Tuesday, December 14, 2010

iphone apps for PPG


ALTISPEED, 0.89 Euros  (A little over a buck or so.)
Thats it.  Altitude and airspeed but in nicc, big, easy to read numbers.











VIRTUAL WINDMETER $0.99
http://goingapps.com/default.aspx
Works by measuring the volume of wind on your iphone microphone.

Hold the phone into the wind for a few seconds, press GET WIND, and you'll get an average read over that period.

The final reading is the average of the period. (The application is upside-down so you can read the meter w
hile pointing the microphone into the wind.)

Wind Meter supports multiple units of measure including Miles Per Hour, Knots, Kilometers Per Hour, Beaufort, Feet Per Second, and Meters Per Second.


IVARIOMETER Free and upgrade at $2.99
http://www.iphoneappreview.com/ivariometer.html
iVariometer shows your position and track you during the flight. iVariometer assist you with a lot of various information – your current altitude, speed, vertical speed, flight time and direction.
  • Flight and any other trip GPS assistance.
  • Altitude, distance, speed and vertical speed meter (with an experimental accelerometer support).
  • Magnetic(iphone 3Gs) or GPS-based compass.
  • A route trace on a Google map.
  • Device trip parameters monitoring (mileage, flying time).
  • Flights record and playback.

MOTIONX GPS $2.99
http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/motionx-gps/id299949744?mt=8
Map storage feature is far better than it used to be. Using the app for an easy way to get offline map access where there are no cell towers. Shows street maps, contour, or satellite view.
Track Recorder.
Compass - features GPS heading, Speed Over Ground, Waypoint distance, Time to waypoint, Direction of travel and actual direction to waypoint (If selected)



VIRTUAL BACKTRACKER $0.99
http://download.cnet.com/BackTrack/3000-12940_4-75033263.html
If you are familiar with the product backtracker, (at around 50 bucks) you might dig this app.
It's perfect for PPG. And just dead simple. It only has two buttons - set your waypoint - and where is the waypoint. That and a big, line of sight directional arrow pointing where you want to go. It also tells your distance. Great for PPG. If you fly in unfamiliar country, and you suddenly find yourself at a loss t say where your LZ is, this app will point to it, and give you the distance. No scrolling, no thinking, no fuss.



RESCUE LOCATOR/CONTACT $2.99
www.rescue-app.com
I haven't bought this, or checked it out, but it might be worth looking into, if you haven't invested in a real Personal Locator Beacon like the FASTFIND. (Which some people who fly alone should. See my review of FASTFIND VS SPOT)
SKYKOGGER $5.99
http://www.skywind.eu/SkyLogger/EN/index.htmlSkyLogger obtains the geodetic positions of the pilot during the flight and stores the data. Furthermore, the pilot is able to see during the flight the elapsed time, the distance to the take-off as well as the current ground speed and climb rate. A compass rose is indicating the current flight direction.

GENERALLY USEFUL AND PPG APPROPRIATE


VOICE TO TEXT
http://www.nfinityinc.com/quickvoiceip.html
While I've never tried it from the air, it would probably work. This quick voice app will act as a digital tape recorder. Then you can click on an email address, and it will send them a text transcript of the message, as well as an attachment with the voice. Not instant, it can take ten minutes or more to fulfill, but no typing with your thumbs.


VIRTUAL FLASHLIGHT
http://appshopper.com/utilities/iflashlight

Turns the LED light built into the camera into a quite powerful flashlight with a strobe option as well. Burns battery power, but useful.


FIRST AID/CPR FORM THE AMERICAN HEART ASSC. $3.99
http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/pocket-first-aid-cpr-from/id294351164?mt=8
If your first aid isn't up to scratch, or rusty, you can always use the phone to call 911, and read the appropriate pages to help out. First aid is better delayed a minute or two, than not applied at all. And the life you save may be mine.

STOPWATCH
http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/bigstopwatch/id301615836?mt=8
Easy app, and free.


MOBILE KNOT GUIDE
http://www.appsafari.com/games/6890/knots/ FREE
Replacing a line? Have another look at your double sheet bend. An easy knot unless you do it "backwards" and then its pretty much useless.


MOBILE ALARM CLOCK
http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/alarm-clock-free/id332064280?mt=8 FREE
Hey. It's a clock. It's useful, and it's free.

NOT SO GREAT

LEARN CLOUDS - WEATHER PATTERNS $1.99
http://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/clouds-and-weather/id363799763?mt=8 Help teach yourself weather patterns

Pretty basic. Not much info, and few pictures.

MAGNIFICATION VIEWER $1.99
http://www.imagnifyapplication.com/home/default.html

Meh. Uses the camera to show 4X magnification view on screen. Okay in a pinch to read a menu, but its a pretty blurry, soft focus 4X magnification considering the resolution capable on an iphone4.



Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Review: FASTFIND PLB vs SPOT Personal Tracker




Imagine that you just had a bad landing. You're lying in a field with a busted leg, a mere hour's drive from home but in an area with poor or non-existant cell coverage. You might be surprised to learn that over 50-percent of the US is like that. And the percentage is higher, that is to say, worse up here in Canada.

What to do?

Like an EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon) for maritime distress, or an ELT (Emergency Location Transmitter) for aircraft emergencies, a PLB (Personal Location Beacon) can be activated by individuals anywhere. These units transmit on the 406 MHz international distress band, via GEOSAR satellites on the Cospas-Sarsat system which covers pretty much the entirety of the planet.  See: http://cospas-sarsat.org/en/home

If you happen to fly alone on occasion, outside of reliable cellular range, over rough and hilly terrain, forested areas, or over water, you can't expect to always rely on your cellular phone to work in the event of an emergency. You just might want to invest in one of these gizmos and carry it with you when you fly.

406 beacons must be registered with the official government Search and Rescue authorities (SAR) of each owner's home country, either the NOAA in the United States, or through the NSS (The National Search and Rescue Secretariat in Canada.) Registering is easy, and can be done online. You can add notification contact numbers, and whatever personal info you like, including medical info, such as allergies to meds, and etc. I mentioned that I was an ultralight pilot flying PPG, and PLB activation may be a result of an aviation mishap.

Activating a 406 beacon SAR will have a GEO alert within five minutes, and position accurate to within 100 meters, which a huge improvement over the old 121.5 MHz beacon system. Your unique serial number will identify you, and liasse with your contact numbers, and local SAR and emergency resources.

TheFastFind 210 beacon (US version) is available on Amazon for USD $265.00 http://www.amazon.com/Fast-Find-Personal-Locator-Beacon/dp/B008M64COO

It weighs a mere 5.3 ounces. (150 grams) and about the size of a typical cell phone.

It features a manually operated LED SOS light for night signalling.

It requires NO subscription free. It is basically a one-time-use only unit, after which, the unit must be returned to a service technician who can fit a new antenna cover, and if necessary, replace the battery. Units are transferrable, but are programmed with among other things, a country code, wherever sold, and this code might have to be reprogrammed in Canada, that is, for a unit originally purchased in the US. (No worries for a unit purchased and registered in the same country however.)


The FastFind is submersible, although not bouyant.


The battery is good for five years, with a 24-hour lifespan when activated.


The SPOT Personal Tracker is available here, for USD $86.00

The SPOT tracker is less expensive out of the box, but does requires an annual subscription fee of $99.00 (In June of 2010) SPOT will not send 911 assistance if you are not a paid up subscriber - bad news if your last payment was declined/canceled, or in the event of a computer glitch.

It is slightly larger, and slightly heavier than the FastFind (206 grams) operating on 2 AA batteries.

It is waterproof to 5 meters.

SPOT's S.O.S. function is monitored by a private company, called The GEOS International Emergency Response Center, which is responsible for alerting the appropriate agencies worldwide – for example contacting 9-1-1 responders in North America, and 1-1-2 responders in Europe.

One thing SPOT can do which a 406 beacon cannot, is send alerts to friends and family, even allowing them to track your location/route in real time. Alternatively, you can request help from any of up to four contact persons, via a pre-programmed text message, rather than alerting 911. Sending an actual text message is possible with a more expensive SPOT model, but SPOT admits it has some reception and performance issues with all SPOT models, and may not operate in some locations including dense woods, or where the view of the sky is blocked by hills, buildings, or other obstructions. SPOT recommends when necessary, "experimenting with placement."

Because the normal SPOT signal is one way only, a SPOT user unfortunately has no way of knowing whether or not the signal was successfully sent, or if relocation is necessary. Furthermore, in the event of a Powered paragliding calamity, moving locations may not be possible since an inability to move location MAY BE the problem.

Poor performance outside of line of sight to sky has mostly to do with SPOT's weak frequency, 1.6 gHz, (the same as GPS) and low power, 400 milliWatt (less than half of a Watt) signal strength.) Fastfind on the other hand, kicks out its signal at a full five Watts, and has a much better chance of penetrating tree cover and unfavourable atmospheric conditions, and connecting with not only the low earth orbiting GPS satellites, but also the geosynchronous stationary satellites way, way up.

The difficulty is with SPOT's lower power, is that SPOT is designed to only communicates with the low orbit communication/GPS satellites, and must confirm your GPS location when the closest satellite passes over you before notifying 911. This may take significant time that you may not have. Fastfind, on the other hand, will immediately read your alert on the high Geostationary Search And Rescue system, and begin SAR whether or not the low GPS satellites have your exact pinpoint location or not.

Neither unit is particularly intuitive in terms of first-time use, but someone not instructed in the PLB's use, (like perhaps a companion of an incapacitated PLB owner), could at least figure out the PLB from the minimalist instructions provided. Less so with SPOT. The SPOT company really should put clear and legible instructions on their unit's, along with an explanation of how to orient the antenna, and the importance of not blocking its signal.

ADVANTAGE = FASTFIND I decided that it was advantage (overwhelmingly) to Fastfind. More expensive initially, but cheaper by far in the long-term in subscription fee savings. I figure that if I go two or three years without ever needing it, its all pretty much free after that, and if I ever do need to open it up to send an emergency signal, that single 300-dollar one-time charge will be considered a bargain.

TRAC ME There is an new item recently been made available in North America, called the TracMe at around $150.00 has been thoroughly explained and reviewed here below:
Suffice to say that it's next to useless. There are legal challenges by the US Coastguard underway to stop the manufacturers from calling it a PLB, and clear up misconceptions about its capabilities, (or lack thereof.)


Monday, September 6, 2010

LCD Hood PART TWO - VIXIA LANC Controller


My Youtube Video Link here:
http://www.youtube.com/user/whiteknight38cdn?feature=mhum#p/a/u/1/tNGSBSU4enc



This project turns your screen hood into a mount for a LANC style remote controller, using the remote commander that comes with the Vixia line of cameras.

A LANC controller is a way of remotely commanding certain functions like on/off, zoom, and focus, without actually touching the camera. Canon, for some reason opted not to set their Vixias up with LANC capability, except in the high-end range of their newest models, and charge a severe price premium for the option.

This system can be put together for five or six bucks, however, and while Vixia's won't let you mess with focus, the other LANC functions can be made available to PPG pilots, many of whom like to pole mount their cameras to get trick shots, not to mention isolate the camera somewhat from engine vibration.

The position of the remote sensor varies on different Vixia cameras. On the early version Vixias: the HF series, of which there were are some 16 variants, it is on the top left corner beside the LCD screen, as it is on the high end HG20 and HG21 models. (Not so on the HG10)

Inexplicably, on the HG10 it is on the front of the camera, just to the left and below the lens, as it is also on the HR10, HV20, HV30, and HV40 models. Because it is on the front of these camera, the remote can only work if you are also in front of the camera facing the lens. Dumb idea, but there is a work-around solution to use this wired LANC for these cameras .

You need the remote that came with the camera, so in case you lost it, or tossed it, the model # of the remote is WL-D88. I see them on ebay, now and again, for 15 - 20 dollars, and you can also order them direct from Canon camera dealers.

I used SC snap-in connectors, for singlemode systems that latch with a simple push-pull motion, from here:

I bought a 1/2 meter (36") length of TOSLink fibre optic cable from here:
First, I epoxied a strip of 1" x 4" plastic to the controller's back surface. I used plastic from an old VHS tape box, this plastic being a little stiffer, and more rigid than the plastic that DVD cases are made out of. I just cut the plastic with a ruler and a razor knife. NOTE: Since this new plastic base will now be permanently attached, you'll want it to be positioned a bit above the battery compartment, so you can still access the batteries.

Then, I epoxied a male-to-male TOSLink coupler in front of the infrared bulb on the remote. The coupler's centre-line is exactly in line with the IR bulb. When the mod is complete, the coupler will still function normally without cables, and with the lens hood detached. So anytime you want, you can go back to waving the remote at the sensor from across the room as you did before. And with the same indifferent results. This mod, unquestionably IMPROVES performance.
As you can see in the picture above, that I sanded a slant onto one end of the coupler to better conform to the curved shape of the remote. When the epoxy dried, I filled the gap between the controller and the coupler with JB Weld just to make a nice, neat job of it, but this last step is purely cosmetic. (As is the eyelet I popped into the corner, ostensibly to attach a bit of safety wire.)

With the remote done, I mounted the my homemade LCD screen hood on the camera, and marked with pencil crayon where the other couple would fit, so it would be directly in front of the sensor. On my camera, (the HF200) the sensor is a 1/4" circle, at the top left hand corner of the screen. I then cemented it in place with two-part epoxy and let it dry overnight.

I wasn't sure how well the epoxy would grip the coupler to the Cordura, so in the video you see that I use a cut-0ff wheel to groove three sides of the coupler, and wire it to the side of the hood for extra security. I then smoothed a bead of J-B Weld over the wire, sanded it smooth, and repainted.

(I don't mind using homemade kit, but I don't like it to look homemade.)

This last step with the wiring, in retrospect, I don't think is actually necessary. The 2-part epoxy, (the regular kind that takes 60-minutes to cure, as opposed to the 5-minute kind) holds like a virus, and next hood I built for a colleague, was epoxy only, (no wire) and is going strong.

The connector ends are now ready to cable. The coupler connections are very solid, push and pull to attach and disconnect, and fasten with a clear and distinct "click".

The remote will work with absolute reliability, even in bright sunlight where these IR remotes are known to function sketchily.

The zoom function is pleasingly smooth, and by virtue of never actally touching the camera body, there is no danger of imparting camera shake.

I have two cables, the longer one for monopod use in the air, and a shorter 12" one to fasten to the pan lever on ground tripods.

WORKAROUND FOR HV SERIES CAMERAS
For the afore mentioned Vixias, with the sensors at the front, you'll need a small metal plate, about the size of, and not much thicker than, a playing card.

Plastic, and aluminum are too bendy, so you'll want to use steel, but a piece this small and thin weighs next to nothing. I used a bit of metal off an old computer component, (a DVD drive, as I recall), and carved out a piece 2 3/8" x 3 5/8" with a Dremel style tool and a cut-off wheel. Then I drilled two holes for the tripod screw and post for tripod/monopod quick-release plate.

With this done, simply sandwich this metal plate between the quick-release plate and the camera, epoxy the TOSLink connector in front of the sensor, and away you go.

STORE-BOUGHT DIY
The idea of using fibre optic cable to run an IR signal to a camera sensor is original, but not new, and there are posts detailing various ways to do it dating back ten years. While researching how to go about making my system, I came upon a fellow in a DV forum who did it differently. He cracked open the remote, removed the IR bulb, and connected it to the end of a length of electrical wire that he mounted directly in front of the sensor itself.

If you're not handy with DIY, he sells the kit with a mounting plate and a prepped remote for thirty dollars.

http://hv20.com/showthread.php?23488-FS-DIY-LANC.-Wired-remote


LCD Hood for 2.7" screen (Vixia) PART ONE





WORK IN PROGRESS

My Youtube link for the video of this project: http://www.youtube.com/user/whiteknight38cdn?feature=mhum#p/a/u/2/0F3_UQXBNUQ

This foldable, screen hood, is made out of a bit of scrap Cordura type vinyl fabric, (although other fabrics will work too) a little contact cement, some plastic cut from a DVD case, and a bit of velcro.

The view screen on cameras don't read very well in bright sunlight, so these screens are a big help. Canon sells their own version for around twenty bucks, but you can make one for basically free out of salvaged material, with the aded advantage of being the right size to mount a connection to your remote commander.

I started with a case to hold a single DVD.
The narrow box ridges get scored with a craft knife and snapped off.

The lens-hood box is made out of the single flat piece that remains.

I coated one side of the pieces with contact cement, and the shiny side of a piece of Cordura. You need a piece about 12 1/2" x 5".

Cordura is a brand name for a type of fabric often used in the making of bags and cases. Its very rugged, and the choice of many military contractors for making Milspec gear. Cordura fabrics sell in the ten to fifteen bucks-a-yard range, so recycling old bags, is often a significant saving if you only need a little.

The first few Cordura projects I made, were out of material salvaged from old bags and cases from thrift shops. These bags are also good sources for collecting nylon clops and buckles and small bits of velcro.

I found one fabric store that carries a version they called 'plastic coated cotton'. I also found some from a findings wholesaler that supplies leather workers and bag manufacturers. You can buy it online from diyactical.com, which is a great resource forum for bag and case making.

For this project you'll also need two strips of 3/4" velcro 2 3/4" long.

Part Two of this tutorial, shows how you can use this lens cover to mount an infrared fibre-optic cable to temporarily "hard wire" your remote controller and remotely command on, off, and zoom functions if your camera is mounted on a tripod, a pole, or a flying helmet.






Thursday, August 12, 2010

ANKLE SUPPORT BY ACTIVE ANKLE


Cool. I just ordered a pair of these ankle supports called Active Ankle T2.


They have several grades of rigid ankle support: T1, T2, and a new heavier version they call the Volt. They also have a softer, lace-up version which they claim gives more stability than taping.

The rigid series run around $45.00 apiece online, about around half that on ebay, and may be covered on certain health plans if you have a medical history of sprains or other ankle instability issues.

Very comfortable with running shoes, although it takes a wearing or two to break them in, then you can walk around wearing them all day, run, play sports whatever, but your foot is not going to roll out sideways.

I'm not going to foot launch again without them.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Measuring Oil mixtures for PPG

There are a number of mixing containers for sale on PPG websites that are designed to calculate the ammount of oil to add to your gas in various percentages from 24-1 to 100-1.

I've tried, or at least looked closely at a few of them over the years, and found that none of them are really ideally suited for PPG.  

They are best suited for mixing large volumes of oil, but not really great at giving an accurate measure for small amounts like a typical 50-1 mix for a single gallon.  

Mixed oil doesn't stay stable all that long, so its really best to mix up just what you think you'll need that day, or for that weekend. Gas doesn't store very well in general, but gas mixed with 2-stroke oil stores particularly poorly.

You can buy a purpose-built syringe called the Hopkins MixMizer that is designed to accurately draw a measure of oil from one container for transfer into a gas can, but this device leaks residue, and doesn't contain product well for transport. Its available here, http://www.thefind.com/garden/info-2-cycle-oil-mix-ratio along with a few other mixing tools including the Accu-Mix bottle, and the Ratio-Rite Flask.

"Quick-2-Mix" that lets you select and measure various different fluid mixtures from 24-1 to 100-1.
Unfortunately, it is large, bulky, and doesn't seal very well. Consequently, it leaks in transport, and gets things messy even if it's only containing residue. As a vessel to transport two-stroke oil for mixing on the road it's hopeless.

Another problem is that it only gives me a choice of a 50-1 level for either five-litres of gas, or for a US gallon. It doesn't tell me the measure for an imperial gallon or four-liters either. My (Canadian) gas cans aren't marked for US gallons, and won't hold five litres. So for me, as a tool for measuring oil mixtures, the Quick-2-Mix is pretty much useless.

Furthermore, the Quick-2-Mix flask is something of a blunt instrument for measuring out small amounts. It's harder to register the lower curve of the meniscus in such a large, wide (2 3/4" diameter) container that can potentially hold almost a litre of oil. A teaspoon (5 mL) plus-or-minus, is hardly noticeable, even if you take a moment and squint at the level marking, but 5 mL more or less, is nevertheless important for doling out the 80 mL required for a 50-1 oil mix for a four-litre final product.

Narrow containers, are far superior for measuring small volumes with exactitude, which is why labs use flasks to get an initial reading of a liquid, and narrow, graduated cylinders to get a final reading of a fiddly amount like 80 mL for a 4-liter dose, or 2.5 ounces for the smaller US gallon.

The most effective solution I've found is in having one or more small containers that contain the exact pre-measured dose of oil that can both store and travel safely.

Just look around and choose, reuse/recycle a container that suits the size of your gas container, according to the ratio of gas to oil that you like.

Most guys I know fly 50-1.


For a US gallon, look for a (US ounce) 2.5 ounce bottle. Just make sure it is 2.5 US ounces, and not UK/Imperial ounces.

A US gallon contains 3785.41 mL. Divide that by 50 - equals 75.71 mL (2.56 US ounces)

Try your pharmacist for a freebie, something that will hold your single-shot dose.  Liquid medicine bottles often have child-proof lids, so there is less danger of accidental spillage during transport.

This container by Medela for carrying infant formula,  http://www.amazon.com/Medela-80-Single-Storage-Bottle/dp/B002QFY4OA seems almost perfectly designed for oil-dosing for PPG.

It has two top-out marks on each side.  The 80 mL top-out is perfect for a 50-1 dose for a 4-liter gas can.  The other top-out level (a little bit lower) marks 2.5 ounces, which is perfect for one US gallon.  

It's made of transparent, unbreakable plastic, has a wide-ish, easy to fill neck, a broad, non-tippy base, and has clear, easy-to-read graduations, (mL/US ounces) and a solid, non-leaking cap. 

Best of all, it is a narrow cylinder, so it is easy to fill to a line, and get an accurate read of the small volume of fluid contents within, with only just a glance. 

Small plastic bottles abound in practically any size you might ever want. However, the measures that a manufacturer claims, are often not perfect, so it is well to test their claims for accuracy first.

Ounces, like gallons, mean different things in different countries, as do traditional measures like pints, cups, and even teaspoons.

One Teaspoon US is 4.93 mL (usually rounded off to 5 mL without much problem), while one teaspoon UK is 5.92 mL which is closer to 6 mL.

To make matters worse, many conversion sites are inaccurate, giving rounded off, or completely inaccurate numbers. Some internet sites incorrectly assert that an Imperial gallon is equivalent to five litres, when in fact it is much closer to 4 1/2 litres. (4.546 mL in fact.) And some bottles claim 2.5 ounces is equivalent to 80 mL, 90 mL, and 100 mL depending on who's ounces are being measured, and how well.

It's nuts, but at least a millilitre (or a CC) is a millilitre everywhere, and as much as someone may dislike the metric system, at least it's consistent.

Here's a handy and reliable conversion table on a page that will also allow you to convert specific amounts.  http://convert.french-property.co.uk/

Here is another exacting converter



Thursday, July 8, 2010

Stuff sack or Concertina bag REVIEW


On the strength of a youtube video, I recently ordered a concertina bag from Parasupply. It's called a Cocoon II G.

A week or so earlier, I had purchased a different concertina bag from an ebay store, but didn't like it much, so I can give you a personal, side-by-side review of two different bags.

The ebay seller shows two videos on his listings, one by Cross Country, The Xertina, and the Cocoon by Parasupply, neither of which are the product(s) he sells. The bag he makes appears closer to the Xertina in design, and Parasupply now makes this newer bag, a purported advancement on the one shown in the video.

The color of the ebay concertina bag can be pre-specified, which is nice, as I wanted red to match my glider's colors, but my first impression of the product, was that the product
seemed a bit expensive for a simple, closed tube of nylon with a zipper running down the center. As for overall quality, if you or your girlfriend had knocked the thing out on the home Singer machine, you might think it wasn't too bad a job, but it's clearly not made in any factory.

It also has a single ¾" webbing-strap with which to grab the bundled Mylars, when you start folding your glider, and it really needs two. The first time out, I had so much trouble trying to secure the accordion folded Mylar on my wing, that I abandoned the attempt until I could get hold of another strap, and ended up just storing the wing back in the old stuff sack.

Back home, I reviewed the online how-to videos for using the bag, and watched the video of the Parasupply model with more attention. I could instantly discern that here, was obviously a superior, better engineered product.

The Cocoon bag has two strips of mesh running down both sides of the bag's length to vent air when packing, and the newest model, the Cocoon II, has a wide (12") mesh and velcro band, which makes bundling the mylar a breeze. First time out, the wing was packed up tight and small in a matter of minutes.

I'm not too crazy about the color, (predominantly lime green with a grey base, black accents, and the `Parasupply' and `Cocoon II' logos printed in white and pink) but it's made substantially better. It's heavier, (589 grams) robust in appearance, and the afore-mentioned side-vent mesh, and the broad, 12" wrap/band to keep the Mylars neat and flat are total deal closers. There are also draw-string closures on each end, instead of sewn ends, presumably to better void trapped air.

A final positive is the availability of an extra-large capacity Cocoon for bigger wings.

The manufacturer/designer has obviously worked with wings in the bags they make, and has put some thought into ways to improve the packing process with this second generation Cocoon II.

Oddly, the Cocoon II, is cheaper, at only $45.00 (Currently on sale for $39.00 and $14 shipping)
compared to ebay guy at $57.00.

Shipping for both was fast, each having arrived in under a week.

UPDATE: Just got an email from Parasupply notifying clients that the 4th generation Cocoon (4G) is now in production and available in three colour options as of July 10, 2010

Digital Wind Speed Gauge Review


SMART SENSOR

I don't like it as much as the Windtronics units that I've used in the past,

http://www.windmaster2.de/windtronic.htm

Nevertheless, I like the price, averaging about $12.00, plus ten-dollars shipping on ebay, direct from China. I've trashed two Windtronic units so far. (I dropped one, and drove away from the field with another unit magnet-mounted to the roof of my car and it's now lost somewhere out in wine country.)

At a cost price of about $100.00 per, this was becoming ruinious.

This unit from seller yeungs2008 on ebay, listing as New Digital Wind Speed Guage/ Wind sport Anemometer. I also reads ambient temperature as well, something I rarely worry about, but still counts as a feature once in a while.

It can also tell you the max speed, and average speed, but you have to scroll through the settings to find them, and scroll back to the original setting, all of which counts as a con when compared to the Windronic which has all three of these data available at the same time on the screen.

PROS:
- Price. You can buy four or five of these for the price of one Windtronic.
- Smaller, and lighter than the windtronic. Fits in many cell-phone cases.
- Easy battery change out, and recessed on-off switch.
- Temperature readout, and wind chill calculator when temp is -0 degrees.

CONS:
- On-off, scroll-set functions are not intuitive.
-Directional impellers. (You have to point the unit into the wind like almost all anemometers that I've ever seen, with the exception of the Windtronic.)
-Automatic shutdown after 15 minutes. Some might think this a plus, but I'd rather turn the machine off when I want to, rather than have to constantly turn it back on because I have to.
- Digital readout is kind of small, and letters are harder to read. Unit does have a backlight option, which turns on by pressing any key.
- No tripod-mount screw to attach to magnet, tripod, pole, etc. Easy mod, however. I just JB Welded a 1/4" nut to the bottom of the unit, and it will now accept any standard 1/4 inch mounting option. I used the magnet attachment from my Lightman strobe, but all you need to home brew one, is a magnet, a screw and some more JB Weld.

WINDTRONIC

PROS:
- Nice, big, easy to read numbers.
-Displays three sets of data simultaneously. Current wind speed, as well as average speed (since unit was turned on) and the maximum recorded speed. This info is useful to understand at a glance how the wind is gusting, which is crucial to safe flying.
- Multi-directional impeller vanes, read the wind from any angle. Cool.
- Tripod mount screw, and available magnet mounting accessory.
- Large, friendly letters. Easy to read without reading glasses if that's an issue for you.

CONS:
- Very finicky on/off button. Extreme care must be taken when storing the unit, or it will turn itself on while in its case, and you will find yourself with a dead battery.
- Finicky battery installation. I've had two of these, and both units had the battery off centre to the battery access hole, which made changing the 3V cell a little frustrating.

ADVANTAGE = Windtronic. Worth the extra money. I'm now on my third unit. (Sigh.) Whenever I take it out of the storage case, I clip the case to my steering wheel, so hopefully, I'll never drive away with it stuck to the roof of my car again.

IPHONE WIND APP

NOTE: If you happen to use an Iphone, there is a .99 cent app for these guys that turns your phone into an anemometer. I link to it in my iphone flying apps page. It's pretty cool.

The stand is a homebrew, an inexpensive Iphone hard case with some velcro on the back, and an angle bracket. I tapped one hole for a 1/4" x 20 standard tripod screw, and there you have it. I fits on a cheap mini-tripod, or can actually stand by itself if you angle the brace back a few degrees from right-angle. Easy-peasy.