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Nor-C.A.P.S. gets an upgrade

Its true when they say that you have to move with the times. We had been using equipment that was great for its time but now has been surpassed by the latest technology. So with that in mind we decide it was time to expand and upgrade our investigation load out. We also wanted to to make it easier to setup and tear down. When it takes you almost 2 hours to setup your base station and at least an hour to tear it down, you need to re-think and re-tool your process.

We first started with the gear we carry and use during an investigation. We like to use Ghost Meters for static placements. The lights and warning sounds are great activity indicators and they are fairly inexpensive.
We also picked up some EM pumps to saturate an area with energy to try and kick our investigations up a notch. Add to that an Ovilus III Ghost Box, a Mel Meter and a couple of HD full spectrum camcorders with IR lights into the mix and we have a lot of new investigation possibilities. This is not the sum of our gear, just what we have added to our collection. We also added 2 HP laptops to our inventory.
 We wanted to improve our set up and tear down times and the best way would be to eliminate having to take gear in and out of boxes. To accomplish that we picked up an SKB GigRig. This is a case that musicians and DJ's normally use to mount their equipment in. Its very durable and has 8U front and back rails and 12U on the top. The fact that it mounts on a rolling dolly is an added bonus.

We decided to put a battery backup in the rack to power the rest of the equipment. This allows us to continue to operate for about 30 minutes if we lose power.

We also decided the include a 4 unit wireless microphone system. Granted, this is far from the top of the line but we are not really looking to use it for evidence gathering. We have used wireless microphones before and they were very handy in letting the command center know what is going on without resorting to a lot of radio traffic.

Even though we don't use the wireless microphones for evidence gathering we did decide that we wanted to record everything that we could so that we could have a complete record. To that end we chose to purchase the Zoom R16 8 simultaneous channel recorder. This is a great piece of equipment as it allows us to expand our wireless system if we need to. These can also be daisy chained if we later need to record more than 8 channels at a time.

We also picked up a couple standard 1U rack shelves to mount gear to inside of the GigRig.

When we mounted the wireless receiver into the GigRig we discovered that the antennas didn't stick out the back of the case far enough. This greatly affected the range of the receiver as well.

We were able to find a Sure mounting plate and extension cables that allowed us to move the antennas to the top back of the GigRig. We just remove them before we put the lid back onto it.

We installed a shelf onto the top of the GigRig to mount the R16 recorder to. With to opening into the body of the GigRig we are able to keep cable management completely inside the rack.
We mounted the battery backup to the bottom of the rack. It has a very long power cable and we coupled it with a surge protected 12 outlet power strip to make sure we could plug everything in.

We also added a long range wireless network device so that we could utilize network aware devices in our investigations. This device also supports attaching a USB storage device for use as a NAS.

In the middle of the rack we placed a Swan NVR 8 channel video recorder. This is truly an amazing video recorder. It records in full 1080p HD at 3MP even in night vision. It comes with a 2TB drive so there is plenty of storage space during an investigation. The camera's have a 70 degree field of view, which is pretty wide for the size of the cameras and are capable of seeing up to 115' in night vision mode. This was actually the single most expensive piece of equipment, but well worth it.
We mounted a hinged shelf to the top of the GigRig to hold a laptop that will run the equipment in the rack. The shelf folds down over the R16 and the lid can be placed on the rack even with the laptop still attached.

By having everything permanently mounted in the GigRig we reduce our set up time drastically. We just have to roll it in place, open it up and then roll out cables to the camera locations. By not having to un-box each piece of equipment and finding a place to put it we estimate that we have reduced our set up times to a third of what it was normally taking. This is time that can now be spent with better pre-investigation duties, such as base line readings or familiarizing our team with the area we are investigating.
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