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(and 9 things to look at before we do)

Social Media WireLists15 300pxWe often receive equipment in for repair, with the nebulous explanation of “it doesn’t work.” Here are some suggestions to make the troubleshooting and repair process easier:

Before you send your unit in, first check four things. These account for 15-20% of root causes of items we receive, and checking them might save you some headache:

  1. Did you check to see if the batteries are good? Even though we advise to use fresh batteries at the start of projects, not everyone does. Dead batteries = dead equipment.
  2. Did you check the frequency that you intended to tune to? Transmitters and receivers sometimes “don’t work” or don’t communicate with each other because they’re not synched to the same frequency. Or, the frequency that the user is attempting to use is unavailable or is full in that city or country (frequency scans sometimes lock into what is available, not what is allowed or optimal!). We recall one customer who was working onsite and inadvertently tuned to the local Public Safety band! Some specifics on these issues are detailed in Wire List #2.
  3. Are the compatibility modes the same? Just like with frequency, incompatible modes can make transmitters and receivers perform poorly or just not work.
  4. If there is firmware available for your unit, did you check to see if an update is needed?. Not all firmware updates are necessary to the functioning of the unit, so you’ll want to read through the list for your product to see if the behavior you’re seeing was addressed with an update. To make sure that you stay on top of new firmware releases, sign up to receive the RSS feed alerts.

Social Media WireLists14 300pxWe all know that stuff happens, in spite of your best intentions. You can try to protect your transmitters, even using covers like we always tell you to, but they still might get dunked. Talent may drop them, instead of their cell phone, into the toilet. Or a boat might capsize while you’re filming a river scene*. The end is the same: your transmitter sank and is now soaked. Now what?

Before we start, a disclaimer: If you have the option at all to send your unit to HQ or an Authorized Repair Center, do that. Do not follow any of these steps if you choose to do that. These should be considered emergency steps that you can take on location, when no better options are available and your alternative is wrapping for the day or scrapping the project.

Social Media WireLists13 300pxLet’s be upfront: While we don’t advocate hacking any of our products, sometimes things happen on the job that prevent you from stopping what you’re doing and sending your unit back to us. Necessity is the mother of invention and the work has to be done (preferably without alarming your client or your employer as to your ability to do it), so here are three temporary fixes, à la MacGyver, for your HM or HMa (or older UH) transmitter:

  • Challenge #1: Are you on-site, notice that mics you’re attaching are wobbly and realize that you’ve lost the thrust washer (circled in red, our Part # 25675) on your XLR connector? They can come off unexpectedly, especially if you’ve had the transmitter for a while and the parts have had opportunity to move around and wear. This part is not just a washer that you can find in a hardware store – it is specially machined for the purpose, and you need to order one from the factory. But you’re in the studio, at a show or in the wilderness filming. Now what?

Social Media WireLists12 300px copyLast week, we shared a grid with transmitter/antenna combinations. We couldn’t leave out receivers! This grid is slightly different than the one for transmitters because of how receivers are used. While transmitters are usually placed on or near the subject, receivers often sit stationary or are portable, within bags or mounted on cameras. Receivers also have different connectors – an elbow antenna is going to be a logical choice (although a straight style can work equally well depending on the application. Or, you can use an adapter).

Keeping all this in mind:

Social Media WireLists11 300pxAre you packing a project bag, or trying to be prepared for anything you might encounter? This handy grid will make your life a lot easier when coordinating the antennas that you should bring with you to accommodate all of your transmitters. Four things to note:

  1. Antennas for the LMB and SSMs are fixed antennas. They cannot be swapped out, except to repair them.
  2. Available blocks are: 470, the range from 19 to 33 and 944 (not all blocks are available in all countries – check before you order or visit). The prefix “AMJ” refers to a jointed antenna, while the prefix “ACOAXTX” refers to an antenna with a coaxial SMA connector.
  3. In general, due to the overlap, any antenna that you choose for Block 470 will also be compatible with Blocks 19 and 20.
  4. As long as it is the correct antenna for the block you’re using, an antenna for an SMV can also be used on a WM or any transmitter in that block, connector dependent. We’ve tried to make things interchangeable when we can.

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