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  1. #1
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    Frame Sheet for the Brain Bag

    After huffing it about Italy with my Brain Bag, using my vertical brain cell as a backing, I have come to the conclusion that the Brain Bag not only could really use a formable frame sheet, but it should be fairly easy to make one for it. My idea would be to attach the frame sheet to the four brain cell webbing straps (upper and lower).

    The hacked up way to do it would be to get a modular MOLLE and pocket panel designed to have a frame sheet insert, for example, this one. I'd get rid of the existing plastic insert and put in something that has a formable aluminum stay, like the one here.

    Tom Bihn already has some experience doing this with the Guide's Pack. It'd be nice to see a similar thing for the Brain Bag and perhaps the Synapses and/or Smart Alec. Of course if TB is getting rid of the Brain Cell, this implies that they might be moving to remove the MOLLE strips internally, so this may never happen. :-( It'd be nice tho.
    Last edited by feijai; 06-19-2016 at 07:42 AM.
    Blue Parapack Brain Bag with Brain Cell

  2. #2
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    I donít know if anyone else has tried this, and I realize that this is an older thread, but I just put a Synapse 25 frame sheet in the brain bag, slightly adjusting the curve of the aluminum stay to curve a little lower and I think it works great. Has anyone else had experience over the long term doing this hack?


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  3. #3
    Forum Member Surrealle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shoplarry View Post
    I don’t know if anyone else has tried this, and I realize that this is an older thread, but I just put a Synapse 25 frame sheet in the brain bag, slightly adjusting the curve of the aluminum stay to curve a little lower and I think it works great. Has anyone else had experience over the long term doing this hack?


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
    @shoplarry , Mind if I ask how this turned out? I just got a BB and agree that it definitely needs a frame sheet (at least for me, at 5'2).

    Thanks!

  4. #4
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    Wondering if anyone has a hack for Smart Alec.

  5. #5
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    Frame Sheet for the Brain Bag

    Hi @BrendaH
    Quote Originally Posted by BrendaH View Post
    Wondering if anyone has a hack for Smart Alec.
    If you want to read about using frame sheets in the Smart Alec, itís discussed in a few threads:
    Smart Alec framesheet
    Aeronaut Internal Frames
    A45 Frame in the SA or WF?

    The most detailed information to directly answer your question is in my post (#7, dated 06-13-2018 in that last thread about the A45 Frame in SA). I'll quote it here so that I can insert the blog pictures that no longer show up in that post, because our hosting URL site changed.

    Quote Originally Posted by moriond View Post
    @nimikor,

    As a quick answer about the Smart Alec, I think that either the A30 frame sheet or the A45 frame sheet might be usable inside the Smart Alec. The issue is, that you need to secure the frame sheet in the bag -- although, I guess you could try packing the bag full, and having the contents hold the frame sheet in place against the bag.

    So, in order to secure the frame sheet to the back of the Smart Alec, you'd want to use a plastic T-bar that slides into the top of the frame sheet pocket that holds the reinforcing bar, and with "wings" that hook into the webbing loops for the cache with rails, similar to the design for Synapse frame sheets.


    This is a picture from the blog of the Synapse frame sheet with the plastic T-bar pulled out of the frame sheet bar's pocket, and lying on the table. The T-bar sits behind the metal bar (that's pulled out in this picture -- although you'll never pull the bar out from its pocket yourself in actual use) at the top of that pocket. (You have to yank the pocket flap up really hard and sort of push back on the parts of the opened pocket flap on either side of the bar to get it to clear the bar -- if you don't pull up at the same time, the top of the bar won't clear the bottom edge of the open flap, and you won't be able to insert or remove the plastic T-bar behind the top of the metal bar. )

    When the plastic T-bar is in place, the two wings hook into the webbing loops for the cache, and the rest of the T-bar sits behind the metal bar in the (closed) pocket as in this blog picture for the Synapse frame sheet:



    So, to install the A30 or A45 frame sheet into the Smart Alec, you need to get a plastic T-bar (or disassemble one from a Synapse frame sheet).

    Then, there is the issue of which fits better into the Smart Alec. I think that you can make either one work, but the A45 frame sheet goes all the way to the top of the bag (it's nearly too tall to work, but the curvature of the frame sheet helps you). It might be slightly hard to actually use the webbing loops to carry a suspended laptop in a cache with rails with the A45 frame sheet, because the T-bar wings will press the loops slightly higher than they'd normally sit in that case, but it's probably doable if you work at it.

    It's easier to set this up with the A30 frame sheet, which goes about to the bottom of the Smart Alec without forcing the webbing loops up, and you can insert the frame sheet the same way you do for the Synapses if you follow the official directions --- slip the sides of the plastic T-bar into the webbing loops, then position the frame sheet at the back, yank back really hard on the webbing flap of the bar until you can pop the top of the opened flap behind the top of the bar, and insert the bottom of the plastic T-bar behind the bar. Then close the flap of the pocket. The process of inserting the bottom of the plastic T-bar into the pocket for the metal bar on the frame sheet assumes you have some room to push the frame sheet up along the bottom of the T-bar when the pocket is open. That's why it's easier to do this with the A30 frame sheet, whose top edge doesn't go to the very top edge of the back of the Smart Alec. With the slightly longer A45 frame sheet, there's no additional vertical room for positioning. I'd probably just start with the T-bar in the closed pocket of the frame sheet and try to "bend" the side plastic wings until I could slot them into the webbing loops. As long as you don't try to change this in and out of the Smart Alec too frequently, this should work for the A45 frame sheet. Or, you could insert the A45 frame sheet without trying to secure it in position, and rely on the contents of the backpack, and the approximate match of the size of the frame to the back of the Smart Alec to hold it in position.

    (I've called all this information in to the Tom Bihn folks, so they may be doing some experimenting.) If you want to suspend a cache from the webbing loops, the A30 frame sheet may be a better bet to use.

    HTH

    moriond
    Since there's no longer any URL information to make it clear which blog posts the pictures I inserted (updated) in the quote came from, I'll list them here:
    Our Guide to Backpack Frames is the 20 NOVEMBER 2017 blog post that shows the Synapse backpack frame, held up (so you can see its default curvature), and on the table, with the metal reinforcing bar being pulled out, and the plastic T-bar lying on the table (as cited and used in my quoted response).
    How to Add/Remove and Adjust Synapse Internal Frames is the other 20 NOVEMBER 2017 post that shows how the wings of the T-bar connect into the webbing loops that are used for attaching a laptop's cache with rails. This blog page also contains a video showing how to adjust the Synapse frame sheets.

    I've listed the relevant threads in reverse time order -- most recent one first -- even though the most detailed answer is in the oldest thread and the excerpted quoted post (with fixes for the pictures that no longer appear if you read that post in its parent thread). The reason for this is that you'll be able to see the discussion comments from other forum members -- those who felt that they didn't need the frame sheet, those who tried it and gave their comments about whether they found it more comfortable and/or too heavy, those who tried using the frame sheet for structure but removed the metal supporting bar, those who tried this with an alternate (Synapse) frame sheet simply because they already had it, etc.

    In general, the most detailed explanations and pictures about using new products come in the post/threads either in new product debuts or close in time to them. This is because, when products are new, everyone is trying to understand the specifics of how they look and work, both on their own and with other bags and accessories. So there are typically a lot of pictures trying to answer all the questions that forum members think of, and a lot of these may occur in other, unrelated threads about the debut.

    For completeness, I'll list an earlier thread about trying to use the Synapse frame sheet(s) in a Smart Alec:
    Synapse internal frame inside Smart Alec?
    Öand I'll also list Darcy's poll/thread asking whether people had removed the Aluminum stay (bar) from their frame sheet:
    Have you ever removed the aluminum stay from your internal frame?

    Please be aware that the proposed solution of using an Aeronaut frame sheet with the Smart Alec is designed for later models that have the webbing loops for suspending a laptop cache with rails, and that you also need to use one of the plastic T-bars -- either one that you already had from a Synapse frame sheet (separately ordered, or included with a Guides Edition Synapse) or one that you managed to get from the Tom Bihn folks, because the Aeronaut frame sheets don't come with T-bars. (They did send me an extra plastic T-bar upon request, since I had to spend so much time disassembling my Synapse frame sheets to answer questions about repurposing the Aeronaut frame sheets for this type of usage. I know that another Smart Alec enthusiast who followed these discussions, and then went on to buy three Smart Alecs for his kids from the long-anticipated final production batch of the SA asked the TB folks for 3 T-bars to go along with those bags, so that they could be fitted with Aeronaut frame sheets.)

    I'm sure there are other solutions for the older Smart Alecs without web loops for laptop caches, which might include using a frame sheet for an A45 that is held in place against the back wall by the packed contents. Or, I have a Size 4X Brain Cell (usable with a wide variety of my 13" laptops, but will also hold the recent 15" and even 16" MacBook Pros -- it was for a later generation 15.4" MacBook Pro that was slightly slimmer).

    HTH

    moriond

    ETA: This is really weird, but when I went back to read this post in TapaTalk, I couldn't access the first link (to the Smart Alec framesheet) from within my app. I tried it from both my iPad and from my iPhone. In both cases I could switch to web view from within the app, then navigate to my post in the Questions About Bags forum, and click on the link from there. I can't figure out what's wrong, so I'm adding a link to my post (#4, dated 07-31-2018) in that thread. If that link works the way that it's supposed to in TapaTalk, you should be able to access the rest of the Smart Alec framesheet thread without having to go into web view to do it.
    Last edited by moriond; 06-06-2020 at 06:20 PM.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Surrealle View Post
    @shoplarry , Mind if I ask how this turned out? I just got a BB and agree that it definitely needs a frame sheet (at least for me, at 5'2).

    Thanks!

    It still works well for me. It does seem to take up some of the volume, so if Iím carrying a lot of stuff, I take it out, but generally it keeps it so nice and supportive on my back. I changed the curve slightly to make it less extreme


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  7. #7
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    Hi @shoplarry ,

    The usual question for framesheets for backpacks like the Smart Alec was how far down the framesheet went to the bottom of the bag (when we experimented with both sizes of the Synapse frame sheet) as well as the width of the frame sheet further down withi respect to the width of the backpack. This was one of the reasons, that the match to the Aeronaut frame sheets worked so much better for the Smart Alec than the Synapse frame sheets did, and was documented in the various pictures in all the old links that I gave in my earlier post. But, maybe the Brain Bag back has enough extra built-in structured support that this difference noted for the Smart Alec isn’t as noticeable here, and the Synapse frames work as well as the Aeronaut frames? This isn’t something that I can test, since I’ve never had a Brain Bag.

    moriond

  8. #8
    Forum Member Surrealle's Avatar
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    @shoplarry Thanks for the response! I decided to wing it and purchased one before you responded, and I agree that it works great!

    Thanks for cluing me in to this hack, it makes a world of difference for me as I have a bad back and need as much load-balancing help as I can get. (Plus I once tried to put something into the bag that was deeper than the section it went into, even though I could still easily close the zipper. The bag went completely spherical and was super difficult to carry, so the added structure is really helpful too.)

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by moriond View Post
    Hi @shoplarry ,

    The usual question for framesheets for backpacks like the Smart Alec was how far down the framesheet went to the bottom of the bag (when we experimented with both sizes of the Synapse frame sheet) as well as the width of the frame sheet further down withi respect to the width of the backpack. This was one of the reasons, that the match to the Aeronaut frame sheets worked so much better for the Smart Alec than the Synapse frame sheets did, and was documented in the various pictures in all the old links that I gave in my earlier post. But, maybe the Brain Bag back has enough extra built-in structured support that this difference noted for the Smart Alec isnít as noticeable here, and the Synapse frames work as well as the Aeronaut frames? This isnít something that I can test, since Iíve never had a Brain Bag.

    moriond

    I took a pic of the bottom - it seems to just be slightly overlapping with the seam, so it fits slightly longer than it does on the synapse (which makes sense because it has a stated depth of 18.1Ē rather than the synapse 20Ē). But it doesnít push out on the bottom of the pack. It actually feels like it connects directly onto the seam of the bottom of the pack.


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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by moriond View Post
    Hi @shoplarry ,

    The usual question for framesheets for backpacks like the Smart Alec was how far down the framesheet went to the bottom of the bag (when we experimented with both sizes of the Synapse frame sheet) as well as the width of the frame sheet further down withi respect to the width of the backpack. This was one of the reasons, that the match to the Aeronaut frame sheets worked so much better for the Smart Alec than the Synapse frame sheets did, and was documented in the various pictures in all the old links that I gave in my earlier post. But, maybe the Brain Bag back has enough extra built-in structured support that this difference noted for the Smart Alec isnít as noticeable here, and the Synapse frames work as well as the Aeronaut frames? This isnít something that I can test, since Iíve never had a Brain Bag.

    moriond

    Closer photo


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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by moriond View Post
    Hi @shoplarry ,

    The usual question for framesheets for backpacks like the Smart Alec was how far down the framesheet went to the bottom of the bag (when we experimented with both sizes of the Synapse frame sheet) as well as the width of the frame sheet further down withi respect to the width of the backpack. This was one of the reasons, that the match to the Aeronaut frame sheets worked so much better for the Smart Alec than the Synapse frame sheets did, and was documented in the various pictures in all the old links that I gave in my earlier post. But, maybe the Brain Bag back has enough extra built-in structured support that this difference noted for the Smart Alec isnít as noticeable here, and the Synapse frames work as well as the Aeronaut frames? This isnít something that I can test, since Iíve never had a Brain Bag.

    moriond

    And the outside of the pack. Nothing sticks out and no wear from friction


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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by moriond View Post
    Hi @shoplarry ,

    The usual question for framesheets for backpacks like the Smart Alec was how far down the framesheet went to the bottom of the bag (when we experimented with both sizes of the Synapse frame sheet) as well as the width of the frame sheet further down withi respect to the width of the backpack. This was one of the reasons, that the match to the Aeronaut frame sheets worked so much better for the Smart Alec than the Synapse frame sheets did, and was documented in the various pictures in all the old links that I gave in my earlier post. But, maybe the Brain Bag back has enough extra built-in structured support that this difference noted for the Smart Alec isnít as noticeable here, and the Synapse frames work as well as the Aeronaut frames? This isnít something that I can test, since Iíve never had a Brain Bag.

    moriond
    Clearly the frame sheet it is more narrow than the synapse but because the BB seems to have slightly more structure than the Synapse, it works well enough (as you probably know, the mesh on the back of the BB extends all the way to the side of the bag unlike the synapse). Without the frame sheet the BB has slightly more structural rigidity than the synapse


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  13. #13
    Forum Member wavebeam's Avatar
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    My sis just ordered an S25 frame sheet for her BB and loves it. I tried it out and, just like with the Synapse, it makes a noticeable difference with a medium-large loaded pack.

  14. #14
    Forum Member Eric T's Avatar
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    I have wondered for a while if the S25 frame sheet would work with the BB as the bag does have a tendency to bulge out at the back if you have a full load and no laptop to keep it in shape. The exchange rate and cost of shipping put me off from buying it until the post by @shoplarry convinced me to give it a try.

    The S25 frame sheet does fit quite snugly. To test it out I packed some of my camera gear and took it for a 6km walk instead of using my normal camera backpack.
    My BB is one of the older ones with the webbing loops for the Brain Cell. It turned out that the gatekeeper clips on my S19 waste strap fit these perfectly which enabled me to keep my travel tripod centred and upright against the frame sheet in the rear compartment. My camera and 60-250mm lens and camera insert went into the front compartment.

    The frame sheet does make a real difference for me and I found it quite comfortable to carry it with a decent load along uneven dirt tracks. I have added some pictures of how I packed the bag, including how I strapped the tripod.

    Frame Sheet for the Brain Bag-20200717_130025_resize-jpg
    Frame Sheet for the Brain Bag-p1060848_resize-jpg
    Frame Sheet for the Brain Bag-p1060849_resize-jpg
    Frame Sheet for the Brain Bag-p1060850_resize-jpg

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