We've covered this rig a few times (1, 2 & 3). Let's face it, life mandates change. As we continue to explore the world and enable new places and possibilities for live streaming, we face new challenges that always brings us back to the drawing board. In our market, AT&T (our main carrier) provides service almost everywhere, albeit not always the fastest connection. While Speedify drastically helps to resolve this problem, when we're down to 1 bar across our devices, there's only so much hope.
Version 1 enabled setup speed like never before. We'd arrive up to 2 hours before for setup and string our gear across an entire table top. It was awful!
We invested in better audio equipment, better networking equipment and all of it battery operated. We immediately cut setup time in half. 60 minutes was pretty revolutionary, yet we knew we weren't done yet.
Version 2 introduced the tripod and BOOM(!) cut setup time by 50%! We shared this setup with the world on #LiveWithSteadi. Another great addition, 2 non-powered +9dB gain antennas for the hotspot. As great as this build was, it still had much room for improvement.
Version 3 Focused on slimming the over all rig down and enable it for easier travel in the car. This slightly modified setup saved us a about 10 minutes per shoot, with a total of 20 minutes from start to finish for a live stream. Knowing that we had many friends around the world still struggling with setup, we again showcased this build on our #LiveWithSteadi show.
Alas: The (current) Problem Solver - V. 4.0
The game has changed - for the better. Up to this point we drastically reduced our setup time, cut weight, optimized for travel and increased cellular signal (somewhat). If we had to pinpoint one area of weakness, cellular signal wasn't always optimal. The solution we landed on a system that promised up to a 23dB gain, which could change everything. Our testing showed an average of 5-12dB gain is poor signal areas. Note that 1 dB gain is double the signal strength. Traditional cell antennas are powered at 0.3w. This new booster sent 5w to the antenna. That's over 16x more juice!
HD streams require a minimum of 4 mbps to be stable. This new solution so far has delivered it's promise of better overall signal.
Name this Beast!
Retailing for $200, the weBoost Drive Sleek checked many boxes for us. While testing other systems, including the big brother Drive 4G-M, the Sleek was the only one that fix on the tripod without much manipulation and fit within the power requirements to not need additional sources.
Let's wrap it up:
- Will this solve all my connectivity issues?
No. There is much more at play here than just internet for live streaming. I covered this in depth on our #LiveWithSteadi show. Learn more here.
-Shut up and take my money!
If you already have a decent signal, this may not be a good solution for you.
-Are there better solutions our there?
I'd bet there are. If you'd like to explore and find out, go for it! Just be sure to follow up in the comments and let us know what you found.
-What's the current set up time?
~10 min. Compared to where we began, we're pretty happy overall!
So what's next? Will there be a version 5? Yes! Our next build is focused on slimming down the rig. Mainly focusing on audio for the next round. We've used a mix of Rode Filmmaker Kit Lavs and Sennheiser G3's. Both have their pros and cons. We've already invested in Sennheiser AVX Lavs and will continue until the Zoom H6 is maxed out (with 6). In our testing, these give the best overall performance and ease of use compared to the others. If you're looking to upgrade your audio, we definitely recommend them!
So how do you assemble yours? Here’s the breakdown of all the gear shown:
- Switcher - iPad Pro 12.9 Cell+Wifi
- iPad Mount
- Zoom H6
- Google Wifi
- G-Wifi Power Cable
- Hotspot - Netgear MR1100
- Mounting Clamp
- Cold Shoe Mount
- Gear Travel Bag
- Magnetic Mount (for antenna)
- Powered USB Hub
- 1' Ethernet Cables
- 1' USB A -> C Cables
- Google Wifi Mount
- XLR Converter (Rode Mic)
- Rode Filmmaker Kit - Lav
- Sennheiser AVX Lav
- weBoost Drive Sleek - Power Cell Booster
- Apple USB to Ethernet
- Apple USB 3 Camera to Lightning
- 5v to 12v usb cable