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$70 all in one mumble server and wifi

Discussion in 'Sound, Music, and Intercom' started by jtweigandt, Dec 9, 2017.

  1. jtweigandt

    jtweigandt Active Member

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    Just completed an experiment. Raspberry pi3 kit. Loaded mumble server on it. Modified the wifi settings so the pi is now it's own wireless router with wpa2 security. It works dandy with the phone app. It starts just by plugging in the power. No monitor, no keyboard. Just power supply and the pi in it's case ... about the size of a deck of cards. Stand alone system, no internet connection needed or desired.

    Range on the wifi looks good so far. From my bunker/basement to the second floor of my house with no dropout. Am going to test in the theater this weekend for range and coverage. I do have the option of testing an external antenna version if range is a problem. Would add 15 to 20 bucks to the cost.

    Can be done on the pi zerow as well.. I will probably test this as well... which literally can give a school or community theater full duplex, low latency via wifi and phone app. for 25 to 30 bucks..

    if range is a problem, wifi repeaters could be used in theory.

    Stay tuned. If there is interest out there, I could probably burn the microsd cards and send them to interested parties to plug in to the pi of their choice for the cost of the sd card and a few bucks for the burn and postage.

    Disclaimer.. the sd is theoretically vulnerable to corruption in an uncoordinated power down.. since we are not using keyboard/monitor. I've had this thing up and down lots of times now without incident.. but insurance would be keeping a second sd card handy and ready to plug in if need be.
     
  2. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    You could just take the image if the card and post that... much easier then snail mail.

    Be careful with 2.4ghz and an enviroment with lots of wifi devices. Pi's tend to get overwhelmed pretty quickly in dense wifi environments. Even if there is not a lot of devices on the network having 500 phones in the room looking for wifi can be a problem.
     
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  3. Amiers

    Amiers Lighting Phoenix 1 Lamp at a Time

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    To add to that you should make it so the network is hidden so you have to manually type in the network. Next you need to test with multiple devices running off it st the same time. Whatever the amount you will have in the theater plus spares.

    Then you can truly say you’ve tested this.

    Personally I would say spend the 15$ for th extra antennas.

    I would eve go so far as to say placing some range extenders around that can connect back to the Pi.

    I trust the software as I have used it many many times but it’s the capability of the hardware I think is what will fail you.
     
  4. EdSavoie

    EdSavoie Well-Known Member

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    the pi3 is probably serious overkill for this. Once i'm back in ottawa for the holidays, i'll dust off the old Model B 512 and see if it can accomplish the same.
    Setting mumble to intercom-like quality settings (SPEEX codec, really low bitrate.) it should be able to handle as many users as you can throw at it.

    If i'm feeling adventurous, I might run an Open Lighting Architecture server on it as well, see how that performs.
     
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  5. jtweigandt

    jtweigandt Active Member

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    Interesting about the wifi being overwhelmed.. unfortunately I won't have a "full house" environment till next spring.. Still even auto logging the pi into a conventional router. it makes a pretty good mumble server.
    I just thought the all in one solution would be an interesting alternative, since it would be zero configuration plug and play. Wonder if the overload the wifi problem could be overcome, if one used a dongle style usb antenna unit... would add 15 bucks to the cost.. but what the heck. Right now I use an older router, a pc server, and hard cabled cat 5 to some used cheap thin clients. I might be able to see how this washes out at a local 70 seat house though. Not sure what they use right now.
     
  6. Amiers

    Amiers Lighting Phoenix 1 Lamp at a Time

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    Well then I would suggest you have a movie night that would involve kids/adults with phones and have them all connect to the mumble server and get her a test. Charge em 5$ a ticket and it will pay for the server and test it all at the same time.
     
  7. jtweigandt

    jtweigandt Active Member

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    I do like the way you think..:)

    The range test was pretty good today. Iphone went all over the stage and backstage with no dropouts Pi up in the booth 500 seat house... Old Ipad which has a crappy wifi antenna was adequate on stage and wings.. dropped backstage in dressing rooms. 3 stations running and communicating with very little latency. Our router signal (which we have as a hidden sysid) was visibly stronger of course, but the pi was impressive

    Instead of movie night, I may just go to the movies someday soon with the pi in my coat pocket (did I mention it runs really well on a 1500ah battery pack?) and have a couple of assistants sit across the theater and log on in a "cell phone rich" environment. Folks are on their phones all the time during the commercials before previews, so no one would raise a red flag if a couple of folks talked into a mumble app. Darned if I don't love me some tinkering in the wintertime.
     
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  8. Amiers

    Amiers Lighting Phoenix 1 Lamp at a Time

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    Lol you could do that. Just have someone handing out mumble info as they walk in. A lot of work but an easy way to test it. It would be in an uncontrolled environment. So it would test it pretty well. Downside is not many ppl bring earbuds with them so you will get a lot of chatter if you don’t force PTT.
     
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  9. Scarrgo

    Scarrgo Active Member

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    I must be living under a rock, but are you using this(mumble) as a wireless com?
    if so, would this be able to connect with house com?

    oh so many questions....

    Thanks for taking the time...

    Sean...
     
  10. jtweigandt

    jtweigandt Active Member

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    the Mumble server is a pc or linux based program that sets up a live full duplex voice chat room on the machine of your choice.
    It can operate over wifi, or a cat5/6 wired standard pc network .. you can even bridge to the internet and talk from across the world.. The client machine (comm station in our case) can be a desktop pc, laptop, ipad,android tablet, android phone, or iphone.

    The user can be voice activated, or set up as push to talk. Standard earbuds, earbuds with microphone, phone headsets, pc headsets, and just open phone work. I cannot get the phone or tablet app to behave with bluetooth earbuds.. but it works like a charm with the wired ones.

    At our theater, we use the mumble server on a pc in the booth, hooked to a standard wifi router thats not hooked to the internet. It is on a totally closed internal network Stage left and Stage right have small used HP5740e thin clients and Logitech 800 wireless
    bluetooth headsets. Stage left and right can roam about 30 to 40 feet from their base wirelessly this way. Booth staff is normally tied to the base pc. Booth staff cuts in their iphone to go out to lobby at intermission and monitor the bathroom line, or pre show to check the busses that bring in our patrons.

    When we did "into the woods" our 4 tree onstage ballet crew had their phones cut in to have eyes in the sky for positioning and cues.

    So yes if you have a phone, it is wireless comm limited only by the distance of the wifi signal. If you have someone moderately well versed in electronics, you could use one of the
    "in/out " jacks to your standard in house comm as a microphone/speaker combo to a pc running a mumble client. You would need to make up a patch cable and possibly have something to work
    to match the voltage/impedance between the comm system and the pc input. Could do it with a cheap phone as well. Then that mumble client would be a bridge between your standard in house comm
    and your additional wireless phones or pc stations.

    Best part is the software is open source and free. Very stable and mature.

    So the point of the current experiment is to create a low cost, plug and play all in one wireless mumble server, the size of a deck of cards and perhaps as cheap as about 25 or 30 bucks. Taking what I am
    already using to the simplistic zero configuration, cheapest config of mumble I can create. Hand a 30 buck tiny case and power supply to a school drama teacher, plug it in, and it's ready to go with no configuration.
    just download the mumble app to their phones, log on to the wifi (password protected) enter the ip address of the mumble server, and voila... wireless stage comm.

    The raspberry pi computer has already been proven robust enough to handle the server duties. So I know beyond a doubt it can do this linked to a standard wireless router.. but that takes a few hands on configuration steps. I now
    want to test the little gem set up as all in one.. being it's own router in a very wifi crowded full theater to see if my zero configuration dream is really achievable. If it is, then literally poor schools all over the country could have
    wireless comm for as low as 30 bucks using a rasperry pi zero, with no pc skills, just plug and play. As it stands right now... standard mumble config isn' that hard, but you have to have a moderately tech savvy person set it all up.

    You can say that I'm a cheapskate.. but I'm not the only one. I hope someday you'll join us... and the stage crew can live as one. (sorry John)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 10, 2017
  11. jtweigandt

    jtweigandt Active Member

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    to be more precise on the house comm to mumble link.. Mumble client speaker output goes to House comm mic input, and Mumble client mic input goes to house comm speaker output. Would start with the pc output wayyy low... so you don't overdrive the mic input on the house comm.... Better yet .. get confirmation from someone who knows what the house comm input should be able to handle.. output .. no biggie..

    could test on a pc/and cheap usb sound dongle you don't care much about and might work with just a patch cable config.. or as mentioned before, might need something between to match voltage and impedance between the 2

    if you fry the usb sound dongle.. Again.. it's the mic input that might be sensitive...what's 15 bucks for science? More likely, if you don't have a match, the input or output might be over driven one direction or the other and distorted. That could be cleaned up with some tweaking by someone who knows how to match such things.
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2017
  12. jtweigandt

    jtweigandt Active Member

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    or just brainstorming more... gaff tape 2 headsets.... mumble and house comm Microphone to earpiece and microphone to earpiece. Proof of concept, but likely low quality
    might surprise us though.. safe and decidedly low tech.

    I just found this via Dr Google... just what we're talking about for 95 bucks..

    http://avlifesavers.com/ccint.htm
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2017
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  13. EdSavoie

    EdSavoie Well-Known Member

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    To summarize a mumble to comms system, you would need to have a mumble user (possibly on the pi itself, using a usb line-in dongle) acting as the bridge.

    If you are industrious, you could have two dongles, one for channels A and B. You would then only need to manually configure each mumble client to use the respective inputs / outputs.
     
  14. Amiers

    Amiers Lighting Phoenix 1 Lamp at a Time

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    You don’t need two dongles just set up two different voice channels in the one mumble.
     
  15. EdSavoie

    EdSavoie Well-Known Member

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    I mean for two physical bridges, if you wanted separate A and B channels to match up with a given clearcom system
     
  16. jtweigandt

    jtweigandt Active Member

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    Ok more fun and games. Got the pizero W It will run the same microsd card with no modification. The wifi coverage seems to be identical to the pi3
    It also integrated seamlessly with the Linksys range extender I had already. Tested pizero loaded with 6 stations no problem. All in all though, I would choose the
    pi3 for ease of administration, and also because it has a hardwired network connector as well, it bridged nicely to my wired network to link the wireless and wired segments
    It is also easier to hook up to a keyboard, and monitor without micro to regular converter cable. Pi3 also has better access to the sd slot, if you have to swap in a fresh to replace a corrupted one.
    Pi3 kit also comes with an sd card reader, and there's a one click clone feature on the Raspian desktop to make a backup copy. I did set up the zero so that I can use VNC when using it headless to gain access
    to it's desktop and settings without having to physically hook up a monitor or keyboard. I am going to test in a school auditorium soon with their math teacher/tech guru. He can probably
    do a load test for me too if they have an assembly or other event. All in all things are looking up for cheap communication. Only 25 bucks difference between the zero and the 3.

    Also ran a 3 on battery pack (10 buck cell phone charger) for about 3 hours last night. Had it set up like a "belt pack" 20 bucks for headphone, 60 bucks for pi3 kit 10 bucks for battery, and 15 for usb sound output. 105 bucks for an auto connecting belt pack limited only by wifi distance isn't bad. Of course priced cheap cell phone android... 30 bucks + 20 buck headphones is a 50 buck belt pack... Need to keep em charged during the "off" time though. If cell phones go down for too long.. some don't come back. Battery pack on the pi is instantly swappable... so there is something to like about that.
     
  17. jtweigandt

    jtweigandt Active Member

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    Got a Logitech professional grade DECT headset USB interface to the pc. Wohoo. Has a very sturdy heavy charging base. On headset volume control, on mic mute with an LED indicator at the mic tip to show muted. I hooked it to one of my thin client pc's in the concrete basement.. went upstairs then outside my brick house, and walked down the street another 200 feet before the thing dropped out. Absolutely crystal clear. Seamless re connect as I walked back in range. This will be my replacement as folks abuse/ break the bluetooth Logitechs. This one also has a metal band for the head adjust.. much sturdier and forgiving than the plastic on the H800 bluetooth. Quite comfortable. 120 bucks to upgrade to basically full facility roving with nothing strapped to my belt. Configured instantly with the pc.. Couldn't get the sound to work with the pi and this headset as a mumble client yet.. but havn't fiddled with all the settings. Can see the $70 mumble server thread also for more fun and games.
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2017
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  18. jtweigandt

    jtweigandt Active Member

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    Had a whole day off yesterday.. more tinkering.. and load testing. Here's what I would and wouldn't do with the pi(s), if I were in the shoes of a generally non computer conversant High School director with semi working or non working Stage Comm, and no pc that you want to dedicate to mumble tasks..

    1 Get Raspberry Pi 3 Full kit is about 70 bucks from Canakit (search amazon)

    2. Get sd card or image from me (working on getting a clean version purpose built before I make available)

    3. Plug sd into pi and power up. Position it Center on the Center stage front wall (it's black if you get the canakit) If you don't have power there, power from a cell phone charge block battery.

    4. Download app to cell phone(s) connect to the picomm network with provided password. Give the provided ip to the phone app and talk away.

    5. If picomm wifi signal strength not good enough, or too many cell phones interfere, plug in cat5 cable to router of your choice either on or off your network. (preferably off to avoid mischief) This image will auto configure.

    6. Determine wired ip address of pi from your router. Connect to the wifi of your router, Plug in address to the phone apps.. and talk away.

    7. Hook up to usb keyboard/mouse and hdmi monitor, Burn spare sd card using 4 mouse clicks and the built in copy utility and store in case of disaster taped to inside of your pi case.


    With very little knowlege, you now have full duplex wireless stage communication for 70 bucks. The voice quality is great with headset or ear buds.
    If you don't like it, sell the kit on ebay, and you're out maybe 20-30 bucks.

    Don't want to depend on kids cell phones, or give out the connect info? Buy android prepaid phone from walmart for 30 bucks, download the app, and get headset or earbuds of your choice
    headset with mute button is ideal, to avoid having the cell phone out to push to talk. Headset can be had on amazon for about 11 bucks.

    If you have more computer knowledge.... Get another pi

    1. Hook the pi to a keyboard and monitor, make a backup sd card
    2. use Dr Google to find out how to set up the pi to use the sysid and password of YOUR choice
    3. get another pi, and configure with a usb sound card and cheap wired headset, load mumble client
    4 Configure mumble client, and connect either to the wireless or wired network.. Now you have a station for wired headset use on stage.
    5 If you're really tricky, or ask.. I can tell you how to have mumble autostart once configured, and you can run without keyboard or monitor.. just power up and go.
    those details are probably better left to an off forum discussion.

    Unfortunately you have to have different user names for every station, so there's no way I can provide a zero config solution for client stations.

    What I can do.. but wouldnt right now... too many config steps for the average joe...
    Get the cheap pi zero kit 25 bucks...5 dollar usb battery brick (5000 ah ran all night) 13 dollar usb sound card. 3 dollar ear buds.
    Tuck into pocket or mic belt... and you're mobile..
    Why not? Harder to make your backup sd. Harder to swap sd in the zero depending on which case you have. Harder to set up dt less usb ports on the zero.
    Finally... the cell phone solution is cleaner, all in one, and.... get ready.... cheaper. I might just run one for fun during a show though, just for proof of concept.
     
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  19. jtweigandt

    jtweigandt Active Member

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    Ah the force is strong with this one. Judge me by my size do you? I just took the $25 pi zeroW configured as a mumble server and wifi router in my leather jacket breast pocket powered by a small cell phone charging battery brick to go see Star Wars, The Last Jedi

    My wife, son and I all logged on our phones in line for the tickets. Had earplugs.. hey who doesn't .. Son wandered about the lobby with me talking to him while I was waiting for 7 dollar popcorn Probably 50 people milling about. Had him step off into the game room and had LOS, automatically re acquired when he stepped back in to lobby. Went into the theater proper guessing 300 patrons or more. We were seated together, but no LOS. Wife and Son phones went into sleep mode. Mine was set to keep running. Waited till the credits rolled, they re started the app, no trouble aquiring signal, and I sat and watched a while, while my wife filed out with some of the crowd She held the talk key and I listened to the background noise to avoid her having to embarrass herself. LOS when she got to the exit corridor, likely steel studded drywall. Son did same.. Automatic re aquisition in the hallway.. Mumble app will hang in there and tolerate brief drops in the wifi, but the wifi re aquired every time on it's own. LOS naturally or rather stopped transmitting for the potty breaks. Automatic re aquisition with me at the far end of the lobby and wife emerged into the lobby from the hallway.. probably 75 to 100 feet away. So line of sight signal was really good in the crowded real world. Drops and re aquisition are automatic and seamless. Had I been watching their signal strengths I'm guessing much like at home Mumble has LOS when wifi gets crappy, but phone doesn't drop the connection until the wifi is really far gone.. it holds out hope.. thus the app is seeing a connection still, but waiting for the full data transfer to come back. So I'm thinking Server positioned on center stage front wall, and clients in booth, SL and SR will probably do well at the Smaller High school where the next test will likely take place. Would likely need repeater or a cat5 wired segment and repeater to cover some more remote locations.
     
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  20. jm_in_tx

    jm_in_tx Member

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    I've been looking for some theatre-related Raspberry Pi projects and this one just dropped in to my inbox. I can't tell you how much I appreciate this and the time you invested.
    But I gotta say that we get the RPi Zero W here for $5 at the local MicroCenter (but you have to buy them one at a time, so I just walk in and out of the store a couple of times). Been using these to control network-connected props for an Escape Room. So easy to use. I call them A Solution In Search Of A Problem.
    Let us know when you get the image up so I can try this at one of the little theatres I work with.

    PS: I'm up for an off-forum discussion.
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2017
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