Solutions and Solutions
So I’m sitting in Atlanta International Airport waiting for a flight back to Chicago, and they have these cool things setup in the Delta terminal. At my gate there is a little station for like four people to sit at with a sign above that says “Recharge”. It’s a dedicated workstation for laptop power. Very nice. Now if only the Wi-Fi was free.
Today I have a couple of solutions to some small challenges we’ve had here. These are testament to the constant tweaking we are doing of our systems and organizational methods.
The first solution relates to keyboard use at FOH for computers and/or in our case the FOH console. This is version 3.0 of our attempts to make something work. My first solution used an old Quik-lok tape machine transport holder that would roll under the console. The problem was the wheels used to lock up on it, and the cable for our cans would get tangled up quite a bit. The next solution was a keyboard drawer that our intern put together over the summer. He did a great job, but unfortunately there is a huge support 2×4 that runs underneath the console; it’s deep enough in that you won’t ever come close to banging your knees, but it’s not deep enough that you can really get a drawer in. The solution for the drawer was to use some brackets to hang it extremely low so that it slid underneath the support. This looked like it was going to be great, but ended up being worse because everyone would slide the drawer out and end up removing the keyboard. So now we have this new solution. I think this one might stick. This is just a Ram mount I ordered from E-Mounts.com for about $70. The mount is just screwed into our countertop, and I used screws long enough to drive into that 2×4 below the console; nothing is going to pull that thing out. Then I just took a mini-keyboard donated by one of our volunteers. I popped the back off the keyboard, drilled a few holes into it, and zip-tied it to the other mount which is connected to the counter via a heavy-duty gooseneck. Great thing about this is you can put that keyboard wherever you want/need it to go, and it works standing or sitting down now. Downside is it bounces quite a bit when you type on it, but from my experimentation, it didn’t seem like it would be that bad where you wouldn’t want to use the thing. Time will tell if this lasts or if we have to go version 4.0.
Our next solution is a simple storage/organization solution for all our Countryman E6 microphones. We had an incident a couple months ago where we had a guest speaker visiting. When he went out to soundcheck, the mic that had worked during our line check earlier that morning suddenly had a ton of noise on it. Initially we thought it was RF related because that’s what it sounded like to me after soloing it in the cans. As we tried to troubleshoot the situation, things got crazy as we were just trying to put a mic on his head that actually worked. There were a lot of trips back to the amp room to grab new mic’s and transmitters, and my guess is that we probably tried the same thing a few times due to our disorganized efforts. So now we have an easy way to mic up guest speakers–our main dude has his own mic we keep isolated from the rest of the mic population, and he’s a little bit experienced so he puts it on himself with no problem.
Part of our problem that morning was due to our Countryman mic organization. All our other mics are all organized into nice drawers, but we were keeping our Countryman’s in their little pouches in the bottom drawer of an old filing cabinet. That drawer also has some other little miscellaneous mics and instrument pickups. I’d been meaning to do something about this, but it was never a big priority because the reality is we rarely have to go to our extra mic stock since we don’t do live dramas on Sundays anymore. Everything we use on a regular basis was being kept in a different location so when we ran into this snag on a Sunday morning 20 minutes before doors, it got a little rough having to dig out different mics.
So our new solution is so simple. It’s just a multi-compartment storage case I picked up at Target for $6. Cables on E6’s all pop off very easily so I just popped the cables off the mics and stuck our different colors into their own storage compartments. We have multiple systems here so we have two types of E6 cables and those are also sorted now. There are even compartments for the filter caps that we NEVER switch. So NOW if there are problems, we can easily bring all our parts right out onto the stage and quickly swap things instead of the back and forth madness we had a few months ago.
Loved both solutions. I especially like that you included clear tape in your E6 kit. This is an invaluable tool when micing a guest and/or dramatist.
These are great solutions! I’m really interested in how that keyboard mount holds up over time. May try something similar in the future.
Great idea on the keyboard mount. Ours lives in a drawer of our sound desk, which is not always convenient. I just bought a similar organizer made by Stanley for keeping track of all my connector ends. Now when I need to change some ends, I grab the tote and I’ve got all the XLRs, 280s, 297s and more at my fingertips. Organization is wonderful!
Organization can definitely be wonderful. But portable organization that won’t break your back rocks!