When I first got out of school, I bought every possible thing because that is just my personality. My personality loves being prepared, hates unpredictability, loves order. Nowadays I ONLY bring the bare minimal, as I find it to be more than sufficient. Packing light is a pleasure.
I always have personal things packed in a separate compartment from all the equipment I use frequently since I barely use personal items while on a job.
Keep cords in separate compartments to keep them from getting tangled. The only cords I keep together are the fat ones, the machine-charging and machine-to-USB cord.
MOST USED EQUIPMENT:
machine + cords + tripod
laptop + cord + computer key (buy one with a mic port to make life easier)
digital recorder (Olympus is the best brand here.)
in-ear headphones (from Walgreens)
external mic to plug into laptop (free with some machines)
mini sticky notes (for Speaker List)
exhibit stickers (EXHIBIT Labels, Blue – 492 per pack SKU XB-06F, can use Yellow or White as well)
HAVE NEVER USED (but still pack, kept in rolling bag):
2 to 3 prong adapter
Note: When packing for realtime, all you need extra are the throwdown laptops, the Stenocast USBs (which they call dongles) that plug into your throwdowns, and the Stenocast hub that you plug into your laptop. All these things go into my rolling case with my machine.
For the frugal: My firm provides free software, business cards, exhibit stickers, and throwdown laptops for the attorneys. If you are tight starting out (like most of us), it is good to find a firm that is very much service-oriented. The page rate won’t be as good, but that is something to consider. Even in captioning, there are firms that will take you in with no software, but your hourly rate will be about $10 lower.
This will be a redundant list, but I wanted to list the equipment that is the most expensive so you know what to save for:
Laptop ($500 range is good – love Lenovo and Asus)
Digital Recorder $100
Reg External Mic OR USB External Mic
Instand Tray ($100)
Steno Machine (3K used, 5K new, only $800 if going into broadcast)
Rolling bag ($100-$300)
Note: Nowadays most freelancers use iPads and a system like LiveDepo combined with their software’s realtime program for providing realtime, NOT the Stenocast system or netbooks. However, the Stenocast system is more affordable, and the cost is not ongoing. Still if you want to be on the cutting edge, use tablets with LiveDepo.