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Is this Everything I need to buy for a Pilot?


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#1 Ruwan Perera

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Posted 18 June 2009 - 07:43 PM

I know this has been discussed somewhat on the boards but the information is a bit scattered and I want to make sure I buy everything I need in one swoop.

I'll be flying an EX-1 with a BP-U60 and a shotgun mic attached with an XLR.

I'm considering buying the AA as I've read other people using it here:
http://www.bhphotovi...ion_System.html

But I really don't know the difference between that and these:
http://www.bhphotovi...ion_System.html
http://www.bhphotovi...ion_System.html

Is the difference between the AA, VL, and AB just the battery pack? Which one would you recommend the most?

Eight of these weights:
http://www.bhphotovi...nce_Weight.html

Is there anything else you guys would recommend buying such as cables, batteries, etc......

I'm new and have never used a steadicam before.

Thanks.

Edited by Ruwan Perera, 18 June 2009 - 07:44 PM.

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#2 Brian Freesh

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Posted 18 June 2009 - 08:41 PM

Ruwan,

The difference is only the battery mount, yes. Which mount you get generally depends on you. Look at the costs and weights of the batteries. Also look at where you will be using it. Some people use these rigs in an environment where they already have access to a supply of one kind of battery. I've not seen the AA mount before, but have heard about it. I suppose in the short run you'll save money on batteries, but depending on how much you use the rig, you'll eventually spend more on AAs than V-locks or Anton Bauers.

Definitely get batteries and a charger, and make sure you have two of every cable you need (I'm guessing just 2 BNCs) and at least 2 of every BNC/RCA adapter you may use.

Brian |-)~
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#3 Dave Gish

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Posted 18 June 2009 - 10:15 PM

Ruwan,

This thread discusses Pilot battery options:
http://www.dvinfo.ne...attery-mod.html
The most popular battery choices are Pilot-AA (which you link above) and Pilot-VLB (which includes 2 VL batteries and charger):
http://www.bhphotovi...r...p;Q=*&bhs=t
If you buy the Pilot-VL, then you'll have to buy the VL batteries and charger separately, so that will end up costing you more. AB batteries are even more expensive. The VL and AB Pilot options are more for people who have already invested in VL or AB batteries.

This thread discusses what you need to connect the EX1 to the Pilot's monitor (BNC won't work):
http://www.dvinfo.ne...tor-signal.html
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#4 Dave Gish

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Posted 18 June 2009 - 10:24 PM

I've not seen the AA mount before, but have heard about it. I suppose in the short run you'll save money on batteries, but depending on how much you use the rig, you'll eventually spend more on AAs than V-locks or Anton Bauers.

For around $250, you can buy enough AA rechargeable batteries and extra holders to power the Pilot monitor for 12 hours plus chargers that will recharge all of them in 2 hours. That's definitely less than any VL or AB setup. It's also nice to have regular AAs as backups. I unusually don't have to bother to unpacking my my battery charger on set, which is nice.
Posted Image

For bigger rigs, VL and AB make much more sense, but for the Pilot, AA works out pretty well.
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#5 Sam Morgan Moore

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Posted 20 June 2009 - 12:55 AM

I found AAs very annoying

read my thread.. http://hbsboard.com/...pic,3898.0.html

To conclude ..

I got some nicad AA packs made up by

http://www.overlander.co.uk

Cost £40 per pack and £80ish for a charger and £10ish on gold banana connectors

The packs 10AAs fit into the Pilot AA battery cage with the adition of a 2mm shim I made from plastic in 5mins - the shim is taped onto the pack, not the cage

I had to make set of connectors from the battery to the monitor input leaving the standard pilot AA wires in place so I can switch to regular AAs in reserve

I used the gold banana plugs and a 12 input plug nicked from my junk box

So £1000 saved for a days work

Steadicam should sell such packs with the correct wires in place IMO rather than quoting £65 for empty battery cages that cost £1 from RadioSpares

this rig now relies on my soldering skills which is not very professional : I didnt want to go 'homebuilt' but the cost savings are too attractive

----------

I also have added some $5 bubble levels to both the monitor and the stage - handy IMO

S
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#6 Dave Gish

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Posted 20 June 2009 - 05:59 AM

The packs 10AAs fit into the Pilot AA battery cage with the adition of a 2mm shim I made from plastic in 5mins - the shim is taped onto the pack, not the cage

I had to make set of connectors from the battery to the monitor input leaving the standard pilot AA wires in place so I can switch to regular AAs in reserve

You can buy the same 10-AA battery holder that comes with the Pilot on ebay for $5. With shipping, I paid $14 for 2 of these. No need for shims. No need to solder extra wires.
http://cgi.ebay.com/...ry-...:1|294:50
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#7 Sam Morgan Moore

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Posted 20 June 2009 - 12:44 PM

The packs 10AAs fit into the Pilot AA battery cage with the adition of a 2mm shim I made from plastic in 5mins - the shim is taped onto the pack, not the cage

I had to make set of connectors from the battery to the monitor input leaving the standard pilot AA wires in place so I can switch to regular AAs in reserve

You can buy the same 10-AA battery holder that comes with the Pilot on ebay for $5. With shipping, I paid $14 for 2 of these. No need for shims. No need to solder extra wires.
http://cgi.ebay.com/...ry-...:1|294:50


Can you recharge without unloading the batteries from the cage?

That is what was annoying me 30 (*2) movements to recharge three packs of batteries compared to my 'system' where you recharge the pack(s)

S

Edited by Sam Morgan Moore, 20 June 2009 - 12:50 PM.

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#8 Dave Gish

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Posted 20 June 2009 - 07:28 PM

Can you recharge without unloading the batteries from the cage?

No. I do have to load/unload 30 batteries from the holders, but only at home. With 3 pre-charged AA packs ready to go, I don't have to fiddle with individual AAs on set. I just swap the AA packs.

Once I'm home, moving the batteries between the holders and the charger slots is not really that painful. I charge 15 AAs at a time, and it probably takes around a minute to move them. The charger is fast - 15-AAs in one hour. So I can recharge 12 hours worth of batteries in 2 hours, which works out well.

I've found that fooling with any type of battery charger on location is a pain. Just finding a place to plug in where someone won't sit or step on it can be a challenge. With the AA packs, I have 12 hours + spares for another 6 hours, so I usually just leave the charger in the backpack pouch on location. That's nice.

Another reason I like AAs is that my audio equipment uses them as well. With most of the gigs I do, people are used to wiring boom mic right into the camera. I hate flying with a wire, so I got a Sennheiser wireless system, and a Fostex Flash sound recorder and slate for 2-system sound, take your pick. Both the Fostex FR-2LE and Sennheiser G2-100 systems also use AAs.

Here's a picture of my charger.

Hope this helps.
Posted Image

Edited by Dave Gish, 20 June 2009 - 07:32 PM.

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#9 Ruwan Perera

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Posted 21 June 2009 - 05:03 PM

Wow thanks a lot guys. It's definitely given me a lot to think about. Very well explained.
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#10 Kevin Andrews SOC

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Posted 22 June 2009 - 11:46 AM

Wow thanks a lot guys. It's definitely given me a lot to think about. Very well explained.



You're going to need one of these. It is mandatory for balancing the rig and doesn't come with one.

http://www.bhphotovi...for_Merlin.html
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#11 Otto Haring

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 12:26 AM

I think I would go for the AA system as well.
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#12 Alan Rencher

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 01:17 AM

My first rig was a pilot with the Anton/Bauer plate. I would advise against the AA plate because you may have a hard time balancing the rig with the lighter batteries, and I have also heard of people not being able to do low-mode without a heavier battery on bottom.
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#13 John Stout

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 07:29 AM

I suggest choosing the V Mount (my preference). You can get an adapter or JBOX made to be able to power your camera and other accessories as well.

Can't do that with AA.
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#14 Dave Gish

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 07:33 AM

I've had no problems balancing the Pilot with AA batteries. I've flown a GH2 through an EX3, and a dozen other cameras in between. The main issue I have is with the smaller cameras is not having enough top weight, so I bought 8 more of the screw-on weights:
http://www.bhphotovi...nce_Weight.html

I do use gold-mount batteries, but not on the Pilot. I use them on my two 7" wireless video monitors. Using AAs for the monitors was a pain, because they only lasted a couple of hours, and I'm usually thinking about Steadicam, not wireless monitors. With the Gold mount batteries on the monitors, they last 6-8 hours, and they're still easy to hold in one hand.

Edited by Dave Gish, 21 January 2013 - 07:36 AM.

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#15 Dave Gish

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 08:12 AM

I suggest choosing the V Mount (my preference). You can get an adapter or JBOX made to be able to power your camera and other accessories as well.

Can't do that with AA.


I do power my video transmitter with the Pilot's AAs, and together with the Pilot's monitor, that usually lasts around 3 hours. I usually give an AC or PA a spare AA pack just in case. To be clear, I wouldn't suggest doing anything serious without 3 AA packs pre-stuffed and ready to go.

As for using the Pilot to power the camera, I'm skeptical. Most cameras in this range are not 12v, and some cameras are fussy about voltage, so I'm not sure how a voltage converter would work. Also, as I said before, my typical problem is not having enough weight on top, so using the camera battery is preferable for that. I usually like to fly with the gimbal closer to the stage, so I always aim for around 8 pounds of top weight (camera + accessories + screw-on weights). Together with the AA battery pack and 4 additional screw-on weights at the bottom, that brings the Pilot right up to the 10 pound limit.
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