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Tech Roundup: AV Control Systems 2024

The most significant challenge of new AV systems in classrooms, conference centers, courtrooms, and elsewhere is not the new
technology itself. It is control. Some of the most technically advanced rooms are also among the least used because presenters can’t figure them out and don’t want to waste their presentation time battling (and in many cases being defeated by) the tech gear. The task for designers and installers is to team the disparate features of flexibility and ease of use. The control systems shown here demonstrate their success toward this goal.

The needs of show control can get very complex but the Alcorn McBride V16X controller’s history demonstrates that in the hands of a talented tech designer, it can work wonders. The wide assortment of interface ports includes four Ethernet, 16 serial, DMX, SMPTE
timecode, digital IO, GPS, and the unit has a built-in LCD display. This enables perfect sync for lights, sound, video, and other functions.The front panel 4.3in. display shows detailed status and allows setup and control.

There is no bigger control system in a smaller place than the A-Neuvideo ANI-8WP with its eight macro buttons and single gang wall mount footprint. If needs outgrow this, it has another eight macro commands through the web GUI. With a single button push the ANI-8WP can execute up to 16 commands while it runs on PoE or a separate 5VDC power supply. Also available is a relay output and a scheduling function for specific events. Button light intensity is adjustable.

Based on Harman’s secure Linux platform and capable of simultaneously processing a virtually unlimited number of scripts written in JavaScript, Python, or Groovy, the AMX MU-3300 MUSE Automation Controller natively supports HARMAN’s HControl, HiQnet, and ICSP protocols. The single RU device has eight serial ports, eight relays, eight IR ports, and eight I/O ports in addition to its LAN port for an isolated network of controlled devices. The front panel has bright LED indicators for each port.

Getting back to the rack, the ATEN VK2200 applies a quad-core CPU, 2 GB memory and dual LAN connectivity through which it can be configured and controlled by using the ATEN Unizon Global AV Management Platform. This can be used for monitoring, troubleshooting, and maintaining multiple systems. Project configurations can be uploaded to it through the USB port and the front panel LCD is used for configuration and information display.

The Atlona AT-VTPG-1000VL Velocity all-in-one 10in. touch panel with integrated gateway can be easily installed to control a single room or AV system. The browser-based configuration facilitates installation, and the 1280×800 native resolution capacitive touch screen has a surrounding LED to indicate room status. This IP-based system provides AV control for one room and scheduling for two rooms. The panel has a variety of mounting options and can run on PoE.

In January, for smaller installations, the new Atlona AT-VKP-8E “touchpanel alternative controller” debuted, providing IP-based system control in environments with an 8-button keypad interface, whether via Velocity or standalone via Atlona Cloud. Using ePaper, it can be configured to control display on/off, source selection, audio volume levels, and other system functions. Users
can do custom text and icons with specific buttons and navigate between different display layouts. The PoE LAN connection provides power to the controller and the ability to control devices over Ethernet, and an RS-232 port is included for serial control for legacy devices.

Whether it is an intelligent kiosk, digital signage network or a classroom AV system, the Aurora RXT-21VS can be configured to fit the task. Through the ReAX Control and Automation Engine, this touch panel controller can import HTML, CSS, or JavaScript code to customize its appearance and functions. After portrait or landscape-oriented mounting, the unit uses customizable web pages to send alert emails, control devices, and stream security video. The 21.5in. screen shows a 1920×1080 video resolution

Complete with a tabletop stand and side mounted LED bars, the Aveo Systems’ Mira Connect 10 touch panel controller is a processor and operator panel in one unit. The10in. diagonal screen is surrounded by a black Aveo Systems Mira Connect 10 ABS plastic, zero bezel finish and it allows even a novice level user to look like a tech wizard making audio or video calls from a dialpad or imported contact list. There is also control of cameras and camera presets.

The Biamp Impera Tango is a controller for Biamp Apprimo touch panels and it can support up to five of them simultaneously. Once configured with the Project Designer app, the controller can operate as many as ten third
party devices via Ethernet (PoE in/out ports) in addition to three bidirectional RS-232 or IR ports, eight GPIO devices, and four assignable relays. With the Connect-X MP6 extender the device is expandable from there.

The appearance of the home page largely decides how much a touch panel actually gets used. The Black Box ControlBridge Desktop Touch Panel can be configured through a web app to be extremely user friendly for all functions. Its projected capacitive touch (PCT) surface provides 32-bit (True Color) images at 1280×800. There is full-motion streaming video preview,
bidirectional control of any IP enabled device, and control of other AV devices when paired with the ControlBridge Processor.

Designed by the long-time leader in AV control solutions, the Crestron CP4-R single RU rack-mounted controller is ready for large and sophisticated applications, powered by its 4Series multicore CPU processor. This model can sense and operate audio, video, lighting, shades, thermostats, door locks, sensors, and a wide range of other devices. It accomplishes this through IR, COM, I/O, relay, Cresnet network, and high-speed gigabit Ethernet control ports.

When installation requires a more compact touch panel controller for as many as 15 d&b amplifiers, the 7in. d&b audiotechnik R90 allows one-touch control of power, mute, level, grouping and recall of up to nine AmpPresets. Smartphones or tablets connected to the same network can also be used for control. The R90’s powerful 1GHz ARM Cortex-A8 processor, low thickness for easy installation, and its uncomplicated initial configuration have made it a favorite in d&b Audiotechnik amplifier projects.

The Extron IPCP Pro xi control processor has been memory upgraded to allow more sophisticated setup and operation of AV systems using secure industry standard communications protocols. Among its physical interfaces are six bi-directional serial ports, eight IR/serial ports, four Flex I/O ports, eight relays, an eBUS port, and four independently switched 12 VDC outputs along with Ethernet monitoring and control. This controller has automatic clock synchronization, and all activity is shown on front panel status indicators.

A well-proven product with easy setup and operation, the FSR Flex-LT300 combines a control processor and color touch panel in the same unit. It is small enough to fit almost anywhere mounted on a wall or sitting on a desk and the built-in scheduler can perform automated tasks. The Flex LT-300 can also send out staff alerts and it is all configured using easy drag and drop Flex Control Builder software.

The functions of switching, HDBaseT video extension, analog audio amplification, as well as AV device control are combined in the Hall Technologies HT-TRK1 as part of the Apollo Technology Room Kit. A wall mounted button panel controls volume and source switching between four HDMI inputs. There is a built-in Web UI for control while analog audio de-embedding sends the sound to a 20W amp. An integrated network switch connects the unit for web GUI monitoring and control.

All-in-one show control is the mission of the High Resolution Systems (HRS) Event Control Station and its integrated Linux computer. Users have 64 presets and 22 keys at their command including cut and take buttons. All buttons are customizable for controlling one or many devices at once. There is also an internal web software configuration
platform. HRS protocol translation technology facilitates the input of ArcNet, DMX, and time code for triggering commands.

The IDK America SWC-2000 remote programmable button controller can operate in a rack or desk to use LAN or RS-232C connections for
control of a wide variety of AV devices. As many as ten commands can be
assigned to each button and a total of 32 can be configured. Powered by a 5VDC 0.6A supply, the unit’s 16 buttons keep the complex workings behind the scenes
and allow users to concentrate on the content at hand.

The Compass Control Pro System is a major mover in AV control and the Key Digital KDMC1000 is a master controller for this
system. This unit is where the rubber meets the road and it is equipped with six multifunction ports on 1/8in. mini connectors, a three-pin relay/contact closure port, and a dedicated ZigBee RS232 port. The multifunction ports support RS232, IR emitter output, IR learning input, voltage trigger, or voltage sensor modes. The rear panel also offers an RJ45 port for LAN connection.

Adaptability and customized control reign supreme in the Kramer KT-208 8in. wall and table mount PoE touch panel. With Ethernet
and WiFi connectivity, the touch panel can present a user interface designed and configured for the specific room or meeting facility
using code–free, drag–and–drop programming. Its 1280×800 high resolution screen features ±80-degree horizontal and vertical wide viewing angles, ambient light sensor, proximity sensor, with advanced 10 multi–touch points and 2– finger gesture capability.

Versatile control and absolute hand-held mobility allow the Nice HR40 to accept swipe, scroll and touch controls in complete compatibility with a variety of Nice/ELAN system controllers. The LED backlit capacitive 3.1in. 480×800 touch screen communicates on 2.4GHz Wi-Fi and infrared. The unit sits upright in its charging station waiting to be used in controlling media, lighting, climate, security, surveillance, and other systems. The magnetic base holds the charging station firmly in its place.

For use with the iPro.8 and Pro24.r remotes through RF signals, the PRO Control ProLink.r
extends its control via the included ProPanel app to iPhones and iPads. Configuration is set up on
the Ethernet ports and the IR output strength on the four integrated IR routing ports is adjustable. Four IR emitters are provided. The Pro.ircb.4 IR emitter connecting block can be added to expand the number of IR ports.

The QSC TSC-101-G3 HD touch screen controller uses PoE+ and a projective capacitive (PCAP) multi-touch surface with a 1920×1200 resolution, 24-bit color display to enable wide ranging AV device control and display it in portrait or landscape format. There is also an ambient light sensor (ALS) that can be set up for use in managing panel brightness, screensaver utilities or user access based on ambient lighting conditions. The unit may be tabletop or wall mounted and connected to the powerful remote monitoring and management tool, Reflect Enterprise Manager.

Whenever there is a need to use direct computer control for managing AV devices, the Radio Design Labs RU2-CS1 provides an RS-232 platform with eight open-collector outputs and eight separate 0 to 10VDC outputs. For sensing external switch or transistor closures it also has eight status inputs.
All outputs can be individually or collectively switched. An initialization command sets all parameters to known values at the beginning of the user program and front panel LEDs show any active outputs, active status inputs, transmit and receive data, errors, and power.

Multiple control communication methods are available on the RTI XP-6s control processor including AV device feedback to the processor for On/Off, disarm status, lighting dimming value and other parameters. The XP-6s features three built-in low voltage dry contacts, three 3-wire RS-232 ports, and six multi-purpose Input/Output control ports, along with three programmable 100mA/2VDC outputs to control a high voltage external relay in amplifiers or other devices.

Doing a lot while hiding, the Tekvox TEK3 TekMonitor works while communicating with other TekMonitors, TekTouchPad and TEKVOX’s advanced iOS user interface solutions. As many as eight devices can be controlled through IP connection and there are three direct RS232 ports. It uses these while running on PoE LAN power. Built-in anti-theft software connects with a TekSecurity module to prevent display theft and it routinely emails reports to a system administrator.

AV controllers are not normally designed for beauty shots but the Universal Remote Control MRX-15 looks mighty impressive just sitting out on a desk or conference table. This unit can wait for manual operator commands or it can respond to its own sensors and take predetermined action. It reaches out through IP, IR, RS-232, sensors, relays and 12V control. Programming options include Accelerator 3 for quick, template-based custom graphics and TC Flex 3 for completely customized graphics.

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