Skype. It’s great. It’s free. You can talk to anyone in the world (within certain boundaries) while tappity tapping away on your computer. Microphones. Mics. They are super diverse in their capabilities and are usually built for specific purposes. You need one to use Skype. The big issue with mics is that you are so often forced to speak right into them and what should be a great conversation often turns into ridiculous “Can you hear me now?” exchanges because you leaned over to the right slightly. Well, I had enough of this and decided to do something about it.
My significant other travels a lot and so we spend a lot of time on the phone debriefing and planning future missions. When you clock over an hour a day conversing with any one person, you often need to attend to things in your immediate area while talking. Sure, you can buy a Skype/Voip phone and strap it to yourself and wander around freely, but why not build the ultimate speakerphone and walk around naked as a j-bird?
Parabolic mics are very well known as essential spy gear for any pro or amateur spook. They work by focusing all sound that rebounds off the dish to a central point away from it where the microphone is mounted.
My mother bought a decorative dish from Pier One to help us “stage” a house we were selling a few years ago and I had always noticed that it reflected and amplified sound back when I passed by it. After a few recent phone calls where I was trying to type while talking, I got fed up with holding my head in one position so my wife could hear me and decided to take action. I needed a solution. Then I thought- instead of pointing a dish out into the world to pick up other people’s secrets, what if I focused it on myself so I had a broader “window of clarity” for my microphone?
I had noticed that this dish reflected back very far; that the concavity of the surface was actually rather flat and thought of something kind of cool: What if the dish and mic were not connected, as they usually are, and therefore did not look like a parabolic mic at all? This dish could be mounted on the wall almost 4 feet away from the mike that was mounted on my desk.
The first thing I did was come up with a bracket for the wall- I have a plastic wall that lets light through and I did not want to mar the delicate surface by drilling holes. What I did was remove a couple of screws from the plastic and mount a piece of wood with some leftover IKEA brackets I had lying around. Then I drilled two holes longitudinally through the back of the dish so I did not have to break through the front surface.
A few nuts and bolts later, I had a swivel mount up on my wall with the decoration now serving a purpose. I mounted the mic to the back of my monitor and pow- a superspyspeakerphone! Now I can move around my desk and handle any odds and ends while Skyping with Agent 001.