Brähler ICS has been manufacturing simultaneous interpretation and audio response systems since 1958. Latterly, the company has been a driving force in the development of wireless conference technology, and it is with this mind that the company recently devised a list of ten things for integrators to consider before installing a wireless conference system.
1. How is the room constructed? All wireless microphone systems (apart from infra-red versions) rely on transmitting and receiving radio energy which can be absorbed by solid objects like supporting beams and partition walls. Metallic surfaces also act like mirror to radio waves creating unwanted reflections and potential interference. The ideal room would be an open plan area with line of sight in all directions. Back in the real world this isn’t always possible but try to get to make a site visit or at least see some photo/floor plans before quoting.
2. Will you be competing with other radio users? Does the room have any of the following in situ? Wi-Fi Access Points; BYOD devices; Bluetooth/Zigbee Devices; Wireless CCTV; Wireless voting systems; Microwave Ovens. Any of the above radio sources could increase congestion/interference on the 2.4 GHZ/5.0 GHz ISM Bands. These bands are commonly used by wireless microphone systems as the technology is readily available and they are licence-free in most countries. Increased traffic on these bands currently poses an issue in getting different wireless technologies to work harmoniously together.
3. Does the customer need a wireless system? If your customer is going to place their delegate microphones in fixed positions and you have space for cable containment then you might like to suggest a wired system. This may also present a substantial cost saving.
4. Who’s going to charge the batteries? Remember that every delegate microphone unit will have a battery to recharge. Does your customer have a nominated person who will take care of this? Batteries should be seen as consumable items. They will need to be maintained by charging on a regular basis and will degrade over time and require replacement.
5. Where will you place the antennas? Every wireless microphone system will have its own version of an access point to prove bi-directional communications to a controller. An access point will have antennas either mounted internally or externally. In either case the access point will need to be mounted in free air and ideally above head height. These can be an architect’s nightmare as the last thing they want is an ugly box fixed to the wall of their beautifully smooth minimalist interior so you should consult first before making an assumption on the ideal position.
6. Where will the loose kit be stored? At approximately £500-600 per unit (inc. battery & mic stem) wireless microphones should be stored away securely when not being used.
7. Where will you charge the batteries? Batteries will require a dry, well-ventilated room to be charged in. Adequate power should be available for each charging tray and if you have a large number of batteries to charge you may need more than just a 13 Amp socket.
8. Should you offer some spares? Remember to quote your customer for a couple of spare delegate units and some extra batteries. One unique selling point for wireless microphones is the ability to quickly and easily add additional microphones to the system should a few extra delegates turn up at the last minute.
9. Are you legal? It’s important to check that your radio equipment is licensed to be used in the UK This country’s main legislation is the Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006.
This act contains a number of criminal offences prosecuted by Ofcom (Office of Communications). Offences relating to unauthorised use of radio can result in fines of up to £5000 and/or possible imprisonment for up to two years.
10. Have you issued a disclaimer? Make sure you provide your customer with a disclaimer on completion of your installation. No wireless microphone system is completely impervious to interference so make sure your customer knows this.