The Buzz: Install of the Month

Lansing Community College Lansing, Mich.
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The Buzz:
Install of the Month

Jun 1, 2005 12:00 PM, By Trevor Boyer

Lansing Community College Lansing, Mich.

When audiovisual gear is to be used primarily by non-AV professionals, especially part-time nonprofessionals, ease of use really pays off. At Lansing Community College (LCC) in Lansing, Mich., much of the faculty is part-time. Many instructors come in to teach at night after working day jobs. Training the faculty on AV equipment is therefore a difficult prospect.

Lansing Community College classroom technician Ken D. Orlich (left) with LCC manager of classroom services Marc Smyth (right) in one of LCC’s new state-of-the-art classrooms. A Sony SRP X700P digital mixer sits in the rack at lower right.

That's one big reason LCC's video engineering team was drawn to Sony's SRP X700P digital AV mixer at NAB 2003. The 3RU matrix switcher is designed for boardrooms, lecture halls, houses of worship, etc. Chief Video Engineer Dennis Clark thought it would be a good fit for the college, and so it was installed in a classroom and used successfully.

Meanwhile, local voters had approved a tax increase, augmented with a grant from the state, that enabled LCC to build a new 300,000-square-foot building that houses the West Campus and Michigan Technology Education Center (MTEC) six miles west of the original campus, in nearby Delta Township. With 44 classrooms active between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m., the new campus serves mainly the needs of the college's vocational training and retraining programs in fields such as automotive technology, electronics, IT, construction, and HVAC. Six miles of fiber-optic cable brings full-frame analog video from the distribution center of the main campus to classrooms in the new building.

MTEC classes tend to be heavy on multimedia, using video projectors, document cameras, VCRs, DVD players, CD players, and PowerPoint presentations as educational aids. For instance, the police academy has brought in 25 to 30 cadets to a classroom and used a 3D document camera to help demonstrate weapons safety.

Clearly, digital switchers would come in handy to manage these various sources in the 44 new classrooms. Clark thought that the Sony SRP X700P would fit the bill. “He practically insisted that this was the way to go,” says Marc Smyth, LCC's manager of classroom services.

LCC asked Leif Carlson of Lansing-based Sound Engineering to devise a technology package for the new campus, and he agreed that the Sony SRP X700P would fit the needs of LCC's new classrooms. A typical classroom includes a Sony mixer along with a Sharp C55X LCD projector, a Furman PS8 power sequencer, two JBL Control 5 speakers, a Panasonic AG2580 VCR, a Canon RE450X 3D document camera, an Extron MMX 32 VGA A switcher, and an IBM ThinkCentre computer.

The SRP X700P has a six-input mic mixer, and the college has purchased a few plug-in modules that allow input from two Sony wireless mics. These modules are shared among the classrooms. The SRP X700P also has a port to communicate with and remotely control the Sharp projectors.

An AMX touchscreen system based around an Axcent 3 Controller and an AXT-CA10 touchscreen is the interface by which instructors work the Sony mixer to switch the sources. Sound Engineering's Chief Engineer Joe Gruszka and Programmer Jim Speen programmed the system and worked with Smyth to make sure the touchscreen design would meet teachers' needs. Xolutionz Phoenix software works in tandem with the AMX hardware to allow control over the whole AV system.

“The interface is important to us because ease of use is a high priority,” says Smyth. “Once again it's the adjunct faculty. We don't have a chance to do training.” He adds that there's an instruction sheet in each classroom.

Eight MTEC classrooms came online in August 2004, and the rest became active in January. Smyth says that Sound Engineering will be installing 32 additional Sony SRP X700P mixers in the Health & Human Services building that will be built on the main campus and 10 more in classrooms in the Arts & Sciences building that will be retrofitted.

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