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Tethering with the Surface Pro 2: Enabling with the Phase IQ Series + Credo MFDBs

kdphotography

Well-known member
When Microsoft first released its Surface Pro tablet, Don Libby & I starting talking and wondering about the potential of this USB3 capable device---but it was all academic at the time, since Phase One had yet to enable USB3 on its IQ series MFDBs.

Then came the big firmware update from Phase One, and USB3 tethering became a reality for IQ series (and Credo) MFDBs. And the big plus is being able to tether on location with a smallish tablet, a much more convenient form factor than a laptop.

I jumped quickly and purchased a Surface Pro 2 tablet, and have spent quite a bit of time and resources configuring a compact tethering package for my IQ180 and Cambo technical camera.

You can read my review and the details on my blog: Microsoft’s Surface Pro 2: A Game Changer for Phase One IQ Series and Leaf Credo Medium Format Digital Backs | Kendoophotography's Blog

Needless to say, I'm really excited about using the Surface Pro 2 with my IQ180 and I wanted to share or enable :D others that might be interested in what I believe to be a great option for USB3 enabled MFDBs, and allow others to share their experiences tethering with the Surface Pro on location.

ken
 

kdphotography

Well-known member
You can easily adjust screen brightness on the SP2 by tapping on the battery/power icon located on the lower right corner of the screen. Where appropriate, you may wish to add a sun shade. I'll probably do without most of the time, but this is the one I configured for those really bright days. It's lightweight and folds flat for storage inside the Manvex case. The tablet clamp holds it securely on top, and velcro tabs secure the bottom wings.

ken
 

weinlamm

Member
Good morning Ken,

that's great stuff! I would say "many thanks" to you for your efforts to write and show this. If you are a Phase IQx-User or Leaf Credo, this should be an good way to focus with a tec-cam. I didn't want that so far - but now I'm thinking about such a Surface... :rolleyes:
 

young'ee

New member
On an older back with FW800

Would something like this work to end up on USB 3 ?

https://www.nitroav.com/store/nitro...3.0-superspeed-professional-hub-repeater.html

It says it can be used as a repeater. So could we go from MFDB FW 800 -> nitroav box -> USB 3 -> SP2 ?

If so then this method could be used to open the door to older non USB3 backs to this method that looks great.

If it could work, i know its another box to carry and setup/power etc. I think the SP2 could power the nitro box, so that would take care of that requirement.

Given one has to take the tripod out of its bag/case and set it up, take the camera out and mount it to the tripod, then take the back out and mount it to the camera then take the lens out and mount it to the camera, having one more thing to setup does not seem overly burdensome if it opens the door to this wonderful idea you have come up with.

If this would work, all of a sudden all the old legacy backs can have the benefit of focus mask via C1 and critical focus ability and framing from the SP2

Thoughts ?
 

kdphotography

Well-known member
Firewire and USB3 are different protocols, and as far as I know, there are no adapters or converters on the market that provide for a direct Firewire to USB3 connection. The Nitroav in your link appears to be only a hub and not a converter.

For legacy backs, your options really are only with their native tethering Firewire protocol. This means either having a computer with a Firewire card, adapters to provide power, or even a thunderbolt adapter. It can/does work, but not nearly as easy as tethering with USB3. Not even close. The attraction of using the Surface Pro 2 on location is its relative small footprint, tablet form factor, and ease of use. Assuming it was possible to rig up all these different adapters and converters to "make it work" probably would quickly become an exercise in frustration, as the more links added to the chain, means more things that can go wrong---not to mention having to carry all that extra gear with you.

In a nutshell, tethering with the Surface Pro 3 is limited to USB3 capable MFDBs, and at the current time, that means Phase IQ series and Leaf Credo only. If you're going to tether with an older MFDB, realistically you're really looking at a laptop with required adapters.

The beauty of tethering with the SP2, is the ease and speed to set up, while still in a small lightweight package.

ken
 

Don Libby

Well-known member
Not an expert on this however I don't think there's any gizmo that makes a firewire into USB. The repeater you shared is just that, a repeater for either firewire or USB. What it does not do is make firewire into USB or the other way around.

I remember looking into this shortly after the Surface Pro was announced thinking the same as you and quickly found that each is a separately incompatible system (for lack of a better term). There's different versions of firewire just as there's different types of USB. USB 3 can read/work well with USB 2 and 1 however USB 1/2 can't read 3; it's a one-way road going downwards.

I also think we'll never see the Surface Pro 2 or 3 have firewire as it takes more power than USB thus the battery just would be able to handle it.
 

young'ee

New member
I suspected it would be something like that - was hoping it could take FW in and spit USB3 out.

The SP2 idea is sheer brilliance !

I want to use an Aptus II - so no USB3. hmmmm,.........what to do. Really liked your SP2 idea.

I guess a phone call to the maker of the Nitro device couldn't hurt just to make sure it wont work ?
 

foster_jb

New member
Hi Young'ee,

I have an older Aptus back, and really like it, yet I also want and have looked for a solution to be able to connect it to a tablet in the field. I spent a lot of time searching and found next to nothing. That said, there is potentially an option or two depending on how adventurous you are.

I managed to find one tablet which has firewire built in as well as a Windows 7 pro operating system (I think you can do windows 8 as well). It can use two separate batteries, and they are hot-swappable. The only potential problem that I can see, is that I don't know if the firewire port is powerful enough to power the back on its own (without needing a repeater, etc..). I haven't yet bought one, so I haven't been able to test. Here is a link:

J3600 | Motion Computing

The other idea I was toying with was, rather than connecting the back to the tablet via firewire, was to buy some sort of an extender for the CF card, and thereby have the CF card plugged into the back, but have an extender cable coming out and being able to connect the second end to a computer. I thought that perhaps both the back and tablet could read from the same CF card at the same time. I have not tested this either, it was just an idea. Here is an example of an extender:

Sycard Technology-CF extend 180 CompactFlash Flexible Extender Card

There would be a fair amount of fiddling around to potentially get this to work, but who knows, you might be the kind of guy who would enjoy this type of task.

Best,
Foster
 

young'ee

New member
The CF extender is not going to work.

This at the bottom of the page........

........... "The CFextend 180 has been discontinued. No replacement is available"
 

Don Libby

Well-known member
Just finished looking at the J3600 Foster shared above. I looked at the specs and saw it has 2 USB3 and can be configured up to 8GB RAM however I couldn't find anything regarding firewire. I also looked at the overview where it shows the various ports; maybe in the docking station?
 

Don Libby

Well-known member
I believe the CF extender is just that it extends the CF which is not the same as tethering the back so you can use C1. Sorry...
 

foster_jb

New member
Hi Don,

My apologies, it has been a while since I looked at this. For the tablet, it does not have a built-in firewire port, but it does have an expansion card slot. This can accept a type 34 ExpressCard, and there are several cards available with firewire ports. I was incorrect when I called it a "built-in" firewire port.

As for the CF card extender, my though was not to use it "tethered" to C1, but that it would function like a typical card reader when plugged into a tablet or computer. It can simply see the folder which contains the images shot on the back. This folder could be set as a "hot" folder in C1, and would then read and make previews for files as they are shot on the back. I was looking into options to allow one CF card to be connected to two devices, but got preoccupied with other projects. The extender just helps get the CF card physically out of the DB, so that you could try and make another connection to it.

Foster
 

foster_jb

New member
Forgot to mention, that when you look at the specs for the J3600 mentioned above, click on "Expansion Module" and this lists the existence of the ExpressCard 34 slot.

Foster
 

weinlamm

Member
I tried out a laptop (Win Vista x32 on it) with a ExpressCard 34 slot in the past + my Phase One P20.

Yes. I was able to connect this combination (additional power with battery in the back) . Was possible to do a firmware-update this way.
I had installed C1 v5 on it (x32) - but never got a connection with this to my back. I don't know why... :angry:

But I never got waked up a Leaf. With this you need more power than the ExpressCard could deliver.
Ok. You could use this:
https://captureintegration.com/product/fw800-firewire-powered-hub/

But I don't think in the field... :poke: :rolleyes:

I think, there is no real way with ExpressCard + Windows on a laptop / tab with no gen firewire-port.

I think if you want to use a Leaf Back in the field think about two things: a macbook or an upgrade to a Credo/P1 IQx. :deadhorse:
 

kdphotography

Well-known member
I've received some inquiries on the sun shade/screen. I tried to find a commercial offering, but didn't find anything really suitable for the Surface Pro and this particular tethering set-up. Total cost is about $20 in materials. I don't think the sun shade is absolutely needed, but it is a nice option to have in your bag.

My sun screen is made of a durable, thin, plastic material, gaffers tape, and combination of velcro squares and strips. The plastic material is from the outside cover of a cheap Itoya portfolio case available at larger art supply stores, for about $10 for a 8x11 portfolio.

Cut the plastic cover to size to fit just slightly less than the Manvex case interior. (I used a rotatrim). My center shade piece measures 7" x 10". This may be the only shading you require; simply slide the plastic onto the top portion of the clamp to shade the SP2.

If you want to add side walls----the side walls or wings measure 7" x 7.5". There is about a 1/2" space left in between the wing and the center piece---where the gaffers tape is applied on both sides. This allows enough space for the sun shade to wrap around the Manvex case, yet still fold up and store inside the case. It's pretty easy to make and the hardest part of making this sun shade is cutting the gaffers tape the right size! Velcro squares are affixed on the bottom rear corner and also above the fold on the Manvex case. Another velcro strip attaches the bottom of the sunshade to the Manvex case just above the bottom fold (where you put the velcro squares), and helps support the sun shade. I did make a small cut-out for where the USB3 cable connects to the SP2.

The sun shade should fold up flat for storage inside the Manvex SP2 case.
 
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