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Tech Roundup: AV Control Systems 2022

The market for new players, sensors and displays is an ever-expanding challenge for control system manufacturers. In compatibility their products must be nimble and as future-proofed as possible. The latest trends show this realization on the part of system, sensing and activation designers. As always, success demands a good balance between flexibility and ease of operation for a wide range of users. The control systems shown here illustrate where the technology is and the direction in which it is likely to go.

One of the areas where these systems really shine is in show control and the Alcorn-McBride V4X all-purpose show controller can operate a wide range of devices for museum exhibits and theme parks. Equipped with relays, DMX, digital I/O, serial and Ethernet ports, the device provides a 4.3in. front panel TFT LCD display for configuration and control. Perfect for mid-sized applications, it handles seamless integration with PLCs, DSP cores, display devices, motion control systems, and A/V gear. It features advanced scripting control, timeline programming, and ShowTouch touch panel integration.

The A-Neuvideo ANI-8WP wall-plate control system offers maximum functionality in the minimum space. It is perfect for rooms in which furniture layout is frequently changed and a fixed podium or presentation platform may not be convenient. The ANI-8WP can equip a conference room with 8 direct macro command buttons and an additional 8 macro commands in the WebGUI. The wall panel is quick and easy to install with its PoE capability and its relay functions can control powered projection screens, matrix switchers or any device that supports Telnet. There is also scheduling control for date/time specific events and all of this functionality fits into a single gang wall space.

At the top of the line in the VK Series, the Aten VK2200 second-generation control box uses a quad-core CPU and large memory to manage complex events with realtime response and status updates along with customized GUI designs and multiuser access control. Its dual LAN ports allow private, isolated command in the control port and connection to Aten Unizon, a centralized control platform, in the other. This model also has DC outputs for power supply connections, a USB port for project uploads, an LCD display, IR learning for adding IR device drivers, and a web GUI for configuration.

Now there is a control system for those who want the operator interface and control processor in the same physical unit. The Atlona AT-VTPG-1000VL includes the Velocity gateway and a 10in. touch panel with 1280×800 native resolution for an all-in-one system. This large capacitive touch screen has clear, easily readable buttons and attractive bezel lighting. The IP based system supports one room of control for up to 24 devices and two scheduling panels. This product has dual purpose glass and wall mount included with table mount available as an option.

A ReAX JavaScript based touch panel/control system, the Aurora RXT-4 has a 480×480 1:1 aspect ratio touch screen with room status lighting in a variety of color combinations. Mounted in a 2-gang box, it is capable of handling 1080p H.264 streaming along with complex graphics and video. Remote control from cellphones and computers is done through the internal web server. Also aboard are a 1W speaker, stereo digital microphone, proximity sensor, & ambient light sensor. The RXT-4 system also provides QR smart room logging and scheduling, relays, digital I/O, 8GB storage, RS-232 and USB Type-C connectivity.

Aveo Systems’ Mira Connect 10 control system is a high-performance and costeffective solution for controlling audio-visual systems in many applications including education, enterprise, retail, hospitality, government, and more. With support for hundreds of commonly used AV devices, including Zoom Rooms and other video codecs, Mira Connect requires no programming. It automatically creates an intuitive user interface based on the options enabled. This makes it easy for AV/IT staff to customize and make changes to their systems. Users can control DSP audio devices, cameras, displays, projectors, video switchers, TV tuners, lighting, and more. Advanced features include remote control for support teams, Mira Connect Me room control from a user’s personal device, real-time notifications of room or equipment issues, Microsoft Office 365 calendar integration, contact directory support, one-touch dialing, and an application programming interface (API) for integrating Mira Connect with other applications and systems. Wall and tabletop mountable, Mira Connect 10 touch panels have a softwareonly option available soon.

The Biamp Systems Apprimo Touch 8i is a capacitive touch LCD interface with a completely integrated control system. PoE powered and featuring PIR sensors to automatically turn on the screen and adjust brightness at the user’s approach, the Touch 8i is configured with Project Designer software. The control system can handle up to 20 IPbased devices from its table or wall mounted installation position. The screen stands up to maximum use with its scratch resistant glass. The housing is composed of PVC/ABS material with a UV protection additive.

Available in 7in. and 12in. versions, the Black Box ControlBridge Touch Panel is used in conference rooms, classrooms and other areas for bidirectional control Ethernet-enabled devices and when paired with the ControlBridge processor it can operate other I/O devices as well. It is capable of displaying 32-bit color images at a resolution of 1280×800 and showing full-motion streaming video. Included are a built-in microphone, speakers, and light and motion sensors. Scheduling is also enabled by the internal real-time clock and the whole system can be set up and configured through its web interface.

The Crestron AV4 4-Series control system combines flexibility and expandability using its upgraded multicore CPU, control subnet ports, and optional control card expansion slots. Capable of remote management through Crestron Fusion software and the XiO Cloud service, the AV4 supports PoE+ on its LAN ports and it includes onboard RS232, IR/ serial, relay, and Versiport I/O control ports. Crestron Fusion enables remote scheduling, monitoring, and control of rooms from a central help desk or mobile app. The system works through standard network security protocols, including 802.1X network access control, Active Directory service authentication, SSH, TLS, and HTTPS.

For remote control and daily operation management of d&b systems, the d&b audiotechnik R90 touchscreen enables users to have one touch control of over predefined functions including power, mute, level, grouping and recall of up to nine AmpPresets in a system with up to 15 amplifiers. It features a 1GHz ARM Cortex-A8 processor and 7in. 800×480 pixel screen. For its own environmental protection, the unit is in a steel housing with aluminum front. The front is rated IP54 and the rear is IP20. Using the OCA/AES70 protocol, it allows easy setup and control without additional programming code.

At the top of the company line for home control products is the Elan EL-SC-300-ZW with options for RS-232, RS-485, relays, IR, IP, input sensors, and Z-Wave control along with analog stereo outputs on RCA connectors. For user ease, themes and layouts can be consistent across all devices including ELAN touch panels and mobile or desktop apps. PoE capability is built-in to simplify installations and this all fits into a single rack space unit that can also operate in a standalone shelf form. For larger installations the EL-SC-300-ZW can be paired with the EL-IO-200 control extender.

As a control unit to fit into very small spaces, the Extron IPCP Pro S1 xi is excellent and the durability of the entire line of controllers is legendary. This tiny device works with TouchLink Pro touch panels, network button panels, and IPL EXP expansion interfaces while providing Ethernet monitoring and control. After configuration with Extron’s Global Configurator Plus, Global Configurator Professional software or Extron Global Scripter, it can be used with GlobalViewer Enterprise for centralized AV resource monitoring, control, and management. In addition to its LAN port, the back panel also has a bidirectional RS-232/RS-422/RS-485 serial port with hardware and software handshaking.

The education market is unique for its huge variety of daily system users and their wide range of technical savvy from technophobes to experts. The FSR Flex-LT300 self-contained control system can accommodate all of them. Mounted in a wall or on a desk and configured with the Flex Control Builder configuration utility, the Flex-LT300 has four IR ports, four serial ports and 4 GPIO connections to handle projection screens, mixers, switchers, and a variety of other AV presentation devices. There is also PoE on its Ethernet port. All of this is operated from a small and unintimidating touch panel.

Hall Technologies HIVE Control is an all-new cloud based AV control system capable of scaling up from a simple one room configuration to a highly complex multi-building plant. Its user interface is a stylish 10.1in. touch panel with 1280×800 resolution. Mounted on a wall or table, the unit is connected and powered via PoE and emulates a software node. HIVE enabled and 3rd Party AV devices can be controlled and the panel itself can be remotely managed, monitored, and controlled with HIVE Cloud Control. All of this capacity operates through the Cortex-A17 Quad-core processor.

When there is only a single room to configure for AV control the HRS Enterprise ONE processor from High Resolution Systems fits the bill. Using its built-in browser configuration capability, the device can be custom configured with the System Designer web app. The Fanless INTEL Bay Trail-M Celeron N2930 SoC quad core processor, 2GB memory, and 64GB SSD storage provide plenty of internal power for the most complex automation and control scenarios. There are also two USB 3.0 ports. This item can be integrated with other AV and IT systems by using its custom driver development capability.

The IDK America SWC-2000 programmable button controller is capable of operating a wide range of AV gear on both serial (male D-sub) and LAN connections. The rack and desk mountable 16-button panel is configured through a web interface to have up to ten commands per button and these buttons can be locked out for security. Using an AC adapter and consuming only 3W, the SWC-2000 can connect through an IP switch to a network of projectors, players, displays, screens, and switchers.

Real-time event handling and AV signal sensing are just part of the Key Digital KD-MC1000 master controller’s abilities with six IR/RS-232 ports, Zigbee interface and relay connection. The USB port is available for initial setup and upgrades while the whole system can be controlled with iPad, iPad mini, iPhone, and iPod touch devices. IR codes can be learned from other devices through the front panel IR window. Any multi-function 3.5mm port can be converted to contact closure using the external Key Digital KD-CCXR200 Converter. It is powered through the KD-PS5V2A, 5V/2A, 100- 240VAC, 50-60Hz power supply unit.

There is a scalable and flexible control capability built into the Kramer Electronics SL-240C compact 16-port master/room controller with PoE. Its versatility foundation is in the four bidirectional RS-232 and four IR ports with learning capability, four GPIO connections, four relay ports and RJ45 LAN terminal. Installation is simplified through PoE but there is an optional separate power supply unit as well. The 1Ghz processor, 512MB RAM, and 4GB flash handle complex high speed system requirements and the mini USB port accepts firmware upgrades. Two of these units can fit into a single rack space with the RK-T2B rack adapter.

The PRO Control ProLink.z processor forms the heart of a proven system that has been on the AV control scene for a while now. When used with the Pro24.z and iPro.8 remotes this unit enables a fine grained array of control options and customization. Among its features are two voltage sensors, six IR output ports, Ethernet connection, two 2-way RS-232 ports and an integrated 2.4 GHz Zigbee antenna. It can be operated through tablets, smartphones and PCs with an activated ProPanel app and customized using the company’s wizard-based Pro Control Studio software.

A unique combination in the processing capabilities of the Q-SYS real-time operating system and the standard Dell R740 server are found in the QSC Q-SYS Core 5200 Enterprise Processor. The system that results has all the power of the Q-SYS processing platform along with embedded Dell Remote Access Controller (DRAC) for simple integration with existing IT asset management tools. The user can connect it to Q-SYS Reflect Enterprise Manager, a powerful monitoring and management platform for the Q-SYS Ecosystem. Altogether, this provides a control and management arrangement that takes customization and scalability to the maximum.

Another proven and durable performer is the Radio Design Labs (RDL) RU2-CS1 RS-232 serial controlled interface. Along with its 8 open-collector outputs, the system also features 8 separate 0 to 10 VDC outputs to control external VCAs or other equipment. Commands initiated through the user software activate or deactivate each of the eight open-collector outputs in any combination. The ramp rate for outputs can be preset individually or globally. The rear panel includes status input terminals that can be configured to provide notification any time an individual status input terminal changes state. Front panel LEDs show any active outputs, active status inputs, transmit and receive data, errors and power.

Most powerful processor in the product line, the RTI XP-8v has a detailed database of drivers for a wide range of AV devices along with security and HVAC systems. Users can see all of the configuration parameters including on/off or arm/disarm status, dimming value of lights, and playlists using its HDMI video output for an external operator display. There are eight 3-wire RS-232 ports, eight low voltage dry contact relays, and eight multiple purpose I/O connections, and a Zigbee terminal for use with RTI remotes. There are also Ethernet and expansion ports along with an internal clock for scheduling events.

The SP Controls SP-TP7 touch panel adds versatile configuration to simple installation. The Enterprise Management Software provides the versatility while PoE speeds the installation task. Its anodized brushed aluminum bezel and SmartBox+ replacement face-plates allow it to be matched to the décor in any conference room, meeting facility or classroom. The 10-point touch screen display can control multiple displays or entire rooms. The system offers an extensive drive library and there is audible feedback from button presses. In addition the SP-TP7 has HDMI and 3.5mm stereo audio outputs, an integral IR receiver, four USB 2.0 ports and proximity detection.

Another popular touch screen controller is the big Tekvox TCX10. A 10in. diagonal screen with 1280×800 resolution is quite easy to see and navigate and it is compatible with Crestron & AMX control systems. AMX & Crestron control layouts can be imported and converted to function within the TEKVOX framework. Wall or table mounted, the unit uses a single cable to connect PoE and LAN but there is also a second LAN RJ45. The TCX10 can be remotely managed and configured using TEKVOX management tools. This controller can be customized to suit the functions needed in any meeting room or conference facility.

Last but definitely not least is the Universal Remote Control (URC) MRX-30 system controller with its quad-core processor, Ethernet port, six configurable relays, six configurable sensor terminals, 12 IR emitter ports, six RS-232 serial ports and four 12-volt power outputs. Capable of off-site programming, this model stores and executes complex control and automation commands and it integrates with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant for voice control. All connections are on the rear panel so the MRX-30 can be shelf or rack mounted, weighing in at 6.2lbs.

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