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Tech Showcase: AV Control Systems

No matter how smart AV gear gets for lighting, sound and video, the most interesting and challenging aspect is where the hardware meets the user. The task facing installers and designers is merging versatility with user friendliness. Today’s pace of AV technology also makes future-proofing a serious consideration carrying potential pitfalls. But the user interface is also the center of creativity for those bringing an AV system to life and it offers a unique opportunity to custom tailor the control to the users, allowing them to focus on presentation.

For the ultimate in simplicity in a wall panel unit, the ANI-8WP wall-plate control system from A-Neuvideo offers eight direct macro command buttons, plus an additional eight macro commands in the WebGUI, each of which can be initiated with a single button push. Operating on PoE or external DC power supply, the unit also has a relay output for additional device operation. Features include adjustable LED intensity, telnet control and date/time event scheduling.

The Alcorn McBride V16X is a show controller capable of contact sensing, multiple Ethernet port connectivity and precise clock-controlled event activation. Equipped with a genlock input/output, SMPTE timecode reader/generator and an integrated 4.3in. TFT status display, the 2RU device can provide perfect synchronization between ride control, audio, video, lighting, special effects, and other entertainment systems. Timeline programming and advanced scripting control can be adjusted in fractions of a second and tweaked for perfection.

The AMX Modero MT-2002 G5 tabletop touch panel is made specifically for AV room control using its Quad-Core processor, builtin web browser and document viewers. The capacitive touch screen is smudge and scratch resistant and for a multi-user environment it features custom configured security modes. Its In-Plane Switching (IPS) allows wide viewing angles and the 18.7 x 7.8 in. viewing area is easy to see from a distance.

A central part of the Aten Control System, the VK-1100 control box provides monitoring and management connectivity to all the AV hardware devices found in a room. The unit includes a USB port for profile uploads, an IR learning function and a Web GUI. On the front panel are LED indicators for connection and hardware status. The rack mountable device supports project file backup and SSH communication for data monitoring.

The Velocity Control System from Atlona is a multi-faceted system for customized AV control in any environment and at the user interface is the AT-VSG-5000 AV software control processor. Designed for hosting on standard IT server infrastructure, the unit serves up to 5,000 IP device connections for Atlona and third-party AV devices, touch panels, and BYOD control. It operates on a network-based system architecture that allows full redundancy and failover with two VSG250, VSG-2500, or VSG-5000 instances in operation.

Sold in three editions, Audinate’s Dante Domain Manager Platform provides enterprise-level system management to AV networks either as a completely new system installed from the ground up or as an enhancement for an existing Dante installation. For smaller network layouts, the Silver edition handles two domains and 10 audio devices. For integration with Active Directory in networks with up to 10 domains and 50 devices, the Gold edition is perfect and for networks of up to 50 domains and as many as 250 devices with SNMP alerting and a fully redundant “high availability” option, the Platinum version is available.

For installation and operational efficiency, the Aurora QXT-700 7in. touch panel has the QXT-2 control system built right onto the back and it all fits into a standard 2-gang box. The panel has 85-degree horizontal and vertical viewing angles, a 2D/3D graphics engine with 1080p H.264 streaming decoder, stereo speakers, stereo digital microphones, light sensor, proximity sensor, and IR Learner. The QXT-2 processor has two serial ports, two relays, two I/O ports with A/D, a PoE LAN port and a USB 2.0 expansion port.

Barco’s Overture software is intended to function as either a cloud-based SaaS or on-premise AV control and monitoring application. Its Alarms and Alerts can notify AV support staff of any condition needing attention in a multi-room environment and the Behavior system can automate multiple events in various rooms after simple configuration rather than complex programming. Secure through its user groups and permissions, Overture integrates with Active Directory via LDAP as ADFS (SAML 2.0) and Active Directory information is used for authentication and authorization. All of this is done on an existing IP network and each room’s user interface is template based for easy setup.

The Black Box ControlBridge Processor 200 for small to medium sized conference rooms and classrooms can be installed alone for controlling projectors and other AV equipment by serial and general I/O or connected with the ControlBridge Wired Desktop Touch Panel to add Ethernet devices. It provides both direct presentation control and automated functions for room devices with its integrated clock. The built-in Web interface and IR remote can be used to activate RS232, IR and relay controlled equipment.

Crestron’s new 3-Series CP3-R control processor is designed exclusively to function as the core of a Crestron Pyng home automation system and it works with touch screens, keypads, handheld remotes, and lighting controls to provide IR, COM, I/O, relay, Cresnet, and high-speed Ethernet control ports. Setup is made through the Crestron Pyng App or a web browser. The unit reports to the MyCrestron Residential Monitoring Service and backs up all settings in the cloud. Supporting AVRs, DVRs, TVs, and other devices, it integrates with Sonos wireless speakers and streaming devices.

The R-1 remote control software from d&b Audiotechnik presents to the user an entire AV system with all of its component parts as a graphical display to control equalization, delay, levels, switchable filter functions, mute and power, all of which can be set up in advance with its offline mode. Detailed system settings can be stored and recalled while using both Ethernet and CAN-Bus for device connectivity. The password protected application runs on Windows and Mac OS X operating systems.

Elan’s gSC10 system integration controller runs the Elan g! control software on a Linux platform. The device provides connections for eight RS-232 devices, two RS-485 devices, four ELAN sensors, ten IR emitters, each with dual emitter capability, ten dry contact relays and one USB-A port. It connects through the PoE port to Ethernet-controlled systems and includes a WiFi antenna terminal. The controller is compatible with ELAN’s touch panels, keypads and hand held remotes, as well as PCs, Macs and smart devices running iOS and Android operating systems.

Supporting TouchLink Pro touch panels, the Extron compact IPL Pro S6 includes five bidirectional RS-232 serial ports with hardware and software handshaking along with a bidirectional RS-232/RS-422/RS-485 serial port and its Ethernet port is PoE enabled. Displays, switchers and other devices can be controlled and monitored on standard Ethernet networks. Extron’s GUI Designer combined with Global Configurator Plus, Global Configurator Professional, or Global Scripter can be used for configuration and an external Extron Everlast power supply is included.

The FLEX-LT300 from FSR is a version of the LT200 without the touch panel. It can be mounted in a rack or Ceiling Box and connected to all controllable devices. The user interface can be a FLEX-LT200, LT150 or the Flex Remote Windows application. Control is conveyed through IP, four serial terminals, four IR connections and four I/O ports. The unit has a built-in scheduler for automated functions and configuration is a simple drag and drop programming procedure.

The Hall Research CNT-IP-264 allows an IP-based HDMI video distribution system to function as a GUI-based virtual matrix switch. The CNT-IP-264 also acts as a universal controller. After virtual buttons are created they can send RS-232 or IP commands to control third party devices. There is a real-time clock for scheduling events. Intended to work seamlessly with FHD264 HDMI-overIP Codecs, it scans the network, lists and identifies all senders and receivers and allows switching any display to any source with an easy and intuitive graphical user interface. The unit provides two serial ports but it can also utilize the serial ports on FHD264 Codecs to send RS232 commands using SoIP (Serial over IP) protocol.

Suited for corporate and commercial integration, the Enterprise Pro Rack from HRS Control can include up to 100 independent control systems with web browser configuration. The System Designer web application is used to customize control functions and systems monitoring. It is equipped with an Intel XEON processor, 32GB memory and twin redundant Ethernet ports. The Enterprise Platform Software features custom command sets with JavaScript response handling, network interfaces for IR, RS232 and contact closures along with macros for complex actions.

With capabilities beyond simple switching, IDK’s award-winning MSD-6208 Digital Multi Switcher also features RS-232C and LAN ports for communication and control of remote devices. Serial, LAN, CEC and contact closure can be directed from the front panel buttons, by RS-232 or LAN. In addition, it has eight digital and two analog video inputs. HDBaseT input supports Power over HDBaseT (PoH) that can power the connected devices. Audio sources can be output as either digital or analog.

Key Digital designed the versatile KD-CX800 control interface with four modes of operation. It can function as a control gateway for Key Digital’s Enterprise AV Over IP system, Compass Control Pro Master Controller, provide third-party control via KeyCode Open API, and it can perform control extension via IP. The unit is equipped with a front USB port, two LAN ports, three bi-directional IR/RS232/trigger connections along with power, link and I/O status indicator LEDs.

Kramer Electronics now has Kramer BRAINware Ethernet master/room controller software that can be run on KT-107, KT-107RB, and KT-107S touch panels without requiring a physical control interface to be installed between the touch panel and the controlled devices. Kramer BRAINware uses custom user interfaces configured in the Kramer Control Builder and it is available as a one-time license. The free, intuitive drag and drop Builder makes configuration very simple.

Combined with the Pro24.z and iPro.8 remotes, the Pro Control ProLink.z offers an array of configuration methods. It includes two voltage sensing ports, six IR output ports, Ethernet port for network control, two 2-way RS-232 ports and an integral Zigbee 2.4Ghz antenna. It can seamlessly work with tablets, smartphones and PCs after configuration through Pro Control’s wizard based software. The device is small enough to fit on a shelf and virtually disappear into the room décor.

The Q-SYS Platform from QSC is a software-based platform that integrates audio, video and control, eliminating the need for dedicated hardware. One Q-SYS control processor can handle the needs of small installations, I/O, control processing, camera routing, endpoint bridging, echo cancellation and EQ. Q-SYS Enterprise Core processors can scale up to operate the largest systems and offer touch screen control over a wide array of functions. The Q-SYS Designer Software offers the power to create designs for the Q-SYS Integrated System Platform and it was created to be intuitive and easy to use.

Using an RS-232 serial link, the RDL RU2- CS1 controller interface connects to a PC running a terminal emulation application or user software to control many types of AV gear. It provides eight open-collector outputs, eight separate 0-10V outputs and there are eight status inputs for sensing external switch or transistor closures. An initialization command sets all parameters to known values at the beginning of the user program. Front panel LEDs show any active audio outputs, active status inputs, transmit and receive data, errors and power.

The XP-8v from RTI can handle AV control in large environments with its eight two-way RS-232 ports, Ethernet port, eight programmable relay input/ outputs and eight sense inputs for voltage or contact closure. The integral clock enables time based events and timers to trigger commands and macros. The eight buttons can be custom labeled and it features dual RF transmission capability using 433MHz and 2.4GHz. The XP-8v includes an HDMI output for an OSD (on-screen-display) interface.

A long standing favorite among integrators for small room AV systems, the SP Controls PixiePlus (PXEDCM+) device control module mounts in a single gang wall box and it can be customized to include from two to eight activation buttons. Seven-button insert modules are included with each PixiePlus and the designer simply chooses any three for the specific system. The panel features IR learning, security code and an optional clock for scheduled operations.

Tekvox has another solution for maximum control using minimum space with their TekTouchPad, a single gang sized wall button assembly with a 1.5in. x 2.5in. viewing area and 240 × 400 resolution. Controlling RS-232 devices, the eight-button display has a logo page plus four programmable control pages. Users can program button scripts and save/load configuration files. There is also inverted screen selection for wall mount and ADA compliance.

The MRX-30 Advanced Network System Controller from Universal Remote Control uses its quad-core processor to initiate two-way control of Total Control and compatible third-party devices through IP, IR, RS-232, sensor, relay and 12V connections. Capable of off-site programming, the device stores and executes complex control and automation commands. It also integrates with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant for voice control while offering two programming modes – Accelerator 2.0 for quick, template-based custom graphics and TC Flex 2.0 for completely customized graphics.

For operating display controls on TVs that have an integrated tuner, the West Pond Enterprises RX-50 Managed Display Controller controls the display state using only the coax wiring. Working in conjunction with MX-400, smart headends, displays and other devices can be controlled via RS-232, IR, and HDMI-CEC protocols. When connected to the MX headend equipment via the unit’s USB port, it automatically discovers the appropriate control channel and No CAT5 or WiFi is required. 

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