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post #1 of 9 Old 01-15-2014, 09:39 AM - Thread Starter
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In preparation for the spring season I've decided to give the whole outdoor movie thing a go. Having browsed through the outdoor forums here and on backyardtheaters, I've decided rather than try to move my main system around that I should instead work on putting together a more portable outdoor setup that I can move outside and setup relatively easily before showings. Since I have a pretty tight HT budget, that became my limiting factor to what I could do equipment-wise, so I started hitting up Craigslist for parts.

One of the first few things I found browsing the site (and probably the luckiest find of all) was a GatorCase 10U rolling musicians rack case. It's a hard shell rack mount case designed for musicians to mount equipment like amps and mixers and such into for transport to gigs. It has removable front and back panels and a totally enclosed plastic shell around the sides. I live in the Midwest, so summer evenings can sometimes get a bit dewy so it seemed like having a case would allow me to somewhat protect the equipment from exposure to excess moisture. The case also has some very heavy-duty carrying handles on the sides, a 6-outlet power distribution strip, and some suitcase-style wheels with a collapsible handle. The best part of the whole deal was the guy selling it was a tradesman who had taken it in trade as payment for a job and was willing to part with it for only $50!

The case turned out to be an almost perfect fit width-wise for the used Kenwood VR-606 receiver I had purchased a couple of weeks earlier. I had an older Popcorn Hour C-200 with a blu-ray drive sitting around that seemed to compliment the receiver as they both have support for digital coaxial audio, and I can still output HDMI video only from the C-200 to go to the projector. The only major downside to the case is it was designed so that the case has to be turned on it's side to use the wheels (not sure why, maybe to keep it from rolling once in place?) which means I will need to get clamping shelves for my equipment. I'd like to use custom face plates and blank panels to give everything an enclosed look but the MA custom shelves aren't cheap even on ebay so I'll just have to bide my time and maybe use some cheap clamp shelves in the meantime (if anybody has a good source for either, please shoot me a PM).

Here is a not-so-great picture of the case with the components just sitting inside.
AppleMark

In my next post I'm going to detail how I'm handling the speaker, data, and HDMI connections.
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post #2 of 9 Old 01-15-2014, 11:08 AM
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I would suggest that you buy new casters and install them on the bottom so you don't have to flip the case...I use 5" Swivel Caster w/ Rubber wheels (light duty) and I roll my 10U case from my garage across the lawn...plus, there is a lot of weight in those cases so the tiny casters got stuck in the mud.

I went with these, but I bet if you spend a little you can find cheaper solution:
http://www.castercity.com/eshop/10Expand.asp?ProductCode=L2RF5x1-S&ReturnTo=../cmL2.htm

First and second version of my carts...





Just my ten cents...good luck!
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post #3 of 9 Old 01-15-2014, 11:49 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Headhunter1994 View Post

I would suggest that you buy new casters and install them on the bottom so you don't have to flip the case...I use 5" Swivel Caster w/ Rubber wheels (light duty) and I roll my 10U case from my garage across the lawn...plus, there is a lot of weight in those cases so the tiny casters got stuck in the mud.

I went with these, but I bet if you spend a little you can find cheaper solution:
http://www.castercity.com/eshop/10Expand.asp?ProductCode=L2RF5x1-S&ReturnTo=../cmL2.htm

First and second version of my carts...

Just my ten cents...good luck!

Thanks for the link, that is a nice looking cart!

I've thought about adding different wheels too, the Gator case has some weird molding on the bottom though to make them stackable but I was thinking of making a wooden frame an putting the casters on that.

Right now I only have an old Kenwood receiver and the PCH in the rack so it shouldn't be too heavy for myself and another person to carry over rough terrain (the built-in handles look pretty sturdy), but I do like the idea of the casters giving me some separation from the ground.
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post #4 of 9 Old 01-17-2014, 09:11 AM - Thread Starter
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Post Office shows my Keystone and SpeakOn UCP plates should be arriving today. I can't wait to get the SpeakOns mounted to the chassis and to have my HDMI and Ethernet keystones all set up! Look for an update soon but in the meantime, here is a teaser pic:

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post #5 of 9 Old 01-18-2014, 02:19 PM
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Quote:
a GatorCase 10U rolling musicians rack case.

 

 

Great. I've got one of those as well. Slightly different model with wheels and a raised top.

 

http://www.gatorcases.com/p/39133-312/grc-12x10-pu

 

Mixer on the top, outboard gear on the upper rack slots and a PC case on the bottom.

 

It takes standard audio rack size units and also computer sizes. So there is loads of furniture to choose from for mounting anything and making it secure.

 

Everything packs inside safe and secure out of the way when not in use. Travels by car if you have a hatchback or bigger.

 

Mrs Ron laughed at first but she appreciates it now.

 

Everyone should have one! If we can find a few more we can start a Gator Owners Thread.

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post #6 of 9 Old 01-21-2014, 03:40 PM
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The upside to wheels not being on the bottom is they don't get a flat spot on them from carrying the weight all the time.

It's ROUGH on equipment wheeling it across outdoor surfaces. Light filaments, drives, various connections, ugh, vibration is not something these like...

You'd want to make sure to be using some decently cushioned casters. Trouble is that's going to suffer the problem of flat spots when it's not being moved.

I'd be much more inclined to keep as little as possible on the portable end and just run long cabling to gear mounted in a fixed location. Various extenders and repeaters make this a lot less trouble than it used to be.
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post #7 of 9 Old 01-31-2014, 11:31 AM - Thread Starter
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Hey everyone! I meant to update this thread sooner, but sometimes life requires other things to take priority.

My UCP plates arrived in the mail so I was finally able to properly terminate my SpeakOn connectors and the other external connectors. In all my excitement to get the project going I neglected to take pictures of the plates themselves without connectors attached! I ordered one KEY6 and one UNIV6 from MA to go with a cheap UCP frame that I bought for a steal on eBay.

The whole purpose of the SpeakOns is to have something that is quick and easy to setup and takedown before and after showings. I also wanted a connector that is at least somewhat foolproof so if someone is assisting me the chances of an inexperienced person doing damage are minimized.

The connectors themselves arrived more quickly than I expected from Parts Express (I had heard their shipping took forever), so I had some time to play with the connectors and assemble the jacks with the bridge wire that will connect directly to the receiver. The receiver I acquired fairly cheaply from Craigslist, but from the picture below you can see I only have the option of crimp terminals for connecting to the receiver. rolleyes.gif


My soldering skills are extremely rusty, so I opted for spade connectors to connect to the jacks themselves. The connectors fit very snugly and will definitely not be vibrating loose any time soon.


As you can see from the picture above, Neutrik does a very good job of labeling the +/- terminals on the back of the jacks so it is very easy to know what's connected to where. These connectors are the 4-pole variety so I could in theory use half as many jacks, but different locations might require different cable lengths and the idea of building lots of multiple-length pigtails doesn't sound appealing to me. The price difference between the 2-pole and 4-pole jacks is only a few cents so it didn't break the bank for me.

Here is a picture of the jack (female connector) mated with the male connector.


The connector inserts into the jack and twists by a quarter-turn and has a spring loaded tab that clicks into place and prevents the connector from twisting back out. The connection is very solid when mated and will not twist free or pull out without pulling back on the locking tab. Neutrik also advertises the connectors as allowing disconnection under load, but I don't know if it's possible to do that with anything but professional-grade audio equipment.

Not having seen the plates before, I purchased the UNIV6 plate with six holes thinking I would have plenty of room for the 5.1 speaker channels I will eventually have hooked up (I just have 3.0 for now). What I should've realized when I received my connectors and before I ordered the plate, are these connectors take up a lot more room than one would expect. I had also purchased some color-coded weatherproofing rings to go around the jacks to foolproof even further, but the UNIV6 plates have maybe an 1/8" of space between the connectors.

Here is a picture of the rings, but as you can see in the next picture, there isn't nearly enough space to accommodate them. frown.gif


In the future, I may purchase a couple of the UNIV4 plates with only four holes per plate to replace these so I can use the color rings.


This is the back of the plate with connectors installed. The screws for mounting the jacks are a standard M3 10mm length screw, but I would recommend 20mm length or more as these barely fit and it was a pain working around the connector.


Here is a picture of the whole frame temporarily mounted to the case while I figure out height and placement of the plates. You can also see the keystone jacks which I'll talk about in a little bit as well as the unused BNC and XLR connector plates that came with the frame which I'm keeping until I can purchase some blanks.


Here is a close up of the frame after being screwed in.


The back of the cabinet with the speaker connections in place. Everything feels very solid and connecting/disconnecting the speakers is a snap especially when you have limited room or light. The connectors only go in one way and are easily connectible one-handed.

The keystone plate is my way of providing some additional connections to the equipment and a way to provide multiple inputs to the projector without having to run more than one HDMI cable. The plate itself is very basic and provides standard keystone-style holes. I picked up four pass-through HDMI connectors and one Ethernet pass-through from Monoprice. The HDMI connectors were a very tight fit in the plate as they were just a hair too wide. I actually had to rock them back and forth in the holes to use the sharp edges of the plate to file down the plastic somewhat so they would fit easier. Once I got them in, they were very snug and did not have any give. The Ethernet jack however, was a little loose for my taste and has a little bit of wiggle, but it is not loose enough to pop out of the plate under normal use.

The plate with connectors installed.


Since my receiver does not handle HDMI I bought a cheap 3-to-1 HDMI switch for the cabinet. This will allow me to hook multiple devices up but only run one HDMI cable to the projector. It wasn't until I installed everything that I realized I miscounted when purchasing the HDMI keystones. One of the jacks will be serving as an output to the projector. Since the Popcorn Hour is already in the case, I didn't actually need an external connector for it and should've only ordered three. Oh well.

Everything wired up and finally working well! I had an extra horizontal cable ladder laying around so I mounted it backwards to help tidy things up a bit. Will probably replace it with something different at a later time. The 3-way HDMI switch is the little box on top, it has a remote but also auto-senses so I don't need to touch it very often. Eventually the empty space will be filled in with blanks and vent panels to make it very much a "black box" that you simply hook up and watch. biggrin.gif
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post #8 of 9 Old 01-31-2014, 12:24 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wkearney99 View Post

The upside to wheels not being on the bottom is they don't get a flat spot on them from carrying the weight all the time.

That's a good point, I hadn't thought of that. It would explain why the smaller cases have the wheels on the bottom, not as much weight.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wkearney99 View Post

It's ROUGH on equipment wheeling it across outdoor surfaces. Light filaments, drives, various connections, ugh, vibration is not something these like...

You'd want to make sure to be using some decently cushioned casters. Trouble is that's going to suffer the problem of flat spots when it's not being moved.

I'd be much more inclined to keep as little as possible on the portable end and just run long cabling to gear mounted in a fixed location. Various extenders and repeaters make this a lot less trouble than it used to be.

I think it's safe to say the case is probably too heavy to be wheeled anyway. Most likely I'll have someone help me carry it to most locations. I'm dubious about the collapsible handle anyway, it feels pretty rickety for a case that would be carrying 40+ lbs. of equipment.
Quote:
Originally Posted by LeightonBeck View Post


Great. I've got one of those as well. Slightly different model with wheels and a raised top.

http://www.gatorcases.com/p/39133-312/grc-12x10-pu

Mixer on the top, outboard gear on the upper rack slots and a PC case on the bottom.

It takes standard audio rack size units and also computer sizes. So there is loads of furniture to choose from for mounting anything and making it secure.

Everything packs inside safe and secure out of the way when not in use. Travels by car if you have a hatchback or bigger.

Mrs Ron laughed at first but she appreciates it now.

Everyone should have one! If we can find a few more we can start a Gator Owners Thread.

That's a nice looking case! Much sturdier casters on the bottom. A Gator Owners thread would be pretty cool, they've been a good company to me so far. I didn't have keys for the case when I bought mine second-hand. I emailed them and they sent me a new set for free. I wish I could replace the top of my case, it's cracked across the logo like someone tried to sit on it, all of the joints are riveted though and I don't think they'd send me a replacement part.
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post #9 of 9 Old 02-12-2014, 02:59 PM - Thread Starter
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Just a quick update, I picked up a good deal for a 4-hole plate on ebay the other day. As you can see in the comparison picture below, the UNIV4 has a lot more space between the holes which allows me to use the color gaskets to label the channels.
AppleMark

While I remembered to take a before shot this time, I neglected to take any of the panel after mounting the jacks while I still had it on my counter. rolleyes.gif

Instead I have a couple of decent shots of the final product. The vertical spacing between the holes is still kinda tight and required me to overlap the gaskets, but I think the overall look is pretty finished and will certainly make setup a lot easier when springtime comes.
AppleMark AppleMark

Unfortunately, while moving my case to install the new panel I forgot to unplug the power cable feeding the case's built-in power strip and heard a sickening "crunch." Upon examination, it seems I broke something in my power inlet jack and it now wiggles loose in it's mount. I contacted Gatorcase warranty department through email hoping they could at least tell me what part I needed to do a replacement. Gatorcase replied and informed me that the company that makes the power units has since gone out of business and replacement parts are no longer available (and from what I can gather, they won't be making cases with power units any longer either). I haven't yet opened the power unit to see what the extent of the damage is, but I've ordered a similar screw-in plug socket from PE to see if it will do the job.

If anyone knows where I can find a replacement part, let me know.
AppleMark
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