Tools for Troubleshooting Live Events

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Michael Canfield of the systems integration firm CAVCOMM suggests several pieces he wouldn’t do without during a setup or live event.

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A good multi-meter (from any number of suppliers) allows you to check voltage on AC and DC circuits, providing a quick read on variety of potential problems.

A video test generator allows you to send a clean signal through your setup, helping you diagnose the source of video problems, whether a cable, switcher or your PC. Canfield says there is not a single good generator for every type of signal, so you need to find one for the type of signal you’re using, whether HDSDI, HDMI or some other. Canfield also likes the DisplayMate, a USB dongle that puts a variety of test patterns onto a PC.

The Altinex DVI Sniffer allows you to measure the quality of a DVI signal at any point on a cable run. If you buy the Sniffer with its accessory pack, it will measure HDMI signals as well.

Sescom’s IL-19 hum eliminator is a quick, reliable fix for audio hum caused by plugging sound system components into circuits that are out of phase. “It’s a silver bullet,” Canfield says. "Everyone should carry at least one.”

NetStumbler is a PC application that allows you to detect and monitor WiFi wireless networks.

Gold Line’s PN-3A pink noise generator can be very useful for testing and tuning larger sound systems.

Wohler Technologies has made available a new software release for the company's Pandora portable loudness analyzer. Pandora monitors up to eight channels of audio embedded in 3G/HD/SD-SDI or eight AES channels and, through the Wohler Loudness application, allows users to monitor, analyze, and demonstrate audio loudness levels on an iPad or iPod touch.

Canfield also recommends looking at other apps for your Apple or Android smart phone. He carries Decible! from Gadget Frontier, the Audiotool real time analyzer, Performance Audio’s Tone Generator Pro, the Plaincode clinometer (or level), Projectionist from Neodarque (which calculates lens, distance and screen size), AV Buddy (which gives you pin outs for HDMI, VGA and other cables), and LightCalc from D!HV Lighting (which helps you choose and set up theatrical lighting fixtures). Read AV Technology's definitive feature on apps here.

Don Kreski is president of Kreski Marketing Consultants.

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