27 Jul 2018

Tech Tips

Tech Tips

By Simon Byrne and you, our readers!

Here is this month’s collection of random tech tips to make your life just a bit easier from us, and you, our fine readers!

Unexplained reduced RF performance from your wireless gear?
As well as the usual suspects, try turning off the house lights to see if they are the culprit. Manufacturers are reporting that as venues replace incandescent lamps with LEDS in house lights, that they are seeing increased RF noise due to the replacement LEDs having poor shields, so they spew lots of RF noise, thereby raising the RF noise floor. Try reducing the distance between the transmitters and receivers, directional receive antennas, or even better, a well-located low-gain receive antenna.

Desk Dust and Grunge
Desks build up dust and grunge and due to the numerous knobs and buttons, they are hard to clean. A clean, unused paint brush makes the job easy and for areas where you need to get right in, wooden toothpicks are ideal because they are hard enough to remove the grunge, but still soft enough so as not to damage the desk surface or screen printing.


Alistair Howard sent in a couple:
When fault finding apply the ‘a chain is only as strong as its weakest link theory’. 15 years of live sound taught me to look at the parts most likely to fail first, which on the road is often cables.
When in doubt about microphone choice, an SM57 will always give you a workable result.

And thanks to Phil Cartledge for this gem: First check the power is ON!!

Dan Bright says ‘Don’t lose your Sharpie!’
A few wraps of Nitto around your favourite Sharpie lid to the end of a lanyard and you’re set for a few seasons!

• Wrap that lanyard through your belt loop on your shorts/pants and your Sharpie is always attached.
• When someone needs a marker they have to return it to you cos the lid is attached to you. (Genius!)
• When your Sharpie turns into a Bluntie just replace the marker.
• Reuse a lanyard that was bound for landfill.
• Nitto comes in all different colours – get creative!
Make sure you don’t forget it’s attached to your pants and send it through the wash. (Doesn’t matter, all your clothes are black anyway!)

Nice one Dan! A Shure SM57 courtesy of Jands, is on its way to you!

And Craig McNamara offers this sage advice: An SM57 is not a hammer!

And Analog Julius has some old school lighting tricks.

Dim lighting effect without dimmers:
Ancient readers may recall the fabulous SPLITTER or TWO-FER that enables series operation of 2 x 110v Par 64 cans in series. The splitter was a ‘Y’ cable with a male 240v plug and two short cables each with a round earth (or dual round live) pin socket. Thus two cans were connected. The series wiring was done in the male 240v plug. If both Par 64 lamps were working, the circuit would be complete and they would run at 120v (slightly overrated as our mains is 240v). If one lamp filament was failed, both cans would be dark until you figured out which was dead and replaced it.

Anyhow, my tech tip is to make your own Two-fer but with all 240v plugs and use it VERY CAREFULLY. Why would we do this? Well, back in those days before LEDs we sometimes needed a dimmed lighting state and without dimmers. Thus if you connected two IDENTICAL lights, like 2 x 300 watt Par 56s or 2 x 500w theatre profiles, they would run at 50% output. Nice for moody scenes!

Note that running un-equally powered lamps (like 1 x 500w and 1 x 650w) produced unequal outputs and also that running anything other than a pair of incandescent or halogen lamps is highly verboten.

Campfire Flickering Lighting Effect:
I needed to create a camp fire for a theatre scene. Connecting a 40w fluorescent tube starter across the active wire and using a 40 watt light globe encased in red gels did the trick. It’ll flicker and carry on quite authentically. It’ll also freak out the audio guys.

Have you got any tech tips worthy of publication? Send them to:


This article first appeared in the print edition of CX Magazine July 2018 pp.49-50. CX Magazine is Australia and New Zealand’s only publication dedicated to entertainment technology news and issues. Read all editions for free or search our archive
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