CamiApp Review

CamiApp A6 Notebook by Kokuyo – Review
The CamiApp notebook is an A6 sized spiral bound notebook. The cover is stiff cardboard. Obviously, with the spiral bound paper, the notebook lies very flat. Some people do not like spiral notebooks because the spiral gets in the way of their hand, and this is understandable. This is a small notebook and the spiral is minimal. This is not the first time I use Kokuyo paper and as always, Kokuyo’s coated paper performs admirably with fountain pens. In the case of the CamiApp notebook, fountain pen friendliness is not its claim to fame. What makes the notebook unique is the electronic aspect when paired with an Android or iOS device. The CamiApp application allows you to take pictures of your notes and catalog them with tags and “macros” within the app and special designations on the paper itself. There is a series of rectangles on the top left of the page that can automatically classify your notes.

I must admit, I was expecting a little more when it comes to the electronic aspect. It may be my unrealistic expectations, but I was thinking there would be some OCR (optical character recognition) aspect to the software. Sadly, there is none. Once your note is in electronic form, the only editing you can do is a “white board” style of mark up on the screen with rudimentary paint tools.

I am impressed at how well the app can straighten an image, although, after some research on similar technologies from other companies, it is on par with what is being offered. The black border around the page is used by the software to straighten the image. This explains the warning not to tear out the page before scanning it.

For drawings, short lists and quick notes I do not see an issue using this notebook. However, if you want to do more serious writing, I do not see the app doing more than simple cataloguing. The app does export to well known apps like; Evernote, DropBox, Google Drive, Smartbiz+, Sugarsync, and SkyDrive. It also does simple exports to email and your local photo album.

For my tests, I saved to a PDF in my local drive and Google Drive. I do believe I like the iOS experience over Android. With the Android version, I was always tweaking menus because I had forgotten something. Not so with iOS on my iPad Mini. After the initial setup in iOS, there was no need to tweak anymore settings once they were set.
Overall, a good performing analog notebook with some left to be desired performance when it comes to the app portion but still very usable.

Thank you for reading,

Ivan
The Fountain Pen Sith Lord

I would like to thank Jetpens.com for providing this review sample. The CamiApp is available through JetPens at this page.

CamiApp Review
CamiApp Review
CamiApp Review
CamiApp Review
CamiApp Review

The Pen Chalet is offering a “Pen Cash” giveaway. Enter to win 1 of 2 gift cards redeemable for any item on penchalet.com including fountain pens, ballpoint pens, inks, refills and more. The first place winner will receive a $50 “Pen Cash” Card, second place winner a $25 gift card. Both gift cards are redeemable at http://www.penchalet.com and can be used to buy something for yourself or you may give them away as gifts. Check it out at the Pen Challet

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The Field Notes Spring 2014  Edition.

The Field Notes Spring 2014 Edition.

If you are a Field Notes fan you already know the Spring 2014 edition has been released. If you are not a Field Notes fan, you should still know about these little notebooks. They are sure to go fast at $9.99 for a 3-pack. As a mainly fountain pen user, I find the paper to be okay if you find the right nib/ink combo otherwise, it is a bleed fest. Being that the covers are so unique, I am making an exception and I have ordered a couple of packs. Check them out.

Pilot Vortex Fountain Pen

Pilot Vortex Fountain Pen

Pilot Vortex – Iroshizuku Kon Peki
Fine Nib

I saw the Pilot Vortex on JetPens for the first time a couple of months ago. I thought it looked unique and unlike any traditional fountain pen. The look somewhat reminded me of a 1950′s view of a futuristic rocket. It could almost be something out of a Jetson cartoon episode. (I wrote that before reading Jetpens’ description)
The pen feels a bit “plasticky”. It has a rubber grip section that is comfortable to hold. The semi hooded nib reminds me of the nose section of an F-86 Sabre jet fighter. That early jet fighter theme seems to be carried over to the cap band with its jet engine looking, perforated accents. Just above the rubber grip section is an ink window that is tinted smoked gray. The smoked gray accents are also found on the clip, nib hood, cap finial and barrel “jewel”. The clip has an oddly uneven shaped sweeping curvature that has my OCD side trying to even it out visually. The cap screws on and it posts securely with a satisfying click. It takes about four turns to remove the cap.

Pilot Vortex Un-capped

Pilot Vortex Un-capped

The pen does not come with an ink cartridge or converter. JetPens was nice enough to send a Pilot black cartridge but I ended up using my CON-50 converter with the pen. It worked just fine and seats very securely in the pen. While the whole pen is plastic, I would think twice before converting it to an eye dropper. The barrel finial looks to be a separate piece and could possibly leak. I did not try it but proceed with caution if you do want to attempt it.

Pilot Vortex Nib

Pilot Vortex Nib

In typical Japanese fashion, the fine nib is more of an extra fine that my caliper measures at .4 mm give or take .1 mm’s. The nib is smooth with just a slight amount of feedback on Rhodia paper. I am not sure if the nib is interchangeable, but it has wings similar to what Lamy nibs have and looks like it could possibly slide off the feed in the same manner that Lamy nibs do. The nib also has somewhat of a beak to it similar to what the Namiki Falcon has but less pronounced. It may just be an optical illusion caused by the transparent hood.

Pilot Vortex Section and Nib

Pilot Vortex Section and Nib

The pen is comfortable to use posted or un-posted, and is somewhat of a portable pen. I do not usually post my pens but this one seemed to lend itself to posting comfortably. The light weight of the cap does not throw the pen off-balance at all. Dimensions of the pen are as follows:
Capped – 125.3 mm (4.93″)
Uncapped – 114.1 mm (4.49″)
Posted – 148.4 mm (5.84″)
Section Diameter – 9.6 mm at the thinnest point

Pilot Vortex

Pilot Vortex

Pilot Vortex Fountain Pen

Overall, I think it is a fun pen but I am concerned at how well it can handle every day use. The cap band covers and reinforces the cap edges, but it looks very fragile. Mine did not crack, but only time will tell how well it holds up. The pen comes in an array of colors. A plus is that the CON-50 converter can be used with the Vortex. At $25 it seems a bit over priced when you compare it to the metal Pilot Metropolitan that comes with a converter and an ink cartridge. The only thing the Vortex has going for it is its looks and portability. Once you factor in the price of cartridges and a converter, you are in Lamy Al-Star territory. A Kaweco Sport is going to offer similar portability for around the same price or slightly less. I can recommend the pen as far as writing performance but I am not sure the value is there when it comes to price and lack of ink.

Thank you for reading,

Ivan
The Fountain Pen Sith Lord

*This Pen was provided by JetPens for review. Thank you to JetPens.

Thank you to ethernautrix for sharing this on the FPGeeks forum.

The DIY Nibmeister

The DIY Nibmeister

Recently, I was asked for advice on nib grinding. Up until now, I have been reluctant to provide information for a few reasons. Some of the techniques I learned from reading on the web, other techniques I figured out on my own, some I picked up from watching videos and still others I have “reverse engineered” by studying the final work of respected nibmeisters. While I understand the concepts of nib grinding and have ground or smoothed many nibs for myself and occasionally for others, I am not a nibmeister, nib technician or nib technician apprentice. I don’t play one on TV either. (Any nibmeisters need an apprentice and have a distance learning program, just let me know. :D) For this reason, if you decide to use techniques described within the next series of posts, you take full responsibility for your own actions. I cannot be held responsible for anything you may do to your pens. There is also a disclaimer in my “about” page but I figure I should be doubly covered with the disclaimer here.

One other reason I have taken a while to do this post is that there is a certain amount of stigma associated with doing your own nib work. I have been admonished before for sharing my methods. Go figure. Then there are the Jedi. As a Fountain Pen Sith Lord, the Jedi nibmeisters look down on my practice of the black arts of DIY nib grinding. You have been forewarned.

With that said, make sure you practice with pens you do not mind irreversibly damaging. (Well, you could reverse the damage but it may cost you A LOT.) When I first started with nib grinding and smoothing I used cheap Chinese fountain pens. If you have some pens you don’t mind practicing on then you just need the tools. This is where you need to decide if you are going to invest in the good stuff or try your hand with the cheap stuff before making a commitment.

Jinhao 159 nib

Jinhao 159 nib

The Practice Pen. If you don’t have pens to practice on, browse eBay and get yourself the cheapest Chinese pens you can find. Someone also recommended getting some Pilot Varsity pens that come in the 7-pack. I believe they cost somewhere around $15-$20 per pack on Amazon. Pilot Varsity Disposable Fountain Pens
The advantage of a cheap Chinese pen is that it may have other issues that you can
leverage to learn even more and gain more confidence.

The Jewelers Loupe. I will admit that I have cheap eBay LED lighted loupes. One is a 10Xthe other a 20X. I hardly ever use the 20X. I found the 20X to have too narrow of a depth of field making it difficultto focus in on the nib. There are better options out there and by all means, use them. If you want to try the cheap option just to see if you can get the hang of things, the eBay option works best. The LED light is nice to have but most of the time I am working under a desk lamp that provides far more light than the LED. Needless to say, I rarely use the built-in LED light on my loupes. A higher grade loupe is in my future, so take that with a grain of salt.

Brass Shim. This will be used to “floss” the nib. When you grind or smooth a nib, some of the grit gets in between the tines and the brass shim helps clear that garbage out. Some well-known shops sell this, but you can also get this from hobby shops in varying thicknesses. I purchased mine from a well-known nibmeister, but I will probably go to a local hobby shop the next time I need some. A small square goes a long way if you can keep it from creasing and deforming. up on you.

Shed Your Ink at the Altar of Grind

Shed Your Ink at the Altar of Grind

Abrasives. This is where things get a little controversial. I understand that when you are working on pen that costs several hundred or thousands of dollars, you want to use an abrasive with a known and controlled grit. I get it. Really, I do. The most expensive pen I have worked on is my Pilot Custom 742 with a 14K nib. I have a Lamy 2000 that needs some long overdue nib work and I will be sending it out. Know your limits. On a cheap steel nib, some wet/dry sand paper in various grits is fine. The infamous “buff sticks” (i.e. finger nail buffers) are fine. Heck, my unknown grit honing stone is fine for that. Just measure the risk you are willing to take. The idea is, you want to start with a rough grit and work your way up to finer and finer grits until you polish out all the unevenness the rougher grits leave behind. I use 600 grit wet/dry paper or my honing stone to rough out the nib geometry I am after, then move to the medium grit of a buff stick to polish it.From here, I move to the finest grit on the buff stick to polish it even further. Lastly, I have 12000 grit mylar film for final polishing, but I use it on very rare occasions. Buff sticks are going to be a bit more forgiving because they have a foam core that keeps you from creating too sharp of an edge. What I don’t like is that it takes forever quite some time to grind a nib on buff sticks alone. If you are after a sharp italic, and all you have are buff sticks, you are going to be working longer than you want.

The Cloth. I have a microfiber cloth I use to wipe the nib down when things get a little messy. I purchased mine from my local dollar store. They are in the reading glass section. I like microfiber because it grabs and holds particles within its fibers, making it vastlyeasier to clean. One thing to note is that you may want to wash your cloth after each use with a mild detergent. As the grit collects on the cloth, it can cause fine scratches on your nib if you don’t wash it.

These are the basic tools you will need. You do also need ink. The ink should be something that flows well and generally does not have any issues. It helps if it is easy to cleanup after too. I personally use Waterman Florida Blue (aka Serenity Blue). There are other tools that I will go into later but to start, this is all you should need. In the next post we will go over some resources to help you understand actual grinding techniques.

Thank you for Reading,

Ivan

The Fountain Pen Sith Lord

*If you purchase via my Amazon links, you are helping Inktronics Blog fund more reviews.

Everyday Innovations Booksling Mini Pen Holder.

Everyday Innovations Booksling Mini Pen Holder.

Everyday Innovations Booksling Mini Pen Holder.

I thought I would share this as it dawned on me that I have not reviewed it and I find it very useful. I have been using the Booksling Mini pen holder and works for even my biggest pens. It fits a Quo Vadis Habana just fine and I have been using it since 2011 with no issues. The pen is cheap and not why I bought it. I don’t think I have the pen anymore nor did I ever use it.

Everyday Innovations Booksling Mini Pen Holder.

Booksling with leather notebook cover and a Parker Slimfold

I like that it stretches quite a bit without damaging the elastic. It doubles to keep the notebook securely closed. It is a very simple design that works well with Pocket Moleskine sized notebooks but my Quo Vadis is slightly larger than that. Things I don’t like?  Some pens like the Lamy CP1 are a little to skinny for it. You would need to clip it to the elastic for it to stay “secured”. It ends up being a bit floppy and so the CP1 stays home when I use this. My TWSBI 530, on the other hand, is quite happy with it. :)

Everyday Innovations Booksling Mini Pen Holder.

Everyday Innovations Booksling Mini Pen Holder with QuoVadis Habana and TWSBI 530.

If you buy anything via my Amazon links, you are helping Inktronics Blog review more items.