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Topic # 150127 11-Jul-2014 19:43
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Hi, I was looking for a cheap stage intercom system which is fully smartphone based.
I had the idea of maybe using Skype on every stage crew members' smartphone and setting up a group conversation to use it as a "full duplex" system, where everyone can talk to everyone at once and without having to wait until the other person has finished speaking and pushing a button to talk (and so on)...

The stage crew uses either Android or iOS devices, meaning that I need an app (if not Skype), which can run on both platforms.

I really don't want to hire or buy a stage intercom system, so would Skype be a suitable way to communicate in "full duplex" mode if the stage crew had it installed on their phone, and a headset with mic attached to it?
Or are there any other apps that would do the same job and work full-duplex and don't require you to push a button to talk?

Cheers, I hope you have got some ideas.

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  Reply # 1087487 11-Jul-2014 20:38
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I suspect using smartphones would be a really frustrating solution.  You would be relying on people having their batteries fully charged as the app would be constantly transmittingg/receiving over WiFi.

I would be very happy to be proved wrong so look for an app and give it a go without headsets to start with.

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  Reply # 1087491 11-Jul-2014 20:47
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How many people are in the group?

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  Reply # 1087505 11-Jul-2014 20:54
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Will you have a wifi network available? Or atleast reliable mobile data?

Just set up a 2Talk account, allocate a bunch of 028 numbers and then start a conference and everyone can dial in to it using the 2Talk Connect App.

Would be a pretty dirty solution but would probably work.

I would of thought standard walkie talkie type kit would be a better option though.

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  Reply # 1087538 11-Jul-2014 21:52
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There will be a lighting op, sound op, projection, stage mg, assistant stage mg, and one other person in the group.

I have a wifi network available and don't want to use that instead of phone credit.

I have tried the walkie talkie thing, but you cant really hear the other people cause it is so loud during the event. Using walkie talkies in VOX mode is not an option as the mic will pic up sound and transmit the whole time, therefore blocking the whole system as they are not full duplex (meaning only one walkie talkie can transmit at a time).

Would skype drain the battery that fast?

Any ideas would be welcome.

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  Reply # 1087539 11-Jul-2014 21:55
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Having used stage intercoms in the past, I think the skype idea is a bad solution.

Comms systems and walkie talkies are designed with belt clips. Cellphones rarely have these, so phones would be in pockets. I'm assuming that everybody wouldn't want their mic open 100% of the time, so access to mute mic on a cellphone would be clumsy.

If somebody also dropped off the conference, then user has to perform a number of steps (awake phone, unlock phone, open skype, etc) to rejoin the conference, instead of being 1 button push away from being able to communicate.

You are also reliant on the users having their phones charged for the show.

A dedicated comms system would be less hassle for all parties.

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Reply # 1087549 11-Jul-2014 22:32
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What comms system would you recommend? I really need some in expensive gear that will do the job fine, clearcom and such companies are pro, (I know) but the price is a real issue.


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  Reply # 1087619 12-Jul-2014 09:15
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The ones I have used are all pro systems, such as ClearCom, Telex, Jands Ezicom and PLPro. A wireless system I've used was HME that was interfaced into a ClearCom wired system.

I don't know of any VOX operated walkie talkie system that has worked very well in environments where the background is loud.

Best to keep a watch on TradeMe and Ebay etc to see if a suitable system comes up.

Nothing is stopping you trying your phone conference set-up. Who knows you may surprise me that it works to you and your crews satisfaction.

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  Reply # 1092219 19-Jul-2014 23:38
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Thanks for all your suggestions, does anyone know anywhere I could buy a Dual Channel intercom system (secondhand) and four or five belt packs?
I am keeping an eye on sites like eBay but belt packs are still the issue, as there are mostly two channel belt packs for sale however, I think 1 channel ones will do (because of the price).

Is there anybody out there that doesn't use their intercom system anymore and is willing to sell it?
I am looking for a decent system that I can take along to small productions and the occasional drama performance at my school. Hiring is not really worth it.


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  Reply # 1095676 25-Jul-2014 15:13
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I wonder if the multipeer functionality in iOS 7 would make this any more feasible? Mesh wifi.
i.e. Firechat, but with voice instead of text messages. Doesn't require an internet connection

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  Reply # 1095691 25-Jul-2014 15:34
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you could also check out the likes of DX or alixpress as there might be reasonable solutions from these sites, (always a bit of a risk, as you never know the full extent of the quality!)

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  Reply # 1096400 26-Jul-2014 23:14
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Check out Zello , it is a walkie-talkie style app than can be installed across different platforms IOS, Android, Windows. I have used it before in a group based setting and it worked really well.

You can add people to a channel and set so all or some people can talk, or so that certain people can talk to the moderator but wont be heard by the other users. If you are using with a headset I believe you can also set it to work handsfree.

The app it's self is free to use, only cost is data, and this app tends to use minimal data too.

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