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A little help with Comms


thirith

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Hi everyone,

I've recently become the de facto Tech at my little community/amateur theatre. Alongside my appointment is a new Executive Producer and he's making great strides into getting the place fit for propose again after a few years of neglect. I've been a Stage Manager for a number of years, but we've always had other guys who knew how the whole place was put together, unfortunately the last of them passed away unexpectedly two years ago, so I'm very much having to learn as I go.

Two of the major bugbears was the show relay, and the old comms. I have managed to get a relay and even a paging system to our dressing rooms, green room, and foyer. I've now turned my attention to the old comms system. We have a base unit (CMS 2 Master Station), and (in theory) 5 belt packs. The base unit is labelled as Metro Audio, which I think became Granite Sound at some stage. The comms work, but the belt-packs are falling to pieces, the call lights are smashed, and the connections are loose.

I have a few questions relating to this comms system.

Where can I find spares for these packs? - New packs I can transfer the circuitry into, or at least some replacements for the call lights
If I was to buy completely new packs, do they need to be the same brand as the base unit?
Can I have one belt pack from a different manufacturer?
Has Granite Sound changed it's name again?

These are probably stupid questions, but unfortunately it's the only way I'll learn how to move forward in my new role. I know how to use comms, but I don't really understand how they work. Any help would be very much appreciated.

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Loads of folk are going to come in on this one and help you out 🙂 I'll kick things off...

Call lamps - replace with LEDs (many of us have). This has come up a few times on BR. This is one thread but maybe not the best: 

Connectors - I suspect these are replacable with Neutrik connectors with a bit of soldering (I'm assuming they are the usual XLR3 and XLR4 and most likely "horizontal PCB" mount).

Cases. If they really are bad then that's a tricky one. Maybe you can find some replacement bumper surrounds for the ends. I can't find a link just now, but worth searching BR for the BlueCom project.

Compatability - I think these Metro Audio packs will be compatible with the de-facto standard - Tecpro, Canford, ClearCom plus the BR's BlueCom which many of us have built...

 

Edited by kgallen
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17 minutes ago, kgallen said:

Loads of folk are going to come in on this one and help you out 🙂 I'll kick things off...

Call lamps - replace with LEDs (many of us have). This has come up a few times on BR. This is one thread but maybe not the best: 

Connectors - I suspect these are replacable with Neutrik connectors with a bit of soldering (I'm assuming they are the usual XLR3 and XLR4 and most likely "horizontal PCB" mount).

Cases. If they really are bad then that's a tricky one. Maybe you can find some replacement bumper surrounds for the ends. I can't find a link just now, but worth searching BR for the BlueCom project.

Compatability - I think these Metro Audio packs will be compatible with the de-facto standard - Tecpro, Canford plus the BR's BlueCom which many of us have built...

 

This is a wonderful reply, thank you kgallen!
 

I might have a crack at building the BlueCom, it'll give me a better understanding of everything, rather than trying to bodge 20 year old packs back into some sort of order!

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8 minutes ago, thirith said:

I might have a crack at building the BlueCom, it'll give me a better understanding of everything, rather than trying to bodge 20 year old packs back into some sort of order!

We are struggling for a couple of the parts required now - switches and button caps are now hard to come by which can mean the front panel has to be hacked.

Have a good look through that project thread - you probably want to be around page 13 or so, after the development phase, when lots of us are listing components and finding sources. My own build starts around page 17 (I built 4 beltpacks plus power supplies).

I would expect your existing packs to be salvagable - 20 years is nothing in this game (I've got equipment far older still in tip-top working condition).

Edited by kgallen
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Most analog party line systems are compatible - Clearcom, ASL, Tecpro, Canford, Granite / metro / stonewood (all the same), Altair, Axxent, Superlux, Production Intercom, Theatre Projects, Eurolite.... the list goes on. Some are better than others. I dislike the current plastic tecpro models, they aren't that hardy. The ASL PS series were my go to before riedel bought the company and discontinued them.

If looking at new, my current favorite is:

Axxent BP100 - Good, metal case, very robust, uses similar components to the granite sound kit, decent price

https://www.thomann.de/gb/axxent_bp100.htm

 

 

 

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1If you are planning to build Bluecom I sourced some of the rectangular buttons at a very silly price of £1.27 + VAT each(£1.50 each). I'm sure there are still a few in the box, but only a few. I'm too busy to look them out until Feb and dry weather. It's possible there are some belt pack boards too.

Edited by sunray
spellings
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I am just looking at making a couple of beltpacks inspired by the Bluecom design but mostly surface mount and ICs I can actually get, my component listing using surface mount costs less than the v1.4 board's TTH components even allowing for MOQs.

I have just about finished the PCB design so should be getting a few prototype boards made in the next couple of weeks - PROTOTYPES so will probably require a re-roll.

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Well done @Crazy Al it's over 11 years since the design was started and well past the time it was migrated to SM components. Good luck with the migration and if there's anything I can do to help send me a PM. Although I no longer have access to EasyPC which was the original design platform, I do have Kicad.

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  • 4 weeks later...
1 hour ago, Crazy Al said:

New boards required, time for the suspected re-roll!

New layout created (in KiCAD), I will probably order the "mk2" boards next week with 2 or 3 weeks for delivery.

Are you using the same mic switch? If so have you moved it away from the volume control?

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18 hours ago, sunray said:

Are you using the same mic switch? If so have you moved it away from the volume control?

 

The current PCB layout has footprints for the three XLR sockets on one end and volume on the other, I have decided that switches for 'CALL' and 'TALK' can be panel mounted so any builder can choose their own style. I found some illuminated pushbuttons, one latching, one non-latching. If my idea has any footing in reality I just have to drill three round holes in each end of the case. I remember somewhere in the original BlueClone thread some difficulty in finding the specified button so this will allow a bit of leeway.

The PCB is designed to fit in the same aluminium case as the BlueClone.

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