Microphone Echo on Windows 10

This evening we needed to troubleshoot an echoing issue after some Microphone changes out in the Pub/Gaming room.

This little tutorial pertains to Microphone Echoing issues on Windows 10 for Google Hangouts, when using a USB microphone.

  1. Non-technical:
    1. Adjust your microphone so it is physically pointing away from your speakers.
    2. Lower your speaker volume slightly ~10%.
  2. Technical:
    1. Press the Windows key on your keyboard and type Audio into the search box that appears.
    2. Look for an entry for Manage audio devices and select that.
    3. This will open your Sound settings.
    4. Select the Recording tab and then scroll to your desired USB Microphone and choose it’s Properties. In my case it’s a Desktop Microphone (Studio – Microsoft LifeCam), with the Properties button in Yellow as you can see in the following photo. 
    5. From the Microphone Properties window that opens, select the Advanced tab, and look for the Allow applications to take exclusive control of this device setting, and uncheck it as you see in the following photo.
    6. From this point, you will need to go to your Levels tab and select the Desktop Microphone slider. You will Lower your level to 60 and press Apply. This will reduce the sensitivity of the microphone, and likely reduce the echo. At this point, you will need to perform a test with Google Hangouts. You may need to repeat this step a  few times, either lowering or raising the Levels as the test reflects. 

 

 

Audio Improvements

Back in Junior High-school, when I frequently began to game we constantly had music playing. In part, that was to drown out/obscure what we were actually saying. This was of course back during the days of BADD, as one of my former players talks a bit about that here.  

It was only natural to me that when I headed off to University, and switched to online text gaming (mainly IRC), I kept listening to music while playing as the room would be otherwise silent.

After my move to Montreal, my gaming groups changed notably in composition. Instead of a 3 year age span of students for players and the DM, I now had a 15+ year span and as wide of a spread in economic status. We were a varied bunch and with few exceptions, these groups did not use music at the table, and at first I didn’t even notice.

After a break of 4 years from gaming, when my (now) wife, and our close friend Wulfwyn started a Vampire game in our dinning room, I brought music back to the gaming table. At first we played it from our Television and Apple TV, complete with a stream of Vampire themed images during our sessions. Most of the time, it added to the game (and lead to the near Pavlovian response some of my players have to Depeche Mode).

We’re nearly 5 years (we began in late August/Early September 2011) from that time, I’m in the process of installing a 5.1 Surround Sound system into my gaming room. Goth music has generally been replaced by background soundtracks that are custom made for gaming situations. Some are are so realistic that the players swat at flies that don’t exist.

The Roll20 Digital Gaming Projector: Howto Part VI

Last weekend (the second of two back to back long weekends in Quebec) I returned to update everyone on the gaming projector project. As you saw, I had most of the ceiling beams up and in place.

I took a third long weekend (so much for my vacation bank) to spend more time with the family, accomplish some on more work on this project and to help a friend with renovations. Due to a nasty bout of rain, the renovations were delayed, which meant that I celebrated my 100th day of marriage with my wife (instead of renovating at a friends) and finished even more on the beams. As you’ll see in the next photo, the beams are essentially done (thanks to help from my wife on Friday), and the gaming room is cleaned up a little bit. Today (Sunday) I even found my wife’s preferred set of dice while cleaning!

20160710_153352

In this second photo, you get a sense of my new projector and mirror mount. The mounting support is a steel pipe, spray painted with a hammered black finish. I think that it will work just fine once the mirror and projector are tweaked. Until then, the single point of connection that the pipe gives, is a little less stable than the old I-Beam rail design, so the image is a little off.

20160710_153406

Left to do:

  • I need to wire in two more speaker outlets
  • Purchase Speakers and an Amplifier
  • Mount the Speakers
  • Trim the chain on the mirror (it holds it on an angle)
  • Finish the LED strips
  • Finish off the moulding in the rest of the ceiling
  • Photograph the entire setup
  • PLAY ON ROLL20.NET!

The Roll20 Digital Gaming Projector: Howto Part V

Overhead Beams

So it has been nearly a year since my prior entry in this series (Part VI on July 5th, 2015). Since then I’ve begun a few changes in the gaming room, some aesthetic and some for function. Suffice to say, we have moved forward from the version of the projector that you see here.

The Mirror

When we installed the gyproc/sheetrock in this room we only had a vague idea of what we were doing, and frankly we were not too careful. A few years of staring at bad joints drove us to do something about it. From the start I knew that I wanted to have ‘faux beams’ in the room, and that they would cover some of the mistakes. My wife also suggested that we wall paper the ceiling (which we also did in our Front porch), which would further conceal our mistakes.

This resulted in some work in June, 2016. My wife chose the pattern, and then the Brother-In-Law and I put up some wallpaper, which I painted later on. A couple of weeks after that, I built a framework from pine boards (and homemade MDF brackets) that I anchored to the ceiling. You can see what that starts to look like here.

Open Beams

This led to a series of conversations about wiring in speakers, USB, HDMI and several other types of cable, for future proofing. Since I do this frequently for my day job (I work in Technology), it was only a matter of time and budget. Now, on Canada Day weekend, 2016, we made a little headway in between my wife’s return to work from Maternity leave. As you can see in the following picture, most of the wiring has been run (for 7.1 surround sound focused on the gaming table), HDMI for the projector and a new projector mounting system. Entry IV (to come) in this series will cover the wiring in a bit more detail as well as the projector setup.

Overhead Beams

The Roll20 Digital Gaming Projector: Howto Part IV

The Roll20 Digital Gaming Projector: Howto Part IV

Tonight I’m going to briefly discuss the type of PC that you should be using for this.

My criteria came down to the following:

  • Silent or nearly silent as it’s sitting right next to my players.
  • The smaller, the better
  • Portable, or at least portable enough that I can put it away and use the table for other things
  • A reasonable sized screen, as attempting to control the projected map while it is upside down is a pain in the butt
  • Will accept a USB mouse, you may not need one, but I felt that I needed one
  • Enough CPU/RAM and Graphics power to drive Roll20 and whatever else you need (in my case I also play mood music for Airplay/Wifi).
  • A Uni-lingual English keyboard. Again you may not need one, or it may not be an issue for you, but I live in Canada and multilingual keyboards are a pain in the butt.
  • Cheap or free

In the end, here’s what I did:

  • I went with two older and under powered systems.
  • I use Synergy [http://synergy-project.org/] to control both PCs with one keyboard and one mouse.
  • I split my tasks over the two systems, music and the ‘DM view’ on one laptop, with the ‘Player/Projector view’ on the second system.

What I should do:

  • Invest in a Macbook or other quality laptop

 

 

The Roll20 Digital Gaming Projector: Howto Part III

The Roll20 Digital Gaming Projector: Howto Part III

It’s been 21 days since my last update. Since then, the projector has arrived (no thanks to Purolator’s delivery policies), as has the matching remote control that I purchased. With our new baby it took until the afternoon of the 27th for me to find a few hours to assemble a carriage/housing.

Seeing as the ceiling in the gaming room is quite low (6’6″) a traditional projector mount wouldn’t suit my needs. I needed to conceal the wires (as best as I could, hold a power supply, and support a hanging mirror). In the end, I designed  a hollow track system that I could run the wires through, but that would allow me to slide/adjust both the projector and the mirror. Sharing measurements is in my opinion, pointless. I made a few educated guesses about how durable I wanted the design, and selected economical materials from there. I then cut them to the length I needed for my specific setup.

Here is a mock up of the track from an end view:

Projector Track

Most of it is held together with epoxy and finishing nails as I was too impatient to wait for wood glue to properly cure up. All wood/MDF received a coat of “Cream White” spray paint so as to not offend my wife (Cream White was the closest colour to what we had painted the ceiling, and using the word ‘close’ is a stretch).

I did think to take a few pictures as I was mounting the whole affair to the ceiling. I’ll comment on the photos as we walk through them.

The first photo is the track laying on my gaming table. You can see the various cords and cables that it conceals. Four screws (one at each corner) were pre-drilled and prepped for mounting onto the ceiling.

Inside the Track

 

I skipped ahead slightly without photos as I was doing this on my own, but here you can see that the track is mounted to the ceiling, and I’ve slid the projector onto one end of the track. I elected to plug it in and try it just after this photo, before I got too far and realized the cables were unplugged or damaged.

Ceiling Mount

 

Here you can see the wire covers that I cut on an angle so they would hug the wall. The room has a ‘barn’ style roof, so each angle is different.

Wire Covers

 

In this picture you can see the mirror that I am using to bounce/reflect the projected image onto the tabletop. Thanks to the handy track system I was able to fine tune the image by adjusting the distance and angles. This will vary greatly for anyone else doing this. My advice: leave yourself lots of room for adjustment.

The Mirror

 

Finally, we have a test image using Roll20.net and the miniatures of my Pathfinder players.

Testing the Projector with Roll20

The Roll20 Digital Gaming Projector: Howto Part II

The Roll20 Digital Gaming Projector: Howto Part II

Last night in my haste to begin this process, I skipped a few background details. While most of my readers know, maybe some of you aren’t aware that I work in IT (Information Technology). I’ve had to put up more than one conference room projector over the years, and I know a bit about them. A couple of years ago, a co-worker introduced me to the world of short throw projectors and more exotic materials like Vikuiti film. While I won’t be using Vikuiti for this project, I’ve had a chance to experiment with it, and bouncing projected images off of mirrors.

Once the seed of the idea for the project was planted, and I had permission from my wife to proceed (as this isn’t a $50.00 project), I began shopping for a suitable projector.

My criteria were fairly straight forward:

  • Price: less than $200.00 after help from my gaming group
  • The projector needed to be physically small as the ceiling of my gaming room is only 6’6″
  • The “throw” of the image would be less than 6 feet even if I bounce it off of a mirror (to the top of my gaming table)
  •  The projector needs to be fairly quiet and not generate a lot of heat as we will be sitting “right under it”
  • Mountable either upside down,  or pointed downward
  • 1280 by 800 resolution
  • HDMI connection

Some of the elements that worked in my favor:

  • I wired the room that it will be in, so I know what circuits are free
  • I work in IT and I have contacts with various suppliers
  • The lights in the gaming room are dim-able, and broken into three independently controlled sections; two wall scones on each of the far walls, and a line of lights down the 28′ length of the room.
  • The room has only two windows, and we put heavy curtains on each window.

This brought the choice down to two strong contenders:

The EPSON VS335W – http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16824157270CVF

EPSON

The DELL M115HD – http://accessories.dell.com/sna/productdetail.aspx?c=us&cs=19&l=en&sku=210-ablu

dell-m115

From the start, the Dell had several advantages in my mind. It’s smaller, quieter, lighter, and 37% cheaper (thanks to my Corporate Dell rep giving me a discount).  The Epson had one thing that the Dell couldn’t deliver (brighter light/more lumens). While I didn’t discard this, since I can control the light in the gaming room, and I’m only ‘throwing’ the image under 6 feet, it wasn’t much of a concern.

Now, the Dell is on it’s way, and due to arrive before the 15th of June.

 

If you’re curious about Vikuiti Film, check this out. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fFcpg5A8AhQ