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Favorite Flyer tweaks?


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#1 Mark Schlicher

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Posted 02 June 2009 - 10:12 PM

Hi, all,

New Flyer (2nd gen, not LE) owner here, working my way through training exercises.

In the meantime, I'm curious as to what favorite mods and upgrades other Flyer ops have made to their rigs? Especially interested in high-value additions such as:

Weight plates/cages in the 5-10 pound range, to tweak the balance for HVX-class cameras
Power distro on the top stage to accommodate multiple 12v accessories
Monitor yokes or rails/brackets
Battery rails/brackets to aid dynamic balance, -or-
Battery bracket upgrade for toolless adjustment and to combat slippage
Vehicle mount bracket options
Any other mods that would add flexibility or capability to the rig

Thanks!
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#2 Mark Schlicher

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Posted 06 June 2009 - 10:57 PM

Anybody? Beuhler?
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#3 Peter Hoare

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Posted 07 June 2009 - 03:57 PM

Anybody? Beuhler?


I took the 2pin lemo out and changed it for a 3pin so I could use the RED power cable and other 3pin power accessories.

Might work on paralleling in the second battery plate, should be pretty easy.


I also would like to change the small knurled knob on the bottom of the stage to lock the fore/aft for a lift off style kipp lock, similar to the one on the LE. I still don't know what thread it is so have not got round to this yet.

I would also like to put a ratchety system on the vest...
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#4 Erik Brul

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Posted 07 June 2009 - 04:23 PM

Anybody? Beuhler?

I also would like to change the small knurled knob on the bottom of the stage to lock the fore/aft for a lift off style kipp lock, similar to the one on the LE. I still don't know what thread it is so have not got round to this yet.

Peter,
About the knob to lock the plate more secure to the stage :
Part numbers are KNB-130198 and WHR-093555 and you should use the spring and locking wedge with this as you do now with the current knob assembly.
Just contact James at Tiffen UK and you will be fine for a couple of bucks..

Best, Erik
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#5 Mark Schlicher

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Posted 11 June 2009 - 02:42 PM

Was in LA and stopped by the Steadicam factory in Glendale. Michael Craigs was extremely helpful, and here's a few things I found out:

D-box: nobody making this in quantity but the camera stage has a couple of screws that will make mounting a homemade box pretty easy. Even easier is to have a Y-cable wired up...not an immediate need for focus/zoom motors, just a video transmitter.

Monitor yoke: Tiffen makes a wraparound case for the 7" flyer monitor that makes it compatible with the yokes used by the fullsize rigs. Not a a cost-effective option for a small rig, though.

Bottom stage rails/brackets: again, possible to DIY but not a TIffen offering.

Battery bracket upgrade for dynamic balance: the LE has an improved pivoting attachment for the battery bracket, with a kip handle instead of an allen-nut. A retrofit is possible but I didn't discuss cost. The kip handle is very inexpensive and helps, but the old-style attachment is still prone to slippage. I'll probably add a small fiber washer to add friction.

In addition, I picked up an LE-style kip handle for the dovetail lockdown, and a long aircraft pin for the arm to make it easy to flip to goofy foot.

Michael told me about a guy who is experimenting with putting the new LE post grip on a Flyer post (apparently the new grip inner diameter is close to the right size to fit around the "old" flyer grip. Seems like it might just be crazy enough to work..

Hi, all,

New Flyer (2nd gen, not LE) owner here, working my way through training exercises.

In the meantime, I'm curious as to what favorite mods and upgrades other Flyer ops have made to their rigs? Especially interested in high-value additions such as:

Weight plates/cages in the 5-10 pound range, to tweak the balance for HVX-class cameras
Power distro on the top stage to accommodate multiple 12v accessories
Monitor yokes or rails/brackets
Battery rails/brackets to aid dynamic balance, -or-
Battery bracket upgrade for toolless adjustment and to combat slippage
Vehicle mount bracket options
Any other mods that would add flexibility or capability to the rig

Thanks!


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#6 Brian Freesh

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Posted 13 June 2009 - 01:22 AM

Late to the party, as usual.

Anyhoo, I've only done one modification, but I love it. So before the LE to get 24v out of a Flyer you had to upgrade to the one that came with the HD monitor. That monitor doubled the cost of the rig, and I just wasn't game for that. Also, no matter how many volts coming from the rig, the thing only comes with one power output! So when my warranty ran out I had the extra battery plate wired in, the internal cables upgraded (16gauge I think, can't remember what they were before) and added 4 power outs. All 5 power outs are 3pin Fischer instead of the 2pin Lemo, and 3 of them are 12/24 switchable, in tandem, not individually. The other two remain 12v permanently. Each output in the box is individually wired with a resetting fuse. So A) if one fuse blows, the whole box doesn't blow, and B) if one fuse blows it'll reset and be usable in a minute. I hastily took a photo today and didn't think to show the other side of the box that has the 12/24 switch. But it's just a toggle switch, you've all seen them I'm sure. We used the two screws in the top plate to mount the box. The box is far enough away from the post to allow for docking, and only keeps me from raising the gimbal to the point where it would prevent docking anyway.

Not a modification, bu I also had some risers made that go on the arm post. they're not yet anodized, but they work beautifully. I had them made in 12,9,6, and 3 inches. They're also stackable, for when you really need to shoot up in the clouds! They're made out of aluminum, but I still wish they were lighter. Ultimately not a big deal since my arm can take far more weight than I would want to regularly fly on the sled, and even a maxed out arm isn't too much for me to carry all day.

Also, I'm the guy Michael mentioned trying to mount the LE gimbal grip to my Flyer. It looks doable so far, just have to figure out the details. Basically, there's about 3/16 of an inch difference between the outer diameter of the gimbal grip of my Flyer and the inner diameter of the LE grip. If that is enough space, it's a matter of making an insert that will fit between the two. Looking more into it next week. My initial foray into thickening the grip was with bicycle tape, a la Robert Starling's Clipper. However, I found it pretty impossible to get the wrap to be even all the way around. I've attributed this to the small diameter of the grip combined with the relative thickness of the bicycle tape. I believe I need to start with a thicker grip to make it work, or a thinner material.

Charles Papert's running rig has me wanting to modify the lower spar (actually, start from scratch) to make for better DB, though I've found I can get almost perfect DB with my rig anyway. But almost only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear weapons.

Also, I may be making some home made antlers pretty soon, but that's nothing fancy.

Posted Image

Posted Image

Brian |-)~
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#7 Mark Schlicher

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Posted 13 June 2009 - 10:18 AM

Wow. Some nice stuff.

Working mostly in the doc/ENG video/HD world for the last few years, I'm not familiar with when one would need 24 volts (which accessories and/or cameras specifically). Can you enlighten me? And is 3 pin Fisher the standard for these aks, vs. 4 pin XLR?

Love the risers. I'd imagined something like that, nice to see them built and working well for you.
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#8 Brian Freesh

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Posted 13 June 2009 - 11:24 AM

There is a very small handful of 24v cameras that will fly on a Flyer. The Arri SR3 (Though admittedly pretty bare bones), the Arri 416, and the Arri 235. By taking the on-board battery off I open myself up for adding more accessories. I did do an Arricam LT just to say I could, but it maxes out the arm and most likely means early death for the gimbal.

3pin Fischer is standard 24v output from Arri cameras. It was chosen for it's small size and convenience for wiring both 12 and 24 into the same connector. There are other options, that's just what I went with. Since cables and back-up cables all have to be bought regardless of connector, I wasn't too concerned with what connector I used. The main bummer is that when I upgrade to a big rig somewhere down the line, I will have to buy all new cables or have mine converted. If I had at least gone with Tiffen or Pro standard (neither of which is the original 2 pin Lemo on the Flyer) I would have a decent shot of not needing to put more money into cables when I upgrade. Right now I have no shot. Ah well.

There are a couple Accessory items that my ports are useful for, like a Cinetape, or even a Preston or other 24v wireless focus. Oddly enough, the Bartech I am purchasing from a friend already comes with 12v 3pin Fischer cables, which is odd since no one uses 12v 3pin Fischer except Clairmont Camera (for HD accessories).

Brian |-)~
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#9 Peter Hoare

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Posted 14 June 2009 - 05:39 PM

I was thinking it would be possible to make the centre post telescopic, using a tube with the same ID as the current tube OD. Wouldn't be quite as neat, but its the only way I can think of doing it.

Would also like to totally re-engineer the lower spar, but the J box up top looks pretty useful. How did you find chasing cables up and down the post?


Pete.
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#10 Brian Freesh

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Posted 15 June 2009 - 12:16 AM

Peter,

I didn't do the modification myself, but the guy who did made it sound like he didn't have any issues. I'm pretty sure it's a straight shot. I thought about making a telescopic post as well, but as I have been able to balance much more weight than the rig is rated for without extending the post, I've kinda gotten over it. Not that there aren't other reasons to lengthen the sled, I'm just generally content with it being short. I may look into it one day, but I'm more weary than ever of anything that would add even the slightest weight (thereby taking precious ounces away from whatever camera set-up I can safely manage). Anything that adds weight other than on the sled is fine with me, hence I'm not worried about the weight of my risers.

As for that bottom spar, I've got DB pretty licked these days on that rig, so I dunno if it's worth the expense (translation: I'm broke)

After today's monitor shootout, I wouldn't mind figuring out how to mount a green screen CRT on my rig without adding weight...

Brian |-)~
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#11 Andrew Stone

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Posted 23 June 2009 - 05:21 PM

Would also like to totally re-engineer the lower spar, but the J box up top looks pretty useful. How did you find chasing cables up and down the post?


I am with you on that one. I picked up a used Flyer recently and the lower spar needs to be replaced with a rails system of some sort. Thinking a D-box with proper HD-SDI BNC connectors at both top and bottom stage along with a staggered rail mount device something like MK-V's V2 lite rig as seen here...

http://www.mk-v.com/?cat=170

Edited by Andrew Stone, 23 June 2009 - 05:22 PM.

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#12 Mark Schlicher

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Posted 29 June 2009 - 08:46 PM

Brian,

Thanks for the referral. I'm having a set of risers made as we speak. :-)

How's that Delrin grip project coming?

Meanwhile, the lower spar is driving me crazy. Small bumps against my leg, or even checking drop time, cause the battery and/or monitor to shift out of position, wrecking DB and often static balance. A big letdown after tweaking endlessly to achieve the elusive DB in the first place!! Even torquing down the recently-installed kip handle on the battery holder doesn't do the job. I can't seem to get Micheal Craigs to return my calls or emails with a price on replacing the piece with the revised pivoting dealy like they have on the LE (and some later original Flyers--I saw one at the factory during my recent visit.) Would hope that this would improve the situation. I also want to put a kip handle on the monitor arm piece (which I wish I'd bought when I was there).

Still, short of a complete custom lower spar transplant, which I can't afford at the moment, I'm thinking of some very thin washers made out of some friction material (some kind of fiber?) They'd have to be thin in order to fit the gap between the monitor arm and the bracket...before I go on a wild goose chase to every Lowes or industrial supply place, has anyone solved this particular problem with some kind of friction washer?

It is very frustrating that such an otherwise excellent piece of gear is hobbled by such an elementary design problem--the inability to lock the battery or monitor in place. It's like trying to learn how to play a guitar that won't stay in tune!

Late to the party, as usual.

Anyhoo, I've only done one modification, but I love it. So before the LE to get 24v out of a Flyer you had to upgrade to the one that came with the HD monitor. That monitor doubled the cost of the rig, and I just wasn't game for that. Also, no matter how many volts coming from the rig, the thing only comes with one power output! So when my warranty ran out I had the extra battery plate wired in, the internal cables upgraded (16gauge I think, can't remember what they were before) and added 4 power outs. All 5 power outs are 3pin Fischer instead of the 2pin Lemo, and 3 of them are 12/24 switchable, in tandem, not individually. The other two remain 12v permanently. Each output in the box is individually wired with a resetting fuse. So A) if one fuse blows, the whole box doesn't blow, and B) if one fuse blows it'll reset and be usable in a minute. I hastily took a photo today and didn't think to show the other side of the box that has the 12/24 switch. But it's just a toggle switch, you've all seen them I'm sure. We used the two screws in the top plate to mount the box. The box is far enough away from the post to allow for docking, and only keeps me from raising the gimbal to the point where it would prevent docking anyway.

Not a modification, bu I also had some risers made that go on the arm post. they're not yet anodized, but they work beautifully. I had them made in 12,9,6, and 3 inches. They're also stackable, for when you really need to shoot up in the clouds! They're made out of aluminum, but I still wish they were lighter. Ultimately not a big deal since my arm can take far more weight than I would want to regularly fly on the sled, and even a maxed out arm isn't too much for me to carry all day.

Also, I'm the guy Michael mentioned trying to mount the LE gimbal grip to my Flyer. It looks doable so far, just have to figure out the details. Basically, there's about 3/16 of an inch difference between the outer diameter of the gimbal grip of my Flyer and the inner diameter of the LE grip. If that is enough space, it's a matter of making an insert that will fit between the two. Looking more into it next week. My initial foray into thickening the grip was with bicycle tape, a la Robert Starling's Clipper. However, I found it pretty impossible to get the wrap to be even all the way around. I've attributed this to the small diameter of the grip combined with the relative thickness of the bicycle tape. I believe I need to start with a thicker grip to make it work, or a thinner material.

Charles Papert's running rig has me wanting to modify the lower spar (actually, start from scratch) to make for better DB, though I've found I can get almost perfect DB with my rig anyway. But almost only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear weapons.

Also, I may be making some home made antlers pretty soon, but that's nothing fancy.

Posted Image

Posted Image

Brian |-)~


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#13 Brian Freesh

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Posted 30 June 2009 - 01:20 AM

Hey Mike,

Michael Craigs has been on vacation for the past week and a half, his voicemail should really say so! I only found out cause I went in there the first day he was gone. Though something in the back of my head tells me he had told me ahead of time. At any rate, I believe tomorrow is his first day back at work, so you should be able to get a hold of him. If not, try to get a hold of Dan Ikeda.

I'm not sure I understand the problem you're having with the battery and monitor. I have one of the last Flyers before they produced the LE, so it sounds like I may not have the same issue. I use an allen screw to tie down the batteries, monitor arm joint, and monitor joint and also one for the entire lower spar where it attaches to the post) All work quite well. I used to keep the monitor arm parallel to the ground, and since it won't go further it never moved once I tightened the screw. Now I keep it at roughly 45 degree angle which does wonders for the DB. So the tightening of that screw became much more important. Initially I had an issue with the arm slipping a bit, I'm not sure what changed but it's rock solid now.
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#14 Mark Schlicher

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Posted 30 June 2009 - 07:23 AM

Brian,

I'm using the 45 degree monitor arm trick (per Micheal) to improve the DB. I have the battery practically vertical. Nearly perfect DB.

I have the original allen screws on the monitor arm joint, monitor joint, and spar connection. I replaced the battery joint allen screw with a Kip handle.

What happens is that it is nearly impossible to tighten down the battery enough to keep it from slipping. The mass of the battery will cause it to slip out of position when, for instance, tipping the sled horizontal to check the drop time, or inadvertantly bumping it against my leg. The monitor arm joint tends to slip too, but not as easily.

The LE has a slight design change from the "old" Flyer which I believe was also implemented on some of the latest "old" flyers. Instead of the battery joint looking just like the monitor joint, it has a curved slot (kinda like a miniature version of an Ultra's camera tilt stage) that allows fine adjustment and better "grip" on the battery plate. But it seems that the whole bottom spar might need to be replaced, to upgrade this.

Instead, I am hoping that I can source a thin washer/gasket made of friction material that can keep the small metal mating surfaces from slipping against each other, to get a solid "lock" without having to crank down the bolts unreasonably.

I'm not sure I understand the problem you're having with the battery and monitor. I have one of the last Flyers before they produced the LE, so it sounds like I may not have the same issue. I use an allen screw to tie down the batteries, monitor arm joint, and monitor joint and also one for the entire lower spar where it attaches to the post) All work quite well. I used to keep the monitor arm parallel to the ground, and since it won't go further it never moved once I tightened the screw. Now I keep it at roughly 45 degree angle which does wonders for the DB. So the tightening of that screw became much more important. Initially I had an issue with the arm slipping a bit, I'm not sure what changed but it's rock solid now.


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#15 Brian Freesh

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Posted 30 June 2009 - 11:02 AM

I think I understand the difference now. I have the curved slot myself. Your intentions to solve the problem sound good, I've got no better ideas. Though you might be able to try a ghetto solution of putting a small strip of Gaff tape on two sides of the threads of the screw, but under the head, essentially using the tape as a washer. This would wear and eventually fail, so it's only a temporary solution as you'd need to replace it probably at least once every day of use.

I wonder if a lock washer would be a bad idea?

Also, in regards to adapting the LE grip to the Flyer grip: As of right now it's looking cheaper and simpler to just make a new grip from scratch that is custom fit to the Flyer handle. Still brainstorming, but it's a backburner project, I'm not actively trying to solve it.

Brian |-)~
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