Sunday, February 16, 2014

Working in the Field (From December 29 2008)

The past couple of days my favorite TV channels (discovery HD, Science Channel HD, NatGEO HD) have been showing a plethora of survival shows, particularly Man Vs Wild with Bear Grylls and Survivor Man  with Les Stroud . Forever looking for topics to write about for this site, it got me thinking, what bare essential items do I need when I go into the field to work or into a studio to work? What resources can I use to improvise and engineer solutions?

Bare essentials… Must have these on you at al times!

·      Multi-Tool: Especially one with wide opening pliers that taper to a nice needle nose.
·      Mini-Flashlight: You want it separate from your multi-tool in case you need to use both at the same time. Get an LED light, as it will last much longer and conserve energy.

Essentials if you are able to carry these:

·      Backpack or Messenger Bag: Keep relatively empty because you never know what you will pick up along the way.
·       Gaff Tape: Not only will you use this for fastening wires to the floor, but there are a multitude of other uses for it.Strips are ok, rolls are better.
·       Sach (however much you can carry): This thin rope will not only help you lash things together, but again can help you solve problems creatively.

Makes your job a lot easier:

·      Butane Solder Iron: Portable and doesn't need an outlet
o      Solder: A thin solder will be useful for almost everything
o      Soldering wick: Less bulkier than a Solder Sucker
o      Wire Stripper: More precise than your multi-tool
·      Multi-Meter: Good for checking continuity of a connector or checking for voltage on pin 2 of an XLR. Pretty much a great field-troubleshooting tool.
·      Q-Box: One of the best cable testers on the market. Durable and also has a tone generator on it, which makes it very helpful for identifying channels through a snake or patch panel.
·      Extra Connectors: This is the most changing piece of gear in my bag. I have a Ziplock baggy filled with extra connectors. Depending what type of gig I am it, I add or subtract common connectors for un-common connectors in case I need to change something on the fly.

I guess it's cliché but surviving is all about being prepared and being adaptable. Once you can think outside the box and start to improvise solutions with resources around you, your troubleshooting skills will not only improve but your productivity will skyrocket. 

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