ANDBON AD-30S 30L Electronic Automatic Digital Control Dry Cabinet Storage Review

DISCLAIMER: I am not a professional reviewer; I review the things I buy as a consumer. I am not at all sponsored. I am an average consumer, giving my consumer thoughts.


INTRO:

I have been a photography hobbyist and enthusiast since 2010, and since then, my gear has become more and more expensive (well, expensive is subjective, and for me, my current gear is expensive enough – you can scoff if you think my gear is cheap), and as expensive gears go, you want to keep them in tip top shape and condition as to avoid having to spend money on repairs, or God forbid, replace the entire unit in question. That hard earned cash saved upon taking care of your gear can be used to further add to that said gear and improve further your craft in photography.

That being said, I never owned a dry box or dry cabinet, because I would always end up using that money somewhere else, and being a person with obsessive compulsive personality disorder, I am quite the perfectionist, so I was still able to keep my photography gear in great condition all through the years.

However, I finally decided to get one of those digitally controlled dry cabinets since I have upgraded my DSLR and added a couple new lenses recently that I felt it was high time to finally invest on a dry cabinet to ensure that my gear will be in great condition for as long as possible. And there in lies one of the key words… INVEST.

It is a great investment to spend a couple bucks on a dry box or dry cabinet, because you owe to yourself and your gear. It is not an expenditure, it is an investment… a form of security and insurance.

And so, we will be reviewing the ANDBON AD-30S 30L Electronic Automatic Digital Control Dry Cabinet Storage.


SPECS:

•Model NO: AD-30S
•External Size: W290 x D320 x H420 mm (11.5″x12.6″x16.5″)
•Internal Size: W288 x D290 x H355 mm (11.3″x11.5″x14.0″)
•Pack Size: W350 x D380 x H470 mm (13.8″x14.9″x18.5″)

•Digital LCD display
•Andbon Dry Box Series (25%~60% RH) provides the best moisture damage prevention for aging, molding, spoiling, rusting, corrosion, denaturing, etc
•Auto Memory Last RH Setting
•Slide/Pullable Trays,Anti-Rust Cabinet (special coated paint), Silent Operation
•Low Power Consumption,Worldwide Voltage: 100-240V,Lockable — Door (comes with two keys), Magnetic Sealed Door for best RH control
•Power Input: AC 100V ~ 240V / 5W

Inside the box includes the power adapter and an instruction manual that is kept underneath one of the foams in the bottom compartment of the unit. I must admit, I was scratching my head as to were the manual was, but I always inspect the entire unit of whatever I purchased just to see any hidden damages, and thankfully, upon removing the foam, I found the instructions.

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The manual is hiding underneath the foam

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It also comes with 2 keys for the locking mechanism.


REVIEW:

As always, we start with the packaging, and the unit was packaged well enough, being flanked by hard Styrofoam; I like harder Styrofoam material than the softer ones, as the former will help ensure a safer delivery.

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The glass on the door wasn’t protected by its own plastic cover (the ones you usually peel off in new phones or the like), but was happy to see that the glass wasn’t scratched up as much or at all. But it would be nice to have its own dedicated plastic cover to peel off… There was no mention as to what material this glass was made of. But it is ever so slightly smoked, but under well lit environment or when you switch on the LED inside, it can showcase your gear wonderfully. I wished the LED strip were situated on both sides for even lighting, but either way, it does the job.

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The unit itself is VERY light, as it doesn’t really need a lot of electronics; this may look like a mini fridge, but all it in needs is a electronic display, a strip of LED, the actual dehumidifier with anti bacterial wafer chip, and a simple power supply to power them all. This is essentially just a display case with the added features of dehumidify inside the little controlled environment.

Overall, the build is great and very sleek, and compared to the plastic dry boxes, this adds a bit of flare to your gear. I love the looks!

The foams are firm, but the top foam with the contours for lenses should have spaced the contours/concavities a little bit more; as you can see, there are too close to each other that my lenses are not sitting flush with the concavities. This should not be a problem for mirrorless camera lenses and such, but I wished they thought about spacing them out just a little but more to accommodate lenses like mine –  and my lenses are pretty much the Trinity of lenses that most professional photographers or hobbyists like myself would own. There is still enough space to space the contours out a bit more. But I can always ask someone locally to make me a custom foam with my specifications in the future.

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The foam contour/concavities don’t really accommadate my lenses

The actual sliding tray is made of a very tough plastic material that I suspect is ABS plastic; the mounting mechanism is also made of plastic, most likely also ABS plastic, and surprisingly, it can carry the weight of my 4 lenses even when extended fully (it locks into place when extended fully, but a little lift and pull, you can pull of the entire assembly). The mount can also be adjusted to certain heights for your needs. I am still wary when I extend the tray out with my lenses on, so for peace of mine, I still secure the tray underneath with my palm while I select what lens to use.

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There is a tape holding the tray in place for shipping purposes; there are 1 on each side, so remove them

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The tray can accommodate my 150-50mm, my 17-50mm, and my 30mm; seeing that there is still space, I placed my old kit lens in there and I can still add either a 10-20mm or a fisheye in the future.

The bottom compartment I use to house my 2 DSLR’s, the Nikon D5000 and the Nikon D7200 with the MB-D15 battery grip installed. I also included my 2 Nikon SB-600 speedlights, a Meike FC-110 LED ring flash, my DSLR’ batteries and chargers, my LYNCA memory card reader and case (review here!), and seeing I still had enough space, I just threw in the lens hoods just for fun (they won’t stay in there forever). And I know I can still add another DSLR or another flash here in the future no problem.

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Of course, the top tray and bottom compartment isn’t strictly for lenses and bodies/flashes respectively, you can interchange them or even not use the entire unit for you photography gear as it can be used for books, bags, jewelry, etc. Of course, with different items, comes different relative humidity percentages (%RH). For my needs I am told 40-50%RH will be ideal for cameras and lenses, and since this unit has a +2-3%RH, I placed set mine in 42%RH (that means if it reaches 42%RH, it will then go up to 44%RH or 45%RH and then dehumidify again to 42%RH). The %RH will obviously shoot up when you open the unit to grab a piece of item, so you shouldn’t be surprised by it.

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%RH reference guide as per the manual

It is also of note, if you are not in a humid environment, the dehumidifier will not work if your ambient humidity is lower than the humidity set on your unit.

Let’s look at the display and buttons and how to set this up for the first time:

Display

Buttons

Wrong
This part of the instructions are wrong, read on below…

As you can see from the screenshots from the manual, it said that you have to tap the up button TWICE to choose what %RH you want to set, this for me was wrong; I had to press the SET button TWICE, then use up and down buttons to choose my %RH and press SET again to confirm the change.

After setting the %RH, it is suggested in the manual and several forums to leave it empty for at least 8 hours; from my photo, I showed the time I started and the time I would start adding my gear, but I decided to make it 10 hours.

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And thus, here is a shot of my dedicated photography gear corner of my room; this corner has all the most commonly used gear and accessories, and the other less commonly used items are stored elsewhere.

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CONCLUSION:

I paid PHP4,200 (~$80) plus shipping, and somehow it didn’t feel as if I spent a cent on this, because as I said above, this is not an expenditure, it is an investment.

It looks sleek and professional, unlike the conventional dry boxes, and you need not have to “settle” in unlike in the dry boxes where it can take a day or two to dial and settle in the silica gels to the right %RH – this is done digitally and immediately with this one.

The near clear glass shows off your gear wonderfully in proper lighting or when the LED is lit inside, but again, I wish the LED strips were on either end for more even lighting.

The tray and tray mount would give me more peace of mind if they just made it metal; I wouldn’t mind paying a little more for that. Being a very tough plastic, it does hold my lenses well enough but not enough for me to feel confident when I slide the tray out; I still have one palm underneath the tray.

The foam, particularly for the lenses, I wished the contours/concavities were spaced out just a tad more for larger lenses to fit better; I don’t imagine this being a problem for lenses with 62mm threads or mirrorless camera lenses though.

But with all that said and done, would I recommend this? A BIG YES… I mean I already said it twice: this is not an expenditure, it is an investment.

This keeps most of the dust away from my gear, heck even insects; it inside a controlled environment to inhibit fungal growth, yet humid enough to to keep the lubrication of my lenses from evaporating; and it serves as a nice display case for my gear – I do just sit down and stare at it at times.

Of course, this is another one of those Chinese OEM products that have different brands slapping their name on it… So, find one similar to mine, and you will most likely get the same performance.

Well, that’s all! Time for me to stare at my gear inside the ANDBON AD-30S 30L Electronic Automatic Digital Control Dry Cabinet Storage again.


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LYNCA Waterproof Memory Card Case with Built-In USB 3.0 Card Reader Review

DISCLAIMER: I am not a professional reviewer; I review the things I buy as a consumer. I am not at all sponsored. I am an average consumer, giving my consumer thoughts.

INTRO:

Ever since I switched my PC chassis roughly 2 years ago, I no longer had the benefit of using a 3.5 inch internal card reader, because my current chassis, the Phanteks Enthoo Eveolv ATX doesn’t have mounts for 5.25 or 3.5 inch drives, thus I had to forego my Bitfenix internal card reader.

I didn’t own any USB 3.0 card reader hubs back then since I was mainly using the internal card reader, so I have to revert to connecting my DSLR’s using the supplied USB cable from Nikon. And as you’d expect, the transfer rates are slow. Not only that, I hated always connecting my Nikon D5000 or D7200 thru USB especially if I forgot to copy over a photo, because Windows will read the whole card (slowly) inside the DSLR’s as it seems it doesn’t save any information of the photos in the cache.

Knowing I needed a USB 3.0 card reader and a new SD card case (since my old one is so cheap), it was time to hit the market for those items.

Lucky for me, there is the LYNCA Waterproof Memory Card Case with Built-In USB 3.0 Card Reader. Yes that was a mouthful… and it always seems to have a different name in different shops… but at least, the LYNCA branding stays the same.

By the name, it is obviously hitting 2 birds with 1 stone for me; a case and a USB 3.0 card reader.

I didn’t get it right off the bat as I wasn’t to keen in PHP 2,000 (~$40) for such an item, and that is due to the looks, which I will get more into down below in the review. Then it went on sale with a 50% off, then I had no other reason not to get it; whether it will it has bad performance, or God forbid, die out within a few months, I wouldn’t cry a river knowing I only paid PHP 1,000 (~$20).

SPECS:

Item in Review:
Material: ABS,PC,TPV
Size: 15.5x10x3cm/6.1×3.9×1.2”
Number of Slot: 19
Weight: 205g

Suitable for:
CFx3, SDx7 and TFx9 Card (for those wondering what TF is, it is Transflash, aka, MicroSD; Transflash was simply the original name for MicroSD’s untile MicroSD nomenclature became mainstream)

Package:
1x Card Case/Reader
1x USB 3.0 Type A Female to USB 3.0 Type B Male 10 Pin (38.1cm/15″)
1x USB Type A to Micro USB adapter
1x Micro USB to USB 3.0 Type C adapter
1x Sim card tray remover

REVIEW:

First off, it was surprisingly well packaged; sure it doesn’t hang the bang or presentation of products of AAA companies, but the main point for me is that the packing is well enough to keep the item protected in shipping, so it will arrive to me in great condition. Close friends of mine know that I usually keep boxes and display them for 2 reasons: 1 is to have some bragging rights for the awesome gear I have and 2, simply great for reselling purposes. But for little gadgets like these, I care not to keep the boxes honestly, so it may lack in the presentation, but it gets the job done.

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In fact, lacking is the presentation that it doesn’t give much specs in the box, so you can always use the specs I placed above instead, if you are wondering about the item and what comes with it.

The USB 3.0 Type A Female to USB 3.0 Type B Male 10 Pin is roughly 15 inches in length, however, I find that very short even if you connect it in the front USB panel of your PC (well it depends on the height of your PC chassis and its location, either on the desk or on the floor, but for my use and my setup, it is indeed short), thus it is absolutely short if you plan to connect this to the back of your PC; be prepared either way to stand up each time you want to change the card you are trying to import pictures from. An easy fix, which I already did, was buy a 3rd part USB 3.0 Type A Female to USB 3.0 Type B Male 10 Pin cable. I understand why it is only 15 inches, because, after all, this seems to have travel in mind, so you want to pack shorter cables when traveling as to save space, and honestly, you’d want a shorter cable for your laptop when you travel. And speaking of laptop users, you won’t have the same problems with the shorter cable as mentioned above.

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The package also includes 2 adapters, a USB Type A to Micro USB adapterand a Micro USB to USB 3.0 Type C adapter, that have their own rubber sleeves making them linked to the USB cable, thus not losing them, but I find the rubber sleeve a dirt magnet. Of course, if you want, you can simply remove the rubber sleeve links, especially if you are not planning to use those interfaces for you devices.

I mentioned earlier that I was not keen on paying full price for this item due to the over all looks, and I still stand by the fact that I wished they didn’t go for that miniature suit case look. I am more of the minimalist type, and sleeker clean designs are what I wanted best. If it had that sleek design, maybe I would pay full price, with that said, it looks like a toy. That may not bother a lot of people, but for those that still love form AND function, like me, it does put a bit of a letdown especially since most photographers and hobbyists will definitely have photography gear that is respectable and the looks of this case/card reader is kinda tacky. But that’s just me.

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Build quality, well I did say toy earlier, and it does feel like a toy, but a tough toy at that since they did use ABS plastic. I still would want to constantly thrash this around, but for normal everyday use and travel, it will definitely stand the test. Though I might want to mention the tabs are also made of plastic and as far as plastics go, they may wear out in time with the constant opening and closing of the case/card reader

The rubber cover for the actual card reader, is held on by a very small piece of rubber that will definitely break off if you abuse it.

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The USB 3.0 Type B 10 pin female connection is not covered… just something to keep in mind. It is also situated on the side of where the hinges of the case are placed, so having the case wide open and transferring photos won’t be possible; that is to say, that you can open the case and still transfer photos, but not fully open. You can still access the cards inside if need be very easily.

As for the inside of the case, it is mostly made of rubber as to keep the cards in place safely and supposedly be waterproof on the edges; I am a bit skeptical and am lazy to actually test this, but I am skeptical since the rubber edges don’t seem to create a very good seal. But yeah, maybe I will update this once I tested the waterproof capabilities, but I also mentioned above, that the USB 3.0 Type B 10 pin female connection is not covered, so maybe the waterproof aspect is just to save the memory cards inside, then again, why have a rubber cover that seals the card reading connections? Why leave the USB 3.0 Type B 10 pin female connection to dry, errrr, to wet? (LOL) Anyways, that is another reason why I also don’t want to test the waterproof capabilities of the item.

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On the actual card reader, it can also house once more SD card if need be. And speaking of housing the cards, it advertises that it can store CFx3, SDx7 and TFx9 Cards, but what I found out, you can stack your SD cards on top of another, thus you can house up to 12 in the rubber casing plus one on the actual card reader, totaling up to 13 SD cards. As for the CF and TF, since I don’t own any CF cards, I can’t give a definite answer, but I can say that it does only hold as advertised, as with TF.

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You will also notice there is a sim card tray remover, just in case you ever need it. A nice touch in my opinion as there are times when I wished I had one while I’m out.

Now for the actual performance: being a USB 3.0, which can handle up to 5GB/s, we can suspect speedy read and write speeds. I will give you is my transfer times and real time average transfer rates compared to my DSLR, in this case, we will use the Nikon D7200 to transfer 15GB of RAW files from my more recent shoot using a SanDisk Ultra 32GB, 48MB/s read speed, SDHC card.

Using the Nikon D7200, I was took me over a little over 12 minutes. Not too bad at all, but my main gripe is what I mentioned earlier in which it constantly buffers the photos so having to search for that certain photo or photos you want to transfer only can be a chore. Windows, sadly didn’t give me the transfer rate.

Then using the LYNCA card reader, I transferred 15GB of only RAW files in 4 minutes; there was also little to no buffering when searching for selected photos unlike the DSLR where it seems there was no cache saved in the PC, thus it rebuffers, costing time, if you are just looking for certain photos in the card. As for transfer rate, I was averaging 42MB/s. So, it was definitely faster.

I didn’t test it with my other SD card like a SanDisk SDHC class 4, I can say it will be slightly slower, and I didn’t test it with my SanDisk Extreme PRO 32GB SDHC Class 10 U3 UHS 1 card, because I would suspect that it would transfer faster since it has a 95MB/s read speed. And that is another point to make, the transfer speed depends on the card and the files as much as it depends on the interface of transferring.

CONCLUSION:

It does the job! And it does it well. If we simply look at this as a card reader, then it is definitely a great item especially when you get it at 50% off like me. The fact that it is also a case for your memory cards comes as gravy, a cherry on top, or whatever analogy you want. I wished the design leans more to the professional and be more sleek and minimalist, but again, that is just me. I would also would have loved a longer USB cable, but I guess it is understandable as this is also geared towards travel, thus you won’t want to lug around long cables.

Another gripe would be the USB 3.0 Type B 10 pin female connection is not covered like the other connections, thus even if this is waterproof, that being exposed, will not end well.

Will I recommend this? Absolutely! But I feel the asking price originally is still a lot especially from a brand that is not really super known. I would wait for a sale. Keep in mind, this is definitely one of those OEM type products where niche companies will just slap their brand on. So you can find similar products like this with different branding. But as far as OEM goes, this review should also cover them.

So there you go! This is bang for the buck especially when on sale. Still bang for the buck, in a way, full price, but like I said, from a company like them, I rather pay less, so even if, God forbid, this bites the dust in time, it won’t hurt at all paying half price.

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Racer of Virtual Cars: Assetto Corsa 1988 FIA F1 World Championship Round 2 San Marino GP

Continuing my custom made 1988 F1 Championship using Senna’s McLaren MP4/4.

AI Difficulty 100%
Mechanical Damage 50%
Tyre Wear x2
Slip Stream Effect x2
Fuel Consumption On
Traction Control and Anti-Lock Braking System On
33% Race Distance

Round 2 San Marino GP 1988:

I qualified in pole position after what I considered is a god like lap. A bit slow off the start (I really need to work on that), but I was able to get the lead back easily and was managing the pace in front with no problems (a few cutting corners by accident here and there).

Sadly, this is where I noticed Assetto Corsa lacking in terms of the AI: AI backmarkers do not move out of your way or slow down as to not impeded the leaders. In fact, I got punted in lap 17 and lost my lead.

Thus, a 3 lap race for the lead and win began. It was thrilling, but I was really mad at the AI.

Also of note, this will be the last race for now that I run in 33% total race distance… I will be lowering it down for now at 25% total race distance.

Driver’s Championship After Round 2:

1. N. Mansell – 15
2. A. Prost – 9
3. ME! – 9
4. M. Alboreto -3
5. N. Piquet – 2
6. E. Cheever – 2
7. J. Bailey -1
8. R. Patrese -1

Constructor’s Championship After Round 2:

1. McLaren – 19
2. Williams – 16
3. Ferrari – 3
4. Lotus – 2
5. Arrows – 2
6. Tyrell – 1

Game info:

•Game: Assetto Corsa
•Car: McLaren MP4/4 (Mod by VRC)
•Event: Round 1 Brazilain GP 1988 (My custom made championship)
•Track: Jacarepagua (1988 config)
•AI Difficulty 100%
•Mechanical Damage 50%
•Tyre Wear x2
•Slip Stream Effect x2
•Fuel Consumption On
•Traction Control and ABS On
•33% Race Distance

PC info:

•CPU: Intel i7 3770 3.4GHz
•Chassis: Phanteks Enthoo Evolv ATX
•Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Extreme 4
•RAM: G Skill 4 x 4GB 1600Mhz DDR3
•HDD/SSD: Seagate Barracuda 500Gb; Plextor M5 Pro 128Gb; Samsung 850 EVO
•PSU: Corsair GS700
•GPU: VTX3D R9 390 8Gb GDDR5 1000Mhz Core Clock 1500Mhz Memory Clock
•Cooling: DeepCool IceBlade Pro CPU Heatsink with 2 120mm Corsair SP 120 fans on push/pull config; 3 x DeepCool 120mm IceBlade Pro fans for top exhausts; 2 x Phanteks 140mm front intakes; 1 x Phanteks 140mm rear exhaust
•Peripherals: 3 x Dell S2340L 23″ IPS 1080p Monitors; Ducky DK9008 Shine II Cherry MX Blue Mechanical Keybord; Logitech G13 Advanced Gamepad; Logitech G600 MMO Gaming Mouse; Logitech F310 Gamepad; Logitech F710; iPega Bluetooth Controller; Logitech G920 Wheel; Logitech Driving Force Shifter; Logitech G430 Headphones; Logitech G933 Headphones; Logitech Z333 2.1 Speakers; Brother DCP-J100 Printer with Continuous Ink System; A4Tech HD1080p Webcam
•Misc: Tecware Haste XXL Desktmat; NZXT Blue LED Kit; Buffalo Bluetooth 4.0 Dongle; 2M RGB USB Powered LED strip
•NAS: D-Link DNS-320L

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Racer of Virtual Cars: Assetto Corsa 1988 FIA F1 World Championship Round 1 Brazilian GP

This is not going to be the bulk of my posts here in this site, but I’m starting a new series where I will play some racing sims and record them.

For this inaugural post in this brand new series of blogs, I will share the 1st round of my custom made 1988 F1 season… I might make a seperate post on how I made the custom mod and such, but for now, this post will have a video of the 1st round of the championship.

I am driving the McLaren MP4/4 opposite of Alain Prost for the 16 races in this season.

Round 1 Round 1 Brazilian GP 1988:

After a hard fought qualifying, I ended up in 4th place in the grid. Had a decent start and worked my up to 2nd and was fighting for the lead. It was a good race for me as I was able to manage my tyres and fuel (no refuelling and tyres are expected to have at least 50% life at the end of the race thus pitting is very rare in 1988), but I got too greedy fighitng for the lead and in the penultimate corner of the 9th lap… well… you can just watch it.

Driver’s Championship After Round 1:

1. N. Mansell – 9
2. A. Prost – 6
3. M. Alboreto -3
4. N. Piquet – 2
5. R. Patrese -1

Constructor’s Championship After Round 1:

1. Williams – 10
2. McLaren – 6
3. Ferrari – 3
4. Lotus – 2

Game info:

•Game: Assetto Corsa
•Car: McLaren MP4/4 (Mod by VRC)
•Event: Round 1 Brazilain GP 1988 (My custom made championship)
•Track: Jacarepagua (1988 config)
•AI Difficulty 100%
•Mechanical Damage 50%
•Tyre Wear x2
•Slip Stream Effect x2
•Fuel Consumption On
•Traction Control and ABS On
•33% Race Distance

PC info:

•CPU: Intel i7 3770 3.4GHz
•Chassis: Phanteks Enthoo Evolv ATX
•Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Extreme 4
•RAM: G Skill 4 x 4GB 1600Mhz DDR3
•HDD/SSD: Seagate Barracuda 500Gb; Plextor M5 Pro 128Gb; Samsung 850 EVO
•PSU: Corsair GS700
•GPU: VTX3D R9 390 8Gb GDDR5 1000Mhz Core Clock 1500Mhz Memory Clock
•Cooling: DeepCool IceBlade Pro CPU Heatsink with 2 120mm Corsair SP 120 fans on push/pull config; 3 x DeepCool 120mm IceBlade Pro fans for top exhausts; 2 x Phanteks 140mm front intakes; 1 x Phanteks 140mm rear exhaust
•Peripherals: 3 x Dell S2340L 23″ IPS 1080p Monitors; Ducky DK9008 Shine II Cherry MX Blue Mechanical Keybord; Logitech G13 Advanced Gamepad; Logitech G600 MMO Gaming Mouse; Logitech F310 Gamepad; Logitech F710; iPega Bluetooth Controller; Logitech G920 Wheel; Logitech Driving Force Shifter; Logitech G430 Headphones; Logitech G933 Headphones; Logitech Z333 2.1 Speakers; Brother DCP-J100 Printer with Continuous Ink System; A4Tech HD1080p Webcam
•Misc: Tecware Haste XXL Desktmat; NZXT Blue LED Kit; Buffalo Bluetooth 4.0 Dongle; 2M RGB USB Powered LED strip
•NAS: D-Link DNS-320L

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SimRig Update: More Pedal Mods!

In my previous post about finally building a Sim Racing Rig, I mentioned that I modded the brake pedal by removing the rubber stopper/block that Logitech put in order to simulate progressing brake tension, but the design was poorly thought out as the rubber block/stopper, made it next to impossible to brake fully. Thus I decided to remove it.

Not satisfied with such a simple mod, I wanted to make the Logitech G920 pedals feel a lot better and a lot more responsive, especially in the throttle; I felt the throttle spring is too light and have fine control of throttle a little bit tricky. I also found the stock face plates of the pedals didn’t really feel comfortable as the are a bit too tiny, especially in the throttle, thus I decided to be on the lookout for after market pedal face plates.

Thankfully, as is with most racing wheels for simulators, they are nearly identical to real life counterparts, so you may use after market parts for real cars in the racing wheel and pedals.

I found a cheap enough pedal set, with a long enough throttle to feel comfy and a large enough, rally style brake face plate, that can make it easy for me to do heel toe braking if I need to (which I don’t need so much in F1 games), and it being large enough, makes it very comfortable to brake.

I then decided to switch the stock clutch face plate with the stock throttle face plate, since I bought the after market face plates without the clutch; the stock throttle face plate is large enough for the clutch in my opinion.

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New pedal face plates for the brake and the throttle; used the stock throttle face plate for the clutch.

I then switched the springs from the clutch to the throttle and vice versa; the stock clutch spring had more tension than that of the throttle, and I felt that if when I need to use the clutch, I want it to be pushed down completely and quickly. Whereas the stock throttle spring had little to no tension for me, making it difficult to pepper the throttle to control the speed in corners when trying to lift of. So by switching the springs around, I got the tensions I want for both the clutch and the throttle. (Note: I removed the face plates of both the throttle and clutch in order to work on them)

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The seedy underbelly of the pedals
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Time to mod!
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Prior to opening the bottom to the pedal case, I removed the face plates of both the throttle and the clutch to get access to them
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Removed the housing of the springs
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The bigger and shorter spring was originally for the clutch and the thinner and longer spring was originally from the throttle; did the old switcharoo and the tension for both pedals are perfect for me

After all these, was it worth the time, effort, and expenditure? As with all hobbyists, they would say of course it was without having good tangible evidence as to back up the purchase. Well I do…

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Using DashPi (available for both iOS and Android); might make a separate post on how to use your tablet and phone as dash meters or telemetry

I was just having a quick drive around Monaco where my best time with my personal car setup was a 1:19.231 (I am not the greatest sim racer out there; others easily get 1:13.00s) and shattered it, while not driving really seriously, with a 1:18.897. So, yeah, it was worth it.

What is my next project for the SimRig? I do wanna make 2 dedicated sim dash devices so I don’t always have to use my iPad mini and my Zenfone 2; plus I get to program exactly how I want them to look and what telemetry to collect using readily available programs intended for Arduino. Though I won’t be doing it anytime soon as I don’t have so much time for such projects just yet. But it  will happen sometime.

Til next time! PEACE!

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My Sim Rig 2017 (Finally)

If you know me personally, apart from tech, gaming, blogging, guitars, NFL fan, and photography, my other passion are cars and motorsports, particularly, Formula 1.

I have a Formula 1 fan since 1996 and I never failed to watch every season since I became a fan; sure there are a few races I missed per season due to studies and what not, but overall, I never missed a season.

Being a fan is totally different from hopping in the bandwagon. I know the history of the sport, I know the strategies, I know the innards of these cars, etc. I say this, because a lot of people still think I just hopped on to the bandwagon since my boss liked Formula 1. NO.

I have vivid memories of watching the Spanish GP way back in 1996 and saw this red car flying thru the wet track and won the race. That was the Ferrari F310 driven by Michael Schumacher. Since then, I became a fan of Schumacher, Ferrari, and the sport.

Up to this day, I am still a big fan of the sport and Ferrari; win or lose, even during 2009, there worst year in recent memory, I was still rooting for Ferrari. I didn’t jump into the bandwagon for the new dominant teams or drivers… I stuck with my team like a true fan.

So being a fan of Formula 1, of course, I am a bit of a speed freak; I also enjoy me some World Rally Championship, World Endurance Championship, and mostly other open wheel racing like Formula 3 and recently Formula E (No I don’t like IndyCar; I mostly like FIA sanctioned events). Naturally, I love driving games, they are my second favorite genre after Role Playing Games.

However, the last racing sim that I owned and really played was Gran Turismo 4 in the PS2 (First racing sim that I played was Gran Turismo 1 in the PS1) and F1 99-02 in the PC. Becoming a PC gamer, however, there were not that many good simulators; sure there was, like I said, F1 99-02, great for F1 fans, can be modded to one’s heart’s content, there is rFactor, Live for Speed, etc., but none caught my heart and passion for racing like Gran Turismo and F1 99-02. Not even the later F1 games from Codemasters caught my eye at first. Games like Assetto Corsa and Projext cars, as well as iRacing, got me intrigued, but I never thought of playing racing games again in my PC.

Suddenly, I stumbled into a Logitech G920 for 66% off… So I decided to load up my favorite sim racing YouTube channels I use to frequent a lot back then, found some new channels and personalities, and found out that a lot of the sim racing games have gotten so much better, the peripherals from the racing wheels, button boxes, displays, transducers, etc., have gotten way better since the last time I was really into sim racing, not to mention that F1 from Codemasters seemed to have imrpoved over the years as well. This whet my appetite and I knew I can no longer pass up a 66% off racing wheel.

I also got a racing wheel stand since I just want a dedicated rig for the wheel and pedals to be had mounted and I can easily tuck away at the side of my PC without having to mount and dismount on the desk each time I wanted to play (that is one of my biggest turn offs back when I was younger when I had to mount and dismount from the desk each time). I also decided to get a wheel stand, not a complete cockpit, because I don’t have that much space in my room anymore, nor do I have a real dedicated PC rig for sim racing, thus I got this, a small right that I can easily drag using furniture slides to sit flush with my desk and tuck away when I’m done.

Here are the photos of the items:

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FINALLY! These packages took 5 days to arrive!
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Ultra soft Styrofoam packaging… not my type.
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The simple wheel and pedal stand. It also has the optional stand for the shifter, which I will use when I order the shifter.
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The accessories
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This is what 66% off looks like; the box is not in good shape, but the wheel and pedal are in great condition and work like a champ
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What 66% packaging looks like…
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Good lookin’
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She is built! Fairly easy build, the rig didn’t have proper English instructions and the Chinese instructions with pictures were basically useless. One can eyeball the build of this thing.
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Easily tucked away on the side
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Used these furniture sliders for carpets to easily drag it around; I didn’t mount it using the adhesive since I don’t want the rig to slide about when I brake.

I decided to modify the brake pedal, as if you read reviews on the Logitech G29 and G920, the brake pedal gets stiffer and harder to push down on the farther it gets. It tries to emulate the progressive tension of real life brakes, but honestly, it is a terrible system they used to try and emulate the braking characteristics, especially those with a hydraulic brake system. I decided to mod it to make it easier to push down on and I used this video below to help me do so. Very helpful as he mentions the sizes of the hex and screws, so if you don’t have it, you can easier look for the exact size in the hardware store. The pics below were taken using my phone, hence quality isn’t as good as the otehr photos:

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This doctor is gonna do surgery… Oh yeah, I’m a licensed physician that loves to game.
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The simple innards

 

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Almost there…
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Here is the culprit! That black rubber stopper/block causes the difficulty in braking. Awful design Logitech!

 

 

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The bane of my braking
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I also adjust the clutch (not needed in F1 sims that I usually play now), the brake, and the throttle face plates.

 

The video I used to help me remove the rubber block in the brake pedal:

In the future, especially when I move back to the States, I will definitely improve my SimRig, maybe with a better wheel system, better cockpit, but the ones I am looking forward to purchasing next time would be button boxes and displays. The latter is very important to me as I like to turn off all on screen display in game and have an external display showing me time, fuel, my gear, RPM, RPM limiter, speed, lap times, tire pressure and temperature, brake temperature, oil and water temperature, and the list goes on.

I can’t really find any good ones here in the Philippines since sim racing isn’t really as big as one might think here, so I downloaded app for both the Android and iOS and used my phone and iPad mini to work as user datagram protocol (UDP) devices and display the telemetry I need.

This is the most difficult part, as both apps use the same loopback IP and port, I had to use 8 hours to read the program language of the game and the 2 apps, edit the program, edit the ports, the IP addresses, the loopback addresses, etc, and troubleshoot each new code I wrote. Needless to say, I got both apps to work without conflicting with one another and having them display the proper telemetry separately.

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Using my devices as UDP for telemetry; the most difficult part is setting these up without them conflicting with one another.

Here is a video of my trying the new wheel, re-learning how to paddle shift, using an un-modded brake pedal, and testing my 2 devices if they are working properly. Please, no hate on my lap times. I didn’t edit the setup of the car or anything… I was merely testing these all.

This is like my photography hobby, my guitar hobby, my PC and gaming hobby, where I really started out humbly, not getting the highend or at least mid-high end products for my hobbies since I was just getting into them, so in time, I know my SimRig will be as awesome as the SimRigs most YouTube sim racers show off.

Someday…

Okay, that may have been overkill… still worth a share!

Some glamour shots when set up:

SimRig 2017

SimRig 2017
SimRig 2017

Til next time! PEACE!

P.S.

I “might” be reviewing the Logitech G920 and the BRZ Racing Wheel Stand, but I haven’t even released my Logitech G933 and F710 reviews, yet. So, yeah, I don’t know.

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Move over DX Racer, GT Omega, Maxnomic Gaming Chair; I found an alternative… ADDENDUM! Ergodynamic F1 Gaming Chair Review

DISCLAIMER: I am not a professional reviewer, I am like you, a consumer, giving his consumer thoughts on purchases straight from his pocket. Also, if I place prices, remember, prices may, and probably will, change without prior notice.

Introduction:

My previous review on a non-branded gaming chair has been getting a lot of traffic, and since then, I have answered messages from Facebook, Twitter, and in Steam about that chair. Of course, I have since then upgraded my chair and now I have new recommendations on gaming chairs.

I decided to review my current chair and update the previous post as readers still think I have the old chair. And with all these new questions, I just wanna give them more info and alternatives so they can choose the perfect chair for themselves at the best price the see fit.

For this post, I will review my current chair and give new recommendations as alternatives to this chair as the price may not always sit too well (see what I did there?) with many people.

So here we! Let us begin!

Notable Mentions:

RAKK Gear/EasyPC

As much as I enjoyed my previous gaming chair, I felt that it is missing some features such as the ability to recline, missing head rest (I got that pink head rest from a friend) and lumbar pillow, and frankly, the mesh parts are starting to irritate me.

So I knew, it was high time to upgrade.

We start at the alternatives that I considered:

I stumbled into RAKK Gear/EasyPC and they were selling a gaming chair akin to those like DX Racer, Maxnomic, or GT Omega, etc, but at a reasonably low price of PHP 5,450.

It can recline, tilt, and it has the head rest and lumbar pillow.

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As to why I didn’t order this is simply it was not on stock and I waited quite awhile for it to be on stock. You can reach out to RAKK Gear (FB Page) EasyPC (FB Page or Official Site) for the availability and I highly recommend this chair as I have friends who swear by it.

I heard, however, they have 2 new models, with similar features, and similar price, just different design. Also of note, it doesn’t come with lumbar pillow and head rest.

Again, just reach out to Rakk Gear or EasyPC for the availability.

PCHub

Another shop that sells good alternatives to the more expensive brands, but like the shops above, the chairs were taking too long for my taste to restock.

But the one that caught my eye was the FTW Frag series. Like the Rakk Gear/Easy PC XRACE 01, Kabil, and Takus chairs, it is sweetly priced at PHP5,490 with similar feartures you now expect in a gaming chair.

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For those looking for a more of a premium and even more designs, they also carry AKRACING chairs.

Again, if PC Hub had this back then, I would have gotten the FTW Frag series of chairs; just reach out to them in their FB Page. If you find either this or the RAKK Gear/Easy PC equivalents, I highly recommend them. And if you will get either one of them, do pick it up from the shop; shipping is a pain in the wallet and you will know in a bit.

Ergodynamic/Cost U Less

Now, I really wanted to upgrade my chair, and I didn’t care about the price or shipping (I am not rich, I am just desperate to upgrade), so instead of waiting for either one previously mentioned to restock their products, I decided to look at the Ergodynamic F1 Gaming chairs that can be purchased from Cost U Less (FB Page or Official Site).

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It is a premium as you can see by the price, but for me, it is still slightly less than the more expensive brands, and this can hold up on its own against them.

The shipping hurts, since it is a large object to ship, and I live outside Manila, the shipping cost me nearly or about half the price of the chair. That’s how desperate I was… Did I regret it? No, not at all.

Now time for the short review…

Review:

  • Base Type: Nylon Base
  • Base Size: 350mm
  • Base Capacity: 300kgs
  • Gas Lift Type: 120D
  • Gas Lift: 80mm
  • Caster Type: PP
  • Mechanism Thickness: 2.5mm
  • Chair Seating Capacity: 110kgs
  • Tilt-Lock Function
  • Pneumatic Height Adjustment
  • 360° Swivel Function

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First off, I have the faux leather version of this, and for me, I like it better than the fabric version. Your skin tends to “breathe” more with faux leather.

For the price I was a bit letdown by the fact the star base is still made of plastic, albeit very, very  strong plastic that can carry upwards to 300kgs, but with that price I was at least a metal start base. I hardly think with that price, you can’t have at least an aluminum star base, but oh well.

Next are the arm rests, I like how it can go up or down, tilt in or out, but the latter doesn’t have a lock feature, so sometimes, once you get it in the orientation you like, it may tilt outwards or inwards beyond your comfort. Not so much of a problem, but annoying.

Also, the plastic feels so cheap. Again, with that price I spent on it, I was hoping a little more. It can get a wee bit uncomfortable at times when I rest my arms on them, I would have loved a thin fabric or something, but it never really gets uncomfortable all the time… just…at times.

The best part of this chair, I know it sounds crazy, but its the included pillows. Now most chairs are already supplying this apart from the 2 other models from RAKK Gear/ EasyPC, the Takus and Kabil, but upgrading from a chair that doesn’t even recline or have these is a welcome change. I just wished the head rest pillow also had the clip loncking mechanism like the lumbar pillow. I say this, cos I’m short, and I do mean short! Like most girls are taller than me… Okay, I digress. So I had to lower down the head rest to make it feel comfy but the strap is like strangling the chair as you can see below.

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It is also nice to note that even if the castor wheels are much better than my previous chair, it is still not the large castor wheels that can easily glide on carpet, like in my case. It can move around, but once you sit on it, the wheels do bury unto the carpet and you have to make the effort to move. That, or I’m just gaining too much weight for my own good.

Since the chair itself is quite heavy, the tilt function while the chair is upright can oppose you. I am used to a certain level of tilt from my previous chair, and when I sat on this, and loosened the tilt maximally, I still can’t tilt when the chair is upright. With that said, you can feel the tilting a lot when you start to recline. Either that, or I’m too weak and short to tilt the chair like a rocking chair if it isn’t reclined.

Reclining is pretty much what you expect from it, and it does it well; it doesn’t recline completely 180 degrees, but that is good, as the center of gravity will shift and you may just fall on your back. Now I mentioned I loosened the tilt on this chair and I will admit, when I tried to recline this fully, I always think I would fall over, but I didn’t. Up to now, I still get scared. Great way to have a pick me up when I am sleepy.

I got the faux leather finish and it is a dust magnet, I would suspect the fabric finish would be a lot worse. Of course, you can easily wipe it off with a damp cloth, but I think at this price, it is best to get a leather polisher or something to wipe it off.

The cushion, I am unsure if it memory foam, but it is comfortable and firm, in the sense that it is unlike other chairs with cushions that if you sit on it for long periods of time, throughout most of the day of the week,  it would start to lose it structural integrity. This one, I had it since December 2016, and the cushion are still firm and has no signs of going away (I hope I didn’t just jinx it)

Verdict:

So, the price may hurt in a way and it is close to the more expensive ones, well the lower end models of the expensive ones, but we can’t deny that it is a premium especially compared to the products from RAKK Gear/EasyPC or PCHub, and truth be told, I would have purchased from them if the products were available at them time.

That is not to say that I regret this particular purchase (plus the expensive shipping), I love this chair, it was everything I hoped the first chair I bought would be. Apart from my nitpicking in the review section, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS PRODUCT IN SPITE OF THE PRICE.

Of course, my advice would be to go to Cost U Less’ showroom to get the item and avoid the shipping fee, but if you are desperate like me or you live far, then you have to weigh it in for yourself if it is worth the extra shipping fee. Take it from me, after this chair arrived and I started using it, I didn’t care about the shipping fee.

Til next time! PEACE!

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