On this edition of the SVC Podcast, Contributing Editor Bennett Liles talks with Mike Fraioli, Vice President of AV Sales at BCI Integrated Solutions about their AV, security and data network design and installation for Andretti Indoor Karting and Games in Orlando. Mike provides a close look into the installation of Contemporary Research RF conveyed video and control of over 100 TVs mounted throughout the facility. He also discusses the Biamp TesiraFORTE based sound system.
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Andretti Indoor Karting and Games is a wild place with video and sound coming from every direction. Data, security and AV systems had to be installed and BCI Integrated Solutions was brought in to get it all going. Michael Fraioli is here today to tell us how they pulled it off, coming up right now on the SVC Podcast.
Mike, thanks for joining on the SVC Podcast from BCI Integrated Solutions in Tampa. It’s great to have you with us.
Thank you for having us on.
Andretti Indoor Karting and Games in Orlando. Anybody who’s been there knows what a vast array of things there are competing for your attention as soon as you walk in the door. A hundred and fifty thousand square feet and it’s not all just a place where you can get carpel tunnel syndrome wearing out your fingers and thumbs on video games. You’ve got laser tag, ropes, bowling and your guys did so much on this I think you did just about everything but pave the parking lot on this one.
Yeah, just about. [Laughs]
Well, tell us about BCI Integrated Solutions.
Sure. BCI Integrated Solutions is a Level II systems provider. We started out in 1999 as strictly an audio/visual company, and probably about 12 years ago now we decided to bring on a low voltage portion to our business. So now we’re doing structured cabling systems. We’re doing fire alarm. We’re doing access controls, surveillance cameras, and we get into the healthcare market as well so we can provide our customers a full suite of the low voltage solutions. [Timestamp: 1:47]
OK, so you’re ready for just about anything now. So what was BCI’s role in this project? This was certainly a major one.
It was, and it was the full breadth of what we offer. So we did provide the audio/visual systems for the space. We also did the structured cabling, including the CAT-6 and the fiber cabling between the couple closets that they had here. We also did the surveillance camera system for the facility as well too. [Timestamp: 2:11]
Of course the AV system is what we’re going to concentrate on. You’ve got over a hundred displays in there and right at the beginning there was a basic decision to be made as to how you were going to get all the video sources controlled and distributed to displays all over the whole place.
Correct. Yeah, with over 100 displays in a facility and being the stature that they are, we want to give them a professional system for the space. In a lot of bar and grill applications you’ll see a lot smaller deployments, but due to the size of the space we decided to use Contemporary Research for their cable TV distribution system. So Contemporary Research allowed us to not only modulate the cable channels that they’re using, but we’re able to distribute it over the facility and then provide control to those displays as well too over the same piece of coax. [Timestamp: 2:58]
OK, so you’re using the Display Express PC and the QMOD-HDMI 2 for the most part?
One of the things I noticed on the QMOD-HDMI 2 is that you have a separate scaler for each of the two HDMI inputs. With that many displays and all the numerical data like game scores being shown on the monitors it would be a central issue to make sure some of the numbers don’t run off the edge of the screen on the different size displays.
Right. So there’s a total of 16 sources that are there, all provided by DirecTV. And being a bar and grill, as one of the functions to the space, they not only want to have 16 channels, but each of the 16 DirecTV boxes would be able to also tune to any channel that they want. So they could essentially route any DirecTV source to any TV that’s in the facility and that’s going from TV’s to projectors. And there’s even a mix of some residential monitors that the facility decided to provide themselves. [Timestamp: 3:55]
And I think, what is it, Crestron control that you’re using primarily?
That’s correct, yeah. Crestron talks to the Contemporary Research product and the rest of the audio/visual systems in the space to make it one seamless integrated system for the customer. [Timestamp: 4:09]
They’ve got mobile touch panel control.
Yeah. So a lot of the touch panels are actually with iPads. So the customer wanted the capability to be able to walk throughout the facility and be able to control the system no matter where they were at. So instead of giving them dedicated panels in each space they can just grab the iPad, walk around and make those adjustments as necessary. [Timestamp: 4:30]
Yes, in a place that size it would be essential. You’d have to cover some ground to get where you can see the display you’re controlling.
Especially in a facility this large. You’ve got to think if you go over into, like, the bowling alley, right? There’s not a good place to put a touch panel in a bowling alley that somebody would want to walk up to that and be able to use that’s not in generic public space. So it was good for them to be able to just take something portable and wireless and move that around. And with employees changing through it’s a possibility that that panel could get damaged. With it being an iPad, it’s inexpensive to replace it and get it back up and going if it does happen to be dropped as they’re moving it around the space. [Timestamp: 5:08]
You’ve got bowling, laser tag, karts running around on tracks. Take us through the separate rooms or areas here. You’ve got meeting and party rooms, too.
Yeah, there absolutely is. So kind of as you walk through the front door you’re greeted by a 2 x 2 video wall that kind of welcomes you to the space and tells you a little bit about Andretti. You also see in front of you the main bar, and then off to your right you’ll see a bowling alley. Then off to your left you see some of the simulation games. So they’ve got some racing simulation as Andretti Karting; that’s their staple for the facility. Then you’ve also, as you kind of meander through the facility there you’ve got all the arcade games that you’d see in a typical arcade space. And then they’ve got some unique ones as well, too, doing 3D interactive rides. You also have party rooms that can be combinable and some meeting spaces as well too so they can have – host parties. There’s also something called the SKY bar. So can move up to that second floor and there’s a big, open atrium that has another bar and some dining there for you to be able to enjoy some beverages and you can watch the racetrack that’s there. There’s also a restaurant and laser tag and ropes course. So obviously a big space; a lot of stuff going on. [Timestamp: 6:19]
Yeah, in fact there’s so much going on between the games, simulations and AV, can they actually distract or compete with each other. Was there some design consideration to allow people in there to concentrate on one thing?
There’s certainly a lot going on in the space. As you walk around and into each of the areas you should be inundated by what’s going on directly in front of you. So we didn’t want the AV systems to compete with the games that they had in the space, right? So each area is kind of its own purpose. When you go into the restaurant, you’re there for dining but you also want to be able to watch a sports game as you eat. So there’s projectors and TV’s and also the sound system to help envelop you into the game that might be going on. So if it’s a big Monday Night Football game, obviously that’s the highlight and that’s what we want to push to the forefront. But if you walk over to the arcade section, we don’t want the background music system to overtake the game because we’re trying to sell those individual games as you walk up to it. So you want to be able to interact with each of these things as you move to each different area. [Timestamp: 7:21]
And to facilitate both video distribution and control it’s an RF system so you’re using coax running everywhere for that, right?
We are. That’s correct. Yeah, so all the systems get modulated over a coax. So all the DirecTV gets modulated, then, to coax so that way can distribute it across the facility. Then there’s some conversion boxes that get mounted behind either a TV or tuners that are at the projectors. And so the conversion box that happens in the back of a TV actually spits back out not only coax, but breaks away RS232 for control to those TV’s and then uses the built-in tuner of the TV itself to then demodulate that to see the cable channel. Whereas a projector doesn’t have that tuner built in, so we’re actually putting boxes out there that are, in fact, tuners as well. So it’s actually demodulating it at the Contemporary Research box that’s mounted with the projector, and then again spitting out RS232 so that way we can control that display. And that’s not only for changing channels, but that’s also for control just on/off at the beginning and end of the day. [Timestamp: 8:29]
It’s great once you have all of that in and it’s working but as far as the installation of it goes, how does running all of that coax compare to say, stringing twisted pair or some other cable type around such a big place?
The coax is actually fairly simple. I mean, people have been doing coax for quite a few years now and it’s kind of a staple with cable TV systems. So it made it very simple instead of more of a complex category cable that might be shielded where you’re having to make those terminations that are a little bit more time consuming than traditional coax is. [Timestamp: 9:01]
It seems like it’s always an advantage if you’re in on the construction design right from the beginning so that you know where all the hidden obstacles might be but you didn’t really have that advantage on this one.
Yes. We were actually brought into the project fairly late in the game. The walls were already up, the roof was already on, and they were already doing framing when we actually got contracted. So it was a bit of a challenge trying to get involved to get pathways into the areas that we needed to, but once we were on the team we were able to look at that and come up with some solutions for them. One of the challenges actually was more on the structured cabling side of things as the distance limitations of typical structured cabling did not allow for us to hit all the games that we needed to. So we were actually able to implement a second closet for them so that way they can distribute that a little bit more evenly to get our distances down. But that’s one of the advantages of doing the Contemporary Research product with coax is that we don’t have the distance limitations that we would with traditional category cable. [Timestamp: 9:56]
So you got all of your RF distribution and control hardware centrally located and that’s got to make it easier for support and maintenance as well.
Absolutely. When you have to service it from the audio-visual perspective it’s one closet to go to instead of spreading that between a couple.
And for the audio system I think you used a Biamp TesiraFORTE system for that. Was there a particular reason why you went with that specific company?
Yeah. Biamp’s been a good staple for us here at BCI. We’re been using it for many years now. They’re a very reliable product and it seemed to fit the bill for the space. So it allows us not only to control audio levels, but we also can distribute that. There’s over 16 audio zones in this facility just for background music, let alone all the individual meeting rooms and party rooms. So it helped us to be able to distribute control, adjust and equalize the facility. [Timestamp: 10:46]
Incredible array of different sensory environments in there. Creating and controlling all of those was a real challenge. In Part 2 we’ll get more into things like sound isolation with so many different things going on. We’ve been talking with Michael Fraioli, the Vice President of AV Sales for BCI Integrated Solutions with offices in Tampa, Orlando and Ft. Meyers, is that right?
OK, and in Part 2 we’ll get into more of the tech details. Michael, thanks for being with us for this.
Great. Thanks for having me.
Sound, security, data networks and massive RF video distribution. BCI Integrated Solutions got it all up and running. Mike Fraioli will be back next week to give us the story on power, lighting and audio distribution. The tech setup for Andretti Indoor Karting and Games in Orlando, right here on the next SVC Podcast.