Building A Podium Style DJ System

DJ Bobcat

DJ Extraordinerror
Nov 8, 2014
10,830
Oklahoma City
I would like to have a podium style DJ system, but it needs to fit MY needs. It's gotta be something that's easy to transport and setup. I don't see anything out there I can buy that fits the bill for me, so building one myself seems like the best option. Why a podium style system? I think it looks clean and puts the DJ closer to the audience... less of a barrier than my current systems, with which I use a small Floating Facade. While the facade does a great job of hiding unsightly cables and giving my systems a clean look, it's not as slick as a podium system (if it's done right).

So I currently have two systems (one large and one small). I like them both...

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... They are transportable and have a lot of built-in contingencies. But with redundancy, often comes complexity. I'd like to have a Podium system with all the same features and contingencies, but my initial Podium System concept was pretty large. It was designed to have dual All-In-Once (AIO) computers and room underneath for transporting my RCF EVOX-8's...

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... Ultimately, I'd like to have that system. First, however, I think it might make sense to build a smaller version so I can test out my design concepts...

1542650854328.png

.... While only 6 inches narrower than my initial concept, it's still 10 inches wider than either of my current systems (without the facade), and 4 inches wider than the width of my current Floating Facade. It has 4U of rack space under the top, and plenty of space in the upper section for pretty much any controller I'd like use. It has just a single (19.5 inch) AIO computer, but could accommodate a second one at a later date. I have a Pioneer DDJ-T1 and a Dell AIO PC I can use initially, and I don't want to cannibalize either of my current systems. The color of the concept is simply to differentiate it from the background, but I don't know what the ultimate color will be.

The thing is; at the moment, I'm still undecided about the All-In-One computers. I still think dual nano computers with an ultra-widescreen monitor might be a better choice. Whichever choice I make, though, either option will work with my podium design. I DO have some limitations to consider... the minivan has openings on the side and in the back for loading gear. The height of the rear opening is 39 inches, but the side opening is 42 inches high. The rear opening is considerably wider than the side door opening. Either are wide enough to accommodate the current design.

Next steps... Find a fabricator. I want an aluminum frame, which I can't build myself. I do think I can cover the exterior (and interior) of the frame once it's complete. No clue what it will cost... need to get a few estimates from some of the local fabricators. I'm not even sure I can find one willing to take on a small project like mine. If not... well I guess I'll deal with that if it happens. So that's my plan... for now. It's almost winter, so it's a great time to build something fun.
 
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DJ Bobcat

DJ Extraordinerror
Nov 8, 2014
10,830
Oklahoma City
Like I said in my previous post, I’m undecided about what kind of computer to use with my Podium System (All-In-One or Nano/Micro computer). I have the AIO computer, but I don’t have a Nano computer I’d be willing to use. So I’ve been watching eBay to see if I can get an Intel NUC i5 or i7. They look kinda like this...



There was a pretty nice one up for a soon to end auction, but I didn’t bid on it. I wanted to see what they were selling for. The one I was watching was an i5 with a 128GB SSD and 16GB of RAM. Nice little unit. The price was sitting at $173 until the last minute, and then rapid bids drove the price up to $203 plus shipping. That’s a pretty good price for one of the little Intel units. If I had bid on it, I was gonna place my max bid at $200, which meant I would have lost. I think I’m gonna start watching for another Intel NUC. I can’t really make a choice until I have a Nano computer to try.


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steve149

Veni, Vidi, Lusi
Staff member
Sep 26, 2011
32,258
Prospect, CT
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DJ Bobcat

DJ Extraordinerror
Nov 8, 2014
10,830
Oklahoma City
Perhaps??? They look pretty cool, if they’re for real... Looks like they’re supposed to be available in December. The price isn’t bad. Like I said in another post, though... touch-screens for DJing is just not real practical. Too easy to accidentally touch the screen in the wrong spot and totally mess something up.


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DJ Bobcat

DJ Extraordinerror
Nov 8, 2014
10,830
Oklahoma City
You only run a single laptop? I can see the trio screen being useful for developers (that's what I'm using now) but DJ work it seems a bit useless.
I guess if your laptop has enough resources (CPU and memory) you could run virtual machines. On the down side, I actually did that on my first DJ laptop many years ago... it locked up on me during the reception of a wedding and had to be rebooted. Fortunately, the wedding couple had pulled the guests out to another nearby location for a short activity, so not many guests remained to hear the 2-3 minutes of silence. I ditched the VMWare and got a backup computer after that. Theoretically it should have worked fine.


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rickryan.com

DJ Extraordinaire
Dec 9, 2009
11,720
54
Hendersonville, TN
www.RickRyan.com
I guess if your laptop has enough resources (CPU and memory) you could run virtual machines. On the down side, I actually did that on my first DJ laptop many years ago... it locked up on me during the reception of a wedding and had to be rebooted. Fortunately, the wedding couple had pulled the guests out to another nearby location for a short activity, so not many guests remained to hear the 2-3 minutes of silence. I ditched the VMWare and got a backup computer after that. Theoretically it should have worked fine.


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There's no way I'd run virtual anything. I've had one laptop crash (bad RAM) and another couple of times where windows update took over the primary machine. In the first case, I was only running one PC and it was very embarrassing. Ever since then I always crank up 2 units and sync the major event songs. I also put one dinner and one dance selection onto the 2nd PC (running on a loop) during those segments. If something goes foul on the primary, just turn the volume up on the 2nd unit.
 
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steve149

Veni, Vidi, Lusi
Staff member
Sep 26, 2011
32,258
Prospect, CT
You only run a single laptop? I can see the trio screen being useful for developers (that's what I'm using now) but DJ work it seems a bit useless.
I only run a single laptop (right now). I used to run 2, but they have been so reliable, I went to an iPad as a 2nd machine instead. I carry a second laptop in the truck if needed.

I may switch back to 2 laptops (or stick with 2 iPads) when I finally get my butt in gear and do software DMX.
 
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DJ Bobcat

DJ Extraordinerror
Nov 8, 2014
10,830
Oklahoma City
Hmmmm???... Been watching these Intel NUC mini computers on eBay. They sell for over $500 new (depending on processor and other options). I’ve seen used ones (with 7th gen i5’s) selling for right around $200. I’m watching an open box unit today and bidding is up to $275, so I think I’m gonna wait for another unit...



... Price isn’t going to dictate which type of computer I choose. It would be pretty easy to buy a second Dell Optiplex 3030 AIO for $249. However, I’m leaning toward these Intel NUC’s (I’d need two) and a single Ultra Widescreen monitor for this podium system.

UPDATE: The Intel NUC I was watching sold for $305. That seems to be a fair price. Of course, it’s an auction, so the price is whatever someone is willing to pay.
 
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oldschool

DJ Extraordinaire
Jun 25, 2018
160
58
I have been thinking about going with a rack mounted PC that would fit rite into my road case. I would have to build one from scratch but it would stay mounted in my rack and only be used for DJ work. It doesn't have to be a top of the line PC to run simple music files and music players.
 

DJ Bobcat

DJ Extraordinerror
Nov 8, 2014
10,830
Oklahoma City
I have been thinking about going with a rack mounted PC that would fit rite into my road case. I would have to build one from scratch but it would stay mounted in my rack and only be used for DJ work. It doesn't have to be a top of the line PC to run simple music files and music players.
I’ve already gone that route (rack-mounted computer). I had two in my Large Rack and one in my Small Rack. I bought the cases and built the computers myself. They looked like this...



... except one of the two in my Large Rack was a 2U version. I replaced the two in my Large Rack with two Zotac Nano Computers, which are similar to the Intel NUC I posted pics of previously in this thread. I replaced the rack-mounted computer in my Small Rack with a Dell Optiplex 7440 AIO. The rack-mounted computers were reused as servers and are mounted in my home server rack.

There was nothing wrong with using rack-mounted computers except that They took up rack space and added a lot of weight. I was down-sizing my Large System from 12U to a 4U+6U split rack, and I wanted to mount the computers in the top 4U rack. 3U was consumed by my Denon DN410X Mixer, so I had to figure out a way to get two computers into a 1U space. With my Nano Computers, they’re tucked up under the controller in an unused space, so they don’t actually use any rack space. They’re actually kinda difficult to see...



... And of course the AIO computer mounted on my Small System rack simply replaced the monitor, so I got IU of rack space back in my 2U rack.

Using a rack-mounted computer is fine if you have the space in your rack for it and the added weight is not an issue.
 
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DJ Bobcat

DJ Extraordinerror
Nov 8, 2014
10,830
Oklahoma City
Well... I haven’t posted in this thread for awhile, because frankly, I haven’t done anything with my DJ setups for awhile. My Small System is still set up in my office, but I haven’t touched it since before Christmas. I need to get back to work (and practicing) though. At my age, if I haven’t practiced for too long, I have to relearn almost everything.

Just because I haven’t posted about it, it doesn’t mean I haven’t continued to think about the Podium Style System. I’m still looking at computer options. I’ve pretty much decided that I’m gonna use two Nano Computers similar to the Intel NUC computers I posted pics of previously. The Intel NUC’s I want sell for almost $600, which is much too expensive for what you get IMO. I’ve been watching them sell on eBay for almost half that much, but there’s another PC I’ve been reading about that is more highly rated (by some sources) than the Intel NUC. It’s the ACEPC. There are several models, but this is the one I’m considering...

... Still not ideal, but with the addition of an SSHD and some RAM, I think it would work fine. The Celeron processor wouldn’t be my first choice, but I have M5’s in the Nano Computers I use in my Large System, and they work just fine. I’ve even run Traktor on an Atom CPU with no problem, so I think a Celeron would have no problem. While my preference would be an i5, the heat (or lack of cooling) in these Nano PC’s has always concerned me.
Also, I’ve decided to go with an Ultrawide monitor like this one...

... instead of dual monitors. I saw this same monitor at Sam’s Club and it’s plenty large enough I think. With two HDMI inputs, I can use it to display both computers side-by-side on a single monitor. Too bad I didn’t buy one (or two) at Sam’s because they were only $200 there at the time. At $200-$250, I can easily afford a second one (to keep in the minivan) for a backup. I like the dual monitors on my Large System because I can use one as a spare if I have a failure, but it will simplify the setup by having just one monitor, and it will surely look better.

I still have some work to do on my two working systems first, but then I plan to do some preliminary drawings of the Podium System (using the dimensions of the computers and monitor above) and take them to some local fabricators to get some bids. The cost of building the podium will determine if this project will come to fruition. I may only DJ for another 2 years, so it does not make sense to put too much money into a third system. I REALLY want that Denon MC7000 though.
 
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DJ Bobcat

DJ Extraordinerror
Nov 8, 2014
10,830
Oklahoma City
I haven’t been working on this project for some time. I put it on hold for the Winter, but it might NEVER get done. Not because I don’t want to do it, but because I’m thinking this might be the last year of my DJ business. If I do build it, it might never get used. Still, it would be a fun project to do if I ever run out of projects. Anyway... I’m still thinking about it.