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Reviews, Tests, & Hacks

GoPro Wifi BacPac for Skydiving Initial Testing and Tidbits

What Is it?

Skydivers have long awaited the GoPro Wifi BacPac. This BacPac allows you not only to control and get status of up to 50 GoPros at once, but it also allows you to use the GoPro as a wifi streaming video transmitter. HYPOXIC is currently testing out this Wifi BacPac for use by Skydivers. This page will be updated regularly as Trunk comes up with more tidbits so please check back often!

Please help a fellow skydiver out and order from us here if you are interested.

Quick Notes!

  • You must update camera, controller, and remote! It will not work and it will piss you off if you do not. (Please see instructions at the end)
  • Name your controller when you connect it to the PC so it does not interfere with others
  • Turn off Wifi BacPac at the end of the day / on in the am. It powers on seperately than the GoPro

GoPro Wifi BacPac for Skydiving
Comparing the Wifi BacPac Components to a Visio Altimeter

The Wifi BacPac comes with:

  • A remote controller and status display fob
  • A strap for attaching the above fob to your wrist
  • A Locking clip and key ring for attaching the remote to a lanyard or your keys
  • A WiFi transmitter BacPac (with internal battery for its usage)
  • A USB cable to charge the WiFi BacPac
  • A special locking cable for charging the remote controller fob
  • A waterproof and non-waterproof backdoor
  • Instructions

As of the writing of this article these are the features that currently work:

  • Turning on/off the GoPro HD 2, switching modes, and starting recording.
  • Changing settings from afar
  • Full display reproduction of the GoPro HD2 on the transmitter, what you see on the camera is what you see on the fob
  • Control of the original GoPro HD. Power On / Off, start/stop, mode switching. No indication of time left, card missing, power level, etc.

Original GoPro HD with Wifi BacPac
This is the original GoPro HD with Wifi BacPac. Notice the display does not show status. This means if you forgot your card or your battery is low, you will never know.

Do Not work:

  • Any type of streaming
  • Connecting to an existing Wifi network
  • Connecting to a tablet or smart phone
  • Bluetooth functionality

To Be Determined

  • Connecting to mulitple cameras
  • Real distance testing

Out of the box the Wifi BacPac will not work!!! Don't even try. With a GoPro 2 download GoPro Cineform and follow these instructions to update all the units. With a GoPro HD you need to manually download the firmware, update the camera, then install cineform and update the controllers.

While you are within Cineform add a unique identifier for your WiFi Remote and set your super secret password (must be 8 characters!)

One quick note, is the remote gets updated wirelessly via the transmitter/gopro combo attached to your computer. It does not get updated via USB like I initially thought.

GoPro Wifi BacPac Updating

 

Modifying a NEX7 with a hardwire shutter release jack

This article will cover how to add an hardwired shutter remote 2.5mm jack to a Sony NEX7 Camera. This jack will allow you to fire a NEX-7 continuously and precisely with an external pocket wizard, tongue switch, timer, etc. The mod is a lot easier than the Sony NEX-5 but it takes just as much time to make it look pretty. You will need:

  1. #0 Philips screw driver
  2. 2.5mm jack. Used here is a "CONN AUDIO JACK 2.5MM STEREO SMD - SJ-2523-SMT" found at Digi-Key for $1.26.
  3. Rework / wire winding wire. 28-32awg
  4. Small pitch soldering tools (tweezers, iron, flux, isopropanol, solder)
  5. Crazy glue, tooth picks and some patience
  6. Plastic epoxy (5 or 1 minute) NOTE: it still takes a few hours to fully harden)
  7. Masking tape and pen to note where screws came from
  8. Clean, dust free area

Sony NEX7 modified with a remote jack

Above is how the camera looks after the mod is completed.

The first step is to remove the lens and use some gaffers tape or the original cover to cover up the sensor. Its also a good time to take out the battery and put down a lint free towel to work on. 

Sony NEX-7 Flash Screws

Now remove the screws found within the flash compartment. There are three.

Sony NEX7

I personally use a piece of tape and mark where all the screws come from. This prevents me from leaving out a screw or forgetting where they go and what size goes where.

How to take apart the Sony NEX7

Next step is to remove the three screws in the battery compartment. Two deep and one on the lip there. 

Sony NEX7 Taking off back panel

Now remove the one screw next to the neck strap tie down and then one under the usb access port. 

Sony NEX-7 Removing back panel

Now the two screws on the bottom base. You do not need to remove the scew below the 1/4 - 20 tripod mount nor on the screen.

NEX7 Camera accessing buttons

The top comes right off. Slowly pull it up as to not rip off the leads. Use your tweezers to slowly pull the blue fpc connector out. I use the tweezer tips on the little tab and alternate between each side moving it straight out the connector a bit at a time. If you crease this connector you just ruined the camera!

The red and yellow flash connector just pull straight up. You can use mini pliers to pull them up if needed. Do not pull by the wire! Also, be careful, I'm sure there is high voltage here! (feels like a tazzer if you do!)  

Sony NEX7 Adding a 2.5mm jack

Put the camera on AF/MF mode vs. AEL. Then pull out the screen and point it towards the top of the camera (flash/shutter button). The back half now pulls off towards the back. You have to angle it 45 degrees to get it over the screen. Also notice the distance between this half and the body since this is how much slack you will need in your wire leads if you mount the jack where I did. 

modifying NEX7

This is how the camera looks when its ready for the mod.

How to take apart the nex 7

Another view

Closeup of modifying the nex 7

Solder on the rework wire as shown above. I think I used around 9 inches of wire and then cut it to length when I was done. The yellow lead is connected catacorner to the red lead. The top of the switch is ground so do not bridge the pad with the top. Also from past experience, be very careful with flux around this area since the switch is very sensistive and not air tight. I personally just dipped the tip of the lead in flux and then zapped it with a wet iron onto the pad. I grabbed the ground from the on/off switch since it was easier to access. Clean the area when done with an swab midly damp with isopropanol alcohol.

  • Red - Shutter
  • Yellow - Focus
  • Red/Black - Ground

Trunk working on the camera sporting Skygod shirt

Inspect your work with a microscope of a loop. Thx to Blue Skies Mag for the pimp shirt!

Reworking the NEX7

Tack down the rework like so to allow the switches to work and all the mounting points to fit properly. Use a small drop of crazy glue on a tooth pick to tack them down.

Routing shutter and focus wires on a Sony Alpha NEX-7

Route the wires like shown on the back side. Notice the tack on the metal away from the mounting hole. Then fish the wires to the bottom with a piece of wire acting like a fish. 

 Sony NEX7

Then cut off the back boss off of the 2.5mm connector's base. (Boss is the little round tab that does not make it sit flush) By keeping the front boss, this makes the connector angle slightly out of the hand grip.

2012-04-18_130326

Then cut a rectangular recess in the hand grip with an exacto knife as shown. At the same time I marked in the plastic underneath the grip where the connector would sit. Be careful not to put too much force on this assembly as there are tiny tabs underneath that you can easily break. I then pulled up the grip and cleaned off the double sided tape where the connector would sit with some alcohol. Be careful not to get it in the slot where the blue battery release pivots, crazy glue the connector on the grip. Be sure to mount it so its angled up to allow a 2.5mm plug to be seated without bottoming out on the grip. Then mix up some plastic epoxy and glue the connector down permanently. Again, make sure not to get any in the connector or the blue battery pivot point! Let this dry for a few hours.  

Sony NEX7

You can see how the wires come out the bottom. At this point, push them in and give them a bend (not a crease) so you can easily slide them in the void when putting the back onto the camera. 

I guess I missed taking a picture of this, but once the glue is dry drill a tiny hole just above the connector and just below. Then fish the yellow wire (focus) on the bottom hole and the red (shutter) and red/black (ground) on the top hole. 

2012-04-18_130254

The yellow(focus) goes on the ring (center contact/far side in picture), black/red(ground) on the sleeve (closest side, next to hole), red (shutter) on the tip (closest side, next to the back).

(From http://www.doc-diy.net)

Put the back, back on by first putting it over the screen and then feeding the excess wire back into the void. Take your time and check the battery compartment making sure the excess does not go into there. Go slow, and you'll be able to route the excess just fine. The back just slides in and the only hold up may be the small tabs that fits in the battery compartment recesses. 

Don't screw anything back on yet. Reconnect the top flash connectors to the top assembly. Next slide the FPC cable back in using your tweezers on the tabs. Pressing it in will crease it and ruin the camera. USE THE TWEEZERS a little at a time! The top just slips in 

At this point, test the camera and your new connector. Focus connected to ground makes the display text go away, shutter to ground obviously fires the camera. If everything is right, the camera will work just fine!

Screw everything back together in reverse. Finally, tack back down the rubber grip with some crazy glue or rubber cement and notch the grip (see below) to relieve stress on the connector when a switch is plugged in.

Hope this works out for you. Please use your time and obviously HYPOXIC and/or Mark Kirschenbaum are not liable for anything you do based upon my instructions. 

Sony Alpha NEX-7 with a 2.5mm jack

Sony NEX-7 with a 2.5mm jack

HYPOXIC_NEX7_17

Sony NEX7 Hypoxic Mod back view

Sony Alpha NEX-7 with wired shutter release side view

Sony NEX7 with shutter release jack bottom view

Enjoy!

-Trunk

 

Sony CX160 Tests

HYPOXIC takes the Sony HDR CX160 out skydiving and sees how the new camera works in freefall. The Optical Stabilization OIS causes flutter in head up positions. Headdown seems ok. Belly has a possible slight flutter. The integrated permanent USB cable will make it difficult to design a protective enclosure. The quality is awesome and the MIC input is a nice feature. The CX160 is bigger than the CX150.  

Overall the Sony CX160 is not recommended for Skydiving, but is a nice camera for ground footage.


Freefall footage taken by Brandon Atwood with Stabilization turned off.

Read more...

 

How to Install your GoPro Permanently

This video shows you how to use a GoPro Low Profile Mount to permanently affix your GoPro to your helmet. This is generally recommened for skydiving helmets where you can drill into them, but can be used for other sports. Please use caution.

For a limited time get one for free with a purchase of a GoPro HD HERO2.

Below is how the mount looks once installed.

Close up of a solid mount for a gopro

 

GoPro HD for Skydiving

This article is great for an overall about the original GOPRO HD and still highly recommend it to newer jumpers jumping with any series of GOPRO cameras. If you are looking for more information on the GOPRO HERO3 please see our article Skydiving with the GOPRO HD HERO3. However, please come back and read the below sections on mounting and safety. 

A lot has happened since I wrote this article just when the GoPro HD cameras came out. I've used these cameras extensively in the past year or so and figure its time for an update of this article. Below the fold you will find 'Is a GoPro right for me?', 'Which GoPro is right for me?', mounting the Go Pro for skydiving, correctly setting it up, using it to take photos in freefall, and various tricks I have learned.

Trunk Jumping over the keys with a gopro. Photo by Scotty Burns

(Me jumping over Marathon Key sporting a GoPro - Photo Scotty Burns)

Read more...

 
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