Full-coverage mode with 8.5 ft HMG square tarp

Posted in backpacking, Captain's Personal Log, mountaineering, Photography, Reviews, Travel, ultralight techniques on April 7, 2017 by William Hooks
  • Tetrahedral mode (1)Tetrahedral mode (2)Tetrahedral mode (3)Tetrahedral mode (4)Tetrahedral mode (5)Tetrahedral mode (6)

HMG Square tarp : How to achieve full coverage?

Posted in Captain's Personal Log on April 7, 2017 by William Hooks

I’ve opted for using the tetrahedral configuration to get complete coverage  with an 8.5 ft square tarp, set up as seen below. Therefore, for about 1 pound including stakes I can simulate most of the features expected of a tent- with much more versatility and durable, complete waterproof coverage with no fabric stretching ( as cuben fiber does not absorb water).

There are also some significant potential advantages- among them, being able to cook in the shelter under proper conditions, much more interior space than any tent of anywhere near the weight, and 360 degree viewing of the surroundings depending on the height of the pitch, and ability to hang the tarp from some exterior object, such as a tree limb, to further increase interior space and make adjustment of pitch very easy. The guylines can be placed and adjusted from inside the tarp.

Tetrahedral mode (6)

Closeup of secured flap

Tetrahedral mode (5)

So much ventilation, the Tyvek groundsheet blows away…

Tetrahedral mode (4)

Tetrahedral mode (3)

View of gear underneath the tarp

Tetrahedral mode (2)

Front view with flap extending to the left

Tetrahedral mode (1)

As usual with this 8.5 foot square tarp, there is versatility as to how much ventilation vs weatherproofing can be dialed in depending on how closely the tarp is pitched to the ground. This means that condensation can be easily minimized.

I use up to 14 stakes ,in order to maximize coverage over the ground and stability of the system. Therefore, no additional stakes needed vs the usual types of setups such as flying diamond or A-frame variants.

It’s easy to employ a biv sack inside if complete insect protection is desired. I’d use either the larger REI MInimalist or the very light, ~ 7 oz Titanium Goat Ptarmigan sack.

A compact setup for wireless audio using 3 Rode-Link sets

Posted in Audio, Captain's Personal Log, Photojournalism, Reviews, Video on February 22, 2017 by William Hooks

I’m using this system to allow dual-system audio and video recording wirelessly, finding that 2 Rode-Link Filmmaker kits and a Newsshooter Kit work very well. A third lavalier microphone was added for use with the Newsshooter transmitter, in situations where 3 lavs are needed instead of 2 lavs and an XLR microphone- a Sennheiser ME-4N cardioid. The supports consist of a round-base microphone stand, Matthews Clamp and round platform with 1/4″ screw connected to a straight Matthews rod for the audio recorder (an H5 is shown here), OnStage strut with 1/4″ screw mount  for the 3rd receiver below, dual 5/8″ mic mount with adapters to allow attachment of the other 2 receivers above. The add-on dual XLR module works because each receiver is self-powered, so there’s  no phantom power issue.

Add a 3.5 mm cable to connect the Line Out from the recorder to the GH4 camera, a remote control for the recorder, and perhaps a USB power bank/mounting bracket (see prior post) for the recorder and we’re in business. The camera receives excellent-quality audio and there’s a separately recorded copy of each file available for sync, using Plural Eyes 4.x.

The Rode Newsshooter Kit and my project: THE FIGHT AGAINST TRUMPISAN (2017)

Posted in Audio, Captain's Personal Log, Photography, Photojournalism, Reviews, Video on February 15, 2017 by William Hooks

newsshooter_sennheiser-me-4n-lav-2newsshooter_sennheiser-me-4n-lav-1

p67601081p67601221p67601242p6760105p67601252p67601253I ‘ve been actively applying the wireless Rode Newsshooter Kit to supplement the 2 Filmmaker Kits I’ve had for some time, allowing excellent ENG sound production directly into my Panasonic GH4 4K mirrorless camera covering major events in California. The latest were 2 protest events in Los Angeles and San Francisco, against the incoming Trump regime. In Los Angeles, I had assistance with handheld mic interviews from one of my still shooters, Carmen Rosales and my old friend Mark Chambers did those honors at San Francisco International Airport, during the anti-Muslim ban event. Jim Garrett was the B-roll GH4 shooter in Los Angeles, and he has collaborated with me on editing and writing.

I was very impressed by the build quality and water resistance of the transmitter unit in driving rain at Los Angeles- I was concerned that the unit would fail at any time due to being soaked for hours, but it never missed a beat and the sound was remarkable when connected to my Sennheiser MD-46 dynamic microphone inside of a plastic bag.

It’s very convenient that the Newsshooter and Filmmaker receivers are identical, so that I can switch between them any time  simply by matching the channels with the corresponding transmitter or lav mic. There ‘s up to 40 v phantom power on the transmitter, more than enough to provide great gain for a Shure SM 58 or the Sennheiser dynamic mics; I can also use my Sennheiser ME-4 N lav mic with the transmitter and actively monitor its output using the headphone jack near the USB power jack. In addition, it can be powered by standard Sony FPS batteries as well as ubiquitous AA batteries.

Because it runs on wi-fi instead of RF, I have found it to be extremely reliable in field use even when surrounded by cell phones and other devices- and no need to manually match any frequencies. I can use up to 8 units at at time on individual channels.

My opinion: if you have $500 to spend on an XLR wireless system, this is by far the best option I have ever seen. Avoiding use of cables in an ENG environment has proven to be a significant advantage from the standpoint of safety, mobility, simplicity and reliability.

We’re going to be using the Newsshooter and Filmmaker Kits extensively, for continuing to document the rise of resistance to the Trump regime over the next several months.

The small Sachtler audio bag I use for sound recording in film/video production -or “Papa’s got a brand new bag”

Posted in Audio, Captain's Personal Log, Photojournalism, Video on August 10, 2016 by William Hooks
  • boom poles_ 2 shotguns_ blimp_2 Lavs

    foreground: Electrolet shotgun mic on Rode shock mount and boompole; rear: Rode blimp containing NTG-4 shotgun mic on Rode large pole

    grip setup for DAR on boom pole_closeup

    recorder mounting grip assembly

    Sachtler audio harness

    Sachtler heavy duty audio harness with modular pockets

    Sachtler small bag with contents_1

    Interior of Sachtler small audio bag with contents

    Zoom H6 installed on boom pole

    Zoom H6 recorder/mixer mounted on K-Tek Avalon graphite 12’6″ boom pole

    Adreama 12K mAh power bankSmall audio bag and contents (7)Small audio bag and contents (2)Small audio bag and contents (4)Small audio bag and contents (5)Small audio bag and contents (6)

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What to use today: tarp or tent?

Posted in backpacking, Captain's Personal Log, mountaineering, Reviews, Travel, ultralight techniques on March 17, 2016 by William Hooks

If I want  a full floor, insect protection and very light but not lightest shelter, for me it’s a no-brainer: some sort of tarp-tent or a tent such as this Nemo Hornet 1p, which I obtained from REI using my 2015-6 dividend and -20% coupon for $135.

It uses the same Tyvek footprint that I already have for my tarp; the total weight for its pole, pole bag, canopy, fly and lines is 24 oz.

I feel that its setup is straightforward, comparable to the basic skill level needed for deploying a tarp (simpler than advanced tarping). the tent is very compact when packed, livability is much improved over my Ptarmigan or REI biv sacks. I like the 8 sq ft side vestibule, and much prefer the right side entrance to a front entrance for a 1-person shelter partly because of the relative ease of including a larger vestibule with that design.

This tent is freestanding. Headroom =40 inches, I can easily sit up inside.

Inclusion of the Light Pocket at the apex of the tent body allows a headlamp to double as a lantern- something I find very practical at no weight penalty.

Compared with my HMG Square Tarp: slightly heavier; no need for any additional components such as biv sack for insect protection; less ventilation and cannot cook inside the tent itself; simple to keep gear separate from living space because of vestibule, which is on my right while living in the tent (and I’m right-handed). Not as versatile as a tarp, but can opt to pitch just the canopy for improved ventilation and/or to save additional weight. Can combine the canopy with the tarp depending on the locale. No need for trekking poles but risk breakage of the single pole, as with any tent. Since it’s green, in forests that color simplifies stealth camping style. Needs 8 stakes for full pitch, vs up to 14 for the tarp. The guylines are reflective, another practical advantage.

I wish there was more fly coverage especially at the head end, and/or a guyout at the tip of the front of the fly. The fabric materials are notably delicate, and require more care in handling than the cuben fiber tarp.

Otherwise, I’m very pleased to use this shelter when I don’t mind a few extra ounces and seek complete enclosure at night, with no insects to deal with.

 

 

 

 

 

Ultralight 20 deg F backpacking setup

Posted in Captain's Personal Log on January 11, 2016 by William Hooks

14 stakes_reflective lines_short lines (1)14 stakes_reflective lines_short lines (2)14 stakes_reflective lines_short lines (3)14 stakes_reflective lines_short lines (4)

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This combination of 11 items seems to work for me as the basis for traveling ultralight in 3+ seasons, when snowshoes are not required.

It includes a pack (I show both the HMG Windrider 2400 and ULA Catalyst as main choices), Thermarest Solar full size Ridge-style sleeping pad, Western Mtg Alpinlite +20F 850+ down bag, OR Helium II rain jacket, Mountain Hardwear P5 pile jacket, small sack containing Snowpeak 900ml titanium pot and Soto piezo micro-canister stove w small canister, firestarter=mini Bic, bear hanging sack, leather gloves from Petzl, and Steripen Classic 3 for water treatment. This entire setup weighs about 8.7 pounds.

My backup for fire is shown as an extra option (butane emergency type). Add a food bag and some snacks, and maybe a water bottle, and……go.

If I choose to take a shelter other than a Titanium Goat modified, 7 oz Ptarmigan biv sack I will most likely take either the BD Megalite silnylon ‘Mid (blue and silver here), or the Hyperlite Mountain Gear 8.5 ft Square tarp of cuben fiber. I hang the Megalite before staking it out, to ensure proper centering of its peak if not using an interior stick or trek pole combo.

For scale, I’ve included my HMG 1800 cu in Summit pack in an image.

PS: I may opt for a wood fire, in which case the 3 Amigos come into play- the 12 oz hatchet, Gerber folding saw (5 oz) and/or Gerber Basic knife (3.5 oz) for wood processing. Substitute Solo wood stove for the Soto, and carry no fuel.

Here’s my gear list in more detail, taken from my account at GearGrams.com:

https://www.geargrams.com/list?id=29109