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Alexa on Zephyr questions


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#1 Jim Coulter

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 01:17 PM

Hi everyone! I have a client that called today (Sept 11) wants to use my Steadicam services next Monday Sept 16. So I don't have a lot of time to get this question answered and then to find, buy or rent the parts I need. I will be flying their Arri Alexa with a 40mm KOWA anamorphic lens. I already spec'd the Alexas weight at 16.9 lbs with EVF, Handle,etc. (Not including battery) The KOWA lens seems to be fairly lightweight- about 2 lbs.

 

Here's what I need to know: Is the power cable from the Zephyr sled to the Alexa a 3 pin LEMO (Zephyr) to 2 pin Fischer (Alexa) ? If so where can I buy one quickly?

 

Also I know the Alexa pulls 85 watts power 10.5-34v DC (My Zephyr has a V-mount single plate at the bottom)

Can I buy an Anton Bauer Dionic HD battery plate adaper and will I require 2 plates for powering the Aexa?

 

Again I really appreciate quick feedback!


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#2 John Stout

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 02:36 PM

I can't speak to your power question, but I would call Terry West for the cable.

 

If you get a hold of him now, he might even be able to get it out to you today or tomorrow.

 

Ask him your power question when you talk to him, he might know.

 

Terry West <techrat531 at verizon.net>


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#3 Jim Coulter

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 03:18 PM

Thanks John, I guess my fallback on this would be to just keep their battery on the Alexa. They're using Dionics which are lighter weight bricks. Thanks for your suggestion. I'll give Terry a call.


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#4 Steve Rausch

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 03:33 PM

Hi Jim,

 

A couple of weeks ago I flew an Alexa EV with CP lens and AB brick (hytron 140-not the dionic)  It was a good sized load for the Zephyr but it worked out pretty well.   On the phone the client said they had the power cables as well as a large, portable battery option that a grip would carry for me on the shots (indy film thing). I would be teathered. No big deal - shots were not that complicated. When I got their they had used up that battery supply earlier in the day and we had to add the brick. 

 

We stripped everything off the camera. It was body and lens only. FF unit and a brick rounded it out. We chewed thru power pretty quick but had enough to get all of the shots we needed. 

 

Having the cable and extra plate for 24 v is ideal but if you can't get it in time you will be fine putting a brick on the back.


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#5 Alan Rencher

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 05:44 PM

You definitely want to get the secondary battery hanger for the Zephyr if you want to power that pig from the sled. I've only flown an Alexa one on my Zephyr. It maxed the arm out pretty easily.
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#6 Jim Coulter

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Posted 12 September 2013 - 08:32 PM

Thanks Steve and Alan. Great points! I am a bit nervous but feel like I did enough research that it will work out. The shot is not too difficult nor time consuming. I am ordering the optional battery plate for my Zephyr to allay any future Alexa shoot issues. Thanks again for the help!


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#7 Mark Schlicher

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Posted 13 September 2013 - 09:54 PM

Yes the Zephyr cable is 3 pin Lemo to 2 pin Fischer. If you plan to use with Zephyr 24V plate, cable needs to be correctly wired for 24V on the lemo end. The cable will be either 24V only or 12V only, depending on how it's wired.


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#8 Jim Coulter

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Posted 18 September 2013 - 10:00 PM

Well the shoot went ok...not great becasue of the issues I first mentioned in my post. I was able to rig the Alexa and Zephyr to get power to everything- Alexa, Bartech and monitor. The one issue I didn't see coming was the Alexa to Dovetail connection! I didn't know the Alexa has this strange contact plate that is not flat like every other camera on the planet! I ended up having to use one screw (the long screw from the Alexa's quick release plate and some gaff tape which I wound until I had a nice fat wedge. I absolutely had nothing else available nor did the AC!  It was nice and tight at first but after 30 minutes in the 100 degree Texas heat it started to get soft and I noticed the connection was not solid. I had to constantly re- balance the camera- not a fun afternoon!

 

If they had not called me so last minute for this shoot I would have had time to find out all the issues (Believe me I did try!) but I don't think I would have figured out the Alexa plate adapter issue unless someone had mentioned it to me. At any rate I learned a lot on that job!

 

I was really surprised and impressed with how well the Zephyr handled the Alexa. Surprised because almost every post I've read talks about how heavy it is and how it maxes out the arm. We did remove the eyepiece, handle and quick release plate but it had a Matte box, Bartech follow focus, 50 mm lens and Dionic battery and it felt about like my Red Scarlet with everything on it. I didn't max out the arm and it performed well.

I've now ordered everything I will need for the next time I get a call to fly an Alexa! The Alexa adapter plate (expensive! $200) , the dual V-mount battery plate ($600!) and the Zephyr to Alexa power cable ($150)

Thanks again for all your help!
 


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#9 Sanjay Sami

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Posted 19 September 2013 - 07:48 AM

Glad it all worked out, and welcome to the world of endlessly collecting cables, adaptors, dovetails, dog bones etc etc etc ... there is no end.


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#10 PeterAbraham

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Posted 20 September 2013 - 03:54 PM

Oh no kidding. 27 years in and what came today- rods from Jerry Hill. Some very nifty square to rounds with 1/4-20 threaded stock on the square end. Just another bit I need to solve a problem.

 

During that wonderful S.O.C. Steadicam Ops roundtable discussion that was recorded years ago and is available to be viewed, Chris Haarhoff said something worth recounting here. ( He said a lot of good things. This one's relevant in this moment ).

" We're problem-solvers". 

 

Great new gear, great old gear, crappy new gear, crappy old gear- yes it surely makes a difference because as our skill set rises, our bodies in toto know what to do with extremely high-end instruments. If that is not what is beneath our fingers, the nuance of our work may suffer. But in the context of Production? Chris nailed it cold. We're not hot-shots with neato widgets. We are problem-solvers who ( hopefully ) have signed on that day to really BELIEVE in the days work.

 

IMHO, everything else is secondary.

 

Congrats on flying the Alexa. For all of the bits I've got, I don't own an Alexa plate...... hmm.... On the other hand, I've got a remarkable wireless teleprompter transmit/ display system. And some Velcro ™.... Sanjay mentioned adapters, dogbones, etc. I had the chance to look over the complete kit I had developed before my little time off from Steadicam. A fine local Op in Astoria owns it all now. For the life of me I could not identify some. Others brought back great memories.


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#11 Alec Jarnagin SOC

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Posted 23 September 2013 - 08:12 PM

Jim,

 

I'm a bit behind here trying to catch up with posts, but I feel the need to chime in.  You had almost a week to do your research yet you missed a biggie:  the bottom of the camera.  That should now be added to your check list.  That answer is all over the internet and this Forum (and the reason multiple companies sell "Steadicam" plates for this camera... AND you think $200 is expensive!).  But, hey, you posted this thread in General Discussion so clearly you have not spent a lot of time reading this Forum.  I suggest you do.  Sorry if that sounds harsh, but EVERYTHING you needed to know was here.  Congratulations on the shoot, but there was no reason for it to be so painful for you.  Live and learn.  Oh, and I moved this thread to "Newbies." 


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#12 Zoltan Jonas

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Posted 14 October 2013 - 07:13 AM

Hi Jim,

 

I realise this might be a bit late for your needs, but I thought I might write this for other people's benefit as well, now that I've seen the post.

 

I own a Zephyr, and one of my goals was to figure out a realistic and practical way to fly the Alexa. I'd done tons of research on these forums over the months leading up to my purchase of the rig, and the Alexa appears to be a contentious issue with the rig.

 

The Alexa is *perfectly flyable* (even with reasonable accys) on the Steadicam Zephyr *IF* certain conditions are met. I've (hopefully correctly) attached photos of two ways I have achieved the setup. Keep in mind that neither setups include accys (WFF, video link, matte-box etc.), BUT, the rig was still wide open for additional attachments. 

 

The FIRST photo shows the camera body and lens mounted on top, with the camera taking 24v power from the two batteries I have mounted below. This configuration solves the weight and power issues. What you will need though is the correct 24v power cable for the camera (more on that in a moment), and it also requires the secondary, optional battery mount that Tiffen offers for the Zephyr and Archer2 rigs. Running the camera at 24v is essential in this case, as the 85w(minimum) the camera draws completely exceeds the amperage rating of the internal power cabling (Mark Schlicher has researched this extensively in one of his posts). The 24v cable is one that I came across on eBay. I took a risk with it, and it's worked fine so far thankfully - it seems to have been made with fine build quality.

 

The SECOND photo shows another scenario; I acquired a custom made, slimline adapter plate (THIRD photo) that eliminates perhaps half a kilogram of weight up top from the bulky dovetail plate otherwise required for a secure mounting. In fact, the payload was reduced to the point where I "had to" put a battery up top to get the gimbal close enough to the stage. You'll also see that I needed only the single battery down the bottom. In this configuration, adding WFF, video link, or anything else you'd reasonably throw at it is a perfectly viable option. Also, the camera now has it's own power, so sled voltage and current is no longer an issue for it.

 

 

First photo:

https://www.dropbox....28 16.37.19.jpg

 

 

Second photo:

https://www.dropbox....05 11.39.55.jpg

 

Third photo:

https://www.dropbox....05 10.48.47.jpg

 


Edited by Zoltan Jonas, 14 October 2013 - 07:21 AM.

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#13 Wolfgang Troescher

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Posted 14 October 2013 - 11:35 AM

Very intersting!!!

What about the arm? In the first pic the arm is quite low. Are the screws in the max-position already?
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#14 Zoltan Jonas

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Posted 14 October 2013 - 11:59 AM

Hi Wolfgang, thanks for the observation.

 

Yes, in the first picture, my arm is noticeably droopy, but fortunately that has little to do with the sled's weight. There was 'substantial' lift power left in the arm, but I deliberate run the arm somewhat de-tuned in most of my operating, as I've found (with the Zephyr arm at least) that the iso-elastic response is optimal when the arm is left to drop slightly. It's merely personal preference.  


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#15 Victor Lazaro

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Posted 14 October 2013 - 01:31 PM

Very intersting!!!

What about the arm? In the first pic the arm is quite low. Are the screws in the max-position already?

the arm springs seems to be a about mid range as you can see with the silver pin under the knob is in the middle.

 

Can you give more details on the custom plate. what are the specs and where to get a similar one. (Or would Eric Fletcher's mystery plate do the trick here)

I have a zephyr and have always wanted to try it with the alexa I guess I'll invest in this second battery plate. and other aks.


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