Necessary Equipment for Captioning

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Black cord – modem power cord
White cord – serial converter (plugs into laptop)
Dark gray cord – female to male modem cable (plugs into modem)
Light gray cord – phone cable (that plugs into copper line in the wall)

There is not a whole lot of things you need for captioning; however, the price is significant. I am very excited to write this post because there is not a lot of information out there on how to get into captioning. There is plenty of info on what equipment you need to get into freelance, but I had to piece everything together by speaking with bosses, friends, and colleagues when gearing up for the world of broadcast.

1. Captioning software (from your software company) – between 2K to 3K (sales around holidays and conventions)
2. Modem. The modem is a specific one. US Robotics USR5686E. It NEEDS to have the E at the end, not a G. – $70
3. Serial converter (white). (I have the TRENDnet USB 2.0 to RS-232 DB9 Serial Converter) – $9
One end of this cord plugs into your laptop. The other end plugs into the female to male modem cable.
4. Female to male modem cable (dark gray). (I have the Belkin DB9 Female/DB25 Male Modem Cable) – $6
One end plugs into your serial converter. The other end plugs into your modem.
5. Phone cable (modular telephone cable) (light gray) – $6
One end plugs into the copper line in your wall. The other end plugs into your modem.
6. AT&T (or whatever applicable company) to come in and turn on your copper line. No call waiting. $110 (then a monthly fee)
This will let you send out your captions.
7. Google Voice
This allows you to call a telephone number given to you, which you can hear the show you need to be writing.

You probably have these things:
8. Comfortable headphones – $70
You will plug this into your computer to listen to what is coming over Google Voice.
9. Machine (student is fine, unless you’re doing transcripts) – 1K-5K
10. Professional software – 4K
11. Reliable laptop – 600

If you don’t want to use Google Voice, you can get your internet company to come over (Comcast for me) and install VoIP. You will then need to buy a desk phone, where you can plug your headphones into and get the audio that way. Google Voice is easier to set up and takes no desk space. VoIP is a better option for some though, and it comes with the Business package of Comcast Internet anyway, which I recommend every captioner buys. If you have an Internet problem, Comcast will come out immediately, not in 5-7 days.

Remember to keep all receipts for everything on this page, including the services to Comcast and AT&T!

I also have speakers to plug into my laptop. I don’t use them for captioning, but I use them for the shows that I provide transcripts for because I record the audio with my freelance (Eclipse) microphone. This allows me to turn the volume down instantly on commercial breaks so that I can fix the problem spots. These speakers were only $20. The major expense of providing transcripts is the fact that you need a professional machine (3K-5K), whereas in captioning, you can get by with an $800 student Wave.

All in all, I spent about 3K to get the equipment ready to caption because I got my software update during a sale. There are captioning companies that provide the software to their employee captioners, but they pay a lot less per hour and own you. It’s hardly worth it.

As a side note, captioning companies will want you to own a television. I know most of you already own one, so I didn’t put it on the original list. I bought a television and mount for my office plus the HDMI cable – $250-$300 total. Then I bought cable from Comcast, the deluxe package. It’s about $60 a month, I believe.

2 thoughts on “Necessary Equipment for Captioning

  1. What is the difference between #1 on the list (Captioning software ) and #10 on the list (Professional Software)? I am a CRAH student just beginning my speed building. My plan is to go into captioning and I am doing some research.



    • Captioning software is an add-on. Your support costs also go up because it’s a separate type of software (although significantly easier to learn than the transcript side of software). It is not necessary to buy straight out of school unless you are going into captioning right away. Captioning software is more expensive. You can buy the add-on at the same time as you buy the professional software; it will be about $2,000 more. Most students can’t afford to buy it all at once so they go on a payment plan or they go into freelancing first and then transition into captioning.

      It is more economical to go into freelance first than to go on a payment plan (because you will pay so much more), but if you know that captioning fits your personality/lifestyle more than freelance, it’s worth going on the payment plan.

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