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What Two-Way Radio to use

Discussion in 'Sound, Music, and Intercom' started by Seth Gussow, Sep 11, 2018.

  1. Seth Gussow

    Seth Gussow Member

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    I know many people suggest a clearcom system, but 1) we don't have the money and 2) were getting a new building in two years so installing would be pointless. I would really love your help in deciding. We have a fairly big stage and house, making communication from one wing to the next quite hard, as well as a big booth communication disconnect.
     
  2. RonHebbard

    RonHebbard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    @Seth Gussow You might consider purchasing one the lower priced ClearCom compatible clones including one base station / power supply then temporarily installing it portable style with non-fixed cables carefully routed to avoid trip-hazards, doorways, heavy foot and caster traffic. You'd avoid the pit-falls such as drop-outs and interference of wireless and save big on batteries.
    Googling "ClearCom compatible" could be your friend.
    Toodleoo!
    Ron Hebbard
     
  3. Seth Gussow

    Seth Gussow Member

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    I really would love to use ClearCom, but as I said we really don’t have the money (also our school system is really REALLY picky with what we buy especially with the new building). Thank you so much though, I wish we could afford it.
     
  4. al.events

    al.events Member

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    @Seth Gussow I don’t think RonHebbard was suggesting ClearCom. He was just suggesting a similar, cheaper system that is able to work with ClearCom if needed in the future. Either way, cheaper than ClearCom and cheaper than the most expensive 2 way radios.
     
    RonHebbard likes this.
  5. TimMc

    TimMc Well-Known Member

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    What used to be Production Intercom is back in biz and there are other brands that are half the price of ClearCom. As they are compatible, if your school uses ClearCom in the new build, you will have a plug and play sub-system available.

    If you think intercoms are expensive just wait until you price walkie talkies (that work, and are legal in the USA - note that most of the "chinese" radios should not be sold in the USA for our type of uses) and the accessories to make them theater-friendly. It will be as much as a ClearCom-compatible system.
     
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  6. jtweigandt

    jtweigandt Active Member

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    Or check out the Low Cost Stage Com using Raspberry pi thread, and it’s predecessor 70 bucks +/- a self contained or existing cat5 backbone +/- additional wifi access points can give you full duplex com. Users can use their cell phones and an ear bud, on a closed wifi system, or you can have stations wired or wireless that are apple, windows,linux, or more 25 buck raspberry pi with the headset of your choice. 70 bucks and you and a buddy on cell phones you already have, and you can test optimal placement of the all in one router/com backbone. I used to use FRS family radios, and would not go back now.
     
    RonHebbard likes this.
  7. NickVon

    NickVon Active Member

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    In my Production case that I tote around with me for freelance gigs, and some mid sized shows, I have use the Midland GTX1000v4, with TAPualk "security" stile ear sets for them. They around about 75$ for two, and about 40$ for 2 ear pieces. They work well, I carry 2 with me most of the time just to assist with sound check and light load in/focus between catwalks, FOH, Backstage situations for me and my buddy. But I own 6 and they work great for local use. Their "vibrate call" is great. they are just about the Highest level consumer level 2-ways you can by with out getting into the stuff that @TimMc is talking about. (some of that stuff operate between 400-470Mhz which i believe is fully usable in the USA. (it's the stuff that operates in the HAM radio range below 200Mhz, that are a no go.

    I think you realize the benefit of a Clear-com style system, which for purpose of discussion is a Party Line system and not a 2-Way Radio system. Radios can be used to call a show by a SM but they are way below ideal, bordering hazardous especially with what high school com discipline ends up being :) It can be done and I've worked shows where we have used radios for such, but they were generally easy tech shows.

    Something else to consider is that Clear-com or it's less expensive basic competitors like Production Com and Telex are built better then the radios i listed above. I guarantee that with radios I've mentioned above with high school student's you'll be replacing them all in less then 2 years, either because they'll break from high school use, or they'll grow legs.
     
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  8. tyler.martin

    tyler.martin Active Member

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    I'd look at the EconoCom line from ProIntercom. Avoid two-way radios, as they are half duplex, which is less than ideal in a theatre especially with moving bits and overhead rigging.

    If your space is being renovated or a new build is on the horizon, then any of the ProIntercom gear is compatible with ClearCom so your beltpacks and headsets will still be useful with a Clearcom system.
     
    RonHebbard likes this.
  9. macsound

    macsound Well-Known Member

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    I've been thinking alot about com in general lately and what makes it work and why (besides R&D) it is so expensive.
    In an analog world, what's going on inside those boxes that keeps anyone from making one for $10?
     
    RonHebbard likes this.
  10. RonHebbard

    RonHebbard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    @macsound Here in Canada, a typical belt pack contains approximately $9.00 worth of XLR connectors (assuming you're buying in small quantities) by the time you've purchased a chassis mount XLR3 female for comms in, a chassis mount XLR3 male for your comms line to loop out and a chassis mount XLR4 for your typical comms headset presuming you don't need to accommodate multiple functions on a dual-eared headset along with a shielded balanced pair for a broadcast quality balanced dynamic mic.
    Toodleoo!
    Ron Hebbard
     
  11. josh88

    josh88 Remarkably Tired. Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    Part of the reason the cost is so high is they are essentially one time purchases. Well made com boxes and wireless com get purchased by a theatre and then in 10 or sometimes 20 or more years later it's still the same com. Maybe you've replaced a piece here and there but the manufacturers know that the frequency of buying is low and that contributes to the higher price tag.
     
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  12. macsound

    macsound Well-Known Member

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    Has anyone ever tried to make their own beltpack?
    I'm going down this path because I love thought experiments and although I'm not the best at followthrough, I like building and experimenting and something as defacto and analog as clearcom sounds like something that could be fun to tinker with and not have to deal with any digital electronics.
     
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  13. MNicolai

    MNicolai Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    I know a couple people who have tried to reverse engineer ClearCom wall stations. They were really proud of their success, but their $70 in parts was met with 60+ hours of screwing around. If you actually value your time and want something that doesn't look hacked together then it's not worthwhile. Regardless of how well it works, if you rent your venue out and a touring group comes through you can be rest assured they'll start losing their bananas if they find a DIY comms system in place.

    Also -- generally comms HAVE to work, be able to take a beating, and they have to be resilient to long cable runs between beltpacks. When you get into calling cues that involve set changes, scenery automation, flying effects, pyro, and overhead rigging you don't want to mess around with potential for dropouts.

    Baby monitors are great though if you ever need full duplex wireless in a pinch and it doesn't need to be bulletproof reliable.
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2018
    TimMc and RonHebbard like this.

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