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Maintenance and Upkeep of Dormant Intercom Equipment


Normally my job involves a lot of travel and onsite support directly with customers, so the recent travel restrictions mean that we are offering support and guidance in other ways. Sometimes that involves remote support. I haven't been asked about best practices for long-term storage of equipment before, however it is especially relevant in these times.

At the writing of this article, we are a month into having all sporting events and live productions shut down and unfortunately, we're not sure how long this shutdown will last. Much of the technical equipment required to run such events on a frequent basis is now dormant for the forseeable future. So, what does that mean for your Clear-Com® system and maintaining it during an extended period of disuse?

@Michael Rucker

Clear-Com Encore® Analog Partyline and HelixNet® Digital Network Partyline

Though many Encore and HelixNet partyline systems are usually powered on 24/7, it may be wise to consider powering these systems down. With the absence of personnel in terminals and control rooms to monitor equipment, powering the systems off could protect against possible electrical surges or in a room where the climate control has been turned off. Though our systems are manufactured to withstand extreme climates (heat, humidity, rain, etc), it is important to ensure you place these items in a location where you can ensure their protection. In some cases, this could also include I/O panels and XLR cables that would otherwise be left out in the weather.

One quick note before powering down that HelixNet main station:

Make sure you download your current HelixNet configuration and store it in a safe place!

Eclipse® HX Digital Matrix

Just like the legacy partyline systems, our Eclipse matrix frames are designed to be continually active for years on end. As we recommend with the Encore and HelixNet systems, it would be beneficial to power down this system during extended periods of disuse to remove any possible damage. It is also strongly recommended to power down all Eclipse V-Series and Iris panels to reduce the risk of burning in an image on the OLED displays. Again, don't forget to back up the most recent map of the frame.

If you decide to power-down the Eclipse frame, we recommend the following checklist with your first power-up after extended disuse:

  • After boot-up, look at the CPU card and see if there are any errors
  • Once your EHX software is connected to the frame, push the most recent map back into the system with an "Apply Map with reset and clear all memory"
  • After reset, check audio communications on various panels and beltpacks
  • If the frame is older than 10 years old, check for battery warning messages* in the Event log

*One quick note about the battery warning message:

If you were to remove one of the CPU cards on your Eclipse frame, you would find a small battery which is used to store non-volatile information. We have found that if your Eclipse frame is reaching the 10-year service mark, that battery could deplete itself to a level that won't allow the CPU card to boot-up properly. This is usually not the case, but it is worth keeping in mind. Luckily, the battery can be easily replaced and for very little cost (contact your Dealer or Distributor for pricing information).

FreeSpeak II® and DX Series Wireless Intercom

In a similar manner as the partyline systems, we recommend you power down your FreeSpeak II and DX Series systems (DX410, DX340ES, DX300ES, DX210, DX121, DX100) when they will not be used for long periods of time.

In the case of FreeSpeak II transceivers located out in the elements, it would be beneficial to take them down to be stored in a secure location. Our E1 and IP transceivers have strong IP ratings and are manufactured to be exposed to extreme conditions, however, for extended disuse, we still recommend storing equipment to maximize performance and lifespan of the product.

For maintenance of the lithium-ion battery inside the FSII beltpack, it is recommended that you charge or discharge the battery (BAT60) to approximately 50% of capacity before placing it in storage. It is also recommended that the storage environment for the battery maintains a temperature between 41?F and 68?F (5? and 20?C).

For maintenance of the lithium-ion battery inside the DX Series headset or beltpack, it is recommended that you remove the battery (BAT50, BAT41, or BAT850) from the device and place it in storage. It is also recommended that the storage environment for the battery maintains a temperature between 41?F and 68?F (5? and 20?C).

Though this can be more work, it will ultimately extend the life and performance of your lithium-ion batteries once you're ready to put them back to use.

But these suggestions can also be considered best practices to follow when storing Clear-Com lithium-ion batteries during regular production use as well. To recap best practices:

  • Charge or discharge the battery to approximately 50% of capacity before storage
  • Charge the battery to approximately 50% of capacity at least once every six months
  • Remove the battery and store it separately from the product
  • Store the battery at temperatures between 41?F and 68?F (5? and 20?C)

NOTE: The battery self-discharges during storage. Higher temperatures (above 41?F and 68?F (5? and 20?C)) reduce the battery storage life.

Final Notes

It is always recommended to keep your Clear-Com main stations, frames and bases in a climate-controlled environment, as some components are susceptible to extreme temperatures and humidity. If your gear is stored in a room where the HVAC system has been shut down to preserve resources, seriously consider the ramifications this could have on Clear-Com equipment and other audio components stored in this compromised space.

As always, we encourage you to contact Clear-Com Global Service and Support should you have any questions. We are here to help, and I look forward to a time when I can be out there supporting you onsite and in the field. Stay safe everyone!

PS: I wanted to take an opportunity to comment on the illustration included in this post. Clear-Com's Director of Americas Sales, Michael Rucker, has been drawing his Midman character for several decades and every now and then, he shares his talent and character with us. Thank you Mike!

To learn how to bring your equipment back online, read this.

Justin Emge is the Applications Engineering Manager at Clear-Com. Previously, Justin was a Broadcast Engineer, Technical Director, News Photographer and Operations Manager for the CBS Affiliate in St. Louis, MO. He also worked laterally with Kaufman Broadcast as a Broadcast Engineer during large sporting and news events. Justin oversees the Application Engineers for North and South America.