March 28, 2008

Sound Check!

It's hard to hear when you have a TK helmet on - small wonder because your head is encased in plastic and whatever padding you have to be comfortable. One of the last things that I've needed to get for my TK armor is a small voice amplifier, so that I can be heard when I say anything, and to also have that electronic sounding voice that a trooper is supposed to have.

I had a voice amplifier a couple of years ago, something that I purchased off of e-bay, a popular model that the legion uses. It's larger amp, one that can be strapped around someone's waist, and it's white, matching the armor. The problem that I had with it was that it had rechargeable batteries, and I left them charging too long, damaging it. I'm not sure where it ended up, as I haven't been able to find it for a long time, so a replacement was in order.

I had planned on picking up a Skullworx kit, which can easily be installed in a FX TK helmet such as mine, but I've had bills to pay, and sadly, wasn't able to pick one up. So I've gone for a cheaper and probably simpler route - stopping over at radioshack and picking up a couple of components.

After a little research, I came across a really cheap unit, a Radioshack Amplifier/Speaker, number 277-1008C. It's white, which fits with the armor, and just a couple inches on each side, with a volume control and with a speaker and microphone jack.

When I asked around my Garrison and the Legion, I got some mixed reviews. The most common complaint was that it wasn't loud enough, while some people said that it was a good volume for what they needed. I also got some good instructions on how to dismantle it and install it in a helmet. I might do that down the road, but for now, I'm going to throw it on my belt, attaching it with some leftover industrial strength Velcro that I have from when I refitted my suit's seams a couple months ago.

My main problem was that my microphone didn't work - this unit requires a powered one, so I also went back to get one of those, and I got a Clip-On Electret Condenser Microphone, 33-3013, which comes with a small clip. This actually worked out better for me, because I can mount this directly into my helmet.

I did this by cutting a small strip of Velcro and attached it to the clip and one of the helmet cheeks. The clip can be easily seperated from the microphone and with the Velcro in there, it'll come apart easily if I take my helmet off and forget about it. The wiring is stowed under the chest plate, out of sight, and goes down to my left hip, where I've attached the speaker to my belt with another piece of Velcro. I've also added a piece under my chest plate, so the unit can be affixed there, but I won't be able to test how this sounds until I get out in the field with other people.

The only issue I've come across is feedback - this microphone seems to be a pretty good one, and if I put the volume up too high, it'll squeal. This is pretty easily adjusted though, so I'm not too worried about it.

The last thing, I wrote a reminder to turn off the microphone and amplifier on the inside of my chest plate, because I'm just going to forget to turn it off one of these days and drain the battery, something that I don't want to do.

Total cost here was $48.20, which gives me an extra $76.80 that I would have spent otherwise. Granted, this doesn't have any fans, but those'll be pretty cheap, probably another $20 when all is said and done. That'll be the next project for my set. The only other things that I really want to do to it is replace the lenses to flat ones (the curved ones blur my vision a bit), get a E-11 Conversion kit for my Hasbro Blaster and to get a neck seal.

Then of course, there's all the work on the Scout, which I'll hopefully be getting to in the next week or so.

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