A Mouse Ate My Woofer
By Greg Bronson, CTS-D
…Or so it seems, anyway.
Last winter, my weekend “regular activities” were interrupted to troubleshoot the loss of low frequencies from the left speaker of my home workshop stereo system. While I tried to initially ignore it — figuring the several-year-old transplant of an Altec Lansing woofer in these particular cabinets had been “toasted” or perhaps a wire came off, that quickly proved futile. Within a few days, repair of the speaker had become Home Maintenance Task #1. Truth be told, while being initially frustrated with “one more thing” to do, it was an irresistible challenge begging for my attention. You gotta love this stuff.
So, down comes the speaker and out comes the low frequency driver. Hmm, speaker wires from the two way cross over still firmly attached — voice coil must be toast? Pushing gently on the cone, revealed no rubbing of the core through the magnet’s air gap (something I recalled observing oh so long ago repairing such damaged woofers). Somewhat by accident, upon further investigation, I did a double take at the complete absence of the tiny wires that should be connecting from the woofer’s terminal strip to the back side of the speaker cone (and ultimately its voice coil winding). It was about then I also noticed — sparing you the graphic details — much “mouse evidence” inside the cabinet itself. The only explanation: some deaf little critter ate the wires! I found some flexible stranded wire and after completing a delicate soldering job, the old woofer was soon back in service.
Had there not been the “mouse evidence,” I’d be leading this column off with the thought that I’d potentially vaporized the woofer’s leads trying to kick out the jams when the speaker was too cold (second, but highly unlikely, possible diagnosis). In either case there’s more to this month’s column. You see, what happened was…
While riding public transportation, I bumped into an associate from a past project. This Technology Manager and I had become fast friends while working on a couple medium sized projects together years hence. At that time, he had made it clear he was not “into AV,” but obviously was tech savvy. At any rate, in our catch up of going ons, he noted working on an advanced degree in a totally non-techie field. It was clear he had a focus on pursuing what he loved doing. I was glad for him, and a bit envious someone could be that effective in an interim career. He asked (seeming to indicate knowing the answer as he said it) if I loved working in AV. Afterwards, and in thinking about this month’s column, I got to wondering how many of you, AV Club readers, really love doing AV?
This is not to say that someone not passionate about AV couldn’t be effective (my friend, case in point). In fact, a great thing about this field is the diverse skills needed, and the broad backgrounds of individuals working in AV. One of best student workers I’ve had over the years was an English major (granted, the two tied for the number one spot were Mechanical Engineering and Architectural majors). What the English major didn’t have in tech-knowledge, or AV passion, he made up for in deductive reasoning, curiosity and people skills. Like any career, passion for what you do helps, but this serves to remind us all it’s not necessarily a direct correlation to “AVbility.”
So while my little “friend” managed to stop his new temporary residence from shaking, he indirectly helped me reconnect (really, no pun intended) with some core skills of what I love about AV. And, my big friend, managed to indirectly remind me it’s not just all about AV tech.
Granted, I could have immediately gotten online and ordered a replacement acoustical suspension 100 watt woofer. Or, considering these old speakers don’t owe me a thing, I could have chucked ‘em both and pony-upped the bucks for a new pair. In the end, making music was the goal and a couple different paths would have gotten the same end result. But successfully avoiding spending a dime to get back to rock city was more that just financially rewarding. It was also rewarding to apply hands on problem isolation, troubleshooting, repairing, and assembling skills (which are reciprocally applicable beyond “just” AV).
But where else would I be able to seek rodent revenge by testing the final result dialing my iPod to The Gap Band’s You Dropped a Bomb on Me?
The views expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of the authors’ employer(s), past or present.
Greg Bronson, CTS-D, applies AV technologies in the development of innovative learning spaces for higher education. Greg spent the first 10 years of his career as AV technician and service manager, with the past 12+ years as an AV system designer and project manager. Bronson currently works for Cornell University and has also worked for two SUNY (State University of New York) campuses as well as a regional secondary education service depot. Bronson is the originator of concept for Infocomm’s Dashboard for Controls and has had completed projects featured in industry publications. You can reach Greg at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Extron Ships Two and Four Input HDMI Switchers
Extron is now shipping the SW HDMI LC two and four input switchers. These switchers support HDMI 1.3 specification features, including data rates up to 6.75 Gbps, Deep Color, Lip Sync, and HD lossless audio formats. HDCP compliance ensures interoperability with other HDCP-compliant devices. The switchers support all HDTV rates including 1080p/60 with 12-bit Deep Color, and PC resolutions up to 1920×1200. Front panel LED indicators provide visual confirmation of signal presence. Input cable equalization for each input compensates for cables up to 50 feet in length. The SW HDMI LC switchers are ideal for sending HDMI video and embedded multi-channel digital audio to a single display.
The switchers also supply +5 VDC, 250mA on the HDMI output, providing power for peripheral devices.
Control options allow for easy integration into a variety of environments. These include front panel control, auto-input switching, IR, and RS-232 control. The SW HDMI LC switchers are housed in rack-mountable 1U, half rack width metal enclosures.
For more information, go to http://www.extron.com/product/product.aspx?id=swhdmilc&s=0
Features listed here, by and large, would be no big deal if the switcher was analog. But make it digital (HDMI), and support HDCP, and it is a pretty big deal!
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Kramer Intros Compact Line Transmitter/Receiver Set for DVI Signals
Kramer Electronics has announced the introduction of the PT-571HDCP and PT-572HDCP twisted pair transmitter and receiver for DVI signals. The PT-571HDCP and PT-572HDCP can transmit DVI signals directly over a twisted pair cable (shielded twisted pair cables are recommended). The PT-571HDCP and PT-572HDCP offer a compact and inexpensive solution for DVI signal transmission over long distances and are ideal for any application where long distance signal distribution is required.
The PT-571HDCP converts a DVI signal into a signal that can be run over shielded twisted pair cables. The PT-572HDCP receiver then converts the signal back to a DVI signal. Both units feature a bandwidth of up to 1.65Gbps and are HDCP-compliant and HDTV-compatible.
The company tested the set using Kramer cables and said a DVI signal can be transmitted up to 295 feet (90 meters) at SXGA resolution and up to 98 feet (30 meters) at UXGA resolution when using Kramer’s shielded BC-DGKat524 cable. Kramer’s shielded BC-DGKat623 cable can extend the range for UXGA to 230 feet (70 meters) and the soon to be introduced Kramer shielded BC-DGKat7a23 cable will extend the range to 265 feet (80 meters) for UXGA signals.
The PT-571HDCP and PT-572HDCP use a multicolored status LED that illuminates red when receiving power only, orange when an input signal (on the PT-571HDCP) or output signal (on the PT-572HDCP) and power are attached, and yellow when both an active input and output are attached. The PT-571HDCP and PT-572HDCP pass the EDID and HPD signals from the source to the display device over the twisted pair cable together with the DVI signal. The PT-571HDCP employs Kramer’s Power Connect™ feature where a single connection to the transmitter powers both units. The required 12V DC is transmitted through the twisted pair cable, along with the other signals, to the receiver.
The PT-571HDCP and PT-572HDCP are housed in the ultra-compact Pico TOOLS™ enclosure. They carry a list price of $220.00 per unit in the U.S. and are shipping now.
For more information, go to http://www.kramerelectronics.com/products/model.asp?pid=1756 and http://www.kramerelectronics.com/products/model.asp?pid=1757
The inclusion of HDCP in model numbers is nice; gives immediate heads up on support for same. HPD was not something I recognized; Google search= Hot Plug Detect.
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Bretford Announces NETBOOK42 Cart
Bretford Manufacturing last week announced the NETBOOK42-CT, a new cart that vertically stores, charges and protects up to 42 Netbook computers. Primarily for education environments, the NETBOOK42 incorporates a power management system that decreases heat and electrical stress while proportionally distributing power to the netbooks to preserve battery life, and only requires a single power outlet for use. The new cart features a small 32” x 26” footprint to fit in tight spaces, and cable management to keep 42 netbook computers and cords neatly managed and stored in the back.
The auxiliary power outlets on the top shelf allow the NETBOOK42 Cart to double as a presentation cart in the classroom, with room for a video projector or a printer since the brain can dedicate power to those accessories when they are needed. Located in the back of the cart, the cable management area provides storage and identification for each computer and cord with the ability to store more than 500 feet of cable without clutter. Each vertical slot has a permanent laser-cut ID number for coding the computers, the slots and the cable sets, making it easier to manage and identify their location.
The NETBOOK42-CT has an all-steel welded frame and is constructed from the most durable materials to protect the electronic equipment from damage. Further, it comes equipped with two reprogrammable combination padlocks three-point security on the front and back doors to prevent against theft.
The cart is expected to ship next month, pending UL certification. For more information, go to http://www.bretford.com
Similar to the HDCP in model number comment above, the model numbers here are very helpful on prompting what you’re looking for. Wondering how the power management system “decreases heat and electrical stress”?
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Extron Intros Lightweight Handheld Wireless Mic for Classrooms
Extron has announced the new VLH 102 Handheld Microphone, an IR wireless mic with a cardioid capsule and durable polycarbonate enclosure for use with Extron VoiceLift® classroom sound field systems. VoiceLift Microphone Systems create a sound field within the classroom so that students can hear the instructor over ambient noise levels. Designed for student use in the classroom, the lightweight VLH 102 microphone features an anti-roll collar to keep the microphone from rolling off flat surfaces and helps prevent the IR emitters from being blocked during use. The VLH 102 is ideal for use in applications that require a pass-around microphone for student presentations and secondary microphone applications such as team teaching and guest speakers.
Additional features include an On/Off/Mute switch to silence the mic for private conversations or when not in use and an auxiliary input jack to allow playback from audio devices like MP3 players through the system. The mic includes a single, AA-sized, long life 2500 mAh NiMH battery that provides 8 hours of talk time. The battery can be recharged in the microphone using an external charger or the VLC 202 Desktop Charging Station.
For more information, go to http://www.extron.com/product/product.aspx?id=vlh102&s=5
Having had a chance to experiment a bit with the previous version of this IR mic (and VoiceLift system), the IR pickup was surprisingly effective. Wish all wireless mics were rechargeable batteries (while in the mic).
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Dukane Adds Five Year Warranty on Existing Products
Dukane has announced the addition of their line of student response systems, Convey A-Click, and the entire line of Airslates (AS2, AS3) to their Five Year Warranty program. Company president Jim Locascio says that all Dukane products now come backed with the Five Year Warranty.
For more information, go to http://www.dukane.com
Five year warranty? That is an attention-getter! In these times, having that kind of coverage can be very appealing for maintenance budget strapped organizations. –GB
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Well, that's it for this edition of rAVe! Thank you for spending time with us as we muse the industry's happenings. To continue getting my newsletter, or to sign up a friend, click the link below. To send feedback, don't reply to this newsletter – instead, write to Contributing Editor Greg Bronson at email@example.com, Publisher Gary Kayye at firstname.lastname@example.org or Editor-in-Chief Sara Abrons at email@example.com
A little about Gary Kayye, CTS, founder of rAVe and Kayye Consulting. Gary Kayye, an audiovisual veteran and columnist, began the widely-read KNews, a premier industry newsletter, in the late 1990s, and created the model for and was co-founder of AV Avenue – which later became InfoComm IQ. Kayye Consulting is a company that is committed to furthering the interests and success of dealers, manufacturers, and other companies within the professional audiovisual industry.
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