Thursday, September 2, 2021

Low Cost Home Office Webinar Setup

Home office webinar setup, Tom Worthington, CC BY, 2 September 2021

This is my home office setup for teaching online. I will be discussing this in my Keep Calm and Carry Online Webinar. Normally I talk sitting down, as it is then much easier to access the equipment, and I can't wander out of shot. I use a small wired headset for better sound ($50). I use a wired keyboard (second hand $5) and wired mouse (second hand $5) to operate the presentation. I have tried various wireless headsets, remote controllers and pointing devices, but find they get in the way, get lost and the batteries go flat at inconvenient times.

I use a low cost laptop ($500) plugged into a 24 inch monitor (second hand $100). Internet access is provided by a 4G wireless modem ($50 plus $15 a month for access), plugged into a router configured to limit bandwidth ($100).

Behind the monitor is a web-camera (under $100) with a clip on telephoto lens (under $20). The camera is on a telescopic tripod, so I can push it down out of sight behind the monitor, when not in use  (and so it can't see me). I appear in front of a folding green screen (second hand $10, plus $5 for green paint). There is a sound absorbing pin-board behind the monitor, which can also b used as a green screen ($30).

Under the desk is an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) , in case mains power is lost (UPS $10 secondhand, new battery $50).

Beside the monitor is a ring light for better illumination ($10) and my smartphone ($500). I dial-in to the video conference to provide a more reliable audio channel, and as a backup in case the power, laptop or primary Internet connection fails. Also I can monitor how well the audio and video is received using the phone.

I have an ergonomic chair to provide comfort (free second hand). The blood-pressure monitor is just to remind me how stressful online learning can be. ;-)

For a more advanced setup, see Nicolo Malagutti's  "A bespoke audio-visual set-up" (2021).

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