Online ringing

Next_week_in_Ringing_Room.jpg

What shall we ring next week in Ringing Room?

When the first lockdown started it didn't take long for online ringing platforms to pop up – bellringers are a creative bunch. For those of you new to them, such platforms are accessed through the Internet (as a website or app) allowing a group of people to ring together using a keyboard, motion controllers or eBells. These platforms are usually used alongside a video conferencing facility allowing the group to chat and organise the ringing (e.g. what's going to be rung next and who rings where.) There are a number of platforms and conference facilities available, the most popular combinations being Ringing Room with Zoom, and Handbell Stadium with Discord.

If you're thinking of starting a local group it might be worthwhile asking around and seeing what nearby towers are using as it will be easier to ask for help if you're using the same combination as your neighbours. If there's not much going on in your local area, then you might consider one of the two popular combinations as there are online fora in which you can join practices with other ringers from around the world.

All of the online ringing platforms are free to use, however they do cost money to run. If you like what you see, do consider giving a donation to off-set these costs.


Online ringing platforms

Ringing Room

A virtual space specifically for ringers to continue ringing with one another even when socially distanced. It requires only a browser interface (preferably Chrome) together with a keyboard. No software needs to be installed on your PC/Mac.

Handbell Manager has been adapted for use with Ringing Room to connect eBells or the older ActionXL motion controllers.

There's also an interface that allows tower bell simulators to be used with Ringing Room.

» Ringing Room Users' Guide

Ding

A system for simulated bell ringing over the Internet. It allows ringers who are remote to each other to ring as a band.

The Ding app needs to be downloaded and is run from your PC.

Handbell Manager has also been adapted for use with Ding to connect eBells or ActionXL motion controllers.

» Installation details

Handbell Stadium

A virtual space specifically for handbell ringing which requires the use of motion controllers or eBells, allowing you to ring in a realistic up and down motion.

Provides a 3D visualisation of a handbell circle and a real life perspective of the other bells in the circle,

You can practise on your own while the computer rings the other bells, or you can practise/perform over the Internet with other ringers.

» Users' Guide

Muster

Works by connecting copies of ringing simulators across the Internet.

The Muster app needs to be downloaded and rung on a Windows machine.

Everyone ringing needs a copy of Abel, Beltower or Beltutor, and also Muster on a Windows machine. A band needs to agree which simulator to use before they meet.



Collaboration solutions for ringing

There are very many collaboration platforms in use across then ringing community, all of which have their various pros and cons for both audio/video (AV) quality, and ease of use. The first three listed below are arguably the three most common platforms.

Zoom

Probably the most well-known tool for video conferencing. The meeting host needs to set up a free zoom account and can then either share their Personal Meeting ID link or schedule a meeting with a unique ID and share the link for that. Although not essential for basic meeting options, it is advisable for all meeting participants to have downloaded the Zoom client app on their machine to get full functionality.

Once in the meeting, the interface is simple with the most important buttons being those which start and stop the microphone and video.

The major disadvantage of using Zoom unless the host has a paid account, is the 40-minute time limit on meetings. This can be overcome by simply starting the meeting again but is no good if you are ringing a quarter peal.

» Getting started guide

Discord

This platform is huge within the gaming community. It is 100% free, offering enhanced audio capability and a lower overhead on your computer, potentially improving your ringing experience. Once installed the host can set up a Discord Server as well as some text and voice channels. Alternatively, there is already a Changeringing Server which has numerous channels already configured.

The biggest advantage of Discord is the full duplex audio solution which ensures the conductor’s calls get through to everyone no matter what other background activity is going on.

The downside of Discord is the interface, which although very powerful and reasonably well laid out, can be a little daunting compared with other tools. It is not overly intuitive.

» Beginners guide to Discord

Google Meet

This is possibly the easiest platform for creating and joining a meeting. The host must have a google account, then by navigating to https://meet.google.com, clicking the ‘New Meeting’ button and choosing one of three options, they can generate a meeting link. The resulting link can then be shared with the other meeting participants, that’s it.

Once in the meeting, the interface is simple with the most important buttons being those which start and stop the microphone and video.

Under normal circumstances there is a 60 minute limit on meetings hosted by unpaid users however, this is currently suspended until 31 March 2021.

» Google Meet how to guide

Facebook Rooms

Create and share a room and send a link. You can start one from Messenger as well as Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. You don't have to have a Facebook account to join an open chat.

Webex

Free for up to 50 minutes per meeting.

Jitsi

Free open-source video conferencing for web and mobile.

Conferencecall.co.uk

For those who are unhappy with video calls, you can use a group phone call , which works well with Ringing Room, provided everyone uses headphones for the Ringing Room sound.


Tips

1. Where possible connect to your Internet router using a cable rather than rely on your household wireless. This will result in a more stable connection and a smoother ringing experience.

2. Use headphones to avoid the sound of the ringing from your computer feeding back via the microphone and creating an echo.

3. If you are not using headphones you should always mute yourself whilst ringing is in progress. You will not be able to hear the echo yourself, but others will.

4. If your Internet service is not great, turn off your video whilst ringing is in progress. This should reduce the load on your Internet connection and improve the ringing experience.

Getting started

These two videos which explain how to set up and use Ringing Room and Zoom. Even if you decide to use a different combination of products, they will still help you understand the basic principles behind, and interactions between, the two components.

What do ringers say?

Virtual platforms are so now

During this period where we are not able to physically ring together, ringers are increasingly turning to virtual practices to develop their ringing skills and keep in touch. In this article, two ringers share their account of virtual ringing and offer advice on how to get started.

An Invitation to Ringing Room

Meet Brian and Barbara, two Moresby ringers who have been using Ringing Room to try handbell ringing. They are learning lots and can’t wait to see how it impacts on tower bell ringing when the time comes.

What equipment?

At a minimum, you need to be able to connect to the Internet with a device with a keyboard, so smartphones are out.

Some of the online ringing platforms work better on some browsers. Make sure you have the latest version of your chosen browser and if you are still having problems try one of the other freely available browsers.

Handbell Stadium requires you to use motion controllers or eBells. You can also use eBells with Ringing Room and Ding, via Handbell Manager.


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