Category Archives: Gear

Equipment that I have

Review: The Roost Laptop Stand

v1_unmountedFront In 2013 The Roost was successfully crowd funded via I was lucky enough to stumble upon the project. It was an easy sell; I jumped on board and backed it.

The Roost was a unique product. It folded flat for easy transport and converted to a laptop riser like a transformer (sans sound effect). The Roost lifted the laptop at the hinge point. It would wedge itself at the hinge and the base of the laptop would sit on the lower crossbars. There were four contact points: two at the hinge area and two at the base.

The Roost (ver1)

The Roost version 1 with a MacBook (2010).

v1_mountFocus v1_mountFocus2

The Roost ver 1 + hinge mount

The Roost version 1 with focus on the hinge mount area.

There’s a slight flaw. None of the four contact points have any traction. It is smooth plastic or smooth resign material. This left the laptop to The Roost mount a little squirrelly. Any sudden jarring (like a bumping of the table or nudge on The Roost/laptop) and the laptop would come off the hinge (literally).

Fast forward to 2015. The Roost comes back with a version 2 offering. Since I backed the original Kickstarter project, I was notified of the second project. I was still using (and liking) The Roost (version 1), but I also liked the redesign of the 2nd version.

The Roost version 2 still used four contact points, but it no longer used the hinge as the main anchor/support. The main support will fall on the base of the laptop falling into a C (it’s more like a “G”) channel. The channel/groove has a rubber-like grip to it, so the laptop is more secure. This resolves the issue I had with the fist version. v2_unmountedv2_mountSolid

Another addition to the redesign makes the second version adjustable in height. There are three locking positions in which to set the laptop. You can pretty much get it to a position to meet your ergonomic needs. The original version was not adjustable in height.

Now let’s discuss the bad. There is a little hazard when adjusting the height level. You need to depress the white trigger to unlock the height setting. If you’re not careful, you can pinch a finger (or two)… and I did (check it out on the video).

The second flaw is the C/G channel in which the laptop base sits in. From the looks of it, The Roost version 2 was designed to fit laptops of a specific size. I’m guessing 2014 MacBook Pros and smaller. I’m still using a 2010 MacBook (the last plastic kind before Apple changed to an all aluminum body). My MacBook is fatter than the current Apple laptops (current MacBook, the MacBook Pro line, and the MacBook Air line). It barely fits. For fatter laptops, like my Lenovo G505, it kinda fits. The G505 does fit in the channel, but it has an awkward tapper shape that dislodges from the channel when trying to adjust the height of The Roost.v2_mountSolidBitev2_mountZoomed

The two flaws that I found in The Roost version 2, can be avoided by the user. The fix is to not mount the laptop until the desired height is set. Do not try to adjust the height when the laptop is mounted on The Roost. You can, but you have to be aware of the finger pinch factor, and if your laptop is a little fat, be aware that it can get unseated from the channel during the height adjustment.

Overall, I dig The Roost. I was happy with the first version. I’m even happier with the second version. For more info go to:

digital torque adapter from Harbor Freight Tools

Digital Torque Adapter

I keep a torque wrench in the trunk of my car. Unfortunately, I’ve stored the wrench loaded all this time. The wrench was actually set and locked at 78 lbf.ft. The wrench is a mechanical click type. By storing it loaded, the pressure on the spring will eventually weaken it. Resulting in an inaccurate torque reading. It’ll click before reaching the desired torque setting. (Check out this article from

I did some searching and stumbled upon digital torque adapters. Digital torque adapters measure the torque applied to a nut/bolt and displays the pressure applied on a digital screen. This can convert any socket wrench into a torque wrench. It will not prevent over torquing, but will signal (via audio and/or visual markers) when the target torque setting is reached.

Another feature of digital torque adapters allows the user to test the accuracy of their torque wrench. By knowing how far off the wrench is reading, the user should be able to fine tune the wrench.

I picked up a Pittsburgh Professional Digital Torque Adapter a my local Harbor Freight Tools brick and mortar store. After a 20% discount (via email coupon), the total only came out to $26.39. Harbor Freight always gets knocks on the quality of their goods (rather, lack of quality), but this device is fairly accurate (check out this article from

I tested the two torque wrenches that I own. One is a Craftsman and the other is a Gorilla Automotive wrench (the one improperly stored). The Craftsman wrench was stored properly. In fact, the only way for it to fit in its storage case is when the torque setting is set at the minimum value (~ 20 lbf.ft). The Gorilla Automotive is smaller in size and can fit in its case on any setting. The Craftsman pretty much matched the digital torque adapter… maybe off by 0.1 lbf.ft. The Gorilla Automotive was off by 4-5 lbf.ft… it clicked before reaching the desired torque setting. I did weaken the spring on the wrench.

It took awhile, but I was able to adjust the Gorilla Automotive wrench to within 0.5-0.8 lbf.ft. I only use this for my lug nuts and that’s accurate enough for me. For added security, I’ll store the digital torque adapter in the trunk and use it whenever I use the Gorilla Automotive wrench. Big props to dail2fast on YouTube. He did a great review on the Pittsburgh Pro Digital Torque Adaptor (link here) and a guide in calibrating a torque wrench (link here).

Install of WeatherTech Window Deflector

I ordered vent visors from WeatherTech for my Scion tC. WeatherTech brands them as “window deflectors”. I was going to go with the cheaper vent visor that attaches by adhesive tape. I was dissuaded by some forum posts stating the adhesive tape doesn’t stay stuck for long. The other option, but much more expensive alternative was the precisely molded in-channel visors sold by WeatherTech. The cost is around $75, which includes shipping.

I hoping this investment will pay off. It’s near winter time; we’re finally getting some rain (I live in the Bay Area, and we’re suffering from a major draught — this is well needed stuff). The trouble with rain, no matter how small you crack open the window, you’ll still get water inside. With these installed, that shouldn’t be a problem anymore. I also plan on leaving it cracked open. I’m getting tired of the condensation fogging up my windshield after my late evening workout. Hopefully this will save on running the AC to defog the windows.

I could have used these this past summer. I gets hot here. Not desert hot, but hot enough to steam when getting into the car after it’s been baking in the sun for 6 hours. I have a Broadway mirror attached to my rearview. When it gets too hot, any slight vibration from rough roads will cause it to move on its own. Really annoying when driving. I could crack my moonroof to help vent when parked, but find that leaves tend to blow inside when I do this. These vent visors should help with that.

Is this a worthwhile investment? I’m kinda talking myself into thinking it is. The design is unobtrusive and install was easy. The question is, will it fulfill its purpose and help regulate the inside temperature and relative humidity? Dunno… have to wait and see.

DIY Camera Dry Box

DIY Camera Dry Box

I usually store my camera gear in camera bags. I store my primary shooter in a sling bag. I would also cram extra lenses, flash and whatever other gear that can fit into that same bag. All remaining gear would go into miscellaneous camera bags.

I had to rethink this when I was searching for used lenses to put on my Canon EOS M (my primary video shooter). It’s a given to check the quality of the used lens. Does it have scratches? oily blades? fungus? Fungus… huh? After some searching, fungus primarily grows on the lens. Given the right conditions, it can spread. Can it be cleaned? By a professional. So what do you do? Prevention is the key. The fungus spores thrive in damp environment. I live in the Bay Area, but that’s no guarantee that fungus cannot contaminate my lenses. Keep in mind I’m still buying used lenses… dunno where they’ve been.

One form of prevention requires storing the lenses and camera body in a cool and dry environment, the camera dry box. Professional camera dry boxes are way too expensive — from a couple of hundred dollars to well over a thousand. One solution to make your own camera dry box. That requires a storage container, a desiccant (to absorb the moisture within the container), and a hygrometer (to measure the relative humidity).

Here’s a video of my DIY camera dry box:

Here’s a price breakdown of my diy camera dry box:

  • 26.5 qt Ziploc Weathertight Box: ~$12 @ Walmart
    • Ziploc branded but manufactured by Iris USA
    • interior dimensions of the box: 18.25″(w) x 14.25″(l) x 6.25″(h)
      • it tapers, so subtract about 1 inch: 17.25″(w) x 13.25″(l) — base dimensions
  • 10.5 oz DampRid: ~$3 @ Home Depot
  • HTC-1 Digital Thermometer and Hygrometer: ~$5 @ eBay
    • any hygrometer will work
    • check out my post and video on how to check hygrometer accuracy
  • Drawer Liner: ~$5 @ Walmart
    • optional, but recommend
  • Sunflower Crackers: ~$5 @ asian grocery store
    • optional
    • recommend any secondary catch storage in case DampRid leaks

Yukon Outfitters Mosquito Hammock (unboxing + suspension mod)

I snagged this Yukon Outfitters Mosquito Hammock from at a great price. Woot sells items for a limited time or until inventory is exhausted (which ever comes first). This deal was only limited for 1 day. It was too good to pass up.

From the very beginning, I was going to replace the suspension system of the original hammock. I wanted to use the Dyneema rope I had on hand. I figured I would tie a stopper knot of some kind (or a bend knot at the ends) to make a loop. I did some research on Dyneema rope and found that knots tend to slip on Dyneema because the rope is slippery. Further research, suggested splicing an eye/loop instead of tying a knot. There are great references on how to do exactly that. I was able to splice my own with the tools I had on hand.

I also opted to use two SMC Descending Rings for the suspension system. To connect the hammock suspension to the trees, I ordered some straps from The straps will be connected to the SMC rings via garda hitch (you’ll need a pair of rings to deploy the garda hitch).

I posted a video of the unboxing and the suspension modification. As stated above, I’m swapping the existing rope and carabiner suspension with a continuous loop of AmSteel Blue (Dyneema) rope and a pair of SMC Descending Rings.

Knots used: lark’s head (cow hitch), prusik hitch, surgeon’s knot, figure-8