Phones are now better than the Access studio

We’ve been working like beavers to get the new phone system up and running at last in the ACA library, and here, according to Matt, is where it currently stands:

The Internet connection is fixed. The coaxial connector on the telephone pole across the street had been loosened (probably due to high winds and not being tightened properly initially). We just performed a full test of the phone system thanks to some fans who quickly responded to a tweet. Call quality is on par with what you’d get from any cell phone.

We have 6 lines. (The public access studio had 4, sometimes 3.) We can lock any of those lines “on air”. I had all 6 lines live and everyone could hear everyone. (The public access studio could only ever have 1 line live.)
This means we can do a “conference call”-style discussion…or have remote guest host(s) able to address calls alongside the studio hosts. We also have caller ID. Public access does not.

We’re looking into a few more options (I’d like to be able to flag calls from known numbers—to highlight hosts or prank callers), but the phones work really well.

Remaining audio tweaks:
– Sound dampening to get rid of street noises.
– Double check audio to/from stream/record box
– Final check of all sound levels and the compressor/limiter/expander gate
– Additional sound dampening in studio
After that, or along with it:
– A couple of lighting tweaks
– Green screen support
Long term:
– Video conference guests
– More ideas


  1. says

    Great job, you guys! Tech is simple, in concept alone. It’s like playing a cello: You press the string down to the fingerboard, scrap some horsey hair across it, and viola, a beautiful sound emerges! You insert plug B into input A and viola–you’ve got a show! Unfortunately, it ain’t that easy, eh?

    It goes without saying that I loved that “tech” episode. =)

  2. adamah says

    Martin, it seems like an extremely bad idea to point out the exact location of vulnerabilities in your system, since it only increases the likelihood of such a nefarious attack (by extremist fundamentalists, doing the work of God).

    That’s not just my paranoia: it’s just a basic principle of opsec (I presume you haven’t served in the military, since you seem oblivious to the risks).

  3. Canadian Apistevist (@CDN_Apistevist) says

    @Kelly Dowhower
    Il est écrit «voilà».
    Not violin, viola or cello.

  4. kimsland says

    Hi Matt,

    Just watched your TECH episode (in full).
    I’m a tech myself so you DID ask for input (actually I better quote you, hang on)
    “For people who understand what’s going on. If you have tips, if you have suggestions for improvements”

    So, I did happen to notice a couple of things on your setup.
    1. All that wiring! (Obviously you are aware, but I’ll say it anyway, just in case 😉
    Do not have cables going everywhere! Make all the cables neat and tidy (This IS important)
    Do not bend these high quality (I hope?) cables. I noticed they loop over and cross lots of other cables, no shielding.
    Cables should normally be straight (or as straight as possible) They need to be aligned in rows, straight up walls, or through looms or ducting (ideally all shielded from themselves!). They presently seem to bend less than an inch before they connect!!
    Cables need to be labelled, MUCH better than what I saw. At both ends, even color coded if possible. Normally they are ‘patched’ but I understand no one likes multiple connections.
    You could design a larger rack or somehow TIDY the area. Which I would suspect would mean disconnecting every (labelled) cable first.

    2. I noticed the lovely rack designed for your VOIP sitting all on its own.
    That modem, and video (I think you said HDMI splitter) seems to sit in very precarious places! There are many other ‘busy’ bits of hardware about too, even the phone could drop off that table. They all need to be securely mounted (even the phone), ideally in a rack similar to the VOIP system. There are MANY different types of ‘racks’, just look up pics of any phone company hardware, or even computer Server hardware racks.

    3. That CPU ‘running into problems’ i7 quad core, I think you said.
    Your organization requires a Server, not a personal computer, especially not a laptop (in back office).
    Computers (all of them) run HOT (so do cables). The computer should be mounted in a cool dry environment. Closed cabinet with lots of airflow. I suspect your computers are on MUCH longer than ‘an hour before the show’. These computers (especially Server) should be backing up whilst processing video whilst running diagnostics whilst being able to use any other application; without failing. Servers are VERY expensive, don’t look them up if cost is the biggest factor.

    4. I’m concerned about firewall and your WINDOWS operating system. Windows is good (I use it) but you also need a strong firewall (ideally hardware AND software) also running, and live monitoring. A connection to the outside world is a real connection through IP, and you have quite a few bits of hardwares to log into! (Seemingly directly!).

    5. Lets say you had everything mounted in some caged or paneled off area. That would be good, because that back wall is likely going to catch on fire one day! Do you get spiders in that house/library? Dust? Or are some of you smokers or drunk in that place ever! Someone spraying air freshner all over the place, or cleaning THAT equipment with solvents?!!! It SHOULD be all locked away behind a panel or door. NO access, unless you are a professional 😀

    Now, I’ve written things before and sometimes get a ‘defensive reply’ back. There is NO attack here, I pointed out a few minor things, and I am concerned for the ‘professional’ when you said you’ll call him/her in at the end. They are (presently) going to say What The Blazing Hec LOL 🙂
    But looks good so far, for people as you said, started from scratch. Well done.

  5. tonyinbatavia says

    kimsland, I can’t imagine Matt having a defensive reply to any of this. Sounds useful as hell. If I was putting together something like this, I would *love* having your input!

  6. kimsland says

    Thanks tonyinbatavia,

    I live in this paranoid state that whilst trying to help others I get bombarded with crazy stuff. Mind you I reply to a LOT of Christians 😀
    Plus I have been told I have a cold sense of humor. But that’s not true, people who do not understand this are dead to me 😀

    Anyway, thanks 🙂

  7. Mobius says

    This must have been the weekend for atheists to have internet problems. Saturday night my DSL went out. The phone company got it back on Monday afternoon, but it is still noisy and not working optimally. They are still working on it.

    I enjoyed your tech explanations and the tour. Nice little set up. Before going back to graduate school, I worked several years wiring and maintaining control systems, so I know the headaches of getting a new installation up and running. Looks like you have done well, and I look forward to seeing how it goes on the next episode.

    Good luck guys.

  8. Senectus says

    Good vid, thanks 🙂

    BTW, I see the Godless Bitches mug behind you… whatever happened to that series?
    I kinda miss it.

  9. Ed Goodman says

    I loved this episode too. Thanks for doing it.

    I kind like the awkward transition though. It reminds me of the early days of Ted Turner’s News network. They had like one lousy camera and the sets were so flimsy that the logos would fall off the wall sometimes and smack the anchor in the head.

    They had wrestling then too. A rickety set of portable bleachers and a plywood ‘ring’ that was maybe 12 feet across.Hulk Hogan was still the Boy from New York City and the ‘fans’ were given pre-made signs to wave around.

    I will miss the screaming lady though. She was like the third host, just yelling about things out of the blue I was hoping she’d show up in this video, and just yell all the answers to the questions that Matt asked.

  10. Trev says

    I can’t find the thread for tonight’s show, but felt the need to comment. It’s great to see that it’s all finally coming together. Sound and picture are better than ever. And theists are finally calling again. Also, I do like the new song, but I really miss Bryan Steeksma’s tune. Not sure if I’m alone in that.

    Love the show, and I’m so glad you keep doing it.

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