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Transplant Surgery

Transplant Surgery

A few weeks ago I noticed a bit of a problem the the church sound system. Though all the mics and inputs etc. were working, no sound was getting to any of the speakers in the church.

I turned out that our Peavey X-Frame DSP (digital signal processor) had died. This is the box of tricks that takes the sound from the main desk and feeds it to the 2 main, 2 sub, and 6 auxiliary speakers in the church (as well as the subset of speakers over the choir). It’s a very carefully and cleverly tuned set up which took them days to get right when the system was installed 15 years ago- the feed to each speaker is tuned and tweaked and sometimes delayed so that no matter where you are sitting in the church it sounds the same and as if the sound is coming from the front when it may actually be coming mostly from a speaker off to the side of you. But without this box the speakers make no sound at all.

After a little research I found out that, of course, they no longer make this particular unit. I managed to find someone at the company who designed our sound system who was super helpful, and who managed to find me a similar unit that should match most of the wiring (there are a lot of wires coming out of the back of this thing!)-

However, even though we were lucky enough to find a CD I had saved of the configuration file that tells it what to do, obviously that file would not work with a different unit, so we would probably have to have a tech come in and do the rewiring and then tune everything (if we could even find a tech to come out with everything that’s going on).

Luckily, because of the current situation, we had a little time to play with as right now we don’t have a congregation in the church so we don’t need the speakers at the moment, so we did a little rethinking and after a quick search I managed to find two of these units for sale on eBay- so I gambled and grabbed both of them in the hopes that I could program one of them with our config file and make it work. One was coming from China and will probably be here sometime before Christmas, but the other was just coming from Long Island, and it arrived last week. Broken.

They had packed it very carefully with lots of foam above and below but almost none around the edge and had rolled up the power cord and put it down the side right in front of the LCD screen, and obviously somewhere along the way it got bashed. It appears to power up but without the screen it is very difficult to know if the rest of it is working, and when I hooked my laptop to it to see if I could load the config file into it it was not recognized. Crap!

But Crisp got me thinking when he said that I should try and see if I could put the LCD screen from our old one into this one if it worked. So after consulting with my friend at the AV company we cooked up the idea of trying to take the power supply (which seems to work) out of this one and transplanting it into our old one in case it is the power supply that’s gone bad.

So today that is what I did… I very carefully made notes of all the wiring connections, disconnected them all, took our one out of the rack and opened both up. then I switched out the power supply, buttoned it back up, put it back in the rack, and reconnected all the wires…

Then with much trepidation I flipped the switch- and it works πŸ™‚

Sound comes loud and clear from all the speakers in the church (and no reprogramming necessary).

It may not last for ever, it’s a part from another used unit after all, but hopefully it will last us a while- and I have the other one coming soon from China, so when that arrives I will try and load the config file into it so it’s ready if/when we need it (and failing that it’ll be another source of spare parts).

So when people can come back to church they will be able to hear clearly!

The Fast Show

The Fast Show

We have just spent a very enjoyable evening introducing Crisp to The Fast Show.

For some reason we have 2 copies of the season one DVD (and luckily I still have an old DVD player that I hacked to play region 2 DVDs).

We watched the first 3 episodes and are going to save the rest for another night, and we enjoyed it so much I have ordered the 7 disc “Ultimate Collection” from Amazon UK- it’ll take a while to get here, but it’ll be something to look forward to- and we’ll probably have forgotten about it by then so it’ll be a nice surprise πŸ™‚

Editing station

Editing station

A while ago I upgraded one of my monitors to 4k (essentially just higher resolution = more detail) and have found it a huge help when photo editing, but my second monitor was just plain old HD, so it was a huge pain when I moved my cursor from one to the other as the resolutions didn’t match up.

So, since I have been doing a lot more video editing recently I decided to do a little upgrade and bring my second monitor up to 4k too.

So, there is my original Samsung on the left, and the new Sceptre on the right (it’s the cheapest 4k video you can get on Amazon, but the reviews were pretty good, and so far I’m very impressed).

The third monitor at the top is just a bonus πŸ˜‰ As part of this project I upgraded my computer’s video card from the Nvidia Quadro K620 it came with to a new Quadro P1000. This is not a huge leap, but it is faster and does have twice the graphics memory (4GB) and it makes a significant difference both in Lightroom and in Davinci Resolve! As it is a “pro” video card it is not optimized for gaming but does allow graphic applications to offload some of the processing to the card, and as a bonus it will drive up to 4 x 4k monitors πŸ™‚

This third monitor is not even close to 4k (it’s a 1600×900 19.5″ Acer I had in storage), but as it’s mounted above it’s less of a pain going from the 4k to this, and it’s a huge advantage to have an extra screen to have folders and email etc. open in when I’m video editing and using all the real estate of the main screens-

It would be nice to be able to upgrade my slightly aging Xeon CPU, but that’s not going to happen for a little while, so for now this makes enough of a difference for it to feel new and zippy πŸ™‚

Greenwoods

Greenwoods

It feels like forever since I went out to just take pictures for my own enjoyment, so as the sun was out this morning I put my old Helios 44-2 on my Sony and took it with me to the woods.

It’s weird how out of practice I felt, but it came back pretty quickly, and I had such a good time I’m now planning on pulling out the rest of my somewhat esoteric collection of glass to remind myself what it can all do πŸ™‚

Lights, camera…

Lights, camera…

We have just found out from the Bishop that in-person worship is suspended until at least July (unless something radical happens). I had been spending a lot of the week tidying up the wiring and other things in the church in the hope that we might be letting people back in soon- but it’s not wasted as eventually we will need the pews again, just not as soon as we’d all hoped.

One of the things that doing livestreaming has really shown is how lousy the lighting is in the church. If you look back at a couple of the earlier services we did, before I brought in my big, photographic lights, you can really see the difference. But having lightstands with huge softboxes on them in the pews would not be great once we have people coming back in, and we know that whenever that happens we will still need to continue livestreaming for quite a while for those who can’t or don’t want to come back to church in person; so I have been experimenting with mounting some new lights on the columns at the front of the church.

These lights are not full theatrical lights (which are hugely expensive!) which would be controllable from a proper lighting board (one day!), but they are dimmable by a control on them and as they are LED they give about 500W equivalent light for only about 60W- which means they run cool to the touch (without needing a fan) and they don’t overstress our slightly ancient wiring πŸ˜‰ They are a “daylight” color temperature, but they come with a 3200K, or “warm” filter, which helps them to blend in with our mostly incandescent lights in the church. They were on sale for about half price at B&H, and I like them so much I have another two coming next week for the other side of the church!

I have also gotten a new camera, to replace my personal Sony A7iii which I was using. This is a Panasonic Lumix FZ300 (also on sale at B&H), a slight downgrade in quality from the Sony as It has a much smaller image sensor, but with an equivalent 25-600mm constant f/2.8 lens I will be able to mount it at the back of the church when people come back and still get a decent close-up of the pulpit, and the slightly lower quality picture matches better with the cell phones I’m using as the other cameras- it’s less of a jolt when cutting between them- while still being orders of magnitude better then the old SD cameras we were using before all of this!

So the church is getting a little neater even though it looks like we’ll be doing this without a congregation in the pews for at least another couple of months. But I’m learning all the time and I think it shows in the quality of our output πŸ™‚

Now we’ve just got to fix the issue that means none of the speakers in the church are working at the moment, but that’s a whole nother post for another day…

Idle hands…

Idle hands…

Jackie just gave me a haircut-

Not bad considering the last time she cut my hair was when we were first dating about 28 years ago, and it didn’t go nearly as well!

I think she did a very nice job πŸ™‚ but funnily enough she won’t let me return the favor… πŸ˜‰