Building of a New Sound Cart
Like many folks I started with a basic sound cart build on a used PSC Sound Cart frame and added onto it over the past 5-7 years as needed. Over the past year I realized I had out grown my beginner sound cart and wanted to start over to address my main areas of concerns, ease of use, protection of equipment and simpler set up/tear down. The PSC cart did not offer the protection I wanted for my equipment and its lack of all terrain tires made moving it over any uneven surface a two person job. ( Picture 0)
I knew I wanted a new cart that was easy to load and move with one person, compact without sacrificing the equipment I wanted, weather resistant and easy to set up each day while looking clean and professional. I researched carts from every single vendor and could not find anything that offered what I wanted while being cost effective, compact and lightweight. So at the Atlanta Sound Mixer Event last year I started a dialogue with Gene Martin of Sound Guy Solutions and The Audio Dept about building a basic lightweight frame that you could add any SKB style case that could collapse for shipping and allow for quick removal of cases if needed. I also wanted simple handles and mounting points for antennas, umbrellas and accessories that could also be removed. Gene and I exchanged many emails and phone calls about exactly how to do this and in January my cart the first one of this type was delivered.
The Cart Frame:
The Frame minus the handles and 3 C Stand corner poles ships in a large box which just requires you to unpack and slide the wheels onto 4 locking plates no tools required at all. They can be removed by just pushing a release tab as well. My wheels are pneumatic 8in air filled casters, but 10in wheels are also available. ( Picture 1) A second box contained (3) 30 in C Stand poles with two of them having the handles permanently secured to them. I never wanted a handle to come loose so if I need to rotate them flush to the case I do so by loosening the locking knob for the C-stand pole and rotating it instead. The handles are very secure and easy to lift from. (Pictures 2 and 3). If you want more height 40 in or 50 in C-Stand Poles can also be used. For attachment of the cases to the frame which in my case are a 12 RU SKB Roto Case which is largest they make in this model and a 4 RU giving me 16 RU of space is very simple each side of the frame has a track and 2 of these locking rings all you do it twist to remove and position how you would like them. Then attached two ratchet straps of any size or type you’d like. (Picture 3.1) Originally I was concerned this might not be secure enough but I am happy to say is very secure yet simple and easy to remove. The cases do not move at all and even if they slid slightly the lip of the frame and C-stand poles protect it. The frame is 11in off the ground and 45 inches in total height with the C-stand poles installed I wanted them to stick up slightly past the case to protect it. The cart can also be pushed through a standard 28in door it is small compact and simple which is what I wanted (Picture 4 and 5 )
While building this new cart I decided I wanted to increase my track count and my control surface while also putting everything I could possible need into this cart so I am ready for any production.
The Front mounted equipment consists of: (Picture 6 and 6.1)
Comtek Mighty Mite
Remote Audio Speakeasy Speaker
Venue Wide Band Low
Delvcam Dual 7in for video $630.00
Sound Devices 688/SL-6
Sound Devices CL-12 Alaia
PSC Powerstar Life
LED Stick on Lighting
I feel this is as much “firepower” as you can pack into a sound cart this size I can do 12 Channels of wireless if needed while not sacrificing any control. The CL-12 is amazing and is a real joy to mix on compared to the CL-9. The Betso Sharkfins have been outstanding as well they are also waterproof and have the ability to quickly change gain settings if we need to remote them out.
The Rear mounted equipment: (Picture 7)
Furman Surge Protector with volt meter and pop out rack lighting
RF Video and Timecode Patch Bay
Audio out and in patch bay
2 Comtek BST 75/216 which will soon be 3
Shelf that supports 688 and Cat 5 box
I wanted to simplify set up and breakdown every day I did not want any loose cables hanging out of the cart so we did a partial patch bay. The Venue 1-6 is wired directly into the 688 and X1/X2 are wired directly to the Comtek Public Feed and Private Crew Feed. Since these are things we always use but I wanted additional flexibility of outputs so the feeds to Video Asst, my Cart Speaker and the 3rd IFB are patchable. I also have Channel 10,11,12 inputs available if I need to hardwire something or take a feed from playback. I have also left plenty of room for expansion if needed. I already have the cart wired if I need to add a triple monitor set up for a show as well. 95% of what I do is 2 cameras only so I wanted the largest screens possible. I also wanted the ability to have HD Video when I can but still be able to run the Cat 5 system when I am far way from Video Asst or need to take my video from the village cart. The Delvcam offer SDI, SD and HDMI input options so I can take anything I need without having to unplug anything. I left the Cat 5 box out of the patch bay so I can remove it all together if I do not need it.
Words of Wisdom:
The cart frame turned out to be the easy part of this build Gene Martin delivered it on time and as promised getting the cart set up correctly took a lot of trial and error. I did not plan the wiring out very well and ended up with a real mess inside the cart along with some performance issues so what you see here is the 2nd crack at the wiring job which is perfect. You must also use low profile connectors on the 688 or it does not fit in the rack. I also left enough slack so I can plug the 688 in complete outside of the case then slide it in So when planning out your own cart find someone good who can do it and is experienced at wiring patch bays. As there is a lot of wiring in this cart for its size.
Vendors who made this possible:
Gene Martin of Audio Dept and Sound Guy Solutions http://www.audiodept.com
Exceeded my expectations with what he delivered his craftsmanship and ideas are the best in our business today. Gene is also an actively working sound mixer so every product he delivers has been tested by him in real world situations. Gene gets what is like to be in the trenches and makes sure what he gives you works. He also is available to his customers anytime you need him and is an expert in everything Zaxcom if your considering there products for your cart or bag as well.
Dan Joesph General Manger of Gotham Sound Atlanta https://www.gothamsound.com
Dan since coming to the Atlanta branch via New York has become my go to equipment vendor. He worked through figuring out every connector, piece of wiring and part of this cart with me for about 4 months. Did tons of research and reached out to vendors to accomplish exactly what I wanted. When we had a few bumps in the road he figured out solutions and met my deadlines. Dan is also available 24/7 anytime I have needed anything and also understands this industry extremely well.
Scott Beatty of Twin Audio Atlanta http://www.twinaudiocables.com
Scott is a working sound mixer in Atlanta and also makes beautiful cables. When I realized I was in over my head with the patch bay. I hired him to rewire the whole cart from the beginning, which was the best decisions I made. He used a multi channel cable to minimize clutter while routing the power and audio to separate sides of the cart to prevent any interference issues. We also left extra pairs of cables in the unit for future expansion. Every cable is also labeled with heat shrink in case I ever need to disconnect anything it is a thing of beauty.
Final pricing of the cart frame and any accessories has not yet been set by Gene so contact him directly if you’d like more information on a cart.
This cart ended up being a much larger project then I expected but I am so glad I did it as it has really made me excited about mixing again because everything works so well and is laid out so well. Set up and tear down are much easier now along with safe transportation of the equipment. Allowing me to concentrate on providing my clients with great audio.
So if your considering building a cart and your West Coast Based talk to Gene as he can handle the whole project for you the car , the wiring and the equipment to go in it.
If your East Coast Based especially if your near Atlanta or New York talk to Dan over at Gotham Sound he can handle it all for you as well. I can confidently say that my cart is the best it can be due to his hard work. (Pictures 8 and 9)
Pictures of a prototype boompole holder and cable storage hooks that mount to the C-stand poles will be posted soon. A 4th C-stand pole will also be added to mount these to.