The itch and the scratch

In the open-source world, where I feel at home, there is the concept of an itch which needs scratching. In other words, you go to work programming because you have a problem you want to address…

I have such a problem. In Uganda, where I have lived for the past 26 years, and where I am active in church ministry, I have found that in Africa, everything that is touched by people will sooner or later die (more sooner than later!). In the world of church sound and multi-media that is not a good thing because the whole sound system is connected with many delicate connectors. Not to mention the sensitive microphones.

Anyway, when you start with a reasonable set, it soon is reduced to a heap of scrap that hardly functions. Oh, and did I mention the fluctuating power-supply..? That is, if there is power at all because then you will have to use that scrappy generator set which fluctuates even MORE…!

I have learned to live in this Multi-Media-Jungle for some years and as a Dutchman at birth, I always look for how I can improve on the situation. I love these people and I know that it is due to the factors that in Africa, one just never had the exposure to these technical things that we as Europeans got exposed to from birth.

However, we need to find a way of having the equipment available at the local churches, yet have them protected from the hands that unintentionally spoil them.

In the area of sound, I found my answer in Behringer’s X32 system. A rack mounted system that is controlled by an Android App (actually, behringer only maintains an I-phone app, but we use the Android version which is maintained by David Giga). We have built it in a hidden cabinet, connected to a set of batteries with inverter so the electricity company can’t blow the system anymore. I’ve got two charger/inverters, one for charging, the other doesn’t get power from the mains power so that way my delicate equipment doesn’t get to touch the mains.

Up to now it has really served us well. No more wires as even the microphones are wireless and the keyboard and electronic drum-set are connected to a XLR-wall outlet.

Okay, so I have the sound working very well, but what about the video-projector..? That thing is still bouncing around every Sunday, together with it’s little brother the laptop. The laptop was worst off as it got hammered by our brother who operated the set each Sunday. It’s near dead now and as per some Sundays ago, the projector has also DIED!

There you have the ITCH, I need to find a SCRATCH for that itch.

For some time I’ve been searching and googling around and found nothing that comes close to what I need: A wireless projector system, just like my behringer X32 set…

But I have put together some prototype system. I bought a raspberry-pi and loaded it with LAMP (Linux Apache, MySql & Php). I made a startup script for the desktop so it would load the internet browser, and point it to the localhost, then make it full-screen (F11).

I will continue to talk about this little project in the next post 😉