My thoughts on upgrading your EFP package as per my own experiences:
I have an EFP that has been fairly modified and will probably continue to be so until enough work comes my way that I can purchase a whole new sled cash. I was recently noticing that Steadyrig out of Auustralia has a groovey dual battery module designed to go right on the stock lower junction box of the EFP that will allow you to carry three anton Bauers and extend the batteries as needed:http://www.steadyrig...tery Hanger.htm
It looks pretty groovey I'll bet would be a great addition to the sled. Would give you extra options for achieving dynamic balance. I'm kinda thinkin' about one myself...
If you need any electronis work done, I highly recommend (as many up here do) David Hable of Cramped Attic Technology: http://www.crampedattic.com
Dave built a whole new upper junction box for my sled with Talley and lens control, multiple accesory power, video in, dual camera 12 volt out and camera 24 volt outs for pretty damn cheap. The box is now at the top of my post and my Bartech goes where the old junction box was (as it should be...). He also built and wired a dual battery base, added another whole pile of connectors and an LED walking light underneath (invaluable for going up and down stairs at darkened concerts). I've been using this configuration for 3 years now and I've never had a problem with it.
I replaced the plastics in my EFP vest with thicker ABS plastic and it has made a HUGE difference in the control and rigidity. The plastic doesn't crawl up my hip anymore and seems able to take the extreme cold we get up here much better. I also added back straps (highly reccomended) and redid all the velcro. In addition, after a front spar (is that the right name?) failure furing a shoot, I had a thicker, longer one machined from the strongest aircraft aluminum available (which is good, cause we still get BL4's up here). The upgrades to the vest are pretty inexpensive, but really improve your control.
I have a new Baer-Bel vest now which I like a great deal as the metal is all much heavier grade. The soft parts were designed and stitched by an ex-airborne Canadian Forces Soldier responsible for upgrading the Canadian Forces' Parachute System. Of course I'm expected to do a steadicam shot while in freefall now...
He designed my new vest to exchange between Velcro closure or Ratchet buckle with a few minutes turnaround. If you would like his number, I'd be happy to pass it along. I believe he may be doing a private tour of Iraq monitoring some important public works sites with several TOW missile systems, but will be back and happy to take on new projects.
I also have both old EFP/3a arm and a new Baer-Bel arm which is wonderful to run. I have both sets of springs and the change out takes about a minute. It is super smooth, very, very strong, and extremly well-built. I believe it is an excellent arm at a more aggressive price point than some of the competetion. Of course, make sure to look at Steadyrig, as they can take your existing arm and upgrade it. Or spend the extra, buy a PRO, and be happy in all situations. Lot's of great options out there for steadicam operators. It's better than it's ever been...
Hope this little bit of info helps. I've just ordered a new Marell monitor and level, and I'll let any who care on the forum know how well it works (when it finally gets here).