Monday, September 16, 2013

Push-to-Talk Headsets for Webinars

At 1pm AEST (0300 UTC) Tuesday 17 July I am presenting a free seminar on "MOOCs with Books" hosted by SA E-learning Support Services, for vocational educators (everyone welcome). While testing the setup on Friday I found the sound was distorted. It turned out the audio mixing software in Linux was causing a problem, which was easily bypassed.

About every computer based video/audio-conference I attend has a few minutes at the start where people sort out audio problems. Some of these problems can be solved with low cost hardware. Rather than giving new on-line staff and students a useless gift (such as a flash memory wrist strap), a Push-to-talk Headset (costing about $10) would be useful.

Headsets are readily available, some with push-to-talk buttons, but ones with push-to-mute ("cough" function) are rare. So I built myself an adapter to provide this function. The adapter has two 3.5 mm plugs for the microphone and headphone sockets on my laptop. The p[lugs are cabled to a small box with two switches and two sockets. A toggle switch selects microphone off/on. With the switch in the off position, a press button provides "Push-to-Talk". With the switch on the off position, the button provides "cough" function (pressing the button cuts off the microphone). There are 3.5 mm and 2.5 mm sockets for different headsets. The parts for this cost about $12.

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