Project: DPA-Style Gooseneck Mount for Audio Technica Instrument Microphones

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September 25, 2018 by vicwomg

 

replicator

Update! I now sell these at my online store.

First, a digression: one of the first things you notice while getting into 3D printing is that it is far from the magic “replicator” of Star Trek, capable of spitting out molecularly-correct cups-of-joe every time. It takes a lot of research, tweaking, and stalking nerdy fellows on YouTube to figure out how to get acceptable quality prints, and even then your stuff will look pretty rough. It’s the nature of the medium… this machine is essentially a hot-glue gun on motors.

As such, I roll my eyes a bit at people who use their 3D printer primarily for making infantile decorative figurines or props. Do you really want to use up all that material, time, electricity, and post-processing hours to produce more useless plastic crap around your house? If this is the trend, future civilizations will no doubt stare in complete bewilderment at landfills full of multi-colored Baby Groots long after we’re gone.

Aww, I know, that’s mean.

Good for you if that’s your bag, but I keep my designs functional and fully understand this stuff is not “production-ready”. They just can’t have the polish necessary to survive the scrutiny of an Amazon review. So 3D printing, to me, is good for small-run niche problem-solving where looks don’t matter.

Once in a while, though, I cook up some design and when I’ve put it all together, I’m surprised that it actually looks good and is functional beyond my expectations.

Lookin' good!

Lookin’ good!

In this case, it was yet another mounting project for Audio Technica instrument microphones, which I use a lot for acoustic guitar (specifically, the Pro 70 or 831b lavalier models). I found myself wanting something that would point the mic to a sound hole or neck position with a gooseneck arm, “DPA-style“. I’ve heard some bad things about the clamping mechanisms on the DPA mounting hardware, so I thought about other ways to attach to a guitar. Why not suction cups? It worked for Nerf!

I found some suction cups and hobby wire from the art supply store and whipped up a few prototypes. Here are the parts:

Parts. Always be knolling

Parts. “Always be knolling”

Just to prove that design is iterative, there were a number of misfires. The first problem was the mic would wobble around a lot. The art wire I bought was only about 2mm in diameter and didn’t seem to be rigid enough for the task, even when doubled up in a twisted pair. Eventually, I found the material I needed: black 3mm “bonsai shaping wire”. Digression #2: I love Japan, don’t you?

Also the microphone cable kept getting in the way, so a cable management solution was needed. I added some clips to the base and some that slide onto the wire itself.

"Design is iterative." 1. Works, but too wobbly. 2. Added a cable clip the the base, doubled up the wire... still wobbly. 3. Thicker wire, added some cable clips to the wire, but cut the cable too short.

“Design is iterative.” Left to right, top to bottom: 1. Functional, but too wobbly. 2. Added a cable clip the the base, doubled up the wire… but still wobbly. 3. Thicker wire, quite stable, added some more cable clips, but cut the cable too short and glued it in before checking… another do-over.

Suction cups work surprisingly well on smooth-finish guitars. They are quite secure and easy to remove. However, if the guitar is not shiny, they will not hold… at all. Maaybe if you lick the suction cups, but I’m not going to lick the suction cups. I considered using adhesive putty to attach the base for such instruments, but that also seems like another step that will be a enraging pain in the ass (EPITA) before a gig.

Luckily I had saved some protective screen cover material from my last new mobile phone. This stuff is sticky on the back, but easy to peel off without damage. It’s almost as if it is held on by static. I have used it as a low-rent pickguard solution in the past.

I stuck a small rectangle of it on the non-shiny guitars, and sure enough, the suction holds great, and is not invasive. I’ll probably just keep the little square of material on my gigging guitars and forget about it.

A removable cell-phone screen protector serves as a smooth surface for "suctionability"

A removable cell-phone screen protector serves as a smooth surface for “suctionability”

The microphone itself is held in place with the friction from a foam windscreen (got a pack of these off Amazon, common for Xbox gamer headsets). When it’s in there, it really does look like a fancy integrated microphone. See what I mean? Polish!

Foam windscreen surrounds the mic and fits snugly into the mount. Dual function as a shock mount as well!

Foam windscreen surrounds the mic and fits snugly into the mount. Dual function as a shock mount as well!

FWIW, Audio Technica does offer a mount like this called the “Unimount”, but again, it is overpriced. $40! Come TF on. That’s like two 3-hour cafe gigs playing for people staring at laptops (+ tips).

So there you go–subbing out an Audio Technica mic with this sort of mount is much cheaper than a DPA microphone and sounds pretty damn good to my ears. DIY and and being a total cheapskate wins again.

Files and instructions to make your own are up on Thingiverse: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3120478

Or if you want me to make one for you, check out my store.


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