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Old January 31st, 2004, 08:28 PM   #46
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Dave,
The LCD I am using is TM-7002S (http://www.digitalww.com/LCD_TM_7002S_BLACK.htm). It is designed to mount in a car's headrest. It is 720x480 pixel resolution and seems to have a nice picture. It is 3/4" taller than the mount and sticks out sideways. But, I've used industrial grade stick on velcro and I can shake it like crazy and it stays in place well. The only downside is a 1.2 Amp draw on power. The site mentions < 6W, but 1.2 A is on the back. To me that is 14.4 W. I haven't hooked up an Ammeter to it yet to get an accurate reading. But, since I need a little more weight onto my setup to load the arm how I want, a big battery isn't a problem. I'm really happy with the LCD for $200. It also has nice flat sides of 3/4" of an inch. I can use velcro to mount a hood, if I need to for outdoor shots.

It has a connector right at the monitor which is actually a 6 pin Din plug used for keyboard or mouse. I tested the included cable and it uses two conductors each for power, video1 and video2 (has two switchable video inputs). I ordered a few of them from Mouser electronics, with the batteries and a couple 4 conductor 3.5 mm plugs. (This is the headphone plug with an extra conductor, that is usually used on camcorders for Video and Stereo audio out.) This should allow me to run a video cable up the center of the sled tube and come out the top with a plug to go directly into the camcorder. I can also use these plugs to go into the FM radio transmitters. I've been testing these to use on set for everyone to hear audio. They are thw devices to send audio to your car stereo. With a little better antenna and the crew with small FM radios, you get distributed audio. :)

Charles,
I'm an electrical engineer, by degree, so I took enough statics and dynamics to make it pretty light reading. But being specific to the task at hand was great to get a better understand of a steadicam as a system.

As far as the docking bracket, I'm still trying to figure out exactly how it is supposed to be used. I think John is like me in that he would rather create than write documentation. :) You can mount just the sled on the mount pretty easily. This torques the mount a little, but the hole is so close to the c-stand mount that it isn't a problem. It also works with mounting the arm in the mount and holding both of them. This actually balances it more on the mount. However, due to the design, it is difficult to get the arm out of the mount and near impossible if the sled is still attached. I'll have to mess with it more to see if I can think of a better way to do it. It seems like if you make it far enough so that a dynamic balance spin can happen, you would need to weight down the other side to balance. I wouldn't want to cantalever that much on a c-stand.

I initially looked at going for pre-made power tool batteries. They are usually very high quality cells and chargers. I don't like the design of the DeWalt and others which have one cell inside handle. This would mount the battery too high up off the base. The older Black and Decker and Milwalkee have more of a slide on design for the batteries. I considered getting one of the 12V flashlights for these types of batteries and hacking it off for a mount, but they are all still only up to 2 Ah capacity. The mount that John provides is around 2" x 4-5". So all that I will need to do is put velcro on the mount and on the bottom of the batteries. That will be strong enough for balancing. Then use one strap around the battery and mount to keep it down on the velcro. When velcro is attached, the shearing strength is great. You can get a smart charger for Gel-Cells for about $40. Gel-Cells are constant current, so it goes dual mode. First, it pushes the maximum current into the battery. When it is close to charged, it goes into float where it can safely stay. Not as fast charging as NiCads, but at $16 bucks a pop, you can have a couple around.

I can't wait for the batteries. I want to get it working now! :)
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Old January 31st, 2004, 09:14 PM   #47
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Joe:

Again, sounds like you have a good grasp of what you are up to, cheers to that.

I agree that the Dewalt setup is not ideal, I just like the pricing (my work setup includes 9 batteries at $400 a whack, plus an $800 charger, you get the picture!). I couldn't remember how the battery plate looked on the M'cam, thanks for the reminder. My feeling is that John should probably be offering batteries as an option, I think some people would rather just buy the whole package rather than deal with all this themselves. Obviously with your background you're in good shape to make those decisions.

In terms of the docking bracket, suffice to say that we routinely spin balance our 50 lbs+ of sled on a stand, so it certainly can be done (here's the one I use; scroll down to "Hill Docking Bracket"). I'm not a fan of C-stands in general for rig docking; the footprint of the legs is too small, they require sandbags and they don't have wheels. A heavy duty Baby Roller stand is a good way to go. Using the arm when attempting a spin balance seems like it wouldn't work. An extension piece between your dock and gimbal sounds like the ticket, and then you would have to plop a sandbag on the back side to counterweight it, as well as resting on the leg of the stand to make sure it doesn't tip.
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Old January 31st, 2004, 11:22 PM   #48
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For a C-Stand to use, I picked up a very large stand. It was a SystemPRO LS-3 from Promaster. It was under $50, but has a large footprint for a c-stand (legs form a triangle with over 3 feet edges). All the way closed down, it is the perfect height for me, but it also extends up to about 10 feet from the ground, which fits another need I had. Looks pretty sturdy for something from ProMaster.
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Old February 1st, 2004, 10:46 PM   #49
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Well, I just tried out the new sled. I balanced it front to back without twisting the weights as recommended. I must say it looks more "stable" than my previous sled. I went up and down stairs and it looked spooky - very smooth, foating. You're right about the up and down motion as not being very noticeable. I deliberately pogoed the sled and on playback it didn't seem that much movement compared to what I thought I had moved the sled - interesting. Abrupt lateral movement is more noticeable. I walked around an object in a circle but I "crab-walked" as I had read someone do, but I noticed my starts and stops more and wondered why I couldn't turn the sled at 90 deg. and just walk around the subject, keeping the subject in the frame. Also, if both your hands are on the sled, how do you focus and zoom? I suppose you can use a Varizoom or something similar. Someone remarked that he didn't zoom, but just walked up to the subject/talent (it's interesting they call the person in front of the lens the "talent" :^). I think you would need to use auto focus and forget about zooming. Now, I'm using video glasses when I use the Magiqcam, so I don't have to worry about where the monitor is or where the camera is aiming. I can even shoot over my shoulder and walk forward so I can see where I'm going. The glasses are the same resolution as my viewfinder, so no compromise there. But the main reason for using them is outdoor sun - can't see a monitor even with a hood. It seems that if sun is at high noon it reflects right off the screen and creates glare, not to mention wash out of the LCD display. I just got a heads up from the manufacturer on the glasses. Seems they're coming out with a HD resolution version. Anyway, I'm using autofocus anyway and only need to frame the shot, so that's really not an issue for me.
Any feedback?
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Old February 1st, 2004, 11:35 PM   #50
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What are video glasses?
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Old February 2nd, 2004, 12:19 AM   #51
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Turning the rig 90 degrees is my preferred way to shoot a circling shot also. In general, I always prefer to have the rig oriented the same way as my body except when it's not logical to do so. I'm not big on side-stepping but I've seen it done (sometimes spectacularly).

The heads-up gag is another interesting issue. The very first Steadicam prototype, exactly 30 years ago, used a fiber-optic viewfinder attached to one eye. Because of the disorientation it created the concept was shelved in favor of a monitor that allows for the operator to see the ground with his peripheral vision, making operating safer. Current technology glasses give a better view than they used to, but the resolution issues havent' been completely figured out. I have seen them in use over the years, but not extensively.

As far as focus and zoom, yup, your legs are your zoom! It is possible to attach a Varizoom type control on the gimbal handle, but it's clumsy. Focus with this class of camera and rig is either a wide angle set-or-forget situation or autofocus. Both have their limitations. THe professional solution is a wireless lens control system, but there are none that are reasonable enough to make sense for most DV users. Certainly this becomes an issue if one intends to use a Mini35 type setup, where focus becomes much more critical.
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Old February 2nd, 2004, 12:47 AM   #52
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Thank you for your comments. They were helpful in confirming what I had discovered while using this stabilizer. I can understand about the disorientation, but I'm not having that problem. Perhaps that may be due to having grown up with strabismus which means my brain isn't entirely binocular - can't see 3D very well. So walking around with one eye on a monitor and the other on where I'm going doesn't mess me up too much. I'm good at shooting guns as well - don't have to close one eye.
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Old February 5th, 2004, 01:42 PM   #53
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To Dave Stewart

Hi,

Are you getting motion sickness when moving around subject or for long time shots?

I'm considering glasses over LCD 7 inch tv -
advantage of tv
-flip 16x9 to 4:3
-flip image up side down

What brand is coming with HD?

Thanks
Mike
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Old February 5th, 2004, 08:48 PM   #54
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Video Glasses

Can you point mr to a link of the maker of the glasses?
Also how do you attach the glasses to the camera without wires interfering with the shot?
Could they be wireless?
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Old February 6th, 2004, 01:19 AM   #55
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No, I'm not getting motion sickness probably because only one eye has a monitor. The monitor is about the same resolution as my color viewfinder on my XL1 which is kind of a drawback - wish it was higher. The glasses use a belt attachment with 4 AA batteries and so there is only a video wire attached to the back of the camera and doesn't really get in the way at all. I saw them on ebay for about $310 and they made sense to me, so I bought them to try them out. Hey they work OK. Not the total solution, but it solved a couple of problems for me. The sight is:
http://www.eyetop.net/home/default.asp
Just my two cents, for what it's worth.
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Old February 6th, 2004, 09:56 PM   #56
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For those interested, here are those pictures of the original Steadicam prototypes featuring a custom fiber optic viewfinder.
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Old February 6th, 2004, 09:59 PM   #57
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Charles,
Those are some crazy picture...I like the idea of a single lens approach that Eyetop has....
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Old February 12th, 2004, 11:43 PM   #58
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I got everything close to balanced, and have been playing around. I will be building a new plate for under the camera to weigh it down more. Hopefully that will add a little more stability, by increasing the inertia.

I've got a question on setting up the angle for the arm mount. You can screw in and out set screws to adjust the right to left angle of the arm. In other words, if I stuck a dowel in the arm mount bearing, the adjustment would move the top of the dowel right and left. Should this just be adjusted so the angle of the sled mount bearing is vertical, or is there some other reason to adjust this?

I recorded some video doing all out runs down a sidewalk. Almost perfectly smooth. This is going to be fun!
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Old March 1st, 2004, 01:47 PM   #59
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My Magiqcam got really squeaky. I think it's the springs, but I wouldn't know because they're covered with that cloth. Any ideas about fixing that or cleaning it? The Mgaiqcam guy emailed me when I first posted about getting a used one and offered me a free upgrade to a newer version of it with a bogen plate mount. I lost his email when I switched computers though. Maybe if he reads this he'll email me again with the address to send it.

Till then, any ideas?
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Old March 1st, 2004, 02:11 PM   #60
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Wouldn't want to say, Kevin, there are many reasons for squeaking, could be coming from multiple points on the arm, vest etc.

Joe, as far as the angle adjustment, the idea is that the rig should float in front of you when you are standing comfortably. Place the rig in the operating position, and walk in place for ten steps, then stop. If the rig is trying to fly away left or right, adjust the mount accordingly. There really should be a fore/aft adjustment as well, most small rigs have a tendency to fly away from the operator due to the outward torque, but at this point no rig under $5K that I know of have both adjustments. I suggested to John at Magiqcam that he include both directions, and at the current time to keep the price where it is he was only able to offer that axis, which still puts this rig above various others that have no adjustability.
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