19-May-2000 (Fri)

It feels like we didn't get a whole lot done this week. Somehow we were in meetings and on the phone constantly, yet I can hardly remember what we did. Maybe that's just because it's been a while since I've hit anything with a crowbar. Ok, let's see...

Alas, poor Twenty Tank:

    Eleventh Street suffers another casualty: Twenty Tank, the brew-pub/restaurant across the street from us, is closing in a few weeks. Their lease came up for renewal, and their rent increased by 400%, and that makes the difference between making and losing money. This is just horrible news, I really liked that place. I ate there a lot!

Remodeling:

    We made some more progress on the construction plans; our architect now has a much more complete set of blueprints describing the large-scale work that needs to be done, and with that, he can start getting construction permits and bids from contractors. I'll put the architectural plans up on the web site as soon as I can find something that can reliably read DXF files on Linux...

Kiosks:

    I picked up one of those cheapo laptops I mentioned on the remodeling page and started trying to turn it into an internet kiosk. Hardware-wise, that worked out really well: it comes apart easily, and hooking up an external keyboard and mouse with the built-in keyboard detached works great. Software-wise, it's not going so well; I think the thing just doesn't have enough memory to run a modern version of Netscape. Just five years ago my development machine was a P90 with 24M; today, Netscape is such a bloated pig that you can't run it on such a machine without it thrashing constantly. So I guess this means the kiosks just got more expensive again...

Sound System:

    We're closer to nailing down what kind of sound system we're going to end up with (when I bought this place, I thought there was a sound system in it, I really did) and I think we have a pretty good idea of what we're doing about stage and dance floor lighting.

    It sounds like a unified dj/live sound system is the way to go. Most clubs that do live music actually have two sound systems, one for the dance floor, which will typically have sound coming from all sides; and a completely separate sound system for live acts, where the sound comes from the direction of the stage only. The live system is more powerful, and needs to include a mixing board, stage monitors, and so on. It's common for clubs to only own their dj system, and bring in a rental live system for each band, but that's a big hassle for all the reasons you'd expect; plus it's not economical if you do a lot of live shows, as we intend to do.

    The advantage of having one sound system instead of two is that you can share components, and in particular, you have half as many giant speakers blocking your sight lines. So in a unified system, you'd have speakers at the four corners of the room, and turn off the back two when a band was on stage. The disadvantage is that it's a more complicated system to design, but that seems to be less of an issue with more modern gear, in particular, with this insanely cool box called Soundweb that routes amps to speakers and simulates crossovers and limiters with software and a bunch of DSPs. With this device, you can completely reconfigure the sound system by just selecting a different preset in the controller application that runs on a connected laptop. It made me drool, I'm a geek that way.

    It sounds like that's the way we're going to go; we're still trying to figure out how to build this system as inexpensively as possible while still having something that sounds great. We found a good deal on a set of four EAW MQ 1312/1394 loudspeakers, which will be more than enough for this club. From what we've heard, these should sound incredible.

Lighting:

    Our current plan is to get six Technobeams, and space them around the perimeter of the dance floor, three on each side; plus a pair of Studio Spot 250s above the center of the room. We already own six Track Spots, but they're just not bright enough for the main room, especially with the enlarged dance floor, so we'll use four of them in the upstairs back room, and figure out some way to use two of them outside on the street. For the stage lighting, we'll have a rectangle of 16 par cans above the stage, and to control all the lights, a Whole Hog 500.

    Track Spots and Technobeams are shaped like traditional rectangular box with a pivoting mirror on one end. Studio Spots are much cooler looking, in that the whole light spins around, rather than just the mirror. With the range of motion the Studio Spots have, I think we'll be able to use those to illuminate the ceiling as well as the dance floor.