Beginners Guide to Overhead Cranes

With the economic situation as it is many manufacturing businesses are closing down and several workshops are closing each week in the UK.

With this increasing problem a great deal of these old factory units are being put into moth balls or reused as something else. The problem is lots of these units have overhead gantry cranes up in the roof of the workshop and they can not be left as they are for health and safety reasons.

They need to be removed but this is a job for specialists. The steel work can be 20 or 30 tons in weight and as high as 30 metres in the air so a step ladder and a transit van is not really going to do the job.

What you need is a specialist firm with the knowledge and equipment to carry out the job correctly.

Firms that do specialise in overhead cranes, swing jibs, and gantry cranes of all types are few and far between but if you can you need one that will buy the second-hand crane from you as it will mean you can effectively get the crane removed for nothing and you may even get paid for it also.

Overhead cranes are sometimes referred to as bridge cranes, single girder cranes, double girder cranes or gantry cranes and are used through British industry in large and small factory units in a variety of industrial markets.

The typical workshop overhead crane consists of parallel runways with a traveling bridge which spans between the two across the width of the workshop. This allows the electric chain or rope hoist, the part that does the lifting, to move across between the bridges electrically.

When people think of cranes they often picture a building site tower crane or the type that are used on the back of a lorry, but overhead cranes are mainly for the manufacturing industry or for production line uses.

It makes economic sense to have an overhead crane or jib crane installed in a factory unit or workshop as they last for years and the cost of hiring mobile cranes for lots of heavy lifting is prohibitive.

Overhead cranes are now so much more technologically advanced and have in recent years made great strides in improving performance and safety. These modern cranes are so well made that they will last for decades if serviced correctly on a regular basis. Modern overhead cranes are much easier to maintain and operate.

They are a variety of different hoisting and cross travel speeds with differing performance on acceleration and braking parameters depending on what you are intending to use the crane for. The team of experts you hire should have all industry requirements and be able to advise you on the suitability of any workshop lifting gear you may be interested in.

If your factory unit has unusual dimensions or specifications then a site visit can be arranged to give you the benefit of their experience and advice on your requirements and needs.

The modern overhead crane has load-sway damping which you can activate when using the cross travel motion. The advantages of the modern electric chain hoists are that they have variable speed control with options for limit switches. This means that even very delicate things can be moved around and located from and to anywhere on the workshop floor with total care.

Installation by our team takes the minimal amount of time so that your business is not put on hold any longer than is absolutely necessary. Also our installation engineers have a reputation second to none so you can be assured it will be installed right first time.

Please contact www.agcranes.com today for any gantry crane sales inquiries. We also have the UK’s largest stock of used overhead cranes.

Court Reporters and The Equipments They Use in the Court of Law

Court Reporters are a fascinating bunch. I always wonder how they stay under control despite all the things that happen around them in the court of law. As the parades of witnesses come and go, you can see them pound away or talk into the equipments that help them do their jobs.

It is obvious very few people pay attention or understand the equipments that help court reporters perform their jobs so efficiently. In this article, I examine these equipments.

The court reporter uses two primary equipments in the performance of his or her job. They are the Stenograph and the Silencer.

I will start out by talking about the stenograph.

The stenograph also known as stenotype is a specialized typewriter used by court reporters to do their jobs. It is designed to allow for shorthand typing. The keyboard is compact like that of a piano. The symbols on the keyboard are phrases or words. They are translated or transcribed in real-time to computers.

A good court reporter using a stenotype can type up to 300 words per minute. It is this speed that allows the court reporter to capture all the things said in the court of law.

The number one manufacturer of the stenotype machine is the Stenograph Corporation. The corporate headquarter is at Mount Prospect, Illinois. They manufacture manual or automated machines. Some of them are even wireless.

The second and last court reporter equipment I will cover is the Silencer. The silencer is a hand held mask that contains a microphone. The reporter uses this silencer for voice writing.

Using the voice-writing method, a court reporter speaks directly into the silencer. As the reporter repeats the testimony into the recorder, the mask on the silencer prevents the reporter from being heard during testimony. The silencer records everything that is said by judges, witnesses, attorneys, and other parties in the court. The silencer can even capture gestures and emotional reactions.

A leading manufacturer of silencers is the AudioScribe Corporation. They are located in Breaux Bridge, LA.

There you have it. If you were ever wondering about court reporters and their equipment, you don’t have to wonder any more.

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Beginning Electric Violin – A Review of Equipment

Learning to play electric violin shares many similarities with studying acoustic violin, with a few important differences. The first is that almost every acoustic violin is shaped and tuned the same way. Electric violins, however, can come in many shapes and varieties, including 4-string, 5-string, 7-string, fretted, and some with the upper bout removed entirely to allow easier playing in the higher positions. And, in fact, your acoustic violin can be “converted” into an electric by attaching either a microphone or a piezo pickup to the body. Most other electric violins use a solid body, just like most electric guitars (such as the ubiquitous fender stratocaster). What follows is a review of electric violins and a discussion of some of the additional equipment you will likely require.

While there are many electric violins on the market by large volume manufacturers, most of these just don’t sound very good. Some of the better (and mostly handmade) electric violins are reviewed below. I made my selection from instruments that I have either played or owned.

In general, I am not a fan of mass produced instruments. But Yamaha makes some of the best. Part of the Yamaha silent series, the model SV-200 features a dual piezo pickup. This is supposed to improve the sensitivity of the instrument to the subtleties of your playing, especially dynamic (volume) range. Coming in at around $1000, this instrument is cheaper than the others I will review below. On playing the instrument, I thought it was indeed responsive, certainly more so than previous Yamaha instruments. The on-board pre-amp allows for some sound manipulation on the instrument itself rather than in a separate, detached unit. The down-side of this is that it increases the weight of the violin.

Another popular model is made by NS Designs. This company uses a proprietary piezo pickup that is designed to be very clean and sound more like an acoustic violin in its unprocessed state. I sampled a a 5-string model, and I thought that the neck was overly thick and the instrument rather heavy. Still, if you are looking for a clean sound, this might be a good choice.

Zeta has earned itself a lot of hype in part because Boyd Tinseley, of Dave Matthews Band, uses a Zeta instrument called (what else) the “Boyd Tinsley.” Zeta also uses a proprietary piezo pick-up that has a very characteristic sound. If you have ever heard Santana play guitar, then you probably recognize his distinctive sound that comes from the combination of his Paul Reed Smith guitar coupled with a Mesa Boogie amp. Most of the sound coming out of that amp, no matter how the sound is EQ’d sounds “Boogified” to me. Similarly, I felt playing on this instrument that my sound would get “Zeta’d” by the pick-up. And you either like this sound or you don’t. A big downside to this zeta model is that it is quite heavy.

Mark Wood, Another “boutique” maker of electric violins, recognized that trying to hold a 7-string fretted violin under the neck is quite difficult, due to the weight. Thus, he designed and patented a “flying v-shape” with a strap that fits around your torso and holds the violin up in a playing position. Though it can take some time to get used to, this design really does support the weight of the fiddle well. Make no mistake — adding frets to the violin is a big adjustment for the classical player. In fact, if you have ever played a mandolin, you probably realize how much the frets can change things. Sliding and vibrato techniques are very difficult on a fretted instrument. In my opinion, the frets are best for allowing guitar players and others familiar with fretted instruments to circumvent the usual requirement of pinpoint accuracy with finger placement which is necessary for playing in tune on the an acoustic violin. The 7-string fretted model, which is the flagship instrument in his line of electric violins, is priced at $3500. Mark Wood does not use proprietary piezo pickups. Rather, he uses either Barbera or Schatten pickups, which are mass produced piezo pickeps that are used in many different electric violins.

A former Zeta employee, John Jordan makes custom electric violins in almost every combination of material, strings and frets that you can imagine. Jordan started his own design studio when he became disillusioned by Zeta’s increasingly commercial attitude. Jordan handcrafts each instrument using his patented shape, which eliminates the peg-box and puts machined tuners near the bridge. This is designed to make the instrument lighter. Jordan is very much the true luthier of electric instruments. Many of his models, particularly the ones made of wood, are very attractive. Jordan uses a variety of pickups, including Zeta’s proprietary model. In addition, he likes the Barbera piezo pickup for a more “Stradivarius-like” sound, and recommends this pick-up for classical musicians. For rock, jazz and pop, he suggests using the darker, more “Guarneri-like” Ashworth piezo pick-up. Like most other electric violin makers, his 5-string unfretted is his most popular model. It seems to have a thinner neck than other electrics, which allows the classical 4-string acoustic player to make an easier transition to electric.

All of the violins described above are solid-body models. This means that the instrument has no hollow, resonating chamber and therefore produces little to no sound unless it is “plugged in.” However, another way to create an “electric violin” is to replace the bridge on an acoustic violin with a piezo pickup bridge-mount that can be plugged in just like a solid body. The downside to this is that these pickups can generate feedback. However, this option can sound quite nice and retains the customary shape and light weight of the acoustic violin. Common piezo models are the Fishman series and the L.R. Baggs. There are also several smaller “custom” companies that make these pickups, and it can be useful to try these if you don’t like the sound of the Fishman/Baggs. This setup shares all of the same disadvantages as any other violin fitted with a piezo pickup, as described below.

What all electric violins share is the need for an electronic pickup to transmit your playing to a unit capable of sound manipulation, such as a pre-amp or rack unit, and ultimately to another unit capable of sound production. The two major types of pick-ups in use in today’s plugged-in instruments are piezo and electromagnetic. Piezo pickups are used almost exclusively for electric violins. They have certain characteristics that some players find less than ideal. While a bow change on an acoustic violin can be completely silent to the listener, the piezo pickup will always transmit bow changes and bow noise. The reason for this is that they use sensitivity to pressure as their primary means of reproducing sound, and bow pressure is always variable. Also, piezo pick-ups have a tendency to sound fuzzy. Many different piezo pick-ups exist on the market, and some electric violin companies use their own proprietary models. The other type of pickup in use for electric violins is the electro-magnetic pickup. This is the pickup found in most guitars, and is considered the ideal form of sound transmission. While it is possible to build this type of pickup into an electric violin, it requires rather extensive modifications to the electric violin’s internal design and is rarely used. Perhaps in the future this type of pickup will become more available.

En route to reaching our ears, the electric violin’s signal usually is passed through a unit (or more often several units) capable of sound manipulation. Many of the same devices used by electric guitar players may also be used for the violin. For instance, reverb and delay units by Lexicon can provide warmth and depth of sound, while distortion boxes can allow the violin sound to approximate that of the guitar (a la Jimmy Hendrix playing America at Woodstock). There are literally hundreds of different devices, including foot pedals, that can manipulate the sound. Below is one of Lexicon’s top of the line reverb rack units. Computers are also increasingly used for sound manipulation and may eventually replace bulky sound manipulation boxes.

For electric violins employing a pickup, a pre-amp is necessary to intensify the signal from your violin, and to allow you to EQ the sound. One popular example of a pre-amp is the L.R. Baggs Para Acoustic DI. Some electric violins also have on-board pre-amps.

Further sound manipulation and signal intensification occurs when the signal is passed through an amplifier. Because most amps work best with mid and low frequency tones, it can be difficult to find a good amp for the electric violin, and even then it is usually necessary to spend a lot of time playing with the EQ. A popular amplifier for electric violin is the Fishman Loudbox 100. An important consideration when choosing an amplifier is that each leaves its own imprint on your sound. Thus, trying before buying is particularly important with amps.

For a more true reproduction of your sound, a PA system with speakers can also be used. The sound can still be EQ’d with a personal PA system and it is possible to preserve the acoustic sound.

Finally, the signal, after passing through the different sound manipulation devices, is broadcast to our ears by speakers. Often, these are built into the amp. You can also add additional speakers to create a stereo effect.

If you are looking to more or less duplicate your acoustic sound, playing electric violin may not be very satisfying to you. But for participating in a band, it allows the player to adjust their volume to match the other instruments, and to alter the sound to fit in better with a rock or pop style of music.

That being said, electric violin usually requires a potentially rather expensive foray into electronic equipment, which can be a lot of fun but also difficult since the sound you are searching for may take a lot of time to find, and may require testing a lot of different gear. Finding “your” sound can be a long journey. Some of the more interesting things you can do is to play on a 5-string, which adds a “c string,” below your “g-string,” or employ an octave pedal, which can drop your pitch an entire octave. Or you can play with distortion or a wah-wah pedal. And, while excellent technique is vital for classical music, electric violin can be more forgiving.

In the end, going electric can allow the violinist to participate in groups where ordinary acoustic violin simply cannot match the volume of the other instruments. In addition, the almost endless ability to manipulate the sound allows the electric violinist to go where no acoustic player has gone before.