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Focus Enhancements FireStore
Specifically for the FireStore DV Direct-To-Edit Disk Recording Solutions.


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Old November 20th, 2005, 02:38 AM   #1
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Run a tape as well!

The perils of relying on a FS-4 with that clunky firewire cable that Focus provide are illustrated by the situation last Thursday when I was recording amongst shopping crowds for a 'Turning on the Christmas lights in Sutton High Street' shoot. Once that straight, sticking-out-of-the-side-of-the-camera 4-pin gets jogged the FS-4 stops recording - thank goodness I was also recording on tape! (On the other hand, at another point the tape had some sound dropout, so thank goodness for the FS-4)

Ray Liffen
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Old November 20th, 2005, 03:44 AM   #2
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Oh yes . .. I highlighted/suggested this 12 months back and was, well, treated as a latter day "Luddite".

First off, using tape is not acceptable in this time of non-mechanical chip storage. Secondly - IMHO - Firewire drives are a stop gap until we get some more reliable method. Run 'n Gun stuff in busy Sutton is a point in case.

Look, I DO want fast, reliable, capture. Tape for me is a sufficient back up for the upcoming devices. The day will come for us 'umble videographers - Green House Gases notwithstanding - that I want to be able to upload via a VidSat my live footage directly to my NLE machine - yeah? Me, Luddite? Nah, not at all . . just impatient for change AND at the same time needing security of capture . .. not a bad thing I guess?

Ray, I'm with you on this.

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Old November 21st, 2005, 12:35 PM   #3
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ray, what kind of camera are you using? the mod i did for the firewire cable going into my xl1s has been flawless, it's never popped out of the camera... i shoot in tapeless mode only, no backup of any kind.

i just shot 3 hours of drag racing footage this weekend, trackside for 200+ mph cars, lots of camera handling, probably over 200 seperate video clips on the fs-4... i'm about 50 yards down-track from the starting line, right on the guard rail, ~170 degree sweep of the entire track on every pass, it's all shoulder-shot, mostly with a steady stick, no tripod ever... i also take this rig down low in the burnout box, both the fs-4 and myself are heavily splattered with burnt rubber from the tire smoke.

whatever problems you guys are having with your camera firewire cable connection can be fixed, you can see how i did it on the website in my sig file.
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Old November 22nd, 2005, 12:35 AM   #4
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Dan,

Camera - I used a VX2000 for this particular job and of course the plug sticks straight out of the side - very vulnerable.

It would be interesting to see the mod you have done to your XL1S but 'on the website in my sig file' is a bit too vague a description when you list three sites with many pages.

My Intec Services stock cupboard has several types of digital camera and the FS-4 has to work with them all. Do you modify the camera or the cable?

The real point here is that you shouldn't NEED to mod. If Focus had offered a right-angle 4-pin to right-angle six-pin firewire cable there wouldn't be a problem.

Can you buy such a cable in the UK? I don't think so. Would it have been easy for Focus to imagine that their FS-4 was going to be used in tight corners? Yes it would. With the buying power of a Focus could they have had a batch of suitable cables made up? Yes, they could. Did they? No. Are they interested? It doesn't seem so.

Is there a supplier anywhere in the world who makes a 30 cm right-angle 4-pin to right-angle six-pin firewire cable? I haven't found one yet.

Ray Liffen
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Old November 22nd, 2005, 12:56 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ray Liffen
Dan,

The real point here is that you shouldn't NEED to mod. If Focus had offered a right-angle 4-pin to right-angle six-pin firewire cable there wouldn't be a problem.

Can you buy such a cable in the UK? I don't think so.

Is there a supplier anywhere in the world who makes a 30 cm right-angle 4-pin to right-angle six-pin firewire cable? I haven't found one yet.

Ray Liffen
Ray, you make some very salient, precise and "pithy" supplier/buyer observations. Oh yes!

There is a smashing firm in the US that makes a gazillion combinations of what you/me/we are after. I even asked of them for a UK supplier of the same. No reply. There are supply houses in the uk who get close - when I have a time/space I'll try and regurgitate the info.

But no. Your points about availability FOR the job is well said, and even better understood by this Londoner!
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Old November 22nd, 2005, 06:35 AM   #6
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Ray,
On my 2100s and 170s, I run the cable through the hand held strap before going into the camera...looping through the strap provides strain relief for the cable. I do agree though that Firestore should offer a dual right-angle cable....
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Old November 22nd, 2005, 07:43 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ray Liffen
Is there a supplier anywhere in the world who makes a 30 cm right-angle 4-pin to right-angle six-pin firewire cable? I haven't found one yet.
I haven't either. Perhaps we need to get these made for DV Info Net (and branded as such). The described cable is indeed the missing part of the puzzle.
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Old November 22nd, 2005, 04:29 PM   #8
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ray, it's the codectest.com website.

you'll never find a right-angle firewire cable that bends the direction we need it on the xl1s, because there is no wholesale supplier for the plug end of it... not that i could find, anyway... it's a bastard application that is not used for any other purpose.

and then there is the issue of different cameras having different plug configurations that may require a different angle... i don't think that focus should necessarily be in the business of ordering up custom-made firewire plug ends and cables to fit every single camera application on the market.

both myself and daniel in germany have hacked-up cable ends that are working fine, so it can be done... in my case, the cable was only $3, if i remember right.
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Old November 23rd, 2005, 02:10 AM   #9
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Dan,

You've certainly put a lot of hard work into your modifications - I'm glad it works for you.

The FS-4 is based round a $50 hard drive. That means the consumer price of ten times (and more) represents R & D, manufacturing and retail margin. For the price of an FS-4 you can buy a well-made, fully-featured laptop. The point I'm making is that many FS-4 users feel that for the money they paid, Focus should have put a bit more effort into the practical aspects of using the FS-4 with the cameras that it is intended for. The thick, inflexible firewire cable with the wrong plug ends looks like an afterthought - a quick, cheap, afterthought.

You've spent a lot of time and effort putting right a situation that should have been anticpated by Focus - did they ever try, do you think, to use the FS-4 with a very popular camera like the XL1? They should have done. If they didn't, then they only did half the job - you can't offer a mobile camera recorder if you don't consider how it is going to interface with popular cameras.

Ray Liffen
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Old November 23rd, 2005, 04:39 AM   #10
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First off - Chris, if you can swing getting a DVinfo.net universal joint FW cable made - count me in for three ... no I'll take four. Go for it.

Ray, I understand your point of view, and it's not just the "afterthought" FW cable, but also the unnecessarily huge, grounded, power plug mains adapter connection for the FS-4's power adapter, that reeks of a flawed or absent concept for how the FS-4 would be used in the field.

On the other hand, as far as I am concerned, almost nothing that comes out of the box suits my purposes perfectly - everything needs to be modified in one way or the other (but maybe that is just me). So, these annoyances are indeed annoying, and Focus would be smart to take heed of the user complaints, but in the end I don't feel that they are critical enough problems, to warrant not recommending the product (even at it's price).
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Old November 23rd, 2005, 11:58 AM   #11
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tweaking the firewire plug end took maybe an hour? no big deal... if you cut it up wrong, do another one, i posted the link for cheap cables.

yes, it's frustrating to have to hack something up to make it work right... i have a technical background as an electronics tech, with probably 20+ certificates in everything from medical equipment repair to atm's to an fcc general radiotelephone license... so i like to hack things up, lol, but i realize that most of you would rather just shoot video instead.

in terms of engineering, the fs-4 is rather impressive... for instance, the power supply cable plug going into the bottom of the fs-4 is spring-loaded on the inside of the female end; i couldn't find anything at radio shack to replace it, focus did not scrimp there.

the fs-4 has a fan, which can be noisy, but it shows a level of engineering sophistication that is completely lacking on the citidisk... all of the pc's that i build have fans blowing air across the hard drives, the last thing you want for video work is an overheated hard drive.

the fs-4 has issues, but it solves some big problems for me.
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