love of human flight, and focus on an engineering-based approach. Fluid Wings draws from the expertise of Scott Roberts, a skydiver with over 15 years experience, who has been competing for more than a decade; Kevin Hintze, an active pilot, paraglider, speedflying instructor and test pilot; as well as Shane Shaffer, chief test pilot and production lead. From the first of June this year, Fluid Wings will begin production on their newest main - The Prime. The Prime will be a 9-cell hybrid main, available initially in sizes from 150-190 square foot in a combination of ZP and low porosity nylon. The canopy is aiming to provide pilots with a fun and predictable flight, with focus also being placed on how easy it is to pack. The Prime will look to cater to jumpers of all experience, being easy enough to handle for newer jumpers, while still being responsive enough to be fun for the more advanced skydivers. Stock colors are Royal Blue top skin and stabilizers, with a white bottom skin and ribs. Please note that bottom and rib colors are limited to white due to color section of low bulk fabric. The canopy ships with Vectran lines and soft-link connectors, with a low-bulk option packing up to a size smaller is also available. “The Prime is responsive and playful, while still easy to manage. It has a good glide for those long spots, with a nice strong flare for tip-toe landings,” said Scott Roberts of Fluid Wings. “We like her a lot and think jumpers will too!” The Prime will retail for $2090 with all options. You can contact Fluid Wings at [email protected] for more information, purchases or demo requests.
  21. Parasport Italy recently released the latest addition to their gear products with the announcement of the Z1 SL-14 helmet. The Z1 SL-14 is the first of the company's products to use the much anticipated Skylight visor. One of the new features with the Skylight visor is the ability to rotate the flip-up visor to a point whereby it will go unseen, ensuring that it does not disturb your peripheral vision under canopy. The visor is made of injection molded polycarbonate and is both anti-scratch and anti-fog treated. Parasport Italy also put focus on the ease of use, and the Skylight visor has been made to operate easily with one hand, even while wearing gloves. The positive response to the previous Z1 helmet regarding the visor locking system has meant that while enhanced upon, the same concept is used for the Z1 SL-14. A wider face opening allows for enhanced peripheral vision, a clear field of view whereby the helmet does not distract, and makes for easier sight of the handles, as well as a better awareness of the environment. There have been numerous improvements made to the shell of the Z1, ensuring a stronger, more durable helmet, while at the same time focusing on comfort. The manufacturing process involved injection molding with high impact ABS, like that used in the building of motorcycle helmets. The method by which this injection molding takes place, ensures that the products are consistent and well built. The helmet also comes with an adjustable airtight collar which is made from soft anallergic polyester. A removable variable density liner ensures that the Z1 gives a comfortable fit, while also allowing one to easily set the size just by changing the liner. The collar system has been redesigned for a more comfortable fit than previous models, with more padding around the back of the neck. Similar enhancements have been made on the liner which has been redesigned to ensure even better comfort. There has also been an improvement with the airflow management, which the liner's new design helps aid in. A lot of focus was placed on consumer and industry feedback with the production of the Z1 SL-14. Such feedback is what brought the design of the Z1 away from the rear placed ratchet collar system that was found on the previous model. The new latching system makes it possible to close the collar around your neck and secure the helmet with the chinstrap buckle in a single movement. The chinstrap is adjustable to adapt the collar to the different shapes and sizes. Adjustment is needed just once (as shown on the drawing), after that securing the Z1 SL-14 is easy as pulling the chinstrap and closing the clip: no further adjustment needed. The helmet is designed to be light and aerodynamic, while still ensuring that it is of the highest quality and strength. Technical Specifications Integrated polycarbonate flip-up visor Unique practical and affordable visor mechanism Anti-fog, anti-scratch, sturdy replaceable visor Airtight collar, combined with safety chinstrap Interchangeable liner (can be washed in the washing machine!) Pouches on both ears to accommodate audibles Size is set by the liner. Available sizes are S, M, L, XL and XXL Available with IAS option to install the Skytronic GFX, the NeoXs or compatible audibles Available separately the beautiful protecting helmet bag
  22. DSE

    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.
  23. With the Hawk, the S-Fly team were looking to design a suit that maximizes manoeuvrability and agility in the skydiving and BASE environments. By maximising the pilot’s abilities to perform rolls, flips and precision carving from both back and belly with smooth transitions, the Hawk allows the pilot to creatively express their flying style. While extremely maneuverable, the Hawk still provides the lift and power while flying on your back or belly, to allow dynamic acrobatics without dropping out or sacrificing excess altitude. The result is a really fun, very fast and powerful freestyle acrobatic wingsuit designed for intermediate to expert level pilots. The DesignThe high performance and maneuverability of the Hawk was achieved by building upon the already successful Verso platform. S-Fly increased the surface area of the arms, extended the leg wing, adjusted the profile and sweep of the arm wing to maximise speed. Additionally, in classic S-Fly style, there are no grippers allowing free wrist and hand movement. The inflation and pressurization of the Hawk is where the guys at S-Fly feel the suit really stands apart in the modern wingsuit market. The suit remains inflated while transitioning through all maneuvers and positions, but with a smooth unhindered feel. This smooth and consistent inflation of the Hawk is powered by the specific design and placement of the inlets and the four independently fed elements of the wing. The AirfoilThe Hawk’s arm and leg wings are fully pressurized in flight. The two arm wings are fed by wide mesh valves located along its leading edge. The leg wing is fed by three pronounced and reinforced inlets located on the front and three on the back. This system ensures optimum distribution and pressurization while minimizing drag in all positions. The “body” is comprised of a single cell that runs from the chest, down the circumference of the legs and to the ankles. The “body" is an evolution of the original mono-wing design from S-Fly. Through the extensive testing phase, it was found that this design allows unique and total freedom to move the pelvis, giving the pilot unencumbered and precise lateral movement without compromising performance. Through the mesh valves located on the arms, and two inlets placed high on the back, the “body” is effectively inflated while flying on the back and belly. The Hawk is constructed with Parapack light which is much lighter, has the same aerodynamic properties and is equally durable to normal parapack. The suit is surprisingly light and strong the fabric feels and how much faster it feels in comparison to other fabrics used during the prototype phase. Options *Quick Zip Cut arm wing release system Textured BASE soles Chest zipper port for camera access Fast leg zipper opening strap
  24. Squirrel Wingsuits have just released the latest addition to their inventory. The SUMO is a tracking suit, the first to be manufactured by the company. The suit is aimed towards both BASE jumpers and skydivers, and catered towards all levels of experience, from beginners through to advanced trackers. It was the decision of Squirrel to opt for a 2-piece tracking suit system as opposed to a single piece suit, aiming to bring the comfort and ease of use found in 2-piece systems while providing the performance of a 1-piece suit. The driving concept behind the SUMO was for a tracking suit that balances both volume and stability, while making internal pressure and quick inflation vital points in its design. The SUMO has an included “No-Wobble System” which secures the pants to the knee area. This feature, which can be toggled to be active or inactive, helps prevent movement while tracking, giving you better performance and is recommended for proximity BASE jumps, multiways and flights that demand only the best performance. It is attached to the area using Velcro, which can then be easily left unfastened, should one not wish to fly with the No-Wobble system. The suit is tapered slightly from waist to ankle, to increase the ease of handling. It is also quick to inflate after exit and is said to provide excellent forward speed with simple and intuitive control. Squirrel have built the SUMO tracking suit with the same high standards that have made their wingsuits such a success. It is highly advised that BASE jumpers first practice jumping with the SUMO from by skydiving it until they have become comfortable with the way it flies. SUMO Tracking Suit Features Force FeedThe majority of power in a tracking suit comes from the pants, and the SUMO benefits from an array of mylar-fed inlets which rapidly inflate and maintain pressure inside the suit. Quick StartsThe SUMO's oversized arm inlets provide immediate control after exit. Upper arm inlets allow early inflow after exit, and the shoulder inlets maintain pressure in flight, through all angles of attack. No-WobbleInside the pants at the knee, Squirrel have added a Velcro enclosure which anchors the pants to your leg, reducing pant-leg wobble and increasing control and performance. This is one of the most crucial features of the SUMO, giving the pants a more precise and solid feel when maneuvering in high speed tracks. Air-TightA high collar, cinched wrist, and extra-long torso help in reducing leakage and maintaining jacket pressure. Plenty-PocketsThere are four zipped chest pockets which provide plenty of space for phones / emergency electronics / gear storage, and the jacket is lined with airmesh and lycra/fleece for comfort and structure. ReinforcedThe knees of the SUMO are heavily reinforced with Cordura, with 5mm of closed cell foam padding for protection and structure. Toe-TensionThere are three toe-tension settings available , which use a lightweight and simple buckle/strap adjustment to maximize fit performance. ZipsHighly durable and custom colored 10C YKK zips run up both legs.
  25. POV cameras are popping out of the ether these days, and a small company in Korea, previously specializing in dashboard cameras, has entered the POV fray with their small box Blackvue camera. The Blackvue closely resembles the frame of the GoPro, and that’ll be the first comparison most folks will make when looking at this camera. Size and weight-wise, the BlackVue is identical to the GoPro, JVC Adixxion, Swan, and the majority of other POV cameras, and the profile isn’t terribly different from its main competitor. Why would one look at the Blackvue SC500 (or any other competitive camera)? Price, form factor, simplicity/ease of use/setup all fall into a consideration. The Blackvue is ridiculously simple with few buttons, no menus to scroll through, and the simple modes assure perfect recordings every time. The camera features Wifi output for monitoring, an included/detachable LCD display, and is capable of shooting 60p footage for smooth slow motion. The housing is a rubberized, non-water/weatherproof housing that mounts on a stickypad/thumbscrew system (compatible with GoPro mounting accessories). The camera is essentially choice-free, in that it offers three shooting modes. 30p (standard/default 1920x1080/30p) Still Photo (also capable of timelapse) High Speed (1280 x720/120p) IMAGE QUALITYLet’s start with the most important aspect of image quality. Image quality from this camera is about what I expected it to be. It’s not “drop your jaw this is incredible” good, and it’s not really poor, either. It’s better than some of its competitors, lesser than others so I’d refer to it as “average.” The camera features a Sony Exmor imager, similar to the imager used in the Sony AS-15 cameras, and I’m a bit surprised that Pittasoft didn’t take greater advantage of the features this sensor offers. They’ve tuned the sensor to be quite dynamic, as this screengrab demonstrates. The lens is a fixed 170 degree lens, similar to most of the competitor POV cameras. The glass is exposed, as there is no cover/protection for the lens in the housing. The lens does come with a small rubber cover that is easily lost and falls off if the camera is tipped over. It is possible to sit the camera farther back in the housing, if the LCD display is removed, thus providing some lens protection via the housing. The BUTTONSThere are only three buttons on the camera (unless one counts the LCD power button on the LCD pack). One button powers the camera and selects the mode (Video/Still/High-Speed). One button for Wifi on/off, and the record start/stop button. The removeable LCD pack also has its own power button. Buttons are large, so operating the camera while wearing gloves won’t be any kind of an issue. The built in speaker provides audio for playback, and also provides status indicators when buttons are depressed. However, this speaker/audio indicator is hard to hear in a noisy airplane. INDICATORSAll indicators are found on the front of the camera. This is where the first weakness in the camera is found. The indicator lights are small, and difficult to read in daylight. The record light is also dim and although the streamlined look of the record indicator is sexy, it’s also difficult to see in a well-lit aircraft cabin. In the 120p test footage, you can see the camera operator squinting and covering the camera to shade it from the sun, as it was challenging to see whether the camera was recording or not. BlackVue would do well to take a page from their competitors playbook and put a larger indicator light in their next version. The HOUSING:The housing is unique; a rubber “O” ring design surrounds the entire camera. The intent is to dampen vibration and provide protection against scuffs and scrapes common in the action sport environment. The housing is capable of holding only the camera, or the camera/LCD combination. The housing offers a pair of holed mounting tabs, identical to the GoPro camera mount system, and in fact, the two are compatible. This is a huge benefit to camera owners, as they have access to the full complement of GoPro mounting accessories. Smart move on the part of Pittisoft to jump on this before any of their competition has realized that when it comes to camera mounts, standardization is a good thing. This system is not waterproof, nor even weather resistant. While I’d have no problem using it around mist, clouds, etc, I’d also be very uncomfortable in any environment where water might cover any significant portion of the camera. Pittasoft does have a waterproof housing in the works at an undisclosed price. Best viewed in 720p CONNECTING POINTSThe camera provides a mini HDMI port for instant viewing on a monitor. This is critical for debriefs, as when one is working between loads, it is time-consuming to remove a microSD card and read from a computer or other playback system. The camera also offers a USB port, suitable for charging or playback over a computer. Both ports are covered by a removable plastic plug. Like other small format cameras using this “feature,” I find it annoying, as it’s a small plastic part easily fumbled while wearing any kind of glove, and may easily be lost. BATTERY LIFEThere is no easy way to say it; battery life is unimpressive. Out of six jumps, the battery failed on three of them, even though I disabled the LCD screen. The unit had been charged prior to each jump, and turned on to check on the ground prior to boarding the aircraft. It’s possible my unit wasn’t entirely up to speed, yet even after charging overnight, the unit couldn’t manage two jumps in a row with the LCD preview enabled. There is no indicator for battery level if the LCD display is disabled, yet the LCD preview eats most of the battery. Wifi is also a battery-killer, but fortunately, the WiFi indicator is very obvious, and unless cell/wifi preview is absolutely necessary, users would be wise to leave it off (this issue is similar with all the POV cameras, but the Blackvue seems to be a bit more wifi power-hungry than some of the others). In speaking with the folks at Pittisoft, they indicated that they’re now shipping a firmware offering better battery life. SUMMARYAll in all, this is a very simple camera, easier to operate than most of the POV offerings out there due to its limited functionality. Some people are looking for easy-to-use and this camera absolutely offers “easy.” Picture quality is on par with cameras costing more, and offers a better image than some of its same-price counterparts. It’s super-fast to set up and as there are no menus to cycle through, there is virtually no chance of not knowing which mode the camera is in. Its light weight makes it perfect for many other applications; I particularly appreciated how well it flies on a UAV drone. The price is competitive, the camera is very easy to operate, and the build is robust. I for one, am looking forward to seeing how Pittasoft’s new camera does in the rapidly broadening POV market. Price: 300.00 USD Available online and at some retailers now. About The AuthorDOUGLAS SPOTTED EAGLE is an audio and video pro. He is a Grammy recipient with DuPont, Peabody, and Telly awards lining his studio; he is also a participant/producer in multiple Emmy winning productions. Douglas is the Managing Producer for Sundance Media Group, Inc. and VASST, authoring several books and DVDs and serving as a trainer and consultant for videographers, software manufacturers and broadcasters. He is the author or co-author of several digital media titles including Digital Video Basics (VASST), The FullHD (VASST), and Vegas Editing Workshop (Focal Press) among many others. - See more at: http://www.dropzone.com/about/Contributors_895.html#sthash.oSWvVDbz.dpuf