Beta Testers Wanted Steadyrig 'Instant Release' Topstage TM
Posted 03 November 2005 - 01:09 PM
Thankyou kindly for your interest in our Steadyrig Instant ReleaseTM Top Stage.
Well, the Steadyrig Instant ReleaseTM Topstage certainly has been a long time coming! I have explored literally hundreds of design modifications to arrive at the final (or near final) design. Part of the reason this project has taken as long as it has is due to the very strict set of parameters that Hugo and I set for ourselves in order to make a topstage that would be considered a fine piece of practical equipment and something that would be a pleasure to own for many years to come.
As you may already be aware, in order for Rig Engineering Australia to manufacture high quality products for our clients we engage the services of qualified precision machinists who also manufacture for the aircraft industry, medical, defense, etc. Their work is of the highest precision and quality. Due to the exorbitant expense of research and development when developing new products we use the services of standard machinists who are ideal for prototyping and experimenting but do not produce the high standard of work we demand for our customers. The Field Test Unit was constructed utilizing the services of these machinists. The IRTS is functioning extremely well in some areas but not performing as well as we know it can do in other areas. Due to this fact we have decided to ship the unit back to Australia for a few weeks while we make some minor adjustments in these areas (rather than going down the "If you could imagine..." path) and then we will send it straight back to you for the start of it's journey around the world!
In the mean time, following is a list the parameters we set for ourselves as well as some additional features and benefits of the Steadyrig Instant Release TM Topstage:
It became apparent, just before the release of our first model, that there was just one more important need we had to fulfill... the industries desire for rigidity. In bench testing this unit it seems that we have vastly improved the rigidity. At the moment we are told that IRTS feels more rigid than the D Box II. With some minor adjustments we envisage gaining further rigidity. (We hope to take the first steps to improve this when we make our adjustments over the next few weeks.) We are particularly looking forward to your feed back/recommendations in this area.
Instant release (of dovetail plate):
'Quick Release' mechanisms on the market, at the time we commenced this project, just didn't cut the mustard! We set ourselves the task of designing something that was 'Instant' and came up with a design that would release the dovetail plate with a simple press of a button and a pull of a lever. In a single action you can press a brass button with your thumb while pulling a lever back until it locks into the full open position. Alternatively, you can just press the release button and the dovetail plate will be free for coarse adjustment but still safely captured by the latch. Re-clamping from this position is achieved by simply pressing the lever clicking it into its home position.
Instant capture (of dovetail plate):
As with the Instant Release, the same goes for the reverse action, the capture. We wanted a clamping mechanism that would 'instantly' lock the dovetail plate into position. We achieved this by creating a latching system that is sensitive to a dovetail plate being lowered onto it triggering the latch and securing the dovetail plate into its coarse adjustment position. At the same time the lever springs shut where it is safely locked into its 'near home' position needing only to be clicked all the way home by pressing it with your finger once you have coarsely adjusted your dovetail plate.
Tools free operation:
Both the Instant Release and Instant Capture arrangements do not require tools to operate. There is an initial fine tune that is required when first adjusting the IRTS to suit your dovetail plate which requires a 'T' wrench but once that procedure has been performed you can lock and release the dovetail plate as often as you like without using any tools.
Coarse & Fine Adjustment:
The IRTS can be adjusted quickly using both the coarse method; manually sliding it into its 'best feel' balance position and then finely adjusting it by turning the adjustment knobs.
Convenience of Operation:
By eliminating the need for tools during operation with the instant release and capture mechanisms and the benefit of side mounted controls on both sides you will find it convenient to use.
Smoothness of Operation:
By eliminating gears and intricate parts where possible and installing friction resistant materials where shafts and worm-drives rotate you will find the IRTS very smooth to adjust.
Because the unit is so simple and robust and constructed with few moving parts there is little that can go wrong with it.
Convenience of Installation:
The topstage is, of course, designed to be modular. The mounting screw holes can be directly and easily accessed to secure the unit to your centerpost.
The generic mounting screw holes are located to fit all common standard centerposts. The instant release & capture mechanisms will work with all standard dovetail plates.
It was our aim to keep the size of the IRTS minimal and compact, preferably no larger than our major competitors. It's thickness proved to be the most challenging as the instant release design we had in mind as well as the side operation of the fore and aft, which needed a number of mechanisms to function correctly, both took up more space than we had allowed for ourselves. With plenty of patience and some lateral thinking we were able to keep the thickness minimal especially once we adopted the scissor action adjustment mechanism.
With weight always being an obvious consideration for body mounted equipment we wanted to keep it under that of our major competitor's topstage. We eventually came up with a design that greatly reduced the weight of this unit. The new topstage open space design serves several purposes, one of which being weight reduction. The IRTS weighs 638 Grams. (22.5 Ounces.)
MAINTENANCE, WEAR & TEAR:
The IRTS is a well built, solid piece of equipment. With the following attributes incorporated into the design of the IRTS we envisage wear and tear and the necessity for maintenance will be minimal or nil.
All components are made of corrosion resistant materials. These include; Aluminium, Brass, Stainless Steel & Delrin. It will not rust. If you get caught in the rain, or film near salt water, or exposed to extreme moisture you do not have to be concerned just rinse off contaminants and dry with a towel.
Dust & Grit Resistance
By eliminating gears and multi component bearings and grease and avoiding the use of any flat shearing surfaces in the design there is nowhere for heavy dust and grit to gather and cause damage.
Accessibility for cleaning:
One of the first things you will notice about the topstage is its open plan design. We have made this unit as open as possible so that it can be easily accessed for cleaning or polishing. If you wish to dust it out simply use a new paint brush or if it becomes unclean it can be washed off under a tap or by using a soft brush and squirter bottle.
Additional Securing Screw:
We have made use of the 3/8 UNC threaded 'mystery hole' located in the center of the four mounting screw holes on most common centerposts. We have positioned a matching 3/8th hole on the inner mounting carriage. We will provide a correctly fitting robust center screw to bolt your IRTS securely and firmly down onto your centerpost.
Once the lever springs into it's 'near home' position, the dovetail plate is captured and the lever cannot be accidentally caught on a jumper and opened as it is locked by a safety mechanism. The only way to unlock it again is to access the thumb button (which is safely tucked away under the latch block) while pulling the lever at the same time.
Dovetail Plate Safety Screw:
When using an XCS & PRO dovetail plate a safety screw can be wound out to prevent the plate from accidentally sliding out.
ALL PARAMETERS MET?
We believe we have a design that is capable of meeting our objectives but the real proof will be in the testing and your judgment. We look forward to your feedback.
FIELD TEST UNIT NOT PERFECT
When you receive the IRTS you may notice the following irregularities in both the machining finish as well as the need for some improvements in design. Please note that the finished production run IRTS will be of the same high quality as our existing products and all the issues below will be ironed out:
- The dovetail retaining walls of the upper carriage will be raised a few mm to become flush with the height of the latch and adjustment wedges.
- A last minute adjustment to the design was found necessary to allow adequate clearance from the junction box on those rigs that have the junction box at the very top. The Field Test Unit is supplied with a separate spacer. When used, this may cause some slight movement. The lower inner carriage will have this integrated into its design in the production run to eliminate the need for a spacer.
- When rotating the adjustment knobs they may appear to be slightly bent, they are not bent but unfortunately bored out a little skew. They will, of course, be precisely centered in the finished product.
- Delrin sleeves will be installed where the fore / aft worm drive contacts the carriage (It will be as smooth as the side to side adjustment.)
- There are two grub screws located in front of the latch block. With the skills of our precision engineers and their high accuracy of their machining we plan to eliminate the need for these in the production run.
- The dovetail plate supplied with the Field Testing Unit does not have holes for rails (Iris, Zoom, and Focus Control). These will be included in the final design.
- When the unit is adjusted fully aft and the scissors are closest to a parallel position there is a tiny amount of play. This will be corrected when we insert a delrin sleeve in the centre of the worm drive.
- At the moment we are told that IRTS feels more rigid than the D Box II but with some minor adjustments we envisage gaining further rigidity. (We hope to improve this when we make our adjustments over the next few weeks.)
We look forward to your feedback.
Dean A. Merlo
Rig Engineering Australia Pty Ltd
Posted 03 November 2005 - 01:59 PM
Pic 1 Top Down View
Posted 03 November 2005 - 02:28 PM
Left to right...
Pic 2 Base
Pic 3 LHS
Pic 4 Aft
Pic 5 Latch Trigger Depressed by Dovetail Plate
Pic 6 Lever in Clamped Position
Pic 7 Thumb Operated Release Trigger
Pic 8 Thumb Operated Release Trigger Activated
Pic 9 Latch Trigger Disengaged
Pic 10 Lever Releases to Coarse Adjustment Position
Pic 11 Pull Lever Open
Pic 12 Lever Locks Itself Open
Pic 13 Adjustment Wedge & Safety Screw
Pic 14 Adjustment Wedge & Safety Screw Thread
Pic 15 Adjusts to Suit all Common Dovetail Plates
Pic 16 Flexless Bushes
Pic 17 Bush Closeup
Pic 18 Robust Button Head Socket Screw
Pic 19 Moisture Resistant
Pic 20 Moisture Resistant
Posted 03 November 2005 - 02:33 PM
I don't care about testing, I will buy one today just from the photos!
Seriously, I want this ASAP!
Posted 03 November 2005 - 08:14 PM
John "Buzz" Moyer
Posted 03 November 2005 - 10:11 PM
Posted 04 November 2005 - 01:22 AM
It's a bit longer and wider than a D-Box2, but about the same height and weight (perhaps a few ounces lighter?). The camera clamping mechanism is very nice and is adjustable for the different tolerances of various manufacturers' plates. The amount of side/side and fore/aft travel is less than a DBox2, which improves the rigidity. It is super easy to mount to any post and has the extra center hole so you can bolt a 3/8-16 screw in the center for added peace of mind.
please feel free to ask any questions, I am currently sleep deprived and probably have misspelled most of the above and left out important info.
Posted 04 November 2005 - 11:00 PM
I don't care about testing, I will buy one today just from the photos!
Seriously, I want this ASAP!
Thanks so much for your enthusiasm and faith in our product. We would love to start our production run tomorrow and start circulating them ASAP too. We have seen so many products released that work perfectly 'in theory' and are designed in good faith to suit the majority of operators then when released into the marketplace and used in practical situations simple things that were easily overlooked bring the product down and dissapoint the purchaser.
The final stage of our product development process is to just hold on that little bit longer and make sure we have 'got it right' before our first production run. The extra 20% we put in now could make you 80% happier when you receive your brand new unit.
We have the Topstage back here at the moment and are attending to the first area in need of attention then it will be put back into circulation. We will keep you in the loop.
When can I try it out...?
John "Buzz" Moyer
Good afternoon John,
Thanks for your request. I have added you to our beta tester database and will slot you in or put you in touch with beta testers according to your location. I am working on the itinerary and will email you over the next week or so when it has some structure to it.
Hi Dean. I?m based in New Zealand but I?m over in Sydney late December. Is there anyway I can come have a look at one?
We have a prototype in Sydney and should be able to arrange that for you. Please send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org and we can discuss finer details. Thanks.
Dean A. Merlo
Posted 06 November 2005 - 07:52 PM
Posted 07 November 2005 - 06:17 AM
Posted 08 November 2005 - 06:34 PM
Posted 09 November 2005 - 08:54 AM
I only have one question. What is the cost of the top stage? In US Dollars please.
How are you? Thanks for your enquiry. I remember our discussions from way back when we started this project some years ago. We have been persisting with this unit since then quietly working in the background having built many concept models over that time. It's good to hear from you again!
In answer to your question regarding price, we are still in the process of organising our costing. We are currently waiting for quotes from several precision engineering firms so it will be a little while until I can give you an answer on price. The price will also depend on the feedback we receive, if we get the thumbs up from operators beta testing the unit we will be able to give you an idea sooner than if we receive instructions to make some adjustments or changes which will need to be re-quoted.
In either case when we have a better idea of price I will make a posting or email a progress bulletin to everyone in the beta test group. I should mention that we would sincerely like to be competitive in price to the leading brand/s in the marketplace.
Dean A. Merlo
Posted 29 January 2006 - 01:47 PM
I just spent the last few weeks flying with SteadyRig's new top-stage. As mentioned before, it is very rigid and easy to use. The production version will add a few goodies/options that will make it even more user-friendly. Mr Papert came by my set last week to heckel me and take the topstage. He'll be putting it through his own rigorously evil testing procedures I'm sure. The top-stage will hold up fine, but whoever's next should wash hands thoroughly after coming in contact with it.
so in review:
-it's more rigid than a D-Box2 (most important to me)
-It has less side to side travel than a D-box2 (part of the way it achieves more rigidity) - so a bit more care might have to be taken with the initial camera plate mounting
-it's about the same weight as a D-box2 (maybe an ounce or two lighter?)
-it's about 1/16th taller than a D-box2, and about 3/4inch longer and wider
-it's clamping mechanism is very nice, and easy to use
-it is adjustable to fit all manufacturers' mounting plates
I'll attatch a picture of the topstage on my sled...wish I took a better one.
Ron B steadyrig_s_topstage.jpg 107.2KB 416 downloads