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Author Topic: Most interesting troubleshooting?  (Read 2080 times)

Chris Hindle

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Re: Most interesting troubleshooting?
« Reply #10 on: March 20, 2017, 12:47:26 pm »

Also not Audio related...

Back in the late 70's, my first job out of high school was for a security company.
A year goes by, and I am transferred to night duty.
Install division puts in a fancy (new) microwave setup in this warehouse.
We had never seen something like this before.
1 transmitter, 1 receiver over 1,000 feet apart.
Stretched across the loading/shipping docks.
Idea was, it made a 15 foot round "cylinder" protecting the docks.
Living or not, ANYTHING bigger than a mouse would set it off.
Worked great that summer and fall. Then winter came.
That fukin system was going off at any time, no real pattern.
One night I responded. and while nothing was happening inside, the snow was freshly cleared from the outside.
Hmmm. mouse inside, Dozer outside. Why not?
I filed a report that said "NTF, send a watchman at next snowfall"
They did.
He called in to report snow removal had arrived at the same time CO got an alarm.
I went up and "deflated" the sensitivity a bit. All good.

Your eyes, ears and brains are the most powerful tools you have.
Don't fuck them up.
Chris.
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Ya, Whatever. Just throw a '57 on it, and get off my stage.

TJ (Tom) Cornish

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Re: Most interesting troubleshooting?
« Reply #11 on: March 20, 2017, 01:29:59 pm »

I setup a system in a school auditorium for a singer/songwriter guy.  He sounded great in the house, but kept complaining about feedback.  After repeated "There it is!" moments I turned the system off, walked on stage where he was sitting, and started having a conversation with him.  There was the feedback sound - with the system completely off.  This room has a funny acoustic resonance right at front dead center of the stage that sounds just like 1K feedback.  Apparently Wenger has been out to look at the room, and they can't figure it out.

I've been back there several times, and I always point the noise out to the artist before I get blamed for it.
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John Fruits

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Re: Most interesting troubleshooting?
« Reply #12 on: March 20, 2017, 03:37:38 pm »

I used to do shows at a university student union theater.  It had a thrust stage, a trapezoid with a semicircle at the end.  The center point of the semicircle was also the center point for the hard plaster walls at the back of the house.  Whenever they had someone come in to give a speech they ALWAYS wanted to stand at that center point, till they tried to talk.  They got a slapback echo which made speech very difficult.
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"The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs.  There's also a negative side."-Hunter S. Thompson

Art Welter

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Re: Most interesting troubleshooting?
« Reply #13 on: March 20, 2017, 05:22:14 pm »

Troubleshooting problems is getting to be a lost art since it takes time and logic we often don't have. But it's time and brainpower well spent.
Mike,

I remember one troubleshooting event I had to solve quickly, and did.
After a very long day that began in Minneapolis and ended in Fargo, I fell asleep at FOH after the local opening band engineer had began to mix.
Something in the sound had changed, which woke me up. The band engineer was pointing at the Soundcraft console in the universal "it no worky" way, my first thought was "no lights, dead power supply, must plug in back up", my second, when I found the PSU push on/push off switch in the off position was "how did my shoe happen to hit the worst possible point in space just moments after I fell asleep?".

STS policy then became all console power supplies must be protected from any possible "foot traffic" ;^).

At another event, Billy Squire started his encore, the sound was a bit different, his sound man turned to me- "I've got no bloody mains!".
A quick look for obvious problems revealed some punter had pulled the euro cord from the back of the main EQ while we waited for the band to return to stage!

This led to a redesign of all FOH racks to include a closing back cover.

Richard Neesom (I think that was Billie's FOH) after that show told of the most nefarious "figure it out" problem- several snake channels had come up connected to each other- channel 10 connected to 17, a mid signal bleeding in to a low send, etc.
A look at the multi-connectors revealed no problems with them.
They ran a second smaller snake, and "patched around" the problem channels.
During load out, a stagehand yelled out after he pricked a finger while rolling up the multi-core. It turned out that some evil person had pushed a sewing pin in to the snake, then cut the push head off with a diagonal cutter. The push pin had effectively connected any of the conductors in it's path.

Ouch.

Art
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Art Welter

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Re: Most interesting troubleshooting?
« Reply #14 on: March 20, 2017, 05:44:24 pm »

I setup a system in a school auditorium for a singer/songwriter guy.  He sounded great in the house, but kept complaining about feedback.  After repeated "There it is!" moments I turned the system off, walked on stage where he was sitting, and started having a conversation with him.  There was the feedback sound - with the system completely off.  This room has a funny acoustic resonance right at front dead center of the stage that sounds just like 1K feedback.  Apparently Wenger has been out to look at the room, and they can't figure it out.

I've been back there several times, and I always point the noise out to the artist before I get blamed for it.
TJ,
An interesting acoustical problem!

There are certain venues with reflective seats, stairways or cement seating. Sound reflected off those will take on a "period" dependent on the distance between the surfaces, the "period" can sound remarkably like a certain note, or pitch, regardless of the nature of the sound that is reflected.

In a "fan" shaped venue, with seating set in arcs, often the worst (or best) place to hear the effect is down stage center, the exact spot one tends to place the main artist.

Clackity-Clack, it talks back...

Art
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Justice C. Bigler

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Re: Most interesting troubleshooting?
« Reply #15 on: March 20, 2017, 06:23:50 pm »

I'm consulting on a system redesign right now for a hotel. Their ballroom has speakers in the ceiling. I mean, actually IN the ceiling, as in they are above the sheet rock/plaster ceiling and not ported to the actual room. Their prefunction reception space just outside the ballroom has a similar install with the speakers actually inside the columns in the room.   :o 


In talking to them, they don't want to do any construction on the room or the columns, so those old speakers will stay there, walled up like a bad Edger Allen Poe story. And we'll install new surface mounted speakers somewhere that is as unobtrusive as possible.
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Justice C. Bigler
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Jonathan Johnson

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Re: Most interesting troubleshooting?
« Reply #16 on: March 20, 2017, 08:20:02 pm »

I remember one troubleshooting event I had to solve quickly, and did.
After a very long day that began in Minneapolis and ended in Fargo, I fell asleep at FOH after the local opening band engineer had began to mix.
Something in the sound had changed, which woke me up. The band engineer was pointing at the Soundcraft console in the universal "it no worky" way, my first thought was "no lights, dead power supply, must plug in back up", my second, when I found the PSU push on/push off switch in the off position was "how did my shoe happen to hit the worst possible point in space just moments after I fell asleep?".

STS policy then became all console power supplies must be protected from any possible "foot traffic" ;^).

Not audio: a local radiology clinic had an MRI machine for which the main power switch was about 6" off the floor. This switch was on the front of the controller, which happened to face a busy hallway (I think you can see where this is going).

If the power to this MRI was lost (even momentarily), it took at least 24 hours for the temperatures in the magnetic core to stabilize. If the power was down for an extended period, then it could take as long as three days. They could not use the MRI until the temperatures had stabilized.

Well, after a few instances of "unscheduled downtime" due to the switch being accidentally flipped (even though it was recessed), they taped a piece of stiff, clear plastic over the power switch. That resolved the problem for several years until they upgraded the MRI.

---

Audio related: one time I was helping a band in a church during their rehearsal. The power switches for wireless mics happened to be at knee level. Took me a bit to find out why one of the mics went dead. After that I was more careful about where I put my knees.
« Last Edit: March 20, 2017, 08:22:21 pm by Jonathan Johnson »
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Stop confusing the issue with facts and logic!

John Roberts {JR}

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Re: Most interesting troubleshooting?
« Reply #17 on: March 21, 2017, 11:32:40 am »

Mike,

I remember one troubleshooting event I had to solve quickly, and did.
After a very long day that began in Minneapolis and ended in Fargo, I fell asleep at FOH after the local opening band engineer had began to mix.
Something in the sound had changed, which woke me up. The band engineer was pointing at the Soundcraft console in the universal "it no worky" way, my first thought was "no lights, dead power supply, must plug in back up", my second, when I found the PSU push on/push off switch in the off position was "how did my shoe happen to hit the worst possible point in space just moments after I fell asleep?".

STS policy then became all console power supplies must be protected from any possible "foot traffic" ;^).


Ouch.

Art
That happens more frequently than you might expect as people like to mount rackmount PS under large consoles with the front panel lights visible facing forward. Making the power switch inaccessible creates a PIA for normal operation.  No easy answer without some inconvenient compromise, but operators usually learn to not make that same mistake repeatedly.

Less of a problem with modern SMPS technology making it easier to place PS internal to consoles.

JR
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Joseph D. Macry

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Re: Most interesting troubleshooting?
« Reply #18 on: March 23, 2017, 12:54:59 pm »

What are some of the most interesting problems that you've solved in the audio world? I'm especially interested in problems that may have plagued systems for years, unique situations that required unique solutions (safe solutions, of course), or problems that were particularly difficult to resolve.

A high school called me, reporting that Football Stadium was getting a series of loud pops during every game. I attended a game in the press box, but heard no pops. (Audio was piped in through the rooms in the Box.) Game ends, I'm about to leave, when the Athletic Director finds me and says the problem always happens shortly AFTER the game, so I stuck around.

As people are leaving the Press Box, a security guard comes through the box to tell people to leave. He comes into the announcer's booth where I and a couple other people are, then he keys his walkie-talkie to report how many people are still in the Box. "POP POP POP POP..." I see the lights on the Sennheiser EW300 wireless receiver going NUTS. I turn down the volume on that channel, asked him to report again. The wireless receiver lights go nuts again, but no pops. (The wireless fin antennas are just outside the announcer's booth.)

My recommendation to them: EITHER (1) Turn down the wireless volume immediately after the game, or (2) Tell the security guard to go somewhere else, away from the antennas, to make his report.
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Joseph Macry, CTS-I
APT Communications, Inc.
Austin, TX

Joseph D. Macry

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Re: Most interesting troubleshooting?
« Reply #19 on: March 23, 2017, 02:16:36 pm »

What are some of the most interesting problems that you've solved in the audio world? I'm especially interested in problems that may have plagued systems for years, unique situations that required unique solutions (safe solutions, of course), or problems that were particularly difficult to resolve.

Then there was the time in the 90s I was working FOH for a theater. The play was "Always, Patsy Cline".
The play opened with a dark stage. I would play a short voice-over on cassette with a southern-voiced announcer saying something like, "Please welcome to our stage at the Grand Ole Opry, Miss Patsy Cline!", then lights would come up on the star.
One night, the cassette would not play. Realized the lights were out on cassette deck. Can't troubleshoot in the dark, and no time. But I knew the line, so I just shouted out (in southern accent), "Please welcome to our stage..." and the play went on.
When lights came on, I realized I had kicked the power plug for the tape deck loose from its receptacle.
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Joseph Macry, CTS-I
APT Communications, Inc.
Austin, TX
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