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How to make a wire-free, screech-free pocket talker for less than $60

There are times when it feels as if I am yelling at people all. day. long. I have a soft, quiet voice that is difficult to project. I've worn hearing aids since 3rd grade from a congenital hearing loss, and I can tell you that while they are wonderful pieces of technology, they can also be very frustrating to wear and care for, so I understand when the majority of the people I work with who have hearing loss don't bother to put them in.

I like pocket talkers because they are an alternative to hearing aids and they allow me to speak with a normal voice and still be heard. However, every single pocket talker I've ever tried to use caused so much SCREECHING and BEEPING and AUDIO PEAKS OFF THE WALL that I've often thrown them back in the closet. Plus, off the shelf, they run upwards of $130-$200.

This inspired me to piece together an elegant, simple, completely bluetooth version of a pocket talker (why has no one capitalized on this massive gap in the market??) I did this by piecing together three simple pieces of technology: a bluetooth transmitter, bluetooth headphones, and a powered lapel mic. Each piece cost about $20 and 2 out of the 3 pieces are rechargeable via USB.

What I like about this setup:

  • NO SCREECHING.
  • Completely wireless between the speaker and the listener. You don't have to be tethered and stay 3 feet away from them. You can move freely around the room and they will still hear you.
  • Mostly rechargeable, except for one battery.
  • Microphone is lapel, so can be clipped to your shirt. Transmitter can go in your pocket. Completely hands-free.

Here's how I did it:

1. The headphones
You could use any bluetooth headphones, but these work well with medical earpiece covers (recommended for sanitary reasons). They are rechargeable via USB, don't go in the ear, and are lightweight and comfortable to wear.
Available on Amazon (affiliate link)

2. The transmitter
This tiny little box is what transmits the sound from the microphone to the headphones via bluetooth. They are super popular for people to plug into their phones so they can transmit music to a bluetooth car speaker system. This model is rechargeable via USB and is small and simple to use.
Available on Amazon (affiliate link)

3. The microphone
What I love about this setup is that all three disciplines can use it- including physical therapists who may be moving across the room or not able to always be a cords-length away. You can use any lapel microphone, but it must have its own power source or it will not transmit. I recommend this one because it runs off a small button battery that lasts about three weeks.
Available on Amazon (affiliate link)

How to set this up (you can download a free PDF of this here):

HOW TO CONNECT THE BLUETOOTH POCKET TALKER

  1. Turn on headphones by pressing center button on side of headset until hear beeps in ascending tones.
  2. Ensure the Jetech transmitter is switched to TX mode on the side. Turn on the transmitter by pressing the silver button until blue light flashes. Wait for the transmitter to connect to the headphones (the transmitter will flash twice rapidly per second)
  3. Turn the microphone on by switching it to the ON position on the battery pack. Connect it to the transmitter via the 3mm audio cable.


HOW TO TURN IT OFF

  • To turn off the transmitter, press and hold the silver button until the light disappears.
  • To turn off the headphones, press the center button on the side of the headset until you hear beeps in descending tones.
  • To turn off the microphone, slide the switch to OFF on the battery pack.


HOW TO CHARGE THE SYSTEM

  • To charge the transmitter, plug into USB power outlet or computer.
  • To charge the headphones, connect via USB to power outlet or computer.
  • The microphone runs on a LR44H1 button cell battery and is installed by unscrewing the battery pack and replacing the battery.