Where dangerous voltages are involved (e.g. in Lighting), this can be either a panel full of plugs (to the lanterns) and sockets (from the dimmers), which can be connected to each other (patched) by short plug-socket leads, which is common on touring dimmer racks (e.g. Art 2000). Alternatively, as is more common on fixed installations, the patch bay can consist of a trailing lead with a plug for each socket in the rig, with one or more sockets per dimmer channel. This trailing lead setup is especially popular in schools with Betapacks as they can then all be racked up with the cord patch panels. Often Hard Power outlets will be available on the panel too, for testing circuits and for powering non-dimmable equipment (e.g. Moving Lights). Despite the advent of DMX Patching on both dimmers and Lighting Desks, so-called hard-patching is still in common use.
A cord patch.
Where the voltages are safe (e.g. Sound, Video and Ethernet signals), this is a Rackmount panel full of sockets which can be connected to each other by short plug-plug leads. Care must be taken to only connect outputs to inputs.
- Sound patch bays often use Bantam jacks (as used in old manual BT telephone exchanges) or TRS 6.5mm Jack sockets. In studio environments Bantam jacks are often preferred because of their smaller size allowing more connections per square cm, while live environments often use jack and XLR sockets because of their durability and associated cost. Patch bays can be 'normalled' so that the top row of sockets are automatically connected to the bottom row of sockets without the need for patch leads. Connecting a patch lead automatically breaks the link to make the connection from elsewhere. This would be used so that a 'normal' setup would be wired into the patchbay (e.g. SPX990 fed from Aux 4)without the need for patch leads, but when the operator wishes to use Aux 4 for something else (maybe a Lexicon, for instance) a patch lead breaks the link and makes the new patch.
- Video patch bays often use MUSA plugs, although may sometimes use BNCs (ususally for cost reasons). MUSAs are preferable as they don't have a locking mechanism built in, which means they are very easy to repatch, compared to BNCs which can be quite fiddly, especially in high density patches. If using BNCs in high density areas a BNC Removal Tool (aka an "apple corer") makes the job a lot easier.
- Ethernet patch bays almost always use RJ45 plugs, although may sometimes use (or at least have the sockets in place to use) Neutrik's ruggedised RJ45, the Ethercon.