Affordable Digital Music Stands Pt2 – Hardware

As I said in the first article regardless of the software you choose for your Digital Music Stand the hardware will have the same basic components.   Here are just the basics.

  • A computer, either a laptop or desktop, Windows or Mac.  This computer may have to be placed on stage with the worship team so aesthetics are important.   A laptop can fit on a music stand whereas a desktop computer may need to be hidden somehow.
  • Multiple wide LCD displays, all linked, displaying the output of the computer.  You can generally share displays for 2-3 musicians if the display size is large enough.  A 19” wide screen LCD is great for 3 musicians and fits perfectly on a standard size music stand.   Make sure the LCD panel has threaded mounting holes on the back flat part of the monitor
  • Single or multiple VGA Splitter/distribution/extender devices.  There are many different kinds available and there are many that will do the job inexpensively.    The cheapest most flexible type we have found is the VGA splitter/extender devices.  These have a local and remote device connected with an Ethernet cable in between (this is the extender part).   Both the local and remote device will usually have two VGA monitor outputs (the splitter part).   Devices can be daisy chained to get the devices closer to the monitors and increase the number of digital music stands.
  • Stands to hold the LCD panels.  This can be achieved simply by mounting the LCD panel to an existing sturdy music stand in place of where the music would rest.   Most flat panel LCD panels have threaded mounting holes in the back.  Take off the LCD desktop stand.   Drill through the music stand and attached the panel to the stand with screws.  The cables (VGA and Power cables) can be velcro’ed to the stand going down do the floor.
  • VGA cables.  The specific cable configuration will depend on the VGA distribution device used.   A standard VGA cable has male to male connectors.  Some devices will require a non standard cable that has a male to female connectors.    Also be aware that the maximum allowable length for a VGA cable can depend on the computer video card and the quality of the VGA cable.   Typically, less than 15 ft. for each VGA cable segment will be fine.   A segment will be going from the VGA distribution output to the monitor.  For longer segments use a higher quality cables made for longer runs.
  • Ethernet cables for VGA extender devices.   These cables are used to send a VGA signal longer distances.  They are exactly the same as those used in most computer networks.  This may not be needed depending on your VGA distribution devices.
  • Power cables.  Extension cords with 3 sockets work great so the monitor, VGA splitter device and something else can be plugged into the same cable.   Purchase the approximate length needed in between each digital music stand.   Also make sure they are heavy enough gauge to support the number of connections made.  It may seem trivial but you need lots of extension cords (1 per music stand – 6 to 12 feet in length).
  • Two button USB foot switch.  This allows a musician to move the music page forward or back while still playing.

Hardware

  • 19” widescreen LCD flat panel with VGA input ( $100)
  • VGA splitter Distribution/Extender ($100-150 per 4 stands)
  • VGA turn around cables ($15 per station)
  • Ethernet cables ($10 per 4 stands)
  • USB Footswitch with two switches (for page up, page down) ($50-$100)

So the total for each station is about $150 to $200.   This price does not include the Computer or foot pedal.  If you don’t have the music stand then you can pick this up for about $40 each.   You’ll need to search a little to get a good price for the LCD flat panel and the VGA Slitter/Extender but hold out because they can be found.

In the next article we will look at our custom software package and talk about some of the most important features you should consider carefully.

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