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Com system is down, augh wiring!

Discussion in 'Sound, Music, and Intercom' started by spoonifur, Mar 2, 2009.

  1. spoonifur

    spoonifur Member

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    Occupation:
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    Hey, recently my high school clear-com system stopped working. Here's a quick rundown of our system:

    We have 16 channels on each side of our stage. It's a snake running up to our booth. (We only use 1-8 on stage right and left for backstage stuff.)
    On our snake backstage the clear-com is labeled as channel 10. The clear-com main control sits in the booth. It's been working fine, and anytime it's not working is when somebody grabs a bad box, a bad headset, etc.

    Recently, it's died. The main control box works fine, and we can talk in-between ourselves in the booth just fine. We're not sure if something was accidentally unplugged, or replugged somewhere else. A few people have already messed around with it, which means I'm at a total loss now. The biggest problem is that the snake, the audio board, etc. was all set up a while ago. Currently, nobody in the school knows how it should ACTUALLY be set up and wired.

    Now I'm about to get a lot less technical, so bare with me.

    There's 2 3-pin cables coming out of each side of the back of the main com box. (A and B) What I'm assuming was meant for stage right and stage left. These cables connected to the two corresponding channel cables for 9 and 10 (Also, left and right?) One was using a weird gray splitter that made it go into 10 and 9, the other was connected straight into the other 10. (Suffice to say it's all wrong now anyway.)

    BASICALLY:
    How is a clear-comm set up through a snake? I really want to set this up again. If it doesn't work then we know it's something else, but I really think it's cable hiccups. Our school theater is used daily, so we really need to get this fixed up.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    You have a 2 channel clearcom system. I would suggest you switch it over to a simple one channel system. Out of the back of your clearcom base station, you have an A and B output. Disregard the A output. All you need to do is get that signal out of the A output to all of your headsets. This usually takes a fairly large splitter to split to everything. I am also going to assume you have a dead channel in the snake, try switching to a new one. Otherwise, all you are doing is splitting that output to all of your locations. I have an 8 way splitter laying around just for this.
     
  3. DaveySimps

    DaveySimps CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    It is a bit difficult to tell for sure by way of your description, but I will try and take a stab at it. Looks like you have a 2 channel Clear Com system. All stations on A can talk to each other, and all stations on B can talk to each other, but A and B may not be able to talk to each other (depending on the base station you have). If you can, let us know the model of base station, it may help us help you. Pictures would be great to, if possible.

    Many people use only channel of their com system, especially in a non professional facility. You should try to make sure that the A out of the main station is connected down a known working channel of the snake and see what results you get. Just add on to the system from there until you find the piece of gear that does not work, this is a decent troubleshooting technique.

    Depending on the splitter, you may be able to use the splitter you have to send channel A down both lines 9 and 10 so they are both on Channel A. Again, this is difficult to tell with the information you provided.

    ~Dave
     
  4. spoonifur

    spoonifur Member

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    Hmm. Yeah, I feel kind of vague. I'm usually good with diagrams, I'll grab some pictures of our system tomorrow. (The clearest picture of the com isn't very clear, unfortunantly.)
    A and B can talk to each other.

    Though, footer you're kind of confusing me. Our headsets plug into the front of the main box, right? (For talking in the booth) And the plugs on the back are for extending the com through the snake. The snake goes backstage to only one channel, that channel is used for the small com boxes, those are daisy chained if we need more than one. So I'm not going down the 8 fold path here, just searching for one channel.

    Er. Rather, I'm just kind of lost on what the outputs in the back are actually for. They don't seem to be in/out. Pictures, tomorrow! Hope you guys stick around.
    Thanks.
     
  5. museav

    museav CBMod CB Mods Departed Member

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    Personally, I would avoid running comms on a snake except for in some portable situations. Since comms carries power you want to differentiate it from mic inputs and tie lines.

    The "A" and "B" are the A and B channels of a two channel system. They are not necessarily stage left and right, they are simply two independent channels. The main station can communicate with one or both channels, so if you want to be able to communicate to just stage left or just stage right it sounds like it could be wired that way, but that would be a bit unusual.

    I'm curious when you say "we can talk in-between ourselves in the booth just fine", what do you mean? How is it wired in the booth?

    I have a feeling that maybe the system was setup so that one channel was the booth and the other the stage, in which case the 'splitter' you noted may have connected the "stage" main station channel output to both the stage left and stage right snakes. That way an SM in the booth could talk to the booth or the stage or both.
     
  6. spoonifur

    spoonifur Member

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    Oh, that kind of makes sense. More sense than I was making.

    What I mean about the booth is that at the front of our box there's two outputs for headsets. Two push-to-talk buttons. The two headsets that connect to these can talk to each other. (Usually our SM, lighting, and audio people all wear head sets and the booth is quiet otherwise.)

    Err. Maybe I do need to mess around with this more. Sorry for the confusion! Back when I know more.
     
  7. dramatech

    dramatech Well-Known Member

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    Take one of your belt packs with a headset, an connect to either the A or B output of the main station, and see if you can communicate between that beltpack and the front two headset connections. If that works, then it is a matter of adding one link at a time such as longer cables and more beltpacks until you find one that doesn't work, then backtrack till it works again. If you find a bad cable or bad beltpack remove it from the system. Remember to exchange headsets with beltpacks so that you can find if a failure is the headset or the beltpack.
    Our 2 channel mainstation, has buttons for selecting which channel the mainstation is communicating with and a link button that ties the two channels together. Make sure that these buttons are depress so that while testing, all stations can communicate with each other.
    Once you get it working, you might try putting your followspot positions on cnannel B and everybody else on channel A. This way any communications from ASMs backstage to each other or stagehands. will not be heard by the followspots and visa versa. If you want everybody to communicate then you can link the two at the mainstation. Also there should be two switches that let you decide which channels the booth communicates with. The pilot lights in these switches burn out too quickly, and then it is hard to tell if the mainstation is communicating with either channel. If my memory serves me correctly, both buttons cancel when the power is turned off. So immediately after turning the system on, push both buttons. If they don't light up, check to see if you can communicate from the main to the channels. If so, the lights are burned out in the switches.
    Be patient, write down the steps that you take in testing, and you will probably find the problem, learn something about clearcom operations, and come up with a flexible operating system.
     
  8. seanandkate

    seanandkate Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    Follow the good advice above for systematically troubleshooting. From the picture, it kinda looks like you're using a CS-222. Below is the data sheet and the manual for the unit. The more you understand how the unit works and what it does, the easier it will be to get your head around troubleshooting.

    http://www.clearcom.com/support/datasheet_pdfs/datasheets_party_line/data_pl_cs222.pdf

    http://www.clearcom.com/support/manual_pdfs/manuals_party_line/manual_pl_cs222.pdf
     
  9. themuzicman

    themuzicman Well-Known Member

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    I had a situation similar to this, just do as everyone says, make a link directly out of your base station, and wire until you find the fault.

    Be sure to differentiate if it is a problem with a specific pack, or just overloading power from the base!
    -----

    They are all 3 pin XLR? With two channel? I thought all clearcom two channel options had five pin cords (2 L Channel, 2 R Channel, 1 Ground) -- unless this is a separated two channel box (you can only patch in to one channel at a time, via a hardwire)
     
  10. spoonifur

    spoonifur Member

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    Wow, reading through that manual. That's our system, was going to upload photos today.

    I'm starting to see what we did wrong, I didn't know the make of our system so I couldn't look up a manual. Thanks so much! I'm starting to see what we're doing wrong, and will try again after school.
    Before we start I'm going to check all our belt packs. We KNOW that a lot of them don't work, it's ridiculous that we haven't canceled out the broken ones yet.

    Thanks for the help everybody, hopefully I get this fixed tonight/tomorrow. That manual is a big, big, big help.

    Edit: Hey, it was actually a pretty quick fix. We were not connecting it right AT ALL. I have a theory that something simple messed up like a belt pack and whoever was in the theater decided to try and fix the main control. They picked the two right most plugs because they look important. The system is actually much simpler than I thought it was, especially after seeing a diagram.
    The good thing is this was a simple fix, and because of that manual I set up our system so we could do announcements from our clear com, which frees up the God mic that sits in the booth.

    Thanks for all the help everybody, the clear com definitely won't bother us again.
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2009
  11. Spiceboy

    Spiceboy Member

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  12. nd925a

    nd925a Member

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    where i would start is checking different channels on the snake, make sure the belt pack and headset are good that you're using to check are good(common sense), make sure the belt packs connected to the snake are connected to the same channels as the snake is to the clear com. And i agree with using only one channel on the clearcom.
     

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