FabLabs use a collective videoconferencing system for sharing experiences, attending classes and lectures. It’s the most powerful tool at any lab because it allows you to get in touch with the world.

This videoconference is running on top of a CISCO infrastructure called TelePresence MCU and it has a really complex configuration platform where you can reach into more complex tasks than we are going to overview in this tutorial. So if you want to know more about this Cisco platform, you can refer to this help page.

So for communicating with this MCU platform you can either use videoconferencing hardware (such as from LifeSize or Polycom), or a software client.
In this tutorial we are going to approach the software client version, more specifically Ekiga.

1 – REQUIREMENTS

For a videoconference to work using regular consumer hardware like your pc there are a few things that you need to use/consider otherwise you might not have the best results, or worst, you won’t even be able to start a videoconference.

For starters you should buy a good quality webcam and a noise cancellation conference speakerphone. The FabFoundation recommends using this Logitech 920C webcam together with the Logitech P710e speakerphone.

Then, a very good internet connection speed is of utmost importance when entering on a large videoconference. We recommend a minimum of 10Mbs/s download and 5Mbs/s of upload speed!

Oh, and please, use cable connection, not wi-fi…

If you are trying to use Ekiga on a company or a University you might have a more complex network system than just a router and an internet provider, if not you can go to the next section “installing Ekiga”.

First talk to your network administrator about the way your internet is phisically set on your workplace. You’ll most probably just need to forward the following port:

Protocols Ports Types Descriptions
H323 1720 TCP H323 listen port

Ask him to open this TCP port for the h323 protocol and everything should work just fine.

2 – INSTALLING EKIGA

There are two ways for installing Ekiga on Ubuntu.
The first is by going to the terminal, use the add-apt tool to activate the “universe sources”:

sudo add-apt-repository universe
sudo apt-get update

and then install Ekiga with:

sudo apt-get install ekiga

The other way is by using the graphical interface. Go to your Ubuntu Software Center and search for Ekiga.
Then click on more information and “use this source”. It will autommatically add the “universe” repository to your sources.list. Then click “install”.

ekiga_universe

 

3 – CONFIGURATING EKIGA

Once the installation process is complete run ekiga on your terminal or search for the Ekiga launcher on the Dash menu.

Ekiga now prompts you with an account setup. Just Cancel it and follow these steps on the preferences menu:
Edit → Preferences → Audio → Devices → Detect devices
Edit → Preferences → Video → Devices → Input Device (choose your camera)
Edit → Preferences → Video → Devices → Size → 704×576
Edit → Preferences → Video → Codecs → Maximum video bitrate → 1000
Edit → Preferences → Video → Codecs → H264 (remove the others)

ekigapreferences

4 – MAKING THE CALL

Now, close the preferences window and go to the Dialpad tab.
Delete sip: and add the following MCU adress for connecting to the FabLab Conference room: h323:18.85.8.48

When the call starts you’ll probably just see your own image. Go to View → Picture-in-Picture and then cancel the call.
Restart your computer and make the call again. You’ll now see the main blue screen for choosing the conference room.

WELCOME TO THE FABLAB NETWORK!

5 – NAVIGATION

To navigate on the MCU system the dialpad numbers assume
4-left
6-right
2-up
8-down
#-confirm

 

6 – VIDEOCONFERENCING ETIQUETTE

Because everyone connected to the MCU can hear each other, it is vital that you mute your microphone when joining a conference and UN-MUTE ONLY WHEN SPEAKING. To mute audio during an active call, select Chat -> Suspend Audio. Audio will cease to be sent, but video transmission will continue.

Failure to mute will cause a disruptive feedback echo that will SERIOUSLY interfere with the audio quality, making class unpleasant.. Neil can see who is the source of the problem and will mute you, so failure to mute is potentially embarrassing. Practice connecting prior to class.
Since last year, FabAcademy coordination have set the default to mute as you join. This means that you will be required to unmute yourself not only on your local system but also on the MCU bridge before anyone can hear you. To do this, use the Ekiga dialpad to input the number 6 followed by an asterisk (*).

 

If you’re still having problems please join our forum and open a new thread. Our community will gladly help you!

JOIN US

 

 

 

 

 

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