Portable SC Unit Keeps you Cool in the Field

On the Road Again

When traveling, especially when I have to spend a lot of time in a rental car, I always take an AC converter that plugs into the cigarette lighter of the car. Then I can recharge batteries for my camcorder, digital camera, cell phone and computer on the road without having to rely solely on the motel room.

Ken Durant

South Weyouth, MA

Note: Our experience has been that not all power supplies (especially those of notebook computers) can cope with power supplied from a power inverter. If this is the case with your equipment, you may be able to get a DC adapter for use with your equipment. However, we have experienced good luck with other types of chargers and small devices with power inverters. Your mileage may vary.

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Underwater Housing Gnomes

I planned a trip to the Cayman Islands in July and wanted to video as much as possible. As I am a diver, I wanted to videotape the dives, so I had a custom underwater camera housing made. As it was going to be taking up valuable space in my checked luggage, I used the air space by putting my underwear in it and sealing the housing. Next, I cushioned it well and packed it in my suitcase.

At the motel, after our arrival, I checked the outside of the housing for damage and there was none. However, I could not open the housing. The inside housing air pressure was less than the outside air pressure, thus the housing lid was suctioned on! While my wife was laughing at me about my lack of access to underwear, my main concern was not being able to use my new housing. I noticed the housing was cold and wondered about the air pressure and temperature in the baggage hold. As cold air contracts, I figured the physics would hold true–that warm air would expand. I filled the sink up with hot water and soaked the housing.

A few minutes later, the housing lid freed and I again had access to my underwear and my housing.

The dive videos came out beautiful! I can’t stop watching them, and am waiting for next year’s vacation to dive in crystal clear water again.

So, my tip for your readers is to find another way to seal your housings on your checked baggage (other than sealing it with the o-ring in place.) And don’t forget to pack spare underwear.

Marshall Karp

New Philadelphia, OH

Black Screen/Color Bars on tape

It has been my practice for a number of years to record 30 seconds of color bars and 30 seconds of black at the beginning of each blank tape as both a reference and a ‘safe area’ (the latter because the first portion of tape is most vulnerable to damage).

Like most current models, my camera has the capability of storing stills images on board so I keep a page of color bars and black on board for this purpose. By pressing play, I access the appropriate screen and, with the camera in VTR mode, I record directly to tape. (While I realize that the ‘black’ can be recorded in Camera mode with the lens cap in place, I find that the sensor auto gain control, seeking to give maximum light in a ‘no light’ situation, renders a grainy black.)

There are, of course, other ways to accomplish this task, but this has proven to be the most convenient for me.

Thanks for many years of great reading in Videomaker.

Gary Venables


The Videomaker Editors are dedicated to bringing you the information you need to produce and share better video.