New Wildtronics Parabolic Microphone

parabolic microphone
Wildtronics Parabolic Microphone

Natureguy Studio now sells the Wildtronics Parabolic Microphone. Two models are available, the mono Parabolic Microphone, and the Mono-Stereo Parabolic Microphone. Buy a Parabolic Microphone here.

The Wildtronics Parabolic Microphone is engineered to the be the most advanced and best performing parabolic microphone on the market. The microphone was developed by Bruce Rutkoski, who has professionally recorded nature sounds for over a dozen years, originated new recording techniques, and has designed many specialized recording devices. This microphone offers the professional a vastly improved parabolic microphone, with multiple connectivity without special cables, an integral tripod mount, accessory mounting provisions, and costs a fraction of competing microphones. The new, original design combines multiple techniques to increase audio gain, broaden the frequency response, reduce mic self-noise, improve isolation of the subject, and minimize handling noise. Use this parabolic microphone for sound reinforcement on football and baseball fields, recording birds and nature sounds, wildlife research, law enforcement, paranormal investigation, or anytime sounds need to amplified and isolated beyond the performance of other microphones.

The large, 22-inch, parabolic dish is optimally sized to balance portability and low frequency response. The dish is clear so you may accurately sight your target. Parabolic curves can be calculated to select the depth and focal point. The Wildtronics’ parabolic shape was optimized for a focal point to match the microphone’s polar response, shield undesired sound pickup, and offer a compact package. The paraboloid was then accurately CNC machined to create a master mold. This accuracy is necessary for precision focus at higher frequencies. The microphone assembly is easily removed and reinstalled without altering it’s precisely located, factory set focal point. The molded plastic dish is 0.080-inch thick for best all around durability, critical shape retention, and allows some bending to fit into larger airline luggage.

Integral booster discs are designed into the microphone assembly to increase the audio gain, boost low frequency response to that of a 30-inch parabolic dish, and help isolate the sound pickup to only the focused target and avoid other stray sounds. This amazing booster disc technology further sets the Wildtronics Parabolic Microphone apart from all others.

Not just one, but an array of low noise microphone elements are used at the focal point of the parabola. Array technology not only increases the audio gain, but reduces self noise to that of the lowest noise microphones on the market. Combined with the parabolic dish and booster discs, the signal to noise ratio is far higher than any other microphone. A military grade foam windscreen is built-in.

There are no special or custom cables needed to connect the Wildtronics Parabolic Microphone to your amplifiers or recorders. Both standard, balanced XLR and 3.5mm connectors are conveniently located on the back panel. You can use 11-53 volt phantom power or the internal 9-volt battery. 9-volt battery life is about 150 hours, so you can save battery life in your other equipment by turning off it’s phantom power.

The entire microphone assembly is engineered to reduce the effects of handling noise and inadvertent bumps. A special foam suspension system helps isolate the microphone assembly from handling noise. In addition, the comfortable, foam handle grip was carefully selected with a texture that minimizes noise from hand movements.

The lightweight aluminum alloy parts are powder coated for durability. A black, low reflectivity finish is used throughout to increase stealth. A 1/4-20 thread, in the bottom of the solid high strength handle, allows easy attachment to a tripod. An optional Accessory Bar Kit is available that allows versatile mounting of additional equipment. With the Accessory Bar Kit, you can mount cameras, tripods, recorders, preamps, wireless transmitters, and install the included dual handles that give improved comfort and superb balance.

The Wildtronics Parabolic Microphone is also available with an additional stereo microphone, the Wildtronics Mono-Stereo Parabolic Microphone model. The stereo model allows you to capture a stereo background field at the same time as the center, dish focused sound. You can record all three channels at once, or using a three channel mixer, control the left, right, center blend for stereo recorders. With M/S encoding techniques, the stereo/mono blend can be changed during post editing.

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Solving moisture issues with Rode NT1-A microphones

The Rode NT1-A microphones are excellent, low noise, studio microphones. But, they suffer from two issues due to their large diameter elements if used outdoors. They are sensitive to wind and susceptible to moisture condensation. I will write about solving the moisture issue here.

If you are recording outdoors, during high humidity conditions of early mornings or during the night, moisture can condense on the microphone element, causing complete microphone failure, popping, or noisy recordings. Once the microphones dry out, they return to normal operation. Try to keep the microphones as dry as possible, and don’t keep them in moist conditions. As one who records nature sounds, I need to be recording during the early mornings, which is sometimes very humid or foggy. So, I came up with a way that solves this moisture issue by making some resistive heaters assembled to the back side of the microphone screen, under the windscreen.

Mic heater resistor array
Five, 560 ohm, 2 watt resistors in parallel

As you can see from the photo. I wired five, 560 ohm, two watt resistors in parallel to two wires. Those wires will be powered by a 12-volt battery, since I already use a 12-volt battery to power my recording equipment. This provides around 1.5 watts of heating. Using the finished heaters installed on the microphones, under the windscreen, I measured the following temperature rise from 66F degrees ambient: 20 minutes- 9F degrees, 1 hour- 16F degrees, 1.5 hour- 17F degrees, 2 hours- 19F degrees. This temperature rise seems adequate for my purposes and gives a good trade off to battery life. You may change the resistor and voltage values to meet your requirements. Remember, we are looking for some heating to raise the temperature enough to remove condensation and limit the effects of continued high humidity conditions. You may need more power, since I use a three layer windscreen, I have some extra insulation and isolation from the atmosphere.

Mic heater wrapped with fiberglass window screening.
Mic heater wrapped with fiberglass window screening.

Now, since the Rode NT-1A microphones have a metal screen, we can’t just attach the resistors there or they will short out. What I did was encapsulate the resistors in silicon gasket material available at any local auto parts store. I used black. To give the silicon more rigidity, I wrapped a small piece of fiberglass window screening over the resistors, retained by a little tape, before applying the silicon. I applied the silicone to both sides of the resistor array, then wrapped it with kitchen, plastic wrap, to form to a nice shape. Let it dry for 12 hours, remove the plastic wrap, trim thin edges, and you have your heating element.

Mic heater in silicone
Mic heater in silicone, formed with plastic wrap.

I attached the heater with a tie-wrap to the lower part of the metal microphone screen, on the wire end of the heater. There is no need to hard attach the heater to the screen better, the windscreen, that came with the microphone will hold it quite well.

Mic heater assembled.
Mic heater assembled on back of microphone.

In use, it may take a few minutes to heat enough to resolve moisture issues, and you will have to keep the heaters on until atmospheric conditions dry out. I have had no issues with moisture causing problems while using the heaters, even in high dew points to foggy conditions. Try to start off with dry microphones, it will make it easier to keep ahead of the condensation. This can be difficult if you are camping.

I hope this information helps all who use the Rode NT-1A microphones for recording outdoors. They are the lowest noise microphones, and are great for recording nature sounds when their outdoor issues are solved.

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Replacing M-Audio Microtrack battery

How to replace the battery in an M-Audio Microtrack and Microtrack 2

For a more detailed article with photos, visit: http://www.natureguystudio.com/microtrackbattery.html

It will happen sooner or later, your battery in your M-Audio Microtrack 24/96 recorder will go bad. You have a few options. You could buy another one, return it to M-Audio and have them replace the battery for around $150, or you can replace it yourself for under $10. This article will tell you how to replace the battery yourself. If you are careful, are fairly skilled, and can solder, you should be able to replace the battery.

If your M-Audio Microtrack is dead and it won’t power up, first try to recharge the unit for a few hours to see if the display will power up. If that doesn’t work, press the power and delete key at the same time for a few seconds to reset and reboot the firmware. Ideally, you should open the case and check the battery and make sure charging circuit works before you buy a battery. Read the entire article and read how to check the battery before you buy a battery.

Ready to replace that battery? Here is what you will need: a small flat bladed screwdriver and or some plastic case openers, a small philips screwdriver, a soldering iron and solder, a replacement battery (see below), and two inches of double stick tape or some adhesive RTV.

The battery from M-Audio Microtrack is a 3.7Volt, 1200mAhr, prismatic, Lithium battery. The size is: 60mm x 51mm x 4.6mm. A very common replacement battery that will fit is a battery from an original iPhone, which is 1400mAhr. Batteries from the iPhone 3G or 4G will not fit. The iPhone 2G battery is available from numerous sources on eBay for around $6.00 including shipping. The battery usually comes with an installation kit of plastic case openers and some star and philips drivers.

First, remove the compact flash card. Place the unit on an open surface and use a ground strap or touch a ground source to eliminate any static charge on your body from damaging the electronics inside the Microtrack. Continue to ground yourself while working on the battery replacement.

Next, open the back cover. This is the most difficult part. Take your time and take it easy or you can ruin the plastic cover. Place your sharp, small, flat bladed screwdriver at the corner of the case and push in and lever outwards. You may also try the plastic case openers that came with your replacement battery kit. The four corners open outwards. There are three catches along the midsection, where the flash card inserts and the opposite side, that should be levered inwards as your screwdriver is inserted. It will take a little time to gradually open the case. You may have to place additional screwdrivers at the latch points to keep the case from popping back together. You may leave some marks in the case plastic. That is ok, but try not to break the latches or the case may not close back together well. Remove and place the cover on your bench.

Remember to ground yourself or wear a grounding strap before touching the PC Board! Next, carefully lift the old battery from the PC Board. It has double stick tape holding it to the board. Now, remove two small philips screws holding down the PC Board. Put the small screws in a safe place so you don’t loose them. Carefully lift the PC Board. It will be retained by the end pieces of the case. You don’t need to completely remove the board, but you do need to lift away the end panel where the line out and S/PDIF RCA connectors are located to get to the battery wires.

You can check your battery voltage to see if is dead. Anything around one volt and the thing is dead. Check the voltage at the battery wires while a charger is plugged in. You will want to see around 4 to 5 volts. That will tell you that it is trying to charge and the charging circuit is working.

Now, you will replace the battery, and how you do this may depend on the battery you get. Do not touch the two battery wires together. It will short the battery out and may cause damage. Basically, connect the red wire where the red wire came from and the black wire where the black wire came from. Leave the white wire disconnected, since it is not used in the M-Audio unit, and be sure to tape over it and to the battery so it is electrically isolated. Your wires may be long enough to solder them to the board or, like mine, they may be short, and require splicing with the wires from the old battery. I used heat shrink tubing on my splice or you can use electrical tape or silicon RTV to insulate the wires. Apply some electrical tape or RTV to cover where the battery wires attach to the PC Board. It looks like the positive lead could almost touch ground if left uncovered.

Next, reassemble the end panel and PC Board with the small screws. Route the wires and placement of the battery so that the battery wires are routed around the battery and away from the case closure snaps. Apply a piece of double stick tape or RTV to the back of the battery and attach it to the PC Board. Then snap the back cover back on. Plug that charger or USB cable in and let the unit fully charge. You should immediately see the screen display working once the new battery is installed since the replacement battery is semi-charged.

Your done! That was easy and you saved yourself a bunch of money. Your new battery will probably give you a little bit better run time.

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