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get this gear!

Here I am going to make a series of lists for you. Beginning with the least amount of equipment and progressing to more expensive solutions.

The Cable company will wire your location and have a cable feed which you will broadcast over. The cable company may or may not supply the "MODULATOR" this changes the signal from your cameras or vcrs to the signal the Cable comapany will distribute and the viwers will see.


I really recommend the purchase of new equipment, because it will have a warranty and support from its maker, the used equipment may be on sale because it no longer functions perfectly (for any number of reasons). Yet if you cannot afford the new you can 'make do' until you can justify the purchase.

1. Videonics - Digital Video Mixer - this unit will serve two purposes - one it will syncronize the signals from different VCRs and will replace a "TIME BASE CORRECTOR", and the switcher will allow you to easily change from one source to the next as you play the programs when broadcasting.
Videonics have two new switchers the MXPro and MXProDV which replace the MX-1 the workhorse switcher that they manfactured for 7 years. .If the new product is out of your price range the you can find the Videonics MX-1 on auction at Ebay in the camcorder and vcr - studio equipment section.

2. VHS VCRs - have at least 3 of them
$300 @ $100 each from Wal-Mart

3. Four Color Televisions for monitors - one for the outgoing program and one each for the VCRs to cue them.
$400 @ 100 each from Wal-Mart - or free if you can get someone to give them to you.

4. TAPE REWINDER - dont ever rewind the tapes in the players and they will last longer.

5. TITLE MAKER - Videonics Titlemaker is an excellent choice for the message board.

6. ANY VIDEO CAMERA AND TRIPOD - Regardless of the format you can copy to VHS for broadcast - and if you are using the Videonics Switcher you can broadcast using that camera

7. Radio Shack microphones, handheld and lavaliere - you will want to construct a long cable to connect between the microphone and the camera.

8. Use Regular flood lights - see the section on three point lighting - Wal-Mart has many useable fixtures. You can construct your own stands with pipes welded to auto or truck tire rims.

I have noticed one common mistake, at least oversight, which access providers make. They miss the point that the public and the professional broadcasters do not use the same levels of equipment. They also miss the point that the public owns a variety of different format cameras. Here is a list.
1. home BETA - obsolete for 15 years or more- few people use it but many own old tapes and/or players and cameras
2. 8MM - very common
3. HI 8 - in common use
4. DIGITAL 8 - new cutting edge - competeing with MINI-DV
5. VHS - very common
6. VHS-C - in common use
7. SVHS - common for business applications
8. MINI DV - New and the market is moving to this for home use, on the market for 5 years and well developed
9. DV-PRO - professional and commerical(a $5000 camera)

The point is all of these formats are in use today. If you design your facility with the idea that people will be more likely participate if they can use their own tapes and equipment, your station will be more successful.


Your Access Station will have a limited number of tape as you start and consequently you will broadcast video less than you will as time goes on. The message board will run during the remaining time.

You may be self funding, an all volunteer station, if so you will have to allow for the needs of your volunteers. You cannot expect an individual to devote extensive hours on a regular basis.
1. Have short reasonable shifts - 4 hours at the most
2. Ask for volunteers for specific projects - Your station may have a public service program such as ours offers. Our 'TAKE FIVE' program offers the public the opportunity to come to the studio and be taped for 5 minutes. They may speak on any topic they choose, recite a poem, sing a song. Our Humane Society regularly uses this service, Churches offer messages, and Politicans campaign; and each has up to a full 5 minutes.

VOLUNTEERS are so important to your orginizations, they will enable a station, particulary a new station to become a real public service. Take time to ask them what they are interested in, how they think they can benefit the station. Ask them what their other spheres of interest are, and how access can help there. Networking and involvement will help the station to grow, by helping the community at large. You have non-profit community organizations, go to them and explain Public Access, how public access can help them to promote their own outreach and service programs. Ask them what they need and work with them to find solutions. Access can provide the tools for their volunteers to use. Access can supply the medium to spread their message. Access can supply the education to use the tools of television.

You may have to start out with a single room, and only have room for the cablecasting equipment and tapes. This would not be a bad thing. It would be an inexpensive solution which would allow you to grow.
My opinion - best space to look for - if you are starting new, is a warehouse. These buildings have space to work with, if you really want to plan of public participation and production you need more space than you could guess.

Huge space? If you have a large open area you can construct a number of special use sets. For example - a talk show set, news desk set, blue/green wall set, kitchen set, you can have moveable platforms and risers, provide tier'd seating for audiances, Have debate stages for discussion groups. You may have a group which has a regular program such as a sit-com (remember 'TOOL TIME' started as a public access program). This thought leads to the idea of involving your local theatre group.
In time you could construct a formal stage (keep in mind a stage such as this is a science ) with seating on risers, most local productions need no more than 500 seats. Local groups such as Dance Recital companys - Bands - Theatre Groups are always looking for inexpensive space they can use.(dont be greedy) Your facility could recieve a modest income and at the same time be providing excellent television programs either live or delay broadcast.
Im sure you get the idea now. You can divide the Ware house and supply meeting rooms. You could have your kitchen certified and have televised banquets.
Fund raising will be an ongoing effort for the station, and you will be better off to invite the public there for the fundraisers. Renting your meeting rooms to groups could supply additional income.

TELEVISION AND MULTIMEDIA EDUCATION is one of the best offering you can give the public. The warehouse situation could supply you with mulitple meeting/classrooms, this manual should suggest to you the many different classes you could teach. Classes can both, supply income and increase participation.
Media is expanding really fast with, new low power television stations, more and more cable stations, and the Internet. The internet itself is going to demand more trained techincal help than all the rest put together. As the technology of the internet grows and video and audio streaming becomes practical, business will need trained technicians to operate their own inhouse facilities. You can prepare your students in all of the necessary fields.

POLICYS AND RULES - Keep them simple and dont have a lot of them. You can review the mission statements, policys and rules of many other stations by accessing the MASTER ACCESS LINKS.

The mission statement for your 501c3 will be your starting point, and a guiding statement for your orgainization.

1. To broadcast over cable programming Programs supplied by their Communities
2. To Supply a facility for production
3. To Supply video equipment for production
4. To Provide Education in video and television production

Donations of equipment, Every community if filled with closets and garages of unused equipment. USE YOUR ACCESS STATION AND ASK FOR EQUIPMENT - VIDEO CAMERAS - VCRS - TELEVISIONS - BAND AUDIO EQUIPMENT - COMPUTERS AND ACCESSORYS - OFFICE EQUIPMENT -
You will get far more equipment than you can use, but you should try to add it to your system if possible. Keep your viewpoint open concering your growth and store the good things until you can bring them out.
Plan for breakdowns and always have a back up piece of equipment stored
Every year have a fundraising Potluck and Sale of the surplus equipment so you can keep the inventory to a reasonable amount. Sell the extra stuff cheap make it a really good deal - the broken stuff - you give it away -

AUDIO EQUIPMENT -- THIS IS WHERE THE BAND EQUIPMENT WILL REALLY HELP YOU. THE AVERAGE BAND HAS EVERYTHING YOU NEED. Many Access television stations, miss the importance of Audio in television. AUDIO CARRYS 75% OF ALL THE INFORMATION OF A PROGRAM. You need audio mixers and good microphones, graphic equalizers, and 60 cycle humbusters, pre amps and amplifiers - sound effects generators - the list goes on an on. A sound proof audio production room would be a wonderful addition to any access station.

Although it is sad for the bands, because they form and breakup all the time. This can be good for your station because, there is a lot of equipment setting around unused.

Dont beleve anything is obsolete - when you recieve equipment - figure a way to adapt it and use it. Remember redundancy and backup is important for broadcast and production equipment.


On our page about making Hi-lite and college submission tapes you can read the simplest method of editing.
As you grow want to purchase better editing equipment - I recomend you start by purchasing a SVHS edit system (player vcr, edit control, record vcr) - Ebay will have at auction various complete systems. The price range for these used systems will vary from $1500 to $5000. This will be for professional - SONY - JVC or PANASONIC systems. This is a current sample of an auction page EBAY PROFESSIONAL - STUDIO video products.

The choice of equipment is a problem regardless of how much or how little you can budget. With a limited budget and faced with a changing technology you have a compounded problem.

The SVHS and VHS format for home and for cable cast use will remain for some time. The SVHS format provides a durable tape for Cable-cast purposes. Editing equipment is quickly becoming available as business abandons it and turns to DVD, Computer, DVC and other formats.

The cable cast facility which broadcast in SVHS and can edit in SVHS and VHS will remain viable for a long time. All of the formats can be copied to SVHS and editing performed.

As you grow you can shift to newer formats. Computer editing will be the most efficent method of editing. I would like to brag on some one of the programs, but I really cant, they all have some problem. It seems to me the more they can do, (meaning they can perform complicate editing) they are so complicated you will never learn them. Over generalization - well duh - of course - but you get the point. Eventually the best companies will learn to skin their programs and simplify the commands, or at least apply a logical order for their use. But like the DVD its in the future. In the meanwhile companies such as Videonics have already created user-friendly video editing products which can perform excellent editing, these products combined with the used equipment will allow you to build efficent Public Access stations, low power television stations, or home editing facilities.

The DVD disk will be excellent for the Access stations, the image quality, compact size, durability are all reasons to move to that format.

I believe that the DVD disk will be a new standard in the near future. The DVD disk is far superior to any tape for durability. Given that you dont sandpaper the surface or some such destructive practice. The tapes stretch, are subject to moisture and magnetic problems.

The VHS tape medium will stay around for home use until an equally cheap method of copying programs from the Television is invented. But even if DVDs do become the home standard for movies, how long will it take to make equally inexpensive DVD Recorders, and then again a cheap disk to record onto, after all the ability to erase and copy over a VHS tape is a plus for the home.