Monthly Archives: August 2015

Sennheiser 416T upgrades offered Septemberish 2015

 

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We’ve had many Schoeps CMC4 owners use our 48 volt phantom upgrade service to free themselves from cumbersome T-Power barrels and power supplies. This led to inquiries as to the possibility of upgrading the venerable Sennheiser 416T shotgun to 48V phantom power. After a more than a few willing 416T owners subjected their mics to our electronic musings, we’ve worked out a solid process for converting 416, 415, 815 and 816 T powered Sennheisers to 48 volt phantom. There’s business/website/details to be worked out, and we are looking to get things up and running by September’s end.  As seen in the photo above, the 416T will be branded with a thick aluminum, weather resistant PH48 label to remind users of the  48V phantom upgrade. The cost of the 416T upgrade is still being examined.   As with the Schoeps upgrade, the 416T will perform exactly as it did prior to the upgrade. Sennheiser’s proven RF design- providing immunity from RF or humidity- will remain intact.

Obviously, there will be additional circuitry added to the 416T interior that is not a part of a factory-issued 416.

Just one of the many versions of the 416's interior circuitry

Just one of the many versions of the 416’s interior circuitry

 

An important consideration is servicing after the upgrade.  Service issues that arise on upgraded mics must be handled through us. If the issue does not rest with the phantom upgrade, further service may be required by Sennheiser, which we are prepared to facilitate.

Like the Schoeps upgrade, each 416T will be tested prior to, and after upgrading, with before/after test recordings, serial numbers and condition photos kept on file.

If you are reading this, you already know about hassle of using T-Power barrels in location sound work.  They are cumbersome and ill-fitting on the cart or in the bag. Those additional XLRs between mixer, jumpers, boompole and mic invite connection trouble and grounding issues. Accidentally connecting other mics to T-Power inputs invites disaster.  Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 6.08.29 AM

 

Consider retiring your T-power barrel adaptors and power supplies.  We are looking at offering a tag-along service to convert those old T-power adaptors into  attenuators…. perhaps very useful when interfacing with the Arri Amira, which has non-standard line level inputs. ( Gawd- not more barrels!)

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If you don’t own a 416, now may be the time to scan ebay or your favorite vendors used equipment listings, as 416T’s can be found for very good prices.

By Pete Verrando

Debtors: David Ross of Mpressive Films, and Delano Bryant “Gibraltar Pacific” ?

A scourge of hellish vanity film production-destruction descended on our fair city a couple of years ago.  Enter and sign-in, please: Mark David Ross, dba Mpressive Films.rosspic1

I was, admittedly, suckered in. After 26 years of production mixing, I thought I’d learned to spot the occasional con-artist. I’ve also learned to be wary of last minute, day-before production calls. But somehow, as I was in the midst of a separate, 70-day job that kept pushing its start date, I failed to spot these beggars among thieves:  A con-artist, represented by a bench-warmer producer, supposedly referred to me by a friend, for a last-minute, day-before call, who BEGGED me to take the job, calling me back even after I first turned it down.  The producer was Franklin Delano Bryant.

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Nice selfie, Del. Pretty bad-ass dye job on the goatee.

Bryant seems to be perpetually pitching low-budget projects, or shooting wedding video, or real estate video listings on a Canon 5D. Virtually everybody I’ve asked in the DFW film production crew base has never heard of him, or his internet placeholder Gibraltar Pacific Productions.

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Well, as most normal folks tend to chalk these things up to bad Karma or whatever, I pursued the pair in court, if nothing else, just to see what would happen next. As a sole-provider of a family of 4, I admittedly get a little hot-under-the-collar when I’m not paid for a completed gig.

True story: about 20 years ago, a producer was about a year late in paying our crew. On an impulse, I took a mechanics lien of sorts, using his camera as collateral. This produced terrific results. I was immediately escorted by his accountant to the nearest ATM. At the time, little did I (or he) know,  that I was committing a felony.  Ah, the impertinence of youth!

Tough to collect on lawyer commercials in the late ’90’s. I could write a book

I easily obtained a judgment  on both Del and Ross in small claims court, to the tune of about $2500, (including court and process server costs, and a 5% per- year increase). Of course, a judgment doesn’t mean you should expect to be paid.  But, there are various remedies to be pursued: writs of execution and garnishment, liberal use of collection agencies, credit reporting on the debtor, and generally being a pain-in-the-ass to the poor fellows, which I like to do between gigs, or whenever I feel like it. Like now, for instance.judgment pic

Ross was particularly hard to find, as he does his fly-by-night act pretty well. The last judgment I found on him, for over $10000, shows that he uses at least four home addresses.Screen Shot 2015-08-14 at 5.54.42 PM

 He has over 30 dba’s in Dallas county, and even uses his 23 year-old son (facebook link) as a signee on some of them. Since he did this with Mpressive Films, I had to sue his son, as much as I would have liked to leave the poor boy out of the picture.

Delano Bryant was very easy to find, as this man, in his 50’s, still lived at home with his Mom & Dad. I served a writ of execution on him at the house, (which really pissed off his 84 year old Dad- they share the same name. It turned out that Del has no real assets in his own name.  Despite the house having 3 or 4 vehicles and a Harley and a pimped-out pickup truck, they were all owned in title by his parents or his siblings. He told the Constable that he was unemployed, and had no personal assets of any kind. But his family is willing to tote-the-note on his shiny truck and motorcycle. Hard times, Del? Not great marriage material.

Anyway the story is not nearly over, as I have several more surprises for this pair of malcontents. My real work as a sound mixer keeps me a little too busy to turn the screws on these two on a regular basis. But, a judgment lasts 10 years in Texas, and is renewable. Maybe I’ll take it up as my hobby when I retire.

We eventually found Ross living with his son and a momfriend (as opposed to a girlfriend) in a hovel, nestled in a sketchy south Dallas neighborhood. It’s actually not his Official Address;  for that, he uses his real Mom’s house. Notice a pattern?

This was kind of funny, since he is fond of telling folks he lives in affluent Highland Park, Texas.  Like he does here on the Stage 32 website:Screen Shot 2015-08-14 at 5.48.38 PM

 

Anyway, as Ross is now easily found, It’s hard not to pay the guy a visit now and then. David calls the police pretty quickly when confronted. He also tends to spin some tall tales when backed into a corner. So after my visit a couple of months ago, and David’s inevitable 911 call, I couldn’t help but create a little mash-up video of my visit and the 911 call.  So here it is. Enjoy, and look for the next episode, coming whenever I feel like it! Of course, they could just pay the bill, and I’ll hit the delete key. But I think David and Del must be gluttons for punishment.

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1975 Pachinko Machine goes Digital

In the 1970’s America, Pachinko Machines were all the rage as millions were imported from Japan. These were the used, dated machines from Japanese Pachinko parlors. The U.S. was an eager consumer of these old machines, placed under Christmas trees and in game rooms, family rooms and “dens.”  Does anybody still have a den?

Pachinko machines of this vintage require no electricity to operate, unless you want a lightbulb to flash during the payout; it takes a 9 volt battery.  All the mechanical features are powered by the gravitational weight of the pachinko balls. The machines are incredibly durable; Parlor operators in Japan routinely hosed down the machines with water and scrubbed the playing fields with straw brushes.

Modern Pachinko machines are flush with LCD screens, LEDs, loud digital soundtracks and powered ball launchers. They typically promote some movie or product. But who wants one of those garish billboards in their home? And when the power is off, they sulk like Space Odyssey’s monolith.

We found this machine for $20 at a flea market. There’s so many of these still sitting in Americas’ attics, that they don’t fetch more than $75, even in working condition. Some of the original machines from the ’20’s and 30’s will command a high price, however. And by today’s standards, the entertainment value is questionable, however quaint the operation.

We got the basic machine working quickly enough, but it soon became apparent that this device is ripe for some “electrification.”  There’s definitely may “trigger” points that can be used to execute effects- lighting, sound, and motors.  Here’s a rough video demonstration:

HOW WE DID IT:

Electrical triggers harnessed to the sound and light sources:

1. The ball “cannon”- every time its fired, or how far it is drawn back makes an electrical contact

2. The levers that move when a payout occurs trigger a microswitch

3. The rejected balls falling into their reservoir fall against a trip switch

There’s more, but multiply the above 3 by four or 5 sounds and light actions, and you have 15 or more “changes” that can occur during play.  Relays were used to command multiple triggers and keep high voltages off the trigger contacts.

Drilling through the back of the playing field allowed us to insert the LEDs from a string of Christmas lights, that are controlled by the included sequencer. The sequence changes with every payout, or gradually steps through the 8 patterns when nothing else is happening. Note: drilling the playfield creates sawdust and plastic shavings that get in the ball pathways. These all have to be carefully cleaned. The light string had 50 LEDs. Half shine through the playing field, and the other half illuminate from behind the machine.  There is also a separate, small set of lights behind the glass panel door.

Various contact triggers were installed at the ball cannon lever, the ball return reservoir, and the payout assembly. A four-track digital audio recorder/player board from electronics123.com was employed, and rigged to the triggers. A second, simpler audio recorder/player, fed by a microphone, was installed for the payout sound, to allow the user to customize the message when the payout occurs. This could be a quaint holiday message, or in my case, me screaming “Bonzai!”

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“Upgraded” 1970’s Pachinko machine under construction

Various power supplies were required to power the audio boards, lights and motor for the spinning feature. The spinner doesn’t really do anything, it was just easy to implement, and added some appeal. The face of each spinner was given a colorful new look courtesy of my inkjet printer and some photo paper.  Lots of wire, soldering, hot glue, etc.

All the power supplies were tied into a mechanical electric timer assembly, that powers up the whole affair and also shuts it off after about an hour.

Who can take this thing for more than a few minutes, anyway? For Sale……

By Pete Verrando

www.txsound.comwww.cmc4upgrade.com