Sheffield U3A – Audio Visual Equipment


One laptop computer and projector will be based with Dave Caborn [tel: (0114) 236 8500]. It will be primarily available for hire by that Group, plus the Environment Groups.

Mike Ford of Digital Photography [tel: (0114) 281 8510] holds the following:

A Toshiba projector which has an output quality that is sufficient for everyday presentations but is poor for good quality photographs/images.

A Canon projector suitable for everyday use.

A Toshiba laptop running Vista with Microsoft Office compatable with Office 2003 or later.

An Optoma visualizier, which is like an over head projector with a TV camera in place of the lens and light.  The device will allow a degree of zoom and needs to be used with a projector.  When in use it will store up to 11 images and allows one image to be compared to another.  Images can be stored on to a laptop if needed but  the device runs independent from a computer for normal use.  When the device is turned off from the mains all stored images are lost unless they have been copied to a computer.

A bag of power leads for the above.

Both Mike and Brian have a set of amplified speakers that will allow DVDs to be played from their computers with sufficient sound to fill a small to medium size hall.

There is also a sound system suitable for use in a large hall. I is stored in Room 50.

This document is intended to tell members of SU3A what equipment we have, its uses, advantages and disadvantages.


There are three ways in which this can be used to illustrate your presentation and improve its quality.

1. Using PowerPoint

This is a system which enables you to display text, pictures, maps, diagrams, etc in a very professional looking fashion. It requires a laptop computer and (linked to that) a projector – both of which we have.  The text, pictures, maps, etc need to be fed into the laptop beforehand, by any or all of the following methods:

a) Scanning in (using our scanner) from books, slides, etc

b) Extracting from the Internet

c) Extracting from previous presentations already in the computer

d)   Keying in – text

e)  In the case of charts and diagrams, giving the computer raw data from which  PowerPoint   can itself construct the charts, etc.
Increasingly we are finding that outside speakers and newly retired members are already using PowerPoint or able to use it, having learnt it for their work.


  1. it can be used to illustrate talks in a very sophisticated fashion, though it is also possible to use PowerPoint at a relatively simple level.
  2. There is no danger of getting your pictures mixed up, as can happen with, for     example, an overhead projector
  3. You can edit the material to, for example, enlarge or reduce the size of pictures, change the colour balance or brightness, add arrows and words to pictures.
  4. You do not have to get photo copies made of your material. Thus there is no cost involved.
  5. You do not have to stand beside the laptop – it can be worked remotely.


  1. You need to learn at least the rudiments of PowerPoint, if you have not already done so. I can in fact help with this.

2. Using our Visualiser

This also needs to be linked to a projector (of which we have two). It is a more modern version of the epidiascope that you may have come across in the past. To display material you merely place it on the brightly lit working surface. A digital camera automatically takes photos of it, passing these along a cable to the projector.


  1. You do not need to learn a system, merely spend perhaps 20-30 minutes with me getting familiar with the visualiser and the projector.
  2. You can use the material directly off the book, etc without having to create transparencies.


  1. You may have to hold your material in place, which in the case of a tightly bound book, can be awkward. If you have to hold it, then wielding a pointer as well can be tricky
  2. You cannot alter the size of pictures. The visualiser displays whatever you give it in the size given, though you can zoom in and out.
  3. If you are not careful you can get your material out of order, back to front or upside down!
  4. You have to be beside the visualiser to feed it.


3. Using our overhead projector

For this, your material for projection needs to be in the form of transparencies. As each one is placed on the brightly lit working surface, it is immediately projected – just as with the visualiser.


  1. It is quick and easy to learn


  1. The cost and inconvenience of creating the transparencies from your display material
  2. c) and d). As for b), c) and d) for the visualiser.



We have a modern loudspeaker, together with radio microphones, one of which is a lapel microphone, the other one a ‘roving mic’. These are very useful at large meetings. I have found that many speakers avow they have a loud enough voice to speak without amplification, only to discover  that the back few rows of the audience cannot hear them very well at all.
This equipment is not complicated to use, but does require say 20-30 minutes training by whoever is going to set the equipment up.