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An AV System to Train Firemen, Part 2

Training firemen isn’t just about stacking hoses and running up stairs. A modern AV system can be a big advantage and Circle City Audio installed one while the fire station was operating and responding to emergency calls.

An AV System to Train Firemen, Part 2

Jun 22, 2012 11:21 AM,
With Bennett Liles

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Part 1 | Part 2

Editor’s note: For your convenience, this transcription of the podcast includes timestamps. If you are listening to the podcast and reading its accompanying transcription, you can use the timestamps to jump to any part of the audio podcast by simply dragging the slider on the podcast to the time indicated in the transcription.

Training firemen isn’t just about stacking hoses and running up stairs. A modern AV system can be a big advantage and Circle City Audio installed one while the fire station was operating and responding to emergency calls. Andrew Van Veld is here to give us the lowdown on how they did it, coming right up on the SVC Podcast.

SVC: Andrew Van Veld from Circle City Audio, thanks for being back with me for Part 2 on the SVC Podcast and outfitting a fire station, that’s an unusual AV project with some special considerations for a fire station install. One being that you don’t get in the way. We talked in Part 1 about the audio ducking where you have all these audio sources coming in and when there’s an emergency call you want all those brought down. I know they have some other things in there that they use for their training. There’s a Sony EVI-D70 camera, that’s obviously a proven model; lots of those around. How do they use the Sony camera?

The camera is ceiling mounted in the rear of the training room and it is used to capture basically the front of the room, either the podium or the document camera which is on the other side of the front of the room or possibly a wide shot to show what’s going on in the room itself. That is one of the things that we ended up actually using infrared for because it was relatively simple and a pretty short cable run so using the Xantech touch panel and the handheld infrared remote that comes with the Sony camera we were able to learn the IR codes for camera movement and presets so then on the touch panel there are just preset recalls for where do I want the camera to point. One of the nice things we did was with the streaming server when you select the document camera, for example, as your input the camera automatically points to the document camera side of the room so the instructor will be on camera as when they walk over there. [Timestamp: 2:19]

In most cases, that might involve watching some of their training sessions to see what they need and how it should work.

Well in this case it was more off a, oddly, a last minute kind of thing because this is a brand new room so it had never been used for training so we kept getting, “Oh can you do this? Oh can you do this?” from the customer and thankfully all of the, oh can you do this we were able to say yes sir. [Timestamp: 2:43]

Well, that’s great when you can deliver like that for a client and since their specialty is putting out fires rather than setting up and operating an AV control systems, they probably got some ideas just by watching your people work. I know they have a BenQ, what is it an MX764 projector in there?

Yes, it’s also ceiling mounted and that actually is the other device that’s infrared there we again short wire all we needed to do was turn the projector on and off. The input to the projector is switched at the video switcher so there was very little reason to control it. I did replicate all the menu commands that cursor control in the touch panel so if they ever lose their remote they can run the projector and get to the menu and all that stuff from inside the touch panel and the little website but it’s basically projecting either the document camera image or the laptop and a podium or there’s a computer in the rack that’s in the control room it’s kind of a static computer that’s always there so if an instructor shows up with a PowerPoint file on a thumb drive there’s a computer there they can run. [Timestamp: 3:52]

Big advantage and less outside gear brought in. I think that projector is 4000 lumens so that must be a fairly sizable room.

It’s a decent size room. I don’t know what the seating count is, but the table allocation is probably 30 people. [Timestamp: 4:07]

And since everybody’s on rotating schedules I guess it would be nice to be able to record training sessions for playback for the people on the other shift. Now they’re using an Ncast PR720R I think it is. Why did you decide to go with that particular one to record and playback all of this stuff?

Ncast was a wonderful solution that we found to be able to do this especially at the cost from a reasonable amount of money prospective it does live streaming, it records, it lets you do set ups and nice defaults and things, it’s relatively simple to learn because that’s one of those things like you mentioned they’re firemen, they are not AV professionals and even their main trainer as it were had to be able to learn to do things that are outside of his normal work so the Ncast worked pretty well for that. The camera plugs directly into the Ncast everything else it gets those from the video switcher or the wireless mic that’s in there and it’s…we use the RS, the rack mount version so it can be tucked away with everything else. It’s a smooth box, we looked at a couple other alternatives they were dramatically more expensive and still not as functional. [Timestamp: 5:16]

Looks like it’s multifunctional in terms of the formats it can handle and I think that’s just a single rack space unit, too.

It’s tiny.



An AV System to Train Firemen, Part 2

Jun 22, 2012 11:21 AM,
With Bennett Liles

I believe I saw four front panel USB ports and I think they have a Samsung document camera?

Yes, that’s correct it’s a nice camera well priced, easy to turn it on and it’s very hard to mess up. You can use it in a fancy way but we needed something that firemen can run. [Timestamp: 5:42]

And you have an R-E-D one wall controller in there for the radio station selection?

Yeah, those are part of the bi-amp system so the main sound system DSP is a bi-amp Nexia C S so10 mic in, six line outs. We use the R-E-D 1’s there is one in the room that is called the watch room. That’s the room in the fire station where monitors are and that’s kind of the working part of the fire station from a office perspective and there’s also one back in the kitchen so the one in the back of the building controls audio for the patio and the kitchen speaker systems as well as the one in the watch room controls the engine bay and some of the main functions. That’s one of the places. One of the things that we did that was pretty tricky from a control integration perspective is there’s an FM radio receiver in the closet in the training room and we needed to be able to provide a way for the firemen to not have to go in that closet as it were, the wire room, to change the radio station so we have—that’s an infrared bud on that and it’s connected to a infrared block on the touch panel so commands are put in so from the touch panel you can pick the radio stations. We also replicated that command in the WIC, the Xantech web intelligent controller, and we have a bi-directional Ethernet serial over Ethernet connection from the WIC into the bi-amp Nexia so then the Nexia R-E-D 1has the serial commands in it to be able to change the radio stations so you walk in the watch room or into the kitchen and on the bi-amp R-E-D 1 you send the command to the bi-amp which sends the command to the WIC which send the command to the touch panel which changes the station on the Tascam tuner. [Timestamp: 7:26]

And the RED 1s are neat looking little units. It looks like a thermostat on the wall. Tiny things.

It’s a 2 gang. It’s basically a two gang old school iPod device. You can put 32 parameters on it whether its volumes or mutes or preset recalls. You have a way in there to shut the whole system down as well as a big switch on the wall so last man out can hit a button and everything goes off when the building is empty. [Timestamp: 7:52]

In part one we were talking about the ducking sensor that automatically reduces any audio levels when there’s an emergency call. What’s the trigger on that? How do you physically interface that?

The alarm system is a closed box system. That vendor also put in, in conjunction with the electrical contractor a simple 70 volt mixer amplifier so when the alarm sounds or when there’s a page from the telephone system or when the front doorbell rings, this is a secure building so you have to know the code button to get in, so any of those three things makes a sound into the 70 volt system so we took an RCA out of that amplifier and went into a RDL transformer to turn that into a healthy balanced line, ran 150 ft. of mic cable to the AV closet off the training room and took that line, audio line, into the Nexia so inside the Nexia we’re able to see that as a volume change and I did an inverse gate on it so it’s solid volume the whole time. That handles the ducking of the loud speaker systems. Additionally we had to send mute commands to the televisions, to the home theater systems and we had to pause any movies that were being played so we took an audio out of the Nexia ran it through a little Xantech device. It’s a little sensor unit they have that has some generic front ends you can catch it from a contact closure, an audio signal, I believe there’s even a light sensor so you can use a lot of things to trigger something and that something then is a latch and we hit a relay input on that and it then gave us a command with the capture in the WIC so we could trigger any of the Xantech site control things which are sending mutes out over Ethernet to the televisions or over IR to the home receivers as well as RS-232 to the Tascam DVD player to tell it to pause and then restart when the command is over. One of the things to realize is not all the alarms are for everybody in the station it’s a big facility, they have EMS as well as fire so the EMS might get called but the other firemen staff can still watch their movie or watch the news or eat breakfast or whatever they were doing so not everybody has to leave so we did even that courtesy of pausing the DVD was a fun thing to do for them. [Timestamp: 10:27]

And I’m sure that it was amazing to them when they saw that you could do all those things. And you’ve got the WIC in a central closet?

Yeah, basically all the equipment is in a …8×8 dedicated AV closet with a, we put a tall Middle Atlantic rack in there and most of our gear is housed in there. [Timestamp: 10:43]

Now how do you program the WIC to control the system?

The WIC has its own interface that you basically log in a little web server and you enter commands. They do have an offline editor as well. [Timestamp: 10:55]

Well, I know it was fun watching it all work. It really brings out a lot of the creativity when you get it all hooked up and you’re thinking about how it can be used for that specific application. So what else is coming up for Circle City Audio? Have you got some other projects that you’re moving on to now?

Well we have three church sanctuaries under construction right now. We’re doing some work in Indiana Supreme Court coming up, they had a justice change so we have to reprogram our DSP system because they talk differently than each other so little tweaky things like that some other school projects, a lot of ongoing a couple of sound system replacements. The construction projects have us pretty busy though because of all the scheduling and all the stuff it takes to interweave with the other trades and that kind of stuff. The AV sort of gets the tail end of it a lot of times so you got to react to everybody else. [Timestamp: 11:47]

Especially when you don’t have the chance to get in on the original construction but it sounds like you guys had a good time doing this. Circle City Audio with Andrew Van Veld. Outfitting AV for a fire station and training operation. Thanks for telling us about it.

Thank you.



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