Setting up a videoconference in the mLab

If you've scheduled a videoconference in the mLab, the equipment will be set up when you arrive and someone will be there to assist you. If you ever need to set up the videoconferencing equipment yourself, here's what to do.  These instructions use the 20” iMac in the corner of the room which is usually hooked up to the projector. These instructions are for using MacOS; that computer will also boot into Windows if you prefer. 

Camera setup

  • Option 1: Camcorder. The best video comes from using the Sony Handycam over Firewire.  It needs a tripod and a long cable, which are kept locked away with the camera, so you'll need to arrange access ahead of time for this option. Connect the Firewire first, then turn on the camera (to the "Camera" position), then launch Skype. (Sometimes you have to try this more than once, it can be fussy.  If it doesn't work, quit Skype, turn off the camera, unplug the cable, and try again.)
  • Option 2. Logitech camera: It's the cute little round thing, stationed on the wooden platform below the center of the whiteboard. Make sure it is plugged in to one of the three USB ports on the back of the machine. You'll need an extra long cable, which is usually there. 
In either case, the best position for the camera is just below the center of the screen, so that you get a natural interaction with the person on the far end. Both cameras default to autofocus. The camcorder zoom can be controlled from the rocker on the camera, or from the remote. The Logitech has pan/tilt/zoom, but they can only be controlled from Windows.


Audio setup

Make sure the Phoenix Quattro microphone/speaker device (small, squat, circular, and silver – generally lives on the desk to the right of the corner iMac) is plugged into the computer. The USB cable for the Phoenix is long enough to extend to the conference table. The end going into the back of the computer is turquoise and silver. It will fit into one of the three USB ports on the back of the machine.

Turn on the Phoenix by pressing the circular power button on the side of the device. The buttons should show a blue backlight to indicate that it has power.  To turn it off, hold down the button for several seconds.  

Set both the computer volume (Preference Pane or menubar) and the Skype volume (in the call window, once you get it going) near or at maximum, and use the volume buttons on the Phoenix to control sound level.  If the audio sounds distorted even when you lower it on the Phoenix then you can try lowering the volume on the computer a little bit. 

In case of technical difficulties with the Skype connection, or to tie in a regular phone call with a Skype session, the Phoenix Quattro can also function as a conference phone.

Skype setup

Open Skype and go to the Preferences window (under the Skype menu or by pressing command-comma ⌘,). Under Audio, select the PHNX MT301 as your audio output and input from the drop-down menus.

Under Video, select the appropriate camera (DVR900 or Logitech Camera) from the drop-down menu. The preview image should show a view of the mLab from the perspective of the whiteboard.

Projector setup

Plug the projector into the back of the computer. The projector cable, a blue plug attached to a white adapter with a light blue CUS label on it, will fit into the port closest to the center of the iMac; the other end fits into the port in the wall just below the computer. Turn on the projector by pressing the Power button in the top right-hand corner of the remote, which should be resting on the marker holder along the bottom of the whiteboard.The computer should recognize the connection and adjust your screen resolution to match the projected image. (Things will appear much larger on the screen of the iMac.)  The best video set up is mirroring on, 1024x768, 60 Hz. 

Lower the projector screen by pressing the DOWN button on the wall panel behind the iMac. Once the screen has reached the bottom of the projected image, press STOP. (Watch out, it'll take out the camera if you aren't careful.)

You are now ready to start a videoconference with someone on the big screen. Follow these instructions to connect. Make sure to sit in front of the camera (at the conference table) with the Phoenix at the center of the table so the people on the other end can both see and hear you. To adjust the volume on the Phoenix, press the up and down arrows to the right of the power button. 

Using the Phoenix Quattro as a conference phone

The Phoenix Quattro can work as a conference phone, on its own or connecting between a regular phone call and your Skype session. Using a standard phone cable, connect the Phoenix to the jack labeled "Phone" in the small floor box in the center of the room. That jack is on the same phone line as the desk phone in the room, (503) 459-4619. You can answer a call by pushing L1 on the Phoenix. To make a call, use the desk phone (since the Phoenix doesn't have a dial pad). Just like any extension in your house, after the Phoenix is online you can hang up the desk phone. Hit L1 on the Phoenix to hang up. 

Note that while the Phoenix can work as a conference phone without Skype, it gets its power from an internal battery so make sure it is charged.  It recharges via a power supply or via USB (so you can power it by plugging it into a powered-up computer). To turn off the Phoenix, hold down the power button for several seconds.