Reworking My Large System

DJ Bobcat

DJ Extraordinerror
Nov 8, 2014
12,326
Oklahoma City
My new monitor stand came yesterday. Most of you don't care about monitor stands, and that's fine. I have some kind of stand for each of my rack systems, and they are both attached to the rack and fold down for transporting. I haven't been too happy with the stand I made for my Large System...
1566412725218.png

... It works, but it's not as substantial as I'd like. I even broke it once while attempting to lift the top rack off the base while the monitors were still attached (in my office at home). It was a fairly easy repair, but could have been disastrous if the monitors had tumbled to the floor. I looked for a stand before I made my current one, and could never find one I could work with until I found this one. ..

1566411956845.png

... So now I have this new monitor stand and it needs a little more work than I expected in order for it to work with my Large System. I don't need the base at all, but the short post to which the vertical part of the monitor mount is attached is welded to the base. It's NOT gonna come off easily. I was hoping that post was attached with a bolt and that it was able to swivel, but NOPE!!!... I could cut it off, but it would certainly do some serious (irreparable) damage to the base. Not sure I care???... I just need to decide on the best course of action. I have a plan I drew up to make a post to which the monitor mount could attach...

1566413380559.png

... and it would swivel like it needs to. With my dual monitors, the base needs to swivel so I can open the top access panel behind my controller in case I need to do any work inside the rack. If I get a single Ultra Widescreen monitor, the swivel capability may not be as important.

To make the mounting post, I have a piece of aluminum tubing that is the right size, but it's not nearly as sturdy as the steel post that's welded to the base, so it would probably collapse when tightening the mounting bolt, and that bolt needs to be VERY tight to keep the vertical monitor mount erect. That's OK though, because I need a way to attach the post to the top of the rack anyway... preferably using the same hole that's used to attach the current monitor stand. For that, I'll use a piece of wooden pole that fits inside the aluminum tube, which I also conveniently have. In fact, I have all the pieces and parts I need to build this little mounting post. I'll mount the wooden post with a bolt, then cover it with the aluminum tube, and secure with some wood screws, then I'll use the existing nuts, washers, and bolts that came with the stand to attach the vertical monitor mount. Should be a piece of cake; right?:laugh: I even have a plastic cap to place on the top to hide all the attachment hardware. So now I just need to decide; do I make the mounting post, or do I butcher the existing base to extract the mounting post from it??? I dunno???
 
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DJ Bobcat

DJ Extraordinerror
Nov 8, 2014
12,326
Oklahoma City
Well... I took a chance and bought a monitor; Samsung S29E790C 29-Inch Screen LED-lit Monitor



... Purchased on eBay for $219 (plus $15 shipping). Seller says it was only used for 3-4 months and that it’s in “like new” condition. It has all the features I need, so hopefully it will work, but if not, it’s less than $250 so... not much invested.
 

Proformance

DJ Extraordinaire
Nov 6, 2006
3,413
My large system consists of a Gator 14U Rack with Casters (GRC-BASE-14) containing the following components:
Frontside...
I realize you're not looking for advice and instead just sharing the project as you intend but, I'll offer this for general information.

I built road cases for years, and designed portable systems for multi-op DJs (company's with 10 -30 systems.) I call a rack like yours "the Sofa" because it's built around psychological comfort rather than productivity. Here's how that happens:

I'm assuming you don't gig very often, maybe monthly? Perhaps you don't move this very often and do only one gig a day? If so, two things converge to build a sofa. First, is the ease with which you can fill the cabinet with your imagination while at home. This is all the gear that you imagine you will need, but is instead kind of hit or miss. Second, is that apprehension rides shotgun on occasional work and you start adding "backup" where it's not needed.

Let's start with your objectives which can be put in better alignment with what a MOBILE rig is supposed to do. The fact that you can't lift this alone is the single most egregious flaw.

1. It would be nice to downsize if possible (smaller and lighter), but at a minimum, my large system needs to be more mobile. I'd like to be able to lift it in and out of the minivan.
That's it - this says it all. A mobile rig is by definition is easy to setup - so, #2 is redundant, #3 is presumed when mobile, and #4 is is just wrongly conceived.
I would lose entirely the "large vs small" dichotomy and simply say that EVERY system must be highly portable.

4. Needs to retain as much contingency/backup capability as possible.
Backup should be available, but not in the rack. No one has ever died from a few minutes of dead air, so permanently injuring yourself to carry this all-in-one box is unjustified. The kind of backup you are demanding belongs only in a broadcast truck. This is where your nerves intrude on good design. Afraid of a crash during the bride's first dance? Having the same song play just a few seconds behind on an iPod is all the backup you need.

First, the notion of being "flawless" in entertainment of this type is a bad idea. Our best performances are usually the one's that have been improvised. There is nothing unprofessional about taking a three minute break to plug in some other kind of backup. In fact, people will appreciate the demonstration of your preparedness and care of the event.

Secondly, it's rare to have an issue in the middle of a gig. Most problems are discovered during setup and the initial rehearsal, or perhaps during cocktail hour. The appropriate action is to swap and move forward rather than being distracted by the habit of "tesing" the culprit all night while you gig.

Missing from your design is a modular accommodation.


Lighting, additional mixers, extra mics, etc. should have their own dedicated satellite racks. You bring them only when you need them and they connect quickly and easily to the main rack (preferably with a single cable or snake.)

This makes everything you use lighter and easily transported - even up stairs. There's no injury and no property damage. Setup goes quickly and efficiently, and you can be out very quickly as well.

I typically did 4 gigs each weekend plus rentals in between. My DJ system (even in the age of CDs) could be up and running in 15-20 minutes . With a 15 foot wide lighting truss, 12Ft crank-ups, and 5 kilo-watts in fixtures I could be up in 45-60 minutes. I could do two events per day, while renting and setting up one or two other systems for others as well. (I have no back problems after 30 years of this.)



Where to start???
1. Furman Power Distributor Use something lighter attached to rear sidewall or floor. Don't take up rack space for power.

2. GTD Audio B-33 Wireless Microphone System I prefer these in their own rack so they can be used for othe purposes, or swapped with some other mic solution, or even backup.

3. Denon DN-410X 10 Channel Mixer Lose this, or give it it's own "Auxilliary" rack. If you consistently need more inputs use a 1U rack mixer and put it where the Furman was.

4. Eliminator ETPro-8 Light Controller Treat lighting as a modular add-on. It doesn't belong in an audio rack.

5. Keyboard Drawer for Video Computer (Video should also be a modular add-on and not in an audio rack.) The drawer takes up space and adds weight. Use a wireless keyboard that travels in a pocket inside the case lid.

6. DJ (Music) Computer I assume this is not a laptop? You need to go with a laptop for a couple of reasons. Plus, laptops are self contained DJ/Video systems - along with the headphone jack you could conceivably DJ using nothing else if you had to. Just plug directly into ANY active PA. They also easily swap in and out of multiple systems.

7. Video/Light Computer Get it out of the audio rack and into their own subsystems.

8. 3U Drawer Lose this and get a tool bag or tool box. It does not deserve rack space, and you don't need the back pain.

9. ART T8 8-channel Hum Eliminator/Isolation Rack You don't need this, and if you do then there's something about your setup or habits that needs to be fixed. Art is also not the best brand for this purpose. Just add an IT-1 to your toolbox for those rare instances.

10. Rack mounted Power Strip Stop giving up rack space to heavy steel objects. Replace with something lighter and not rack mounted.

11. 4 Port Ethernet Switch
12. MyDMX 2.0 DMX Dongle This should follow the lighting system not the audio rack.
13. IMP Line Level Combiner I don't know why you are using this, but it belongs in a tool box not in the rack.

I've already made a few decisions that I'll talk about in future posts in this thread. I think this is enough for now.:)
Way, way more than enough. :)
 
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DJ Bobcat

DJ Extraordinerror
Nov 8, 2014
12,326
Oklahoma City
I realize you're not looking for advice and instead just sharing the project as you intend but, I'll offer this for general information.

I built road cases for years, and designed portable systems for multi-op DJs (company's with 10 -30 systems.) I call a rack like yours "the Sofa" because it's built around psychological comfort rather than productivity. Here's how that happens:

I'm assuming you don't gig very often, maybe monthly? Perhaps you don't move this very often and do only one gig a day? If so, two things converge to build a sofa. First, is the ease with which you can fill the cabinet with your imagination while at home. This is all the gear that you imagine you will need, but is instead kind of hit or miss. Second, is that apprehension rides shotgun on occasional work and you start adding "backup" where it's not needed.

Let's start with your objectives which can be put in better alignment with what a MOBILE rig is supposed to do. The fact that you can't lift this alone is the single most egregious flaw.



That's it - this says it all. A mobile rig is by definition is easy to setup - so, #2 is redundant, #3 is presumed when mobile, and #4 is is just wrongly conceived.
I would lose entirely the "large vs small" dichotomy and simple say that EVERY system must be highly portable.



Backup should be available, but not in the rack. No one has ever died from a few minutes of dead air, so permanently injuring yourself to carry this all-in-one box is unjustified. The kind of backup you are demanding belongs only in a broadcast truck. This is where your nerves intrude on good design. Afraid of a crash during the bride's first dance? Having the same song play just a few seconds behind on an iPod is all the backup you need.

First, the notion of being "flawless" in entertainment of this type is a bad idea. Our best performances are usually the one's that have been improvised. There is nothing unprofessional about taking a three minute break to plug in some other kind of backup. In fact, people will appreciate the demonstration of your preparedness and care of the event.

Secondly, it's rare to have an issue in the middle of a gig. Most problems are discovered during setup and the initial rehearsal, or perhaps during cocktail hour. The appropriate action is to swap and move forward rather than being distracted by the habit of "tesing" the culprit all night while you gig.

Missing from your design is a modular accommodation.


Lighting, additional mixers, extra mics, etc. should have their own dedicated satellite racks. You bring them only when you need them and they connect quickly and easily to the main rack (preferably with a single cable or snake.)

This makes everything you use lighter and easily transported - even up stairs. There's no injury and no property damage. Setup goes quickly and efficiently, and you can be out very quickly as well.

I typically did 4 gigs each weekend plus rentals in between. My DJ system (even in the age of CDs) could be up and running in 15-20 minutes . With a 15 foot wide lighting truss, 12Ft crank-ups, and 5 kilo-watts in fixtures I could be up in 45-60 minutes. I could do two events per day, while renting and setting up one or two other systems for others as well. (I have no back problems after 30 years of this.)





1. Furman Power Distributor Use something lighter attached to rear sidewall or floor. Don't take up rack space for power.

2. GTD Audio B-33 Wireless Microphone System I prefer these in their own rack so they can be used for othe purposes, or swapped with some other mic solution, or even backup.

3. Denon DN-410X 10 Channel Mixer Lose this, or give it it's own "Auxilliary" rack. If you consistently need more inputs use a 1U rack mixer and put it where the Furman was.

4. Eliminator ETPro-8 Light Controller Treat lighting as a modular add-on. It doesn't belong in an audio rack.

5. Keyboard Drawer for Video Computer (Video should also be a modular add-on and not in an audio rack.) The drawer takes up space and adds weight. Use a wireless keyboard that travels in a pocket inside the case lid.

6. DJ (Music) Computer I assume this is not a laptop? You need to go with a laptop for a couple of reasons. Plus, laptops are self contained DJ/Video systems - along with the headphone jack you could conceivably DJ using nothing else if you had to. Just plug directly into ANY active PA. They also easily swap in and out of multiple systems.

7. Video/Light Computer Get it out of the audio rack and into their own subsystems.

8. 3U Drawer Lose this and get a tool bag or tool box. It does not deserve rack space, and you don't need the back pain.

9. ART T8 8-channel Hum Eliminator/Isolation Rack You don't need this, and if you do then there's something about your setup or habits that needs to be fixed. Art is also not the best brand for this purpose. Just add an IT-1 to your toolbox for those rare instances.

10. Rack mounted Power Strip Stop giving up rack space to heavy steel objects. Replace with something lighter and not rack mounted.

11. 4 Port Ethernet Switch
12. MyDMX 2.0 DMX Dongle This should follow the lighting system not the audio rack.
13. IMP Line Level Combiner I don't know why you are using this, but it belongs in a tool box not in the rack.

Way, way more than enough. :)
WOW... Looks like you gave this a lot of thought... And there’s actually some good advice in your post.

Some of the issues you raise however, WERE addressed over the course of the project. For instance; I scrapped the 14U rack for a split SKB unit 6U base and 4U x 10U top, so now I CAN lift both units by myself. The top rack is Audio, and the bottom is lighting. The 3U drawer contains essential cables and my backup system (Akai AMX and Alto ZMX52, and iPad Mini). I like not having to carry a separate case for everything.

My Small System rack is Audio Only, and I have a small lighting controller rack I can use with it (much like you suggest). Those are things you learn to do by trial-and-error. Keep in mind I started my DJ business just 5 years ago, and did not have the benefit of threads like the ones I’ve posted on this forum to use as examples.

As for portability: I essentially roll two items into a venue; my rack and a Rock-N-Roller cart (containing 2 EVOX-8’s and monitor case, light stand and lights, and gig bag). My audio system can be completely hooked up and ready to sound test in 15 minutes. Yes, I’m a once-a-month DJ by choice, but my system is quicker to setup, with fewer cables to manage than any I’ve ever seen, and it’s only 36” wide, so I can setup almost anywhere. And... If I need to move my system after setting up, it rolls in one piece, even with the facade, which is attached.

Some of the gear in my rack that YOU (and others) would omit, I find necessary for my own benefit... like the Ethernet switch. I share the keyboard and mouse between two computers, requiring the ability to network them. I also carry my own 4G WiFi router (that simply plugs into the rear patch panel, which connects to the switch), plus I can plug my system into my home network to perform maintenance tasks. It’s very efficient for me.

As for laptop computers... I have them, but find using them for DJing to be undesirable. I don’t like laptop keyboards and mousepads, so that part of a laptop is a waste, and the monitors are too small. The AIO computers and tiny computers I use work better for me, but I DO recognize that it’s not the norm for DJ’s.

As for my penchant for live backups... part of that is the fact that I had a computer lockup at my very first gig, which I have talked about in previous threads. I vowed to myself to build systems with as much redundancy as possible in order to ensure that NEVER happened again... and after almost 5 years later, it hasn’t. But another consideration is that I was an IT guy for 40 years before I was a DJ, so I still think like an IT guy in many ways. Finally... there’s the OCDness, which I recognize can be problematic at times, but HEY!!!... it’s how I’m wired and not something I can turn off.

I appreciate that you would not build a system like mine. Maybe nobody else would either. That’s OK by me. Maybe others reading my threads just shake their heads and think it’s all a big waste of time and money. So for them this is a “what not to do” thread. If that’s the case, I’m OK with that... it’s still educational.

Again, if some new DJ reads this thread, your advice is there for their consideration, so that’s good too.
 
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DJ Bobcat

DJ Extraordinerror
Nov 8, 2014
12,326
Oklahoma City
Building this design is easy-peasy...



... but I don’t have all the parts I need, as I thought I did...



... I’m missing the bolt I need for attaching the post I made to the top of the rack, and I need the nut and washers too. It needs to be sturdy like the inch long bolt in my picture, but it needs to be twice as long as the one I have. I have a few longer bolts, but they’re too long. Looks like I need to go back to the hardware store. I have a couple of plumbing related items to pick up anyway, so might as well gitterdone.
 

Proformance

DJ Extraordinaire
Nov 6, 2006
3,413
I don't think I would rely on wood, aluminum tubing, and self tapping screws to support a monitor with a single point moving base. Use a piece of solid steel rod with a 3/8" threaded mounting hole in the bottom, and a 1/4" horizontal hole to attach your arm. If you can't do the metal work ask a shop to make it for you. It's not that expensive. Alternatively, you may find a stock steel piece since something very similar to what you need is used in tension joints. Check Grainger and other industrial suppliers.

I'm with Taso though, that these big monitors make you look more like an IT guy or security guard than a DJ. For the most part, a DJ shouldn't need much of a screen at all.

Don't break the bank or your back for backup. The iPod is still the fastest and best backup for a computer that freezes or crashes during a gig. I've had it happen several times and while I carry a spare Laptop, I don't use two active computers at DJ gigs. The most typical issue is being frozen out while the music is still playing - so, you go to the iPod and reboot. The PC is back up and running in one song an no one even knows there was an issue. A complete crash works the same way - you say something clever on the mic, go to the iPod and reboot the PC.

I will admit that I don't and never will use an all-in-one DJ controller/mixer. My mixer is always an outboard piece of gear and separate from the controller. I don't do all the club style Bar Mitzvahs anymore so fortunately I don't need the "look" that is all the new DJ hardware with flashing trigger pads. (Youth is wasted on the young!)

The best backup you have is YOURSELF. It's not the crash that matters - it's your ability to recover. I think every DJ at one time or another has stopped the wrong song while cueing. What happens has more to do with your response than the sudden invasion of silence.

If the client loves and trusts their DJ during that sales and planning process he can almost screw up royally and they'll just roll with it. We're human. When people jump down the DJ's throat over a mistake - it's usually because he was difficult or off-putting earlier in the process and now their worst fears about the DJ are taking on a life of their own.
 

DJ Bobcat

DJ Extraordinerror
Nov 8, 2014
12,326
Oklahoma City
I don't think I would rely on wood, aluminum tubing, and self tapping screws to support a monitor with a single point moving ...
Well... I guess we’re gonna see.... It will either work or it won’t. Either way, I got nothing but a little time invested in the mounting post, ‘cause the materials were just stuff I had around.

As for my dual monitors; they’re barely visible above the top of my facade, so.....



... In the darkness of a typical venue, they’re hardly noticeable. I have been looking for monitors smaller than 22 inches, but you might be surprised at how limited the options are for smaller monitors (17-19 inches) these days. People buying monitors want LARGE ones. I found some 20’s I like OK, but that’s not gonna change the profile much. I have been testing 17” monitors with my Podium System setup and they are right on the edge of my comfort level. If my eyes were as good as they were 20 years ago, I would be fine with that size. There are a few things that are NOT one size fits all, and anything dealing with your vision is VERY personal, so you do what you must regardless of how anybody else thinks it looks.
 
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DJ Bobcat

DJ Extraordinerror
Nov 8, 2014
12,326
Oklahoma City
Yeah...for you! I have ZERO skills like this. But I do love watching your continual progress! Please continue whilst I look back in wonder...:sqeek:
Meh!!!... Skills???... Perhaps a few, but the right tools help. Imagination???... That’s the key. If I can picture it, I can draw it or make it. Figuring out how to make stuff with junk that’s lying around in the garage... that’s fun. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out....



... it kinda works, but I’m not happy with it. It needed 4 washers to fit, even after I covered it with a plastic sheathing...



... Just not what I was going for, SOoooo... time for Plan B. We’ll call Proformance’s recommendations Plan C.

Plan B entails butchering the base of the stand to extract the mounting post. Not too hard to do, but kind of a mess. I don’t really like working with metal... it’s more dangerous than wood working, and it’s hard to do if you don’t have the right tools. All the cutting and grinding makes for a lot of HOT metal, which can burn the [email protected] outta ya if your not careful.

So that’s what I did... I cut the post out of the base of the stand I bought, but in the process I pretty much wrecked the paint on it. Now I need to sand it and repaint it. There’s little doubt this is gonna work, since it was part of the original stand. I just need to make it look pretty.
 

DJ Bobcat

DJ Extraordinerror
Nov 8, 2014
12,326
Oklahoma City
I think it's time to throw it all away and re-re-re-start ...
Not yet.

The cut-out mounting post is nearly done. Got a first coat of paint on it...



I need a disc of some sort to sit between it and the top of my rack in order for it to spin without being wobbly. This is what it looks like underneath...



... Making a disc should be pretty easy, then I need to paint the underside and put another coat on the top side. It required a lot of grinding and filing to get it round and smooth, but it came out pretty good I think. The hole in the center is perfect, but I did not put any of those holes in it; they were already there. Just made it easier on me.
 
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tunes4046

DJ Extraordinaire
Jul 24, 2008
6,317
49
Fennimore Wi
You’d think with all the audio cables I have around here, I’d have exactly what I need to hook up my little Alto mixer to my AKAI AMX... NOPE... well, not elegantly anyway. I needed to come out of L/R RCA (female) on the AMX to L/R 1/4” (female) on the Alto. Then I need to come out of the Alto with L/R 1/4” (female) to 1/4” TRS female on the patch panel. I don’t have the exact cables and lengths that I need, but I have it cobbled together for now with a series of cables and adapters. It’s times like this I really miss Radio Shack, where you could almost always find everything you needed pretty quickly. The best options now (for OKC) is Best Buy or Walmart, and neither carry a very extensive variety. That and it sucks to go there. I ordered what I need online and will have them in a couple of days... just not today. Guess I was lucky to have stuff I could cobble together to get by.
Why don’t you keep connectors and cable around and simple build your own adapters
 

DJ Bobcat

DJ Extraordinerror
Nov 8, 2014
12,326
Oklahoma City
Got my monitor stand mounting post finished. Here it is next to the old monitor stand I built...

... Nothin’ special, but it’s sturdy and unobtrusive, and it’s gonna swivel. I need to let the paint dry overnight, then I can attach the top of the monitor stand. I was gonna wait on the new curved ultra-widescreen monitor to arrive before attaching it to my Large System rack, but I haven’t received a tracking number for it yet, so I think I’ll go ahead and test it with my dual monitors tomorrow. If it will hold the weight of the dual monitors and mounting bar, it will hold the ultra-wide with no problem.
 
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DJ Bobcat

DJ Extraordinerror
Nov 8, 2014
12,326
Oklahoma City
... Nothin’ special, but it’s sturdy and unobtrusive, and it’s gonna swivel. I need to let the paint dry overnight, then I can attach the top of the monitor stand. I was gonna wait on the new curved ultra-widescreen monitor to arrive before attaching it to my Large System rack, but I haven’t received a tracking number for it yet, so I think I’ll go ahead and test it with my dual monitors tomorrow. If it will hold the weight of the dual monitors and mounting bar, it will hold the ultra-wide with no problem.
There wasn’t much doubt this new stand and mounting post was gonna work, like I said...



... The only question was HOW WELL would it work? There’s A LOT of weight on this stand (with two 22” monitors and the bar to carry them), and it lacks the ability to LOCK it in place that my home-made stand had. Still, it does OK. It does place the monitors about 2” lower than before, and almost 2” further forward (toward the DJ). It makes the space for the Alto mixer a little tight, but workable...



I had to change the quick release bracket to a new one (different design and manufacturer) because the screw holes in the old one did not line up with the ones on the stand. I could have drilled new holes, but I chose not to. Again; not a big deal. Just different.
 
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