Last week, I discovered I need a dead cat.
Hang on, not like that. I need a DeadCat, the colloquial name for a microphone screen that uses long fur fibers to block out wind noise. See, while riding my new BMW motorcycle back from New Jersey last week, I discovered that the sound of wind hitting my helmet-mounted GoPro is absolutely unbearable at speed. You didn’t hear it in the video from that tripthanks to our extraordinary video editing team, but it needs to be rectified all the same.
DeadCats are easy enough to come by — you can get them for everything from shotgun mics to lavaliers — but the GoPro presents a unique difficulty. You can see it in the photo above: the mic is a flat square located directly beneath the lens. How do you cover that with fur?
The conventional answer is a small patch of fur backed with double-sided adhesive. But shipping from Australia is a nightmare, and I already have double-sided adhesive. Surely, I don’t need to pay nine whole Australian dollars for a small swatch of synthetic fur. This, as you might imagine, is where the furry community comes in.
Michaels and Jo-Ann Fabric only sell faux-fur by the yard, a far larger quantity than I need for this little project. Etsy’s shipping times are unpredictable at best, and I wasn’t about to patronize Amazon. In a twist I never anticipated, FursuitSupplies.com — a website that sells all the fursuit componentry you could ever want — saved me.
See, FursuitSupplies.com sells 3-inch-by-3-inch fabric swatches to help you get a feel for the color, texture, and hair length of a material before you commit to buying yards of the stuff for your custom fur suit. For FursuitSupplies.com’s typical customer, it’s a step in the design process, mixing and matching various fur swatches to come up with the perfect combination. For me, it’s a one-dollar solution to a very niche motorcycling problem.
The fursuit supply store adventure is a fun anecdote, but it’s also a shining example of a very real problem-solving opportunity. No matter what kind of niche project you’re working on, it’s unlikely that you’re the first person in the world to ever encounter a particular challenge. It’s always possible to find a new, potentially better solution — something the well-trodden forum threads have never explored. You just need to think a little bit outside the box.
Your project may have led you to the bottom of the rabbit hole of your own enthusiast community; the answer you’ve been searching for may lie in an entirely different enthusiast group just outside your peripheral vision. Thinking about things obliquely, trying to find an alternative route to the solution, can often lead you to an effective answer you might never have considered.
So the next time you come across a problem with a project, take a minute to think about how a different enthusiast community might be able to help you out. And ask the furries: you never know, they just might have your solution.