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Intercom desperately needed

Discussion in 'Stage Management and Facility Operations' started by zwolf59661, Feb 13, 2008.

  1. zwolf59661

    zwolf59661 Member

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    I've been sort of looking into intercoms for my school auditorium, because it currently doesn't have one but desperately needs one.

    The way our auditorium is set up, we have the spotlight in the balcony, light board at the back of house, and various other people on/back stage (SM, director, whoever else may be in charge as per event). There is NO (if any) communication between positions. A wireless intercom system is preferred because a wired system would require our auditorium to be remodeled, which won't happen. I don't know about funding, as our school district is generally anti-arts, but I can try pulling a some strings.

    Any suggestions?
     
  2. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    Do a search for wireless intercoms/clearcom. You should come up with some options. It IS NOT going to be cheap, probably in the 4-6k range. I would look a bit hard to see if you can't string cable or steal a sound run.
     
  3. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    If the positions that you need comms at don't usually change then there is no reason for the expense of wireless. Also, there is less chance of failure with a wired system. It isn't that hard for you to run cable in inconspicuous places, and it certainly does not require the space to be remodeled. People have a fascination with wireless comms, but wired ALWAYS are more reliable and cheaper.
     
  4. zwolf59661

    zwolf59661 Member

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    Could you explain that a bit more, please?



    And maybe a wired system would work, if we had somewhere to put it and a way of installing it. Any suggestions for a wired system? I've got the websites for Telex, Clear-Com, and Markertek.
     
  5. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    Telex and clearcom are both good gear, however production intercom has some really great stuff for much cheaper then either of the other two, and its fully compatible with both companies. Do you have a sound system in your school? If so, you already have half the job done. Take a mic line that goes to each side of stage and you can run your clearcom line down that instead of pulling new cable. Yes, you will lose an input but I think what you will gain will offset that.

    As far the balcony goes, get creative. If you get smaller mic cable, sometimes it can be tucked under trim, or who knows what else. There is a way to get cable everywhere, you just have to look at every option.
     
  6. mbenonis

    mbenonis Wireless Guy Administrator

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    I'll second the motion to look at Production Intercom. Ruggedly built gear that just works. Be sure to spec in the cost of lots of XLR for the intercom - at least one 25' and one 10' per pack, plus some 50' and 100' runs. Mark them as com-only for your own sanity.
     
  7. avkid

    avkid Not a New User Fight Leukemia

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    Or you might even stick a 4 pin XLR connector on them to make sure nobody feels the need to use them for other purposes.
     
  8. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    And um, how exactly does that help you? The comms need 3-pin so all you would do by getting 4pin is incur the extra cost and hassle of making adapters. And what happens when some lighting guy thinks it's scroller cable?

    Easier to just pick an obnoxious colored cable, like bright yellow.
     
  9. avkid

    avkid Not a New User Fight Leukemia

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    Oh duh, 4 pin is the headset connector.
    6 pin is for two channel
    Shows how much I have worked with comm lately.:oops:
     
  10. mbenonis

    mbenonis Wireless Guy Administrator

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    Only Telex 2-Channel, IIRC. ClearCom, RTS, and Telex 1 Channel use 3-pin.
     
  11. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    You don't need an expensive remodel. Just run some mic cable. Van put in a complete Production Intercom system a while back and it's been perfect. I've got a bunch of P.I. belt packs and headsets on their way for my system that should arrive soon, I'm eager to get my hands on them. Depending on what you get I found the price to be at least 20% less than Clear-com or Telex. http://www.beltpack.com
     
  12. zwolf59661

    zwolf59661 Member

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    First, thank you all for your help.

    Second, our sound system consists of a few inputs, about 4 speakers, and I don't know what else in between. But i do know there's no mixing board; it sort of all just runs together somewhere between the mics and the speakers.

    Third, I'm not exactly sure what you mean by using our existing sound system as an intercom.
     
  13. thebikingtechie

    thebikingtechie Active Member

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    There should be should be somewhere, probably in your booth where there's some audio stuff. Microphones don't just auto adjust.

    What people mean by using your current system is in most theatres, there are inputs run from backstage, through the walls, to the booth. Those inputs would then normally plug into your sound system. Now if you take one of those inputs out of the sound system, you have a pre run chord to backstage that can be hooked into your intercom system.

    I tried to get a system at my old school. I ended up with the cheapest system being somewhere in the thousands. We ended up just using two way radios. The kind you get for hiking or skiing from radio shack, they were $70 a pair. The only problem is with all the technical equipment etc, they got really bad interference. They worked, but sometimes they would suddenly not work, or we would have to repeat ourselves over and over.

    You could try looking into higher power more VHF/UHF radios, but those can get a little pricey.

    Good luck.
     
  14. mbenonis

    mbenonis Wireless Guy Administrator

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    And you MUST have a license to use them. Fines for illegal operation can be as high as $11,000 per offense.
     
  15. zwolf59661

    zwolf59661 Member

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    Our mics don't auto adjust: they right out DON'T adjust. We don't have a control booth; all the audio equipment is backstage. There's a console with a few wireless mic receivers (I've never seen these wireless mics), a CD/cassette player (that never gets used), a video input for our projector on the catwalk, and other stuff like that. No EQ, no adjustments, nothing. Only On/Off. Everything just goes right to the speakers. There's a DMX input for our light board close by, but that still doesn't solve our balcony/spotlight problem.

    So my problem with using our current sound system is this: How do we plug an intercom station into a non-existent cable?
     
  16. Sean

    Sean Active Member

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    OK, so back up a bit. Do you have any wired mics?

    Are there any XLR panels on the wall anywhere in the theatre (house, backstage, catwalk, etc)?

    To get all the equipment for ~4 headsets it isn't just a few bucks. Production quality wireless is still rather expensive compared to wired systems.

    Can you maybe post a few photos of your space? How large a space? How many seats, etc?

    One thing to keep in mind is many of us are used to running cables _anywhere_ we need to. It's pretty standard to do things like that. Sometimes holes get drilled in walls. Sometimes data lines are run through plenum spaces or across attics. I'm sure there IS a way to run the cables. It might not be _easy_, and it may not be something you either have the ability or permission to do, but it can be done.

    Give is more information.

    --Sean
     
  17. zwolf59661

    zwolf59661 Member

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    Yes, there are wired mics. There are XLR (mic) inputs at the front of the stage, as well as stage left and right. There is an XLR panel at the back of the house, but I'm not sure if it's even connected to anything. Also not sure how many seats we have.

    As far as pictures go, I'll see what I can do. Probably this week I'll get some up. The other person and I are planning on working in the auditorium during our lunch period tomorrow, and possibly every day this week.

    This is a screen shot from out light board. It reads:
    Scene Master 60
    Version 4.14

    Cues Available 200
    Channels 60
    Dimmers 512


    Bump Buttons On
    Submasters 41-60

    Hand-held Remote Off
    Dimmer Protocol Colortran
     

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    Last edited: Feb 18, 2008
  18. avkid

    avkid Not a New User Fight Leukemia

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    What does that have to do with anything?
     
  19. zwolf59661

    zwolf59661 Member

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    Probably nothing, but you never know.
     
  20. Sean

    Sean Active Member

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    Go look at all of those panels. See what each XLR port is numbered. Draw up a chart.

    I'll be you'll find that the ports on stage match up with those at the back of house. They may even be split up (half to the rear of the house, some to the front of the stage).

    Take some close up, and WELL LIT photos of them if you can't figure it out.

    --Sean
     

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