Category Archives: Time v3 Technology Company

The “brilliance at the basics because less is more” tech company.

Zero to Hero in Audio Tech Class

Price: $200 for a group of up to 4

Pretty much all audio tech revolves around the idea that a sound wave can be converted to an electrical signal and converted back to sound we hear. In just two hours, see and understand how this is done and be a smarter audio tech consumer for life.

You will be presented demonstrations of the following during the class:
  • sound waves
  • microphones
  • electric analog audio signals
  • digital audio signals
  • speakers
  • headphones

Besides learning the underlying concepts, you will learn the standard terminology and how it applies to everyday consumer products:

https://nathanruffing.com/audio-terminology/

Sign up today by calling or sending an email.

Car Radio Installation

I do not do car radio installation. I offer better for a comparable price. Take the Time v3 Zero to Hero in Audio Tech class and understand how straightforward a car radio is and how similar a car radio is to most other consumer audio tech.

Bluetooth to phone is one tech feature worth having in your vehicle. If you have basic tools like screwdrivers and if you can strip and connect two wires together, I recommend installing your own Bluetooth radio. The radio itself is not so expensive. Allowing a shop to install is often more costly than the radio itself, but you can do it yourself in just a few hours.

How Difficult Will This Be?

By far the most difficult part of installing a radio in your car is removing the old radio and the dash around it. Everybody hates removing radios and dashboards. Some vehicles are very easy, others are difficult. Fortunately you can know how difficult yours is without touching your car. Just search on YouTube “[ vehicle make / model ] + remove radio ]” and decide if you want to tackle the project.

Watching somebody remove the dash on video helps you greatly by showing which panels must be removed, which are held on by screws, where the screws are, and which panels are snap-fitted.

Disconnect the vehicle battery first, it prevents making a mistake and blowing a fuse or worse, causing an electrical problem.

Which Radio?

Go to Crutchfield.com, enter your vehicle’s make and model, and Crutchfield automatically shows you radios that fit your vehicle. There are two main standard sizes, single DIN and double DIN.

If your car fits a double DIN radio, I recommend a Kenwood DPX504BT. (or a Kenwood DPX304MBT, same as the first but without a CD player). If your car fits only single DIN, I recommend a Kenwood KDC-BT278U.

  • These radios are not touch screen, so you use buttons while driving, which is more responsive, more convenient, and safer while driving.
  • These radios have an external microphone, which is a million times better call quality for the user’s voice, as in very very good versus often unacceptable for a microphone built-in to the radio.
  • These radios offer a quality Bluetooth connection, including dual phone connection, meaning a passenger can “DJ” while the calls go to the driver’s phone, for example. Once set up, they connect automatically when the radio comes on.
How to Physically Mount the New Radio?

Order the radio on Crutchfield along with the installation kit for your vehicle, which is usually included when you put the radio in your shopping cart online. The installation kit fits your car’s dashboard to the standard aftermarket radio size.

How to Connect the Wires?

The Crutchfield installation kit includes a wire harness made to adapt your vehicle’s harness to the standard wire coloring scheme of aftermarket radios. You can use their harness and just connect the matching color wires or you can look on the provided harness which colors go to what and connect the new standard radio wire harness directly to the vehicle’s existing wires for a better connection with no extra work. You will have to connect one set of radio wires no matter what.

I recommend soldering with a butane-powered soldering iron. Gas powered is much hotter than electric and more heat means easier and faster when soldering.

The Time v3 Technology Company

Mission

The mission of Time v3 Technology is to promote better implementation of existing technology with brilliance at the basics because less is more in technology.

Electronics Repair

While most modern electronics malfunctions and damage are difficult or impossible to repair, the right tools and know-how make some repairs worthwhile.

  • Watch battery replacement.
  • Maintenance and repair of select mechanical watches.
  • Screen replacement for select smartphones.

Consumer Consulting

As retail moves online, especially for electronics, consumers often lack basic information required to make a purchase among the myriad options. This is especially true when ordering accessories, customizing, or replacing parts. Good accessories can transform tech from useless to – useful.

  • Answer common consumer questions in blog post format to maintain online presence and streamline support.
  • Online conferencing audio equipment consultation for businesses.
  • Home audio equipment consultation. For example, parents enabling effective online classes for their kids, to include music lessons.

https://nathanruffing.com/conferencing-studio-with-music-equipment/

Zero to Hero Tech Concepts Education

Everyday tech remains a mystery to most people. Most people are starting at zero. Even if schools taught tech effectively, much of the tech did not exist when today’s adult generations were in school. The underlying concepts are both unbelievably simple and usually apply to a wide range of consumer products even if the products look very different. The underlying concepts behind modern technology are life education worth investing in. Plus, as users we are so familiar with everyday tech, it can be fun to see how it works.

1. Audio technology.

Time v3 Zero to Hero in Audio Tech Class

2. The internet. What the internet is physically. Demonstrate how we are communicating electronically from physical buildings to underwater cables to server software to web browsers. OstranderNet!

(Currently a draft post, more than half complete)

3. “Ownership and renting” on the internet. How the internet can be owned or rented just like real estate and how ownership is important on the internet just like in real estate. Vimeo versus YouTube, Linux versus Windows, domains and websites versus social media.

https://nathanruffing.com/tag/to-blog/

4. Software selection. Software is made by people who are paid to control how consumers interact with computers and each other. Understanding underlying business motivations of software creators can help you select software that works for you.

https://nathanruffing.com/picking-your-friends-in-computer-software/

https://nathanruffing.com/software/

5. Home electric power. Electric power is a staple in the modern home. Simple demonstrations of what electric power is, where it comes from, and how it actually does things.

From Tesla versus Westinghouse/Edison to transformers to the AC waveform on an oscilloscope to watts and watt-hours to your circuit breaker box.

6. Data encryption. How can two computers send a message that can only be read by the two participants even if a hacker can see all of the traffic? OstranderNet.

7. Batteries. From lithium ion to lithium ion to lithium ion, performance measures and how batteries drive modern tech.

https://nathanruffing.com/smartphone/

8. Tech basics of digital cameras. Electrical engineers are often into photography because digital cameras nerdize art.

https://nathanruffing.com/zeroherocamera/

9. General tech consumer:

https://nathanruffing.com/feedback/

New Products

  • Time v3 Clock
  • Phone corral / “smartphones to home phone converter”.
  • Chess board integrated into computer
  • Chess board modification to Bluetooth
  • Gaming headset to standard audio adapter
  • Time v2 graphic clock
  • Game timer
Member (Pending)
  • IEEE
  • AWCI
  • NAWCC
  • Registered w state? per Jeff?

Audio Terminology

Stereo Versus Mono

Stereo sound means left and right can be a different audio signal. Usually the two signals are nearly identical, but sometimes the difference is very noticeable. A stereo signal is two mono signals. Most people are familiar with this concept.

“Channel”

When buying mixers, pay attention to what “channel” means. Each stereo input is two channels. Therefore a “four-channel” mixer or recorder can often only properly handle two inputs. Indeed each channel is a separate audio signal, but if configured as stereo, there will only be one volume control for two channels together, for example, among other inconveniences. The mixer I bought is 12 channels, 4 microphone (mono by their nature) and 4 stereo inputs for a total of 8 separate volume controls. 8 has been plenty for me and I expect to never exceed it in my whole life.

Balanced Audio Signal Versus Unbalanced Audio Signal

Balanced audio uses two separate conductors carrying the same audio signal with opposite polarity. There is also a third conductor called ground or shield. The advantage is any noise picked up by the cable is picked up equally on each of the two conductors and therefore the noise cancels itself out leaving only the audio signal. The most common example is a microphone connected to an XLR input. See the XLR pin diagram below as the archetypal balanced audio example.

Unbalanced audio uses a single conductor to carry the audio signal, plus a ground. The most common example is headphones. There are three conductors because of stereo sound but each of the signals is a single unbalanced audio signal to the headphone speakers.

Microphones: Dynamic, Condenser, Electret Condenser, MEMS

Dynamic microphones use a magnet and coil to produce the audio signal. Advantages: do not require phantom power as the moving coil produces the electric signal, no self-noise, better at loud sounds, usually rugged and durable. Disadvantages: not as good at capturing detail. The most common example is the Shure SM58 performance mic.

Condenser microphones are delicate studio microphones that require phantom power to charge a “backplate.” While they produce some self-noise, they are better than dynamic mics at capturing sound detail, especially with with quality phantom power and using balanced audio signal. The most common examples are studio music recording mics and tech nerd podcasts. There are large diaphragm and small diaphragm condenser mics but if you care about that you are reading beyond this post.

Electret condenser microphones cheap and small. They don’t match professional mics in quality but they are very good and make up for the quality with small size and price. They are condenser microphones because they use a capacitor (charged plate) to produce the signal, but they do not require phantom power because the “backplate” is chemically charged in a way that does not decay for hundreds of years – pretty much permanent charge, like a permanent magnet. Note: I have had little success connecting these microphones to an audio mixer. While the description says they do not require power, I have also heard that they require 5V or 12V or 3-12V that is provided automatically by the computer or phone they are connected to. … ?

Cell phones use MEMS microphones (MEMS = microelectro-mechanical systems) because MEMS microphones are etched directly onto a silicon chip, often together with required circuitry, and they require very little power.

Phantom Power

Condenser microphones require phantom power to charge a backplate.

  • Music mixers provide phantom power on their XLR inputs.
  • Phantom power is almost always de-selectable with a switch on the mixer.
  • Although dynamic mics do not require phantom power, most will not be damaged by it. Many musicians use phantom power with dynamic mics all the time without knowing what it is and the only result is a barely-audible hum.
XLR Input and Pin Diagram

An XLR input is a dedicated balanced input typically designed for microphones.

Male Versus Female

I don’t need to explain “the birds and the bees” here, but pay attention with XLR because it’s not immediately obvious especially when buying cables. Pictured above is female XLR that would require a male cable to connect.

TRRS Diagram

TRRS stands for “tip ring ring sleeve.” The only use I know for TRRS is stereo sound plus microphone:

*Note: some TRRS diagrams show the microphone as a ring and the sleeve as ground, but I believe this was probably an old standard now obsolete that was abandoned because the audio signal could interfere with the weak microphone signal.

TRS and TS

TRS is “tip ring sleeve.” The standard example is stereo headphones:

Notice the two signals on standard TRS headphones are unbalanced, therefore unbalanced stereo. Unbalanced sounds “bad” but it is just slightly more susceptible to noise than balanced audio, an effect less important than many other factors in most cases.

TS is, you guessed it, “tip sleeve.” The most common TS example is a mono audio signal. The tip is the audio signal and the sleeve is ground.

“Phone Plug” Sizes (“Phone Plug” = TRRS, TRS, & TS)

I quote “phone plugs” because although it may be the official term, you will have better luck searching TRRS / TRS / TS. “Phone plugs” come in the following sizes:

  • 1/4″ = 6.3mm = “phone plug” = “the big ones”
  • 1/8″ = 3.5mm = “mini-phone” = “normal headphone”
  • 2.5mm = “sub-mini phone plug” = “the tiny little ones”
Balanced Audio on TRS

TRS can be used to carry a (mono) balanced signal (not common). For example, see the female 6.3mm TRS input on the XLR diagram above. The TRS input says “BAL OR UNBAL” beside it. A TRS balanced signal looks like this:

Signal Levels: Passive, Powered, Amplified

These are not “official terms,” but I would say there are three “signal levels.”

A passive signal is the signal a microphone produces for example. The signal is generated by the physical movement of the internal parts of a microphone. These signals must be amplified and are therefore sensitive to noise because any noise picked up will be amplified along with the audio signal. For this reason, passive signals often use balanced audio. Passive signals cannot even drive headphones.

A powered signal is the most common type. Once any electronics are involved, there are small amplifiers to drive the signal. Any powered signal can drive headphones, but usually not a speaker without external power.

An amplified signal can by itself drive a large speaker that does not have external power. Notice, with mono audio, some amplifiers will output an amplified signal via TS capable of driving a large speaker. You must use a robust TS mono cable to carry this signal to drive the speaker and not all TS mono cables are capable of this.

RCA Connectors

RCA connectors are common enough to warrant their own heading. They usually carry unbalanced mono signals and come in color-coded pairs for stereo.

Analog Versus Digital

All signals I refer to here are analog. USB is a good example of digital. Digital signals can be manipulated by software and digital can travel lossless over long distances. Digital has its advantages, but the conversion to digital and back to analog means delay even locally so once you are dealing with digital signals, you cannot listen to locally-produced sounds in real-time because you can perceive the small delay.

Bluetooth Transmitter

Once you have an audio signal on a standard headphone TRS, notice how versatile a Bluetooth transmitter can be with battery-powered Bluetooth speakers. Search for a Bluetooth transmitter and find many options, very affordable.

Bluetooth Receiver

If you want to mix in a pre-recorded track, a Bluetooth receiver is a great option to connect a music-playing smartphone or other digital device to your mixer. Many options, very affordable.

Surround Sound

I don’t know! I’m sure a home theater system salesman can talk for hours about it for free though!

Online Conferencing Studio Using Music Equipment

For a quick guide to all audio terminology you have heard and halfway understand, click here.

The #1 most important aspect of online communication is the internet connection. #2 is the sound and once you have a quiet location, the best audio situation you can set up is with music equipment. Here’s how. I will progress in the following order:

  • Capturing your local sound with microphones
  • Using headsets and splitting microphones from speakers
  • Expanding and mixing multiple local participants, nearly unlimited, including musical instruments, who hear each other locally in real time
  • Connecting all local sound into the computer
  • Hearing the remote sound from the computer
  • Mixing the remote sound from the computer into what all participants hear
  • Mixer recommendations
Microphones Capturing Sound, XLR Inputs!

XLR XLR XLR! Microphone = XLR input.

The most important rule when using microphones with music equipment is the microphones should be plugged into XLR inputs. If you are new to music equipment, XLR inputs will appear obscure, complicated, expensive, and you will subconsciously try to avoid using them. Use XLR! XLR inputs are designed for microphones and once you accept that you must plug microphones into XLR you will buy the appropriate microphones and headsets for future purchases and you will happily buy the converters for any equipment you already have.

Committing to XLR is most difficult when selecting headsets. Fortunately, the difficulty can be summed up and solved by answering one question at the time of purchase:

“Can this headset be connected to XLR for the microphone and TRS for the speakers (headphone)?”

Headsets: Split Microphones from the Speakers

Many headsets are designed to be “plug-and-play” with one plug, often a 3.5mm TRRS (TRRS is a standard headphone jack with one extra ring). This is great for one person with no instrument. Sure, video chat with grandma at the click of a button. Not set up, go. However, as soon as you add any second device or a second participant, you are going to wish the microphone signal were split from the speaker signal. Also, of course, you want the microphone to terminate in XLR.

I recommend the Audio-Technica BPHS1. The headset audio is split exactly how you want it, XLR plus TRS. Some of the reviews I read were written by podcasters, indicating that the headset is often used with professional audio setups.

Expanding to Multiple Local Participants

If you have committed to XLR for your microphones, expanding is pretty much already finished. Plug in and go.

The only thing mixers may lack is enough headphone jacks for everybody. Fortunately that problem is solved for under $50 with a simple headphone splitter, for example the Behringer HA400

Locally, Better than In-Person

Music equipment mixing is so smooth and high-quality that you can have a normal conversation even talking over each other and the sound of multiple voices in a conversation will be arguably better than without the equipment. Elderly people or anybody who uses hearing aids may prefer headsets on a mixer to just talking! Mixing multiple sound sources is exactly what music equipment is designed for. Podcasters use mixers and routinely have natural conversations over headsets with four or more people. Delay? There is no delay. There is no processing and electrical signals travel faster than sound.

Connecting to the Computer, Local Sound Into Computer

The critical point of success when interfacing with a computer (in my opinion) is to keep the ‘in’ and ‘out’ signals analog and physically separate from each other all the way to the computer. This means your locally-generated mixed sound signal should enter the computer through a sound input TRS receptacle. Maybe it will be labeled ‘mic in’ on the computer, maybe ‘audio in.’ At a minimum, you should be able to separately identify the sound signal in the computer’s settings independent of what software you are using.

Connecting to the Computer, Remote Sound Out From Computer

The sound coming from the remote person (or people) from the computer must be fed into the mixer to be heard by all the local participants. The tricky thing here is, the remote sound should be heard by the local participants, but NOT mixed into the sound fed to the input on the computer. If the remote sound is fed into the computer, the remote person will hear himself on the internet delay, or “echo,” which most of us have experienced and we know it is nearly intolerable depending on the volume of the echo.

Note: some conference software may automatically cancel the echo but it’s better not to rely on the software.

Fortunately, many music mixers are designed to allow musicians to listen to a recorded music track that they don’t want recorded – because it’s already recorded and that’s how they are listening to it. This is perfect for conferencing because the remote sound can be fed into this input and deselected on the mixed output that is connected to the computer. The mixer then only sends sound produced locally, but the local participants hear the remote sound as though they are “recording over it.”

Mixer Recommendations

Almost all mixers will have XLR, phantom power, TRS inputs, at least one output, separate volumes for each input, etc. Being able to deselect one input from mixing to one output to eliminate the echo feedback into the computer is a bit unique. Below are two recommendations that have the capability.

On the Behringer XENYX 1202, you can plug the computer remote audio into the “2-TRACK” RCA input, deselect “2-TR TO CTRL ROOM” and use the “CTRL ROOM OUT” to send to the computer as it will include all audio except the remote audio. Local participants then hear everything over the headphone out. Perfect.

The Behringer XENYX 502 has a similar setup, but notice only one XLR input.

Cables and Adapters

The variety and number of cables and adapters is as many as there are combinations of plug types. See the cable requirements in an example setup below:

[setup diagram]

Expanding Notes

Internet conferencing lives and dies by the sound. Minimum quality sound is absolutely necessary to make online conferencing viable and really good sound can often make video nearly unnecessary in many situations.

Most people shy away from using music equipment for computer sound because it appears complicated and it is “not made for conferencing.” I think that’s why anyway? Maybe people feel like using professional equipment makes the online situation permanent? Maybe they assume it’s expensive? Really though, why not?

Regardless of the reason, musical sound equipment is the highest quality and most versatile, especially for the price. As an electrical engineer and amateur musician, I believe music equipment is the overall best solution to online conferencing sound. I would caveat that with the following statements:

  • You should commit to using music equipment and analog electric signals entirely up to the point where the sound enters the computer. The sound should be completely mixed before it gets digitized.
  • Attempting to take short-cuts mixing in the computer will complicate to the point you regret the attempt.
  • The primary complication is interfacing the music equipment with the computer, but if you commit to separating the signals, you simplify this.
  • A secondary complication is interfacing microphones of headsets that are often designed to connect to computers and conferencing and not music equipment. See the XLR / microphone discussion above.
  • Music equipment produces near perfect sound and being the analog electrical equivalent of real sound, your set-up does not “go obsolete” like digital equipment and software does. Computers must interface with analog audio at some point and electrical audio signals cannot become obsolete. (Watch me eat these words somehow? Never say never?)
  • Regardless of purpose-made conference system marketing, online conferencing set-up is always complicated.

Picking your Friends in Computer Software

1. Why the club:

Click here for the CATC About page.

 

2. Why this subject first:

  • Your computer software largely determines your experience with the computer.
  • I have helped people with their software to keep their computer working fast.
  • The people who make your software know what your experience looks like. It is those people and their motivations that determine your experience in the long run.

3. Vocabulary for Software

4. Discussion Structure

  • We are going to discuss software by its function first.
    • I want to offer a solution only if there is a problem.
    • Define the problem! (software often offers bells and whistles that do things we don’t really want to do).
    • This is a comprehensive list. A key to this idea is that all other software should be uninstalled and add-on software should be carefully selected.
  • We will categorize software by “open source vs. closed source” and “free vs. costs money.”
  • A dollar sign ($) by the software mean the software company is for profit. An ‘ad’ symbol (ad) means that mining and selling user data is a major revenue source for the company.
  • Last, we’ll meet the people and companies and discuss their motives.

5. Software Functions List

  • Operating System
  • Word processor (includes many office functions)
  • Web browser
  • E-mail / contacts / calendar
  • Internet search
  • Media player
  • Video chat [or use your phone]
  • PDF Reader
  • Printer and scanner
  • Video editing
  • Gaming

Operating System

Word Processor

Web Browser

E-Mail / Calendar / Contacts

Web Search

  • DuckDuckGo is a good search engine that maintains user privacy.

Media Player

Video Chat

 

PDF Reader

Printer and Scanner

  • How much does an ink cartridge cost?
    • Can a printer physically continue to print in black and white if the color runs out?
  • How much does a printer actually cost?

Video Editing

6. My Start Menu

7. Settings

  • When you set up a computer, your question should be, “what is this computer doing that I need it to stop doing?”

8. Bloatware

  • When I buy a computer, I don’t install software, I spend most of my time un-installing software.
  • Your computer manufacturer may include software pre-installed. You probably want to un-install it.
  • I include “anti-virus” software under bloatware.
  • Desktop weather display is another example.

Click here to see which software I use and recommend in each category.

I made this presentation for the Columbus Area Technology Club. Click the logo for the CATC website:

Columbus Area Technology Club

About this Club

In technology, less is more, and knowledge is power.

Hi. I am Nathan Ruffing, the founder of this club. I graduated from Ohio State, Electrical and Computer Engineering in 2006. I served in the US Marines from 2007-2015. I do not work as an engineer. My friends from college are shaping the tech world in which we live. I started this club to bridge the gap between the rapidly advancing tech world and the average person. We are all tech consumers, like it or not. We can like it a lot more if we understand it.

Please understand that the goal of this club is actually “how to choose tech,” “which tech to choose,” and “how to use tech and be finished with it and move on with life.” It is not “how can I do more with tech.” Less is more!

This club is modeled off of the Tampa Bay Technology Center (in Florida). Click here for the TBTC website. My uncle is a member of the TBTC. He is in his 70s. He also happens to be the president of the homeowner’s association of his building. The club enabled him to create an informational website for his building. Click here to see the simple, effective website he learned to make from a template. You do not have to make a site. He is the most tech-savvy 70-year-old I know, but the site actually makes his management responsibilities easier and gives him more time to hang out by the beach and golf.

For now the club is free while I gage interest. One day, there may be a small fee for membership.

Future Topics

  • Your smart phone: How to keep it clean and under control.
  • Your digital camera: How to get the most from your DSLR camera. Click here for an example video.
  • Technology terminology: Internet, domain, Wi-Fi, Internet Service Provider (ISP), software, hardware, operating system, etc.
  • Your space on the internet: your own domain and basic website for ~$10 per month.

Zero to Hero with your Fancy Expensive Camera

Understand the settings of your DSLR and get the value from your investment!

I shot the photos in the video with the stock lens on a Canon T5i, but these settings apply to most or all expensive cameras, any brand, any type.

  1. Zoom / frame the photo.
  2. Aperture
  3. Shutter Speed
  4. ISO
  5. Focus Shoot!
  6. Focus, Shoot!