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Kurt SchuetteCommunication for live concert
by on Nov 8, 2005 at 5:37:27 pm

I do video for a live concert about once a year. It is a three camera shoot that I direct and switch. Does anybody have any suggestions for communication devices to use. I have been using FRS radios, which acutally do the job, but it is only one way communication, and I have to push the button on my radio every couple minutes in order to continue broadcasting from my end, which is pretty annoying. Since I only do this once a year for a non-profit concert (I don't get paid). I don't want to spend a lot of money on a system. Is there any cheap system out there, or is there something that I can wire up myself that would work.

Thanks!


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MatteRe: Communication for live concert
by on Nov 8, 2005 at 7:42:14 pm

There are lots of wireless headsets out there but for reliability...

You can use regular headset TELEPHONES wired together.
You can even use Cordless Phones for this, but there's always the danger that
there will be interference.

Its a simple matter to just connect as many standard telephones as you want (use standard telepnone cables to connect them) and you'll have full duplex talk. (If you get headsets with "mute" buttons, your camera guys won't be "breathing" in your ear the whole time.)

Buy phone cables, splitters and junction boxes at Radio Shack, Wal-Mart or (my favorate) the DOLLAR STORE.

You can power this with two 12-volt lantern batteries (in series to get 24v DC).
You'd connect the batteries right accross the red and green telephone lines.
Batteries work for HOURS.

You can use an AC-powered 24v DC Power Supply, but you need to "choke" (filter coil) the DC output so the capacitors in the power supply don't "filter out" your audio.


You can buy cheap headset telephones ($4-$5 each) at discount stores (or Used for next-to-nothing.)


We use these telephone systems for all kinds of live events.







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Kurt SchuetteRe: Communication for live concert
by on Nov 8, 2005 at 10:18:24 pm

Thanks for the idea. That's an interesting system. You wouldn't happen to have a schmatic for this setup, would you?

Thanks,
Kurt


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MatteRe: Communication for live concert
by on Nov 8, 2005 at 11:08:35 pm

There's no real need for a schematic.
All the telephones would be plugged into the SAME "line" (its just regular phone cord with the 4-pin plugs.)

You can have as many phones as you like and as much cable as you need. Just connect it all together with those little "Y" adapters that you use for adding phones, fax machines and answering machines to a wall connector. You can run all the lines to one spot and make all the connections there, or you can "hop-scotch" each one from the next... no difference at all.

For the battery, you want about 24v DC, so you could buy two 12v "LANTERN Batteries" (rechargeable would make sense) and hook them in SERIES to get 24v.

At the battery connection, buy one those little square telephone "wall plugs" (with the 4-pin jack and the 4 wires inside).

Typically, connect the PLUS side of the battery to the RED wire, and NEGATIVE of the battery to the GREEN wire and plug it into the same line as all the phone units are hooked to.

Any phone that is on this line will talk/listen to all the others.
Telephones are simple to connect.

And since ANY phone will work this way, as I said, you COULD connect any CORDLESS phone and try that, if you need to.

We just did a 3-day shoot with 4 cordless phones, one on each camera op.
We had to remember to re-charge the phones each night, but they worked just fine.
But, I'm still a big believer in WIRED communcation when its practical... it WORKS!


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Douglas VillalbaRe: Communication for live concert
by on Nov 8, 2005 at 11:42:50 pm

This is what I use http://www.eartec.com/td904pro.html

Douglas Villalba
http://www.dvtvproductions.com
dvillalba@dvtvproductions.com


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Kurt SchuetteRe: Communication for live concert
by on Nov 8, 2005 at 11:56:31 pm

That sounds like a cool set-up. I just might give that a try. Thanks!

-Kurt


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Peter RalphRe: Communication for live concert
by on Nov 11, 2005 at 10:27:08 pm

that is very neat Matte - Radio shack (and others) also make cordless phones where you can add satellites to the main base unit - I wonder if you could use those?


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MatteRe: Communication for live concert
by on Nov 11, 2005 at 11:17:36 pm

Sure.

IF... you can turn on and use ALL of the satellites at the same time (like extension phones).

The cordless phones we use are various brands and are "multi-channel" types (10 channel is common).
They do not interfere with each other because they each will automatically locate and switch to a "clear" channel that is not already being used by the other cordless phones already "off-the-hook" in the same room.

You can use any telephone (having a headset option is, of course, the best idea) that can be connected and used with a standard telephone wall box.

No hocus-pocus high-tech going on here...
This whole telephone-as-intercom thing works just like picking up multiple extension phones in various parts of your house at the same time... everybody can talk freely with everybody else.

Its how I built my first communication rig in High School, for tech-intercoms at school plays.

Under "normal" shooting conditions, just about any phone has enough of volume.
But if you are shooting LOUD music concerts, you will want a headset phone that has a built-in amplifier and volume control.



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Kurt SchuetteRe: Communication for live concert
by on Nov 9, 2005 at 2:10:52 am

One more quick question. I am not familiar with a filter choke. Where can I get one of these?

Thanks,
Kurt


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MatteRe: Communication for live concert
by on Nov 9, 2005 at 5:23:07 am

A choke is a coil (like the primary or secondary of a transformer).

The particular property of a choke is that it passes DC but will not pass AC.
(The opposite of a capacitor, which passes AC but not DC.)

In this telephone system, you can use a 12v or better still, a 24v DC power supply instead of a battery, but you must send the current to the phone line through a CHOKE (which will pass the DC to the line) so the AC (your voice audio is AC) will not pass back through the choke and get "filtered out" by the capacitors in the power supply.

You can use just about any transformer winding that is not too LONG in wire-length (so that it resists too much voltage) but is also heavy enough (in wire gauge) to carry the current needed (about an amp is fine).

Here's a transformer from Radio Shack that should work as a choke for this purpose (there are others):

http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2102700&cp=&kw=transf...

Just connect the secondary winding in series with the positive (+) from the power supply.
(Connect the + from your DC supply to one of the red leads and connect the other red lead to your Red phone line.)


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Doug GrahamRe: Communication for live concert
by on Nov 9, 2005 at 2:56:02 pm

Here's a couple more from the 'Shack:

http://www.radioshack.com/search/index.jsp?kwCatId=2032058&kw=choke&kw=chok...

Regards,
Doug Graham


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MatteRe: Communication for live concert
by on Nov 9, 2005 at 10:59:58 pm

[Doug Graham] "Here's a couple more from the 'Shack:"


I've fear I've spent too much time choking on this "choke" stuff already ;-)

But... the 3 chokes listed at the link you posted are for filtering "RF" (radio frequency) and (in the second one listed) very LOW current capacity, for wireless tuner applications.

The kind of choke I'm talking about filters "AF" (Audio Frequency, in the human hearing range) and carries (at least) one Amp of current, for power supply purposes.

Now, I'm off... chokin' and jokin' !


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Doug GrahamRe: Communication for live concert
by on Nov 10, 2005 at 5:04:30 pm

Yep...my bad.



Regards,
Doug Graham


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tony salgadoRe: Communication for live concert
by on Nov 12, 2005 at 4:27:52 am



Such a hassle to go thru for a simple solution.

Why not consider renting a low cost RTS wired intercom system.

A three camera system will require three headsets and beltpaks for the camera operator and a fourth for the director.

Beltpaks and headsets will cost you 15-20 apiece
Power supply and splitter will cost you another $20


Grand total 80-100 rate card minus the discount from the rental house.


It is so cheap to rent and only requires running the xlr cables to each camera.



Tony Salgado



Tony Salgado


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MatteRe: Communication for live concert
by on Nov 12, 2005 at 6:28:23 am

[tony salgado] "Grand total 80-100 rate card minus the discount from the rental house."

In missing my point, you've proved its real value!

(That's how this thread got started.)

Many pros don't want to "hassle" with gear that didn't come from the big-boys' shops, and that's cool.

But lots of us who shoot with PD-150s (and the like) find that it can be advantageous (and s bit of fun) to be "creative" when it comes to production gear.

Of COURSE you can rent good com-gear. Maybe even for $80 to $100...

But you'd have to pay that EACH TIME you needed to rent this setup.

Over time, that adds up pretty fast if you do two, three, or more of these in a year.

My whole telephone-com set-up -- to BUY -- cost less than $100 for:
3 cordless phones ($8-10 each, used)
6 wired headset phones (new @ $5 each from Target), hundreds of feet of telephone "base" cables with plugs and "Y" adapters to jump them around (all from the DOLLAR store).

And a good-sized carry case/director's base station (sturdy tool-box from Walmart) IN which I built the power supply (plus it stores many of the cables and several phones for toting to and from the events.

So, if I might need a two or three com-station set-up, (a two-cam "quickie") I just throw this "telephone tool-box" in with the rest of the gear.

And now, its costs me "zero buckos" for my com-sets for all events for the next several years.

If you don't think that's a good deal, so be it.


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Peter RalphRe: Communication for live concert
by on Nov 12, 2005 at 6:23:22 pm

I'm 100% with Matte on this one - even if you are in the city his solution is cost-effective in my book. I use an eartec system - in my mind even that is a much better deal than renting.

Here in Colorado there are no rental houses outside Denver. If I want to rent a set-up for a gig in Aspen it can involve a 5 hour hour drive to pick up the equipment, fedex charge to send it back, and 2-3 days rental.



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tony salgadoRe: Communication for live concert
by on Nov 23, 2005 at 5:24:17 am



Matte,


You failed to realize my point if indeed you don't value your own personal time involved to gerry rig your home brewed intercom system.

Maybe $100 will break your bank but for real world jobs in which I deal with the amount spent on rental gear is worth it especially given the fact I can have program audio injected into the PL as well as having two separate channels for talkback.

I'am glad your MacGyver solution works great for you but for others renting higher end professional gear may be a viable alternative.


Tony Salgado



Tony Salgado


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MatteRe: Communication for live concert
by on Nov 23, 2005 at 4:17:35 pm

[tony salgado] "...if indeed you don't value your own personal time involved to gerry rig your home brewed intercom system.

Maybe $100 will break your bank but for real world jobs in which I deal with the amount spent on rental gear is worth it especially given the fact I can have program audio injected into the PL as well as having two separate channels for talkback.

I'am glad your MacGyver solution works great for you but for others renting higher end professional gear may be a viable alternative."


Real world jobs, my A$$!

I have been in the professional production and broadcasting business for decades.

As a (local and network) producer, director, camera operator, sound operator, lighting designer, stage manager, tech director, video engineer, tape operator, and editor, I have used dozens of "professional" com-systems in literally hundreds (thousands?) of events: sports, news, telethons, musicals, dramatic and dance programs, both recorded to tape and in live broadcasts.

I personally own a set of Clear-Com/RTS headsets, boxes, a base station, and hundreds of feet of XLR cables.

I also own a full set of professional "Star-set" and "operators headset" type communications devices.

I also own many wireless simplex-type communications units.

There have been many times over the years when the crew and I would hash over "why the heck the pro stuff costs SO MUCH for so little technology".

I have built many low-cost solutions to high-dollar needs.

I had an especially good time (and not very MUCH time, either) putting together this little
"near-no-cost" telephone "headset" system, which works GREAT!
I thought it might benefit others to know how well it works for such a low dollar investment.

Please don't think that a "gerry-rig" is not a suitable solution to a problem, even to a "professional", especially if money is an issue.

I always assume there are others "lurking" who can pick up a few points here... But if saving a few bucks by collecting a few off-the-shelf parts and adapting them is "beneath your professional standards" then rent whatever you want.

From the OP:

[Kurt Schuette] "I do video for a live concert about once a year. It is a three camera shoot that I direct and switch. Does anybody have any suggestions for communication devices to use. I have been using FRS radios, which actually do the job, but it is only one way communication, and I have to push the button on my radio every couple minutes in order to continue broadcasting from my end, which is pretty annoying. Since I only do this once a year for a non-profit concert (I don't get paid). I don't want to spend a lot of money on a system. Is there any cheap system out there, or is there something that I can wire up myself that would work."

As you can see, I was responding directly to this question.
My solution fits the situation exactly.

Tony, your last post was decidedly nasty.
If its beyond your tech skills or available time to build it, I'm sorry to have disturbed your professional sensibilities.


-MacGyver (and proud of it)


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Craig BurnettRe: Communication for live concert
by on Nov 19, 2007 at 7:39:52 am

Matte,

I've used your system [I found a similar description on another site], but with 12 volts. Think I'll get more volume with 24 volts? How about with 36 or 48?

The only problem I ever have with this system (I'm using it with Plantronics T100 belt-pack telephone headsets), is that the volume isn't loud enough.

Oh, and sometimes the high frequency is a little muddy, and I pick up a little power supply hum. Any hints on those items?

Thanks for any help you can extend.

-Craig


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