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Chain of Connecting mobile studio to Laptops

I love TheJackAttacks rack and especially for cable strain and simplicity to cart around a nice clean setup:


I'm curious how you all connect a mobile studio to a laptop ( grounding and sequence):
Do you hook it all up and then plug the wall wart to the laptop? Do you have a sequence on how you power up your mobile system and precautions to do or avoid? Grounding issues to avoid any firewire hick-ups are possible arcing.

I've been reading some nightmares people have with firewire totally collapsing and that its paramount to make sure you never remove the firewire or how you connect things during powerup or down. Removing SATA cable and so on.

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TheJackAttack Fri, 04/29/2011 - 11:56
It looks more like these two versions. In both cases I plug the power cables in, plug one or two DB25 cables (depending on the variation) and one firewire cable. All other cables are strain relieved in the racks with zip ties etc. Plug the mic cables into the preamps and go. There are other auxilliary racks with various preamps, dynamic processors, fx etc that can be tailored to specific gigs but these two versions are the heart. And everything has wheels!!! Several pieces are scheduled to be cycled for upgrade but this is the gist.


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TheJackAttack Fri, 04/29/2011 - 12:08
The key things as far as firewire, and I have NEVER had a problem at a gig with firewire, is not to hotswap while your DAW has record engaged. Also, for hotswap firewire drives, do not hotswap while the DAW has record engaged. Things will not reset until after you press stop and then press record again. This goes the same for an eSATA connection. There is no reason to disconnect the thing at all in my opinion. I can't forsee ever needing to do that at a gig. That's one reason the Glyph drives are rackmounted in and permanently cabled together. None of my Express Card adapter pass power at all so arcing is a non issue. I have never had a firewire cable arc on a desktop though unless I wasn't paying attention while it was being plugged in. Even on a desktop I prefer to power a device externally so bus power isn't required.

I do always carry a spare 1394b cable and three 1394a cables to the gig but have never used them. I used to carry a spare 1394 Express Card adapter too but gave up on that about a year ago as unnecessary other than the most critical jobs.

I require two wall receptacles-one for each Furman conditioner/UPS-and I carry 100' of 12/3 AC extension (2 x 25', 1 x 50') with lighted ends so I really only need one wall receptacle.

I can control my laptop via Tight VNC or Mocha VNC and wireless ad hoc from my DroidX if for some reason that is required. Win7 Ultimate 64 bit. I have a spare laptop power supply that is zip tied in the rack and run up one of the chase holes so no need to carry that around either.

JoeH Sat, 04/30/2011 - 17:13
Lots of spares are always a good thing, so is making sure your cables are secure and don't get wobbled around, esp any firewire connections. (I have a FW-to-express card for my Vaio, and I always make sure it's firmly in place before proceeding.) I too have a dedicated power supply in my rack(s) for the laptop; it's just one more thing not to have to lug around (or forget). Pretty much everything I need to get in or out of a device in the chain is stored or resident in my rack(s). I never have to worry about what I did or didn't pack; it's always right there. The only things that come back inside the house/studio with me are the hard drives, the dongles, and backup CDs.

As for any special powering up or down, I make sure everything is physically connected first; from mice to dongles to external HDs on USB 2, to FW connections to my mixers/preamps. I turn on the HD before the laptop, so when I finally do power up, it "sees" everything as OK and online. Powering down is the opposite; after saving files and closing out the software, I power down the laptop first, then once it's all dark and completely off, I power down the HD and remove the peripherals. Seems to work OK so far....