AV Control SystemsThere was a time when setting up AV control systems was considered to be sort of a black art reserved only for seasoned techies who never revealed their trade secrets. Since those days, the realm of 3/17/2010 8:00 AM Eastern
AV Control Systems
Mar 17, 2010 12:00 PM, By Bennett Liles
There was a time when setting up AV control systems was considered to be sort of a black art reserved only for seasoned techies who never revealed their trade secrets. Since those days, the realm of AV control has become much more open and user-friendly with systems that can do more while requiring less in time and trouble for setup. Most of the systems we examine here can be networked into a larger scheme to allow central control and monitoring for multiple rooms, and even the most inexpensive and simple controllers now have a basic feature set that might have been seen as fairly exotic only a few years ago. The systems in this survey can control audio and video devices through IR, serial, and contact closures and offer some imaginative features in their user interfaces that crush the former fear factor for almost everyone who encounters them.
Designed primarily for use with the MultiTouch line of touchpanels, the CP500-110 Neutron mini controller from Altinex connects with these either directly through an Ethernet crossover cable or over a LAN. The unit offers two bi¬directional RS-232 serial ports, two control relays, two IR outputs, an IR pass-through, and a programmable IR memory for direct control of multiple AV devices. Two sensor inputs allow triggering based on changes in voltage levels detected through external hardware including motion, heat, and light sensors as well as providing 12V and 24V powering for the external sensors. The controller is small enough to mount in a variety of places, and there is an optional mounting bracket available for such mounting tasks.
With integration of switching, transcoding, scaling, and audio amplification, the DVX-2100HD from AMX is ideal for applications in which available hardware space is at a premium. The unit can detect multiple input video resolutions from DVI, RGB, component, S-Video, and composite and convert these up to 1920x1200. Audio mixing capability can output sound to two 25W, 8Ω channels or 75W into a 70V or 100V system. The control panel is also integrated with the processor, which includes RS-232, IR, digital I/O, and relay control ports. Up to two remote AV sources can be connected over Cat-5/5e/6 at distances up to 150ft. using the same UDM technology found in AMX products of the Endeleo line. The control panel includes indicators for serial, IR, and relay port activity as well as Ethernet signals. There is also a USB configuration port along with an AxLink connection.
The non-platform-specific control system WACI NX-22 from Aurora Multimedia has a built-in web server, FTP server, diagnostic tools, and Event Manager. Control interfaces can be created to link the processor with YIPI (Your IP Interface), Aurora’s Flash-based application. The Event Manager serves diagnostic information in web format using a 32-bit engine with 32-bit pipeline memory, so access can be made though any computer or mobile web interface tool. C-type relays are available in either normally open or normally closed configurations, and the IR input enables control by many types of IR remote. Micro SD memory and a USB 2.0 port are available to increase storage capability. Control applications can be created in HTML, DHTML, Java, Flash, ASP, and Visual Basic. An integral front-panel 106x56- pixel display port provides information and six-button menu navigation. The rear panel includes LAN ports, a reset paper-clip button hole, and control ports while the front panel has an infrared learner port.
For interactive displays and exhibits, the VC-16a from BCD Associates has an interesting array of DVD controls through IR or RS-232. The unit can accept serial commands or contact closure with pushbuttons that are either third-party or available from BCD. It has 16 contact inputs, eight GPI contact outputs, a serial output port for Pioneer and Philips industrial players, and it’s field flash programmable. The device includes a quasi synchronizer for simultaneous control of multiple machines and IR output for all players.
The ezRoom 5000 system from Calypso Systems is designed as a complete AV control and distribution system for the K-12 classroom. The kit contains the CB 5000 networked controller with integrated 3in. monochrome touchscreen, CA-1000 32W classroom audio amplifier with four inputs, Smart Block wire adapter and power control adapter, CP-650 Cat-5 wall plate, Encore desktop control-panel software, Maestro client/server software, a secure equipment box, universal projector mount, and 6.5in. two-way loudspeakers and mounts. All of the audio and video signals are carried on Cat-5 from the CA-1000, and the CB 5000 controller/touchpanel is LAN-connected. The system includes the Cat-5 and VGA cabling, and the loudspeaker connections are made on Phoenix connectors. The ezRoom 5000 is intended to be installed with a minimum of wiring, and most of the connections are made to units that mount very close to the projector.
AV Control Systems
Mar 17, 2010 12:00 PM, By Bennett Liles
Perhaps traditionally known for the products involving separate processors and touchpanels, Crestron has more recently introduced the MPC series featuring an integrated AV control processor and hard-button user interface. The MPC-M50 mounts in a three-gang wall box and provides 16 programmable buttons along with a programmable green LCD dot-matrix front panel at 128x64 resolution. The panel also features LED indicators and customizable back lighting for the buttons, a hardware volume control knob, and wireless remote operation. With Ethernet connectivity, the unit also presents a web interface for remote configuration and control using e-Control 2 Xpanel technology and an interface to other Crestron systems including RoomView, Crestron¡¯s systemwide AV control and management software application. The Cresnet slave mode allows the panel to become part of a larger Crestron system, and the built-in light sensor can be programmed to control the brightness of its own backlighting or connect to control external devices based on ambient light levels.
With Ethernet capability, the ipCUE-gamma AV system controller from Cue USA packs a variety of control interfaces into a small control interface less than 4.5in. wide. There are bidirectional RS-232 and RS-485 serial ports, infrared outputs, and general I/O ports that can be configured as analog inputs, digital outputs, or as 24V relay contacts. The status of all control ports, power, CUEnet, and CPU is indicated through LEDs on the front panel. Scheduling operations are based on an internal realtime clock, and the unit is equipped with the company¡¯s 4-pin CUEwire port for interfacing with any of the Cue button panels and touchpanels. The internal web server allows remote configuration and control through any web browser, and the page configuration can be customized with any Flash or HTML editor. The ipCUE-gamma has an internal 16MB RAM and an internal 16MB flash memory.
One of Extron Electronics' newest products has allowed the company to cross into the touchpanel market. The new line of TouchLink touchpanels can operate with the IPL 250 IP Link Ethernet control processor. It has three bidirectional serial control ports, four carrier or non-carrier infrared ports, four 24V 1-amp relay ports, and four contact closure inputs. The programming can be set up with version three of Extron¡¯s Global Configurator software application or Extron¡¯s Simple Instruction Set (SIS) commands, and the internal web server can support up to 200 simultaneous sessions with its 7.25MB of nonvolatile user memory. The unit is set up for display devices using Extron¡¯s library of device driver downloads in the same way that all the other IPL series controllers are configured. All wiring connections other than the Ethernet port are made on standard Phoenix captive-screw terminals.
The FSR RN-1000 room controller features four serial ports, four IR ports with an IR learning function, and four dry contact closures. It can be operated locally with the front-panel controls, or it can be run remotely on either an RS-232 connection from FSR¡¯s wall plates or through an IP connection to its internal web server using any web browser. The basic wall plate fits a one-gang wall box and offers a volume control, audio and projector mute, source selection, and six user-programmable buttons. The advanced wall plate fits a two-gang wall box and provides six more programmable buttons, transport controls, and menu navigation keys. The front panel has LED indicators for power, infrared activation, device status, and the status of all four relay ports. In addition to the device control ports, the rear panel includes an RS-232 serial port and an Ethernet RJ-45 connector.
Consisting of a wall plate controller/sender, a connector panel, and a separate receiver all connected by Cat-5 cables, the VSA-32 AV switching and control system from Hall Research is designed for very simple installation. The wall unit and remote receiver may be located up to 750ft. apart. The control surface, in a two-gang wall plate, has three source-selection buttons, a power control button, a volume knob with sound level indicator, and a selector button to switch the volume control between AV sources and the microphone. The connector panel has video/audio ports for each source-selection button along with an XLR microphone input. The input channels include two VGA and one composite/S-Video input while the remote unit includes a built-in stereo power amplifier capable of driving a pair of 4§Ù or 8§Ù loudspeakers.
AV Control Systems
Mar 17, 2010 12:00 PM, By Bennett Liles
For a very small AV control solution with an integrated control processor and user interface, Kramer Electronics offers the RC-62L six-button room AV controller either as a standalone unit or as part of a SummitView AV control system. For the back-lit and color-programmable buttons, depending on whether the model ordered is the RC-62 or the RC-62P, there are either printed or plastic-insert group labels available. The unit has the capability for macro commands for setting up a series of events with one-button push. Each button can exhibit multiple functions including toggle, and there is an internal realtime clock for issuing scheduled functions. The unit includes one bidirectional RS-232 port, one IR port with an IR learning function, along with two relay ports. The controller can connect with other Kramer control panels or a central processor through the dual K-Net connectors, and there is a USB port.
Designed for museums, stores, showrooms, restaurants, and attractions, the Medialon Showmaster ST embedded show controller can run and sync projectors, screens, lighting, video servers, dimmers, and sound through Ethernet, serial, digital, relay closure, and DMX interfaces. It is also programmed with the Showmaster Editor software application with a drag-and-drop user interface. The system includes 512MB of DDR2 SDRAM and an 80GB SATA hard drive.
For simpler AV control applications using extremely little space, the ButtonMate XLP (MT-XLP-BM) from Mediatech is an integrated controller and button panel that includes two serial ports and one IR control port along with an RJ-45 connector. The real ace with the ButtonMate XLP is simple and quick installation. The unit fits a one-gang wall panel, and with the addition of the add-on LAN module, it can be part of an overall network-based AV control system. Available in a white or black powder-coat finish with interchangeable button labels, the panel can be programmed with seven LED colors and audible tones. The Windows-based configuration software application enables command scripting with auto power-up and shutdown. The software is included with the panel in addition to a power supply, cables, breakout adapter, IR emitter, and button label set. Options include custom cables, a mounting wedge, custom color, and factory configuration.
Using IP-based audio, video, and control, the DigiLinX system from NetStreams incorporates a variety of graphical user interfaces to allow source control, sensor, and relay control for as many as 300 sources into 300 displays. The system can deliver uncompressed, lossless audio and video over a managed network with less than 1 millisecond latency, all over a Cat-5 cable rather than proprietary network cabling. NetStreams offers a wide variety of control interfaces and accessories, but the system can be interfaced with third-party control units such as Crestron and AMX as well. Audio, video, source control, HVAC, lighting, and integrated intercom can all be run on the system with a minimum of programming and very simple hardware connection. The whole network can be set up in a star topology using layer 2 or layer 3 managed switches with IGMP implementation.
The top-of-the-line AV control processor from RTI is the XP8 with two-way RS-232, routable IR, relay control, and Ethernet. The XP8 includes an internal clock for scheduled events and features eight multipurpose I/O ports with variable output for IR emitters and optional video/voltage sensing modules. Other ports include eight programmable relay input/outputs, eight sense inputs, eight two-way RS-232 ports, and an RS-485 jack for expansion. The unit can interface with all RTI remotes and touchpanels including the new ST-7 universal controller with its 7in. LCD and capacitive touchscreen, integrated trackball, and 13 programmable hard buttons. Programmed with the Integration Designer software, the XP8 can be updated with its field-upgradable firmware.
The Networked Room Controller from SP Controls offers a simple yet adaptable solution to controlling a display device and the various source devices that switch into it. The central control unit can be connected with a variety of color-coded control pucks to configure the system to any combination of source devices. Each control puck offers a different set of device interface ports. The controller has an Ethernet port and can be configured through an AJAX-powered web interface using the SP Controls driver library along with IR-driver learning capability using the PixiePro modular panel. The control pucks can be connected along the SP bus on RJ-45 ports and offer either four relay connections, four IR ports, or a combination of serial and IR ports. The Networked Room Controller itself offers one serial port, four relay connections, and two inputs.
The Vity Technology Multicustom Modular Controller consists of a main frame box that can accommodate a range of 10 slide-in cards to customize the control options for the particular application. With these, a system can be configured to include serial, IR, X-10, relays, VCA, digital feedback, and EIB. The system can also be programmed to sense outside triggers and run a predetermined series of events with its sources and contact closures. Up to 16 of the central frames can be linked on an MBC bus cable or the Multicustom/IP Ethernet linking can be used and these can all be controlled by any web browser. The Multicustom front-panel IR sensor allows learning of up to 255 infrared codes for device control. The MCM IRTX module has six infrared ports while the MCM RS offers two serial ports. The other modules have a combined range of interfaces that can be used to set up a very sophisticated range of triggers and device controls.