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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » F/X » » Poor Man’s Remote Control Sound Cue (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Bill Knight
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You're right Jeff, the sampler has served me very well and, if you position it right, no one needs to know it's there and they won't see you push the buttons however, not being able to play an intro that starts while you're off stage can be a bit limiting. I am only talking about childrens magic here, not a vegas stage show lol. I am completely on my own to set it up (I need my laptop for the games music anyway) and to run it (I used to be a computer tech/sales guy) so for me, the laptop - remote - winamp combo is ideal but, having said all that, I won't knock the sampler I used as it did it's job very well indeed and, as you said, if you need a sound out of sync or impromtu, just push the right button and it's there.

Bill
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Lynchini
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This is really great stuff! WOW! I'm thinking of using this information to the fullest! My main objective has always been: "How to get the greatest sounds, etc; to be played in future shows, on a remote level! And making it as compactible as possible for transporting!"
Regards, Lynchini
shawn popp
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So as of now, what is the popular consensus as far as using a laptop or net book for music? I've been using an icue2 but as I add more sound files, its easy to lose track of what's what. If I miss one, then I'm off... I really want something other than a red blinking number to tell me what track I'm on. I'd like to have a display that will tell me the track or even the effect. I've seen it mentioned that winamp has the ability with a plug in to fade and pause tracks. I'm willing to spend the money for the setup, just would like some current advise as far as computer/netbook, software, remote (although the Keith Rubow remote looks like the answer)
please help.

thanks
shawn
Bill Knight
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Shawn, this is how I am set up, I have a netbook running windows xp & winamp with an rf remote conected to my mixer and speaker. I have named each track on the netbook after the effect it is used for ie: colouring book helper up, clap etc. I have even created some 1 second long silent tracks for use where I have an effect not using audio. This way I have a running order for my show which acts to remind me what effect is next (very useful when adding new stuff or trying a new order) and If I try to get an adult up to help in my kiddies show and no-one will come forward, I can easily skip through any tracks that I need to by-pass to get on with the show. I have various playlists saved for different shows (birthday, christening etc) or I can alter existing playlists at the venue if needed.

Hope this helps

Bill

I find this to be a very versatile set up but with a couple of limitations, I can't just press a button on the remote to play a pre-defined track out of order and the remote that I am using is a bit limited.
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Bill Knight
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I don't know what happened with my last post but the bit after my name just randomly appeared, oh well, it is halloween after all

Bill
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Jeff Haas
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Shawn - Go to my website, read the "Tips" page and it will tell you how you can customize the size of the font that Winamp uses to display the playlist. You can make it big enough to fill the entire netbook screen.

http://remotelaptop.tripod.com/

Winamp also has the ability to fade out a track when you stop it, built-in. It's a setting in the preferences.

Bill - You're right, the netbook/Winamp solution only works for a playlist in order. For random access to cues there needs to be another solution. You have to have a remote or small panel with a bunch of buttons, one for each sound effect. Then there needs to be a device (like the Sparkfun MP3 Trigger board I linked to in another post - http://www.sparkfun.com/commerce/product......id=9715) configured with your sounds. If you have the knowledge it's pretty easy to set up the Sparkfun board, and the advantage is that it's small (only 2 1/2" by 2 1/2"), but if you're not familiar with hobby-level electronics you'd need to find someone to set it up for you.

Jeff
Powermagic
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It is interesting to see what has changed since this was started. Many products for magicians or industry are out of business.

What is the smallest presenter remote with decent range on the market that can work with winamp? What is the size?
Jeff Haas
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As the guy who put up the website that explained this idea (back in 2000! Before the iPod!) I can tell you that the presentation remotes seem to change annually. There are many available if you search for "Powerpoint remote control" on Google. However, they all work the same way, with buttons that are set up to control Microsoft Powerpoint.

You need to use a piece of software that will let you change what keys the remote presses. Keith Rubow has one on his website, listed above. There's also a Winamp Hotkey utility that lets you set up your own hotkeys to control Winamp.

After that, it's just look through the listings and find the remote you like. The main thing about all of these is that the receiver is usually a small unit that just plugs into the USB port - so there isn't a big antenna sticking out of it. That means the range you can walk away from the laptop and still control sounds is limited to about 50 feet. That's not a problem if you're aware of it. If you need more, then you need a better quality remote than the cheap mass-produced ones you can find on Google. Go to my website and look up the KeyRF remote - the receiver has an antenna that you can raise, which gives you 150 feet of distance that you can go and control the music.

These days you can use any cheap laptop. One of the netbooks is fine, they're all much faster than laptops used to be. I should update my website with this information, but since the iPods took over this function, no one asks about it anymore.

Jeff
Powermagic
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What is the size of the Rubow one It looks so BULKY like a garage door opener. I can not see that working in the pocket safely.

You can SAY you can use ANY cheap laptop but that is limiting the software you can run. I guess if it is really cheap it would OK for a short while.
I guess if willing to invest you can get a brand new Acer 10.1" net-book with Win7 starter for $250 or so. Plus Key RF remote at $170 and do it for under $475
Some might not want to use their laptops but if you have one already sure keyRF might work.

While you might think ipods took over, I see it as computers are the future since for a show, you can do more than what an ipod does.

Hey, just noticed this USB one that will do PP, Itunes and a/v... I wonder if it works... http://www.buyijet.com/remotes/ijet-usb-......ler.html
Jeff Haas
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The only limitation for an inexpensive laptop is if it can run Winamp (for music cues). These days even the low-power net-books are more than adequate for that.

The reason I mentioned iPods taking over is because most people looking into this only want music they can play via remote. So if you get an iPod and a remote control, it's small and light and takes no space. However any net-book has an advantage in that the screen is relatively big and you can see across the stage what the title of the tracks are.

Nothing is that expensive anymore, just pick what works for you.
Powermagic
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Well surely if you have to buy everything outright iPod system will be less expensive. Yes it will be more compact.

Really who has time to break flow looking at a screen 10or more feet from you? Really if your remote is good and if you have practiced your program , I see no benefit to having a screen. You should already be well aware of where you are in your program and what track is next. If you know your shows, a screen or large LED number track is not useful. If you really need a reminder, you have not practiced enough. Better to take an index card to the floor of the stage or on your table if your memory is short. What it seems more use it for is to verify the remote and receiver has communicated. but if your remote is good, well, then you should know if your track is playing or not.

Where a computer excel right now is on the extras like cross fading or fade to next track pause. While you can set your ipod levels for EACH song in itunes, and I was told you could do this even with nano 3G, I have not had time to verify. But PC software does this these things. ie if you play from itunes or other player with the feature.

And as some have mentioned, there is other software out there that you can buy to control more than sound. So I see that as expandable,


I would have agreed with you Jeff, about ipods but as the remotes are limited that match a pro remote, they are not the end all in my opinion. The compact size and range is the issue. If the products out there could get a good range and be guaranteed no false hits, then yes, I like the ipod with a silent track. It seems only to be missing the cross fade feature.

This can be fixed to customized the music to the routine and not having extra music.
Powermagic
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I wanted to update on my experience with Buyijets.com so far.
I had just picked up a ijet nav boss and it just would not work with my system. I am using an ipod nano G3 and I was having too many missed cues and the range for it to work was only 10 feet.
Now I have tried others that had ABT technology and had the same results.
The Customer service has been great with Buyijets. They took the unit back without issue and tested it at 100 feet.

I know some here use the ijet nav boss with great luck and the technical engineer said that some units have created some noise to cause problems or it could be issue in my area from other devices.

the Ijet nav boss uses 433 mhz band.

Now I will tell you I have been using a DLO Homdock music remote for 2 years with small LCD read out. The range is nothing short of spectacular. But the remote recently died. I had a Square Trade Warranty on that so was covered. When I went searching for a replacement , knowing this had been discontinued , not finding a new one.
Then I happened to see buyijets.com has taking over this product naming it ijet nav PRO.

I only just got their version Friday and tested it Saturday. So far it performs the same as the DLO homedock.

According to Buyijets they have changed some features. First they changed the battery manufacturer. They also removed the need to download play-lists. Before if you made changes on your ipod they had to be downloaded into the remote. Now it reads your ipod in real time. But if you want to disable the real time LCD read out you can run it in IPOD mode.

I will not go into a detailed review until I test this version a bit more but so far, you can get this at a great price for the performance it provides.
They seem open to improving it for the entertainment market.

This remote is very responsive and runs on the 933 Mhz band. Maybe that is why I do not have issues. I wished the nav boss worked since the price is right but for me it was a no go. If I upgrade my ipod I might try it again however. But you might find there are some benefit to having the lcd read out. I would also like to try their USB remote.
Lars
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I don’t post to the café very often but I thought that I would share my experience with regards to playing music in my show.

I use an Asus Eee pc bought on EBay for £50.00. On it I run a program called Soundplant (http://www.soundplant.org/). The software will let you assign a song or sound effect to any key on the keyboard. There are several settings for each song, volume, pause, fade. You can save different configurations if you are doing different shows. I use 3 different configurations for 2 children’s show and 1 show for adults.

To control it I use the usb remote from Keith Rubow. Because of the way I can program the remote I now have access to play 4 different sound effects and 5 songs all controlled by the 6 button remote.

If I want to change the music or sound effects for a show it takes me less than 5 minutes to re-program Soundplant and the remote.

The total cost for this is less than £100.00 it is easy to use and set up, and the range on the remote is very good.

This set up might not be to everyone liking but it does all that I need at a low cost.

Lars
Michael Messing
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Since some have posted some issues with the iJet NAV Boss, it really appears that it depends on the interference you might be getting (as Powermagic pointed out.) I usually have my iJet NAV within 10' of me when performing. (On stage, I use a direct box to run an XLR cable from my table to the PA so I can have the iPod near me even on a big stage.)

Last Saturday night, I decided to test the distance I could use the remote successfully. I had a 1-hour wait while my party was eating so I was in the room across the hall. It was at least 35 feet away but I could still see my iPod from there. I tested it several times during the hour (PA was turned off) and the iJet worked flawlessly. Obviously, there was no interference in that facility.

Fortunately, if you do have issues, the customer service at BuyiJet.com is excellent.

Michael
daxi
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I have googled "iJet NAV Boss" Take care using these. I have just looked at the specifications & they operate on 433.92 MHz. I can't say about the United States, but this is the frequency used across much of the world for car immobilisers & other low power devices. It's also in an amateur radio & military etc allocated band. I am sure many will have seen issues where people are locked out of their cars in certain places. It can also cause unwanted activation.
It's called Electromagnetic Incomparability...Or more accurately, poorly built receivers that cannot cope with out of band strong signals which causes a failure of the intended use..It's also called stupid use of the wrong frequency in the case of car immobilisers, as the problems are far from expected.
The 433.92 MHz allocation is in the amateur digital centre of operation. This means that unlike speech modes, the band can be used for prolonged transmission periods to send for example slow scan TV images.
The frequency's beside this 70 cm band allocation is used by things like mobile phones & in the UK Police digital radios. These remote devices will not cause amateurs, the military or the Police any problems at all & it is a legitimate frequency to use.
HOWEVER...I can for example as an amateur legally run well over 100 watts (& I am capable of doing so with many watts left in reserve), whilst this iJet device runs at millionths of a watt. To put that into context. My 5 watt watt UHF handheld radio will jam a car so it cannot be locked or unlocked at about 150 yards, whilst set to 1 watt & the military & mobile phone operators can & often do run a lot more than my permitted maximum power level.
In most locations & situations it should be fine, but do not assume that just because someone else is not using it as you set up, or start your performance, that they will not be using it later.
Jeff Haas
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Lars,

Glad to hear someone's using Soundplant! I should have thought of that setup myself.

Jeff
rxwookie
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Okay, so bear with me... this is a long post.

You can trust Michael Messing on anything magic/sound related. I know him personally and can vouch firsthand for his expertise in this area. He helped me out a lot.

You can use just about any Powerpoint presentation remote to control Winamp. This is becuase they work by sending a (virtual) keyboard command to the computer via wireless to USB. These remotes are configured from the factory to work with Powerpoint (and other presentation software programs). If you can find out the virtual command being sent, you can use it for your own purposes.

For example... the Logitech R400/800 Presenter has several buttons. Pressing the play button sends an F5 keystroke to the computer. Pressing it a second time sends an Esc keystroke to the computer. Next slide sends a page down, while previous slide sends a page up. Blank screen sends a period keystroke.

The trick is finding out what keystrokes are being sent. This is easier than you would think because there is a list of fairly standard commands used in Powerpoint and other presentation programs.

Start Presentation: F5
Next: N, Enter, Page Down, Right Arrow, Down Arrow, Spacebar
Previous: P, Page up, Left Arrow, Up Arrow, Backspace
Blank (Black) Slide: B, [period]
Blank (White) Slide: W, [comma]
Restart from Last Slide: Shift+F5
End a Presentation: ESC

----

Once you know the keyboard commands being used, you can effectively repurpose the remote to control Winamp.

Winamp 5.xx
- Right click anywhere in the program --> Options --> Preferences
- General Preferences --> Global Hotkeys --> check both boxes
- Customize the Hotkeys

Here are some commonly used ones for magicians
Playback: Play/Pause (default action): Use this combined one to save a button.
Playback: Next in playlist (default action): Cue up your next track
Playback: Previous in playlist (default action): Jump back one track
Playback: Volume up (default action): Increase volume
Playback: Volume down (default action): Decrease volume
Playback: Stop with fadeout (add action): Immediately fade and stop
Playback: Stop after current (add action): Play remainder of track and stop
Playback: Toggle shuffle (add action): Toggle shuffle

If the action is already present...
- Highlight selection, click in 'Hotkey' box, press desired keystroke on computer, and click 'Set'

If the action isn't present...
- Change the 'Action' drop down menu to the appropriate one, click in the 'Hotkey' box, press the desired keystroke on computer, and click 'Add'

For a four button remote (most common), I'd suggest
- Play/pause (the combined one)
- Next in playlist
- Stop with fadeout
- Stop after current

Load playlist and first track is sitting in Winamp ready. To start, press "Play/Pause" followed by "Stop after current". If music runs all the way down... no problem it stops and waits. Finishing early or audience participation/selection track, use "Stop after Fade" when neded. When moving to the next item in show, click "Next in playlist" and you're set.
You can use Audacity (freeware) to edit your music volume levels as well as length, tempo, preset fades, etc. This eliminates the need for volume adjustments. You shouldn't need to go back if you've properly set up your playlist AND if you need the shuffle feature, set it in advance.

----
There are several nice remotes you can use, just go to your local electronics store and get one to try out. Everyone is different and everyone prefers a different setup.

Finally, don't forget the cables (make sure you note the genders of the cable ends)...

1.) Mini Adaptor Cable (1/8” Stereo Male to Single 1/4” Stereo/Mono Male TRS)
** Optional: 1/4” Female TRS to XLR 3-Pin Male Adapter (runs the sound at a higher level, thanks Michael!)... I found this at my local Radio Shack but it's also available on-line.

2.) Mini Male-to-Male Cable (1/8” Stereo Male to 1/8” Stereo Male)
** Often forgotten, but allows direct connection to a smaller sound system (boombox, etc)

Anyway, hope this helps someone!

Kyle C. (RxWookie)
If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a sucess unexpected in common hours.
~Henry David Thoreau
miscoes
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" Optional: 1/4” Female TRS to XLR 3-Pin Male Adapter (runs the sound at a higher level, thanks Michael!)... I found this at my local Radio Shack but it's also available on-line. "

Please, take caution. When using this type of adaptors:

- You are putting L and R channels in a balanced input so vocals and sounds placed in the middle of the mix can dissapear (like in cheap karaoke processor)

- If you plug your player via this kind of adaptors in a micropone input with Phantom Power enabled (as usual for condenser mics and active DI boxes) you will fry your player output circuits in a fraction of a second.



It is very easy to recycle that kind of adaptors to make them sure for Phantom Power and to avoid L+R+Phase problems. You will only need a pair of resistors, a condensor and less than 5 minutes soldering ( less than 1$ )

So, please, take caution when connecting devices to XLR inputs.
Powermagic
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I think if not going with computer you will like the NAV pro. So far so good with this version and as stated, the range is best for the money your going to find.
Arepsi
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In my opinion AirClick is still the best. You can find those from ebay at 5 bucks and people will gladly sell theirs old Ipod classic. Works like a dream.

Arepsi
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