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Technology Showcase: AV Control Systems

Feb 1, 2009 12:00 PM, By Bennett Liles

A wide variety of AV control systems to suit your production needs.

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Among its considerable offerings in the area of AV control devices, AMX puts forth a couple of small hardware modules for relatively small-scale control solutions. The NI-700 NetLinx Integrated Controller serves the needs of single-room control with one serial/IR output port, one IR receiver port, four digital I/O ports, two configurable RS-232/RS-422/RS-485 serial ports, and two ports for AxLink and Ethernet communication networks. These are operated by an onboard 304 MIPS processor using 64MB of RAM and 32MB of memory, along with 512KB of nonvolatile memory. The unit is also Duet-enabled and capable of dynamic device discovery on the network. The NI-900 augments these capabilities and can be used for the needs of several rooms. Both units have a series of front-panel DIP switches for easy hardware configuration and status lights for all their control signals. Each unit is powered with a 12V adapter and can be rackmounted using the optional AC-RK Accessory Rack Kit.

Among central AV controllers, Aurora Multimedia has a system for any conceivable need. If expandability is a key factor in the choice of a system, the WACI NX Jr E2 is worth serious consideration. Measuring less than 6in. in any dimension, the compact unit has 12 serial ports, eight isolated 24VDC 1-amp relays, 10 IR/RS-232 transmission ports, and eight DSP I/O ports. There is also an onboard IR learner for creating custom infrared drivers. This is accompanied by a USB port and a high-speed 2.1Gbps card slot. As has become quite typical of such AV controllers, the WACI NX Jr E2 also provides an internal web server to present a common web interface for configuration and control, as well as a built-in event manager. Expandability is facilitated on the WACI units though the WACI expansion bus — allowing hard-disk storage, battery backup features, streaming audio/video, and additional ports. Programming software options include Flash, HTML, DHTML, SOAP, XML, CGI, RPC, and Visual Basic. Server-side operation ensures that no dedicated server is needed and that no special applications need to be installed on a PC to access the WACI control system.

The SDS5110N from Bitlogix represents a low-cost answer for connecting networked and non-networked projectors when used with the company's NetControl software application. The unit is a small hardware module that has an Ethernet port and one RS-232 port on a DB9 male connector. Among the RS-232 signals used are TxD, RxD, RTS, CTS, DTR, DSR, DCD, and ground. Flow-control options also include XON/XOFF. The serial data rate is 110bps to 230.4kbps, and the protocols include ICMP, IP, TCP, UDP, DHCP, ARP, BOOTP, Telnet, DNS, SNMP, HTTP, and SMTP. The SDS5110N comes with a power adapter and a quick-installation guide, along with administration software and documentation on a CD-ROM. The unit can operate on 12VDC to 48VDC, and power consumption is 128.7mA at 12V and 72mA at 24V. The weight is only 3oz., and the manufacturer's warranty is five years.

Touting its open-architecture approach, Calypso Control Systems offers the ION-LT2 for relatively small-scale applications with the maximum flexibility packed into the smallest box. Controlled with Calypso's c_Link software application, the ION-LT2 provides two serial ports, two relay contact-closure ports, dual IR and VGA sync-detect ports, and an infrared learner port. The c_Link application enables the unit to trigger events using activation by a wide range of sources including Microsoft PowerPoint and desktop icons. Control actions can also be initiated through wall-mount panels, IR touchpanels, push buttons, handheld remote controls, and custom HTML interfaces. The onboard web server presents a standard interface, and a 128-event-by-512-action database allows a huge range of timed events to be programmed. The VGA Sync Detect feature enables the connection of a computer to the system's VGA cable to trigger an action or a sequence of actions. Disconnecting the VGA cable can initiate a projector-off command.

Crestron MPC Media Presentation Controller M25

Crestron MPC Media Presentation Controller M25

The MPC Media Presentation Controller M25 from Crestron Electronics is part of the family of 2-Series AV control systems designed for podium- or wall-mounting. The unit presents a hardware button style that is fully programmable with customizable backlit labeling, volume control, five-way navigation pad, and wireless remote capability. Central control is available through the onboard e-Control web server. The 15 hard key buttons are programmable for system power, input source selection, transport control, lighting presets, and other operations. The MPC-M25 is also expandable to provide more control with the addition of the C2N-VEQ4 module. This adds four channels of audio volume and EQ. Crestron QuickMedia wall plate and FlipTop interfaces, switchers, and receivers can also be used with the MPC-M25. The RoomView application communicates directly with the controller for facility wide AV asset control and management. The unit also has an ambient light sensor that can be used to control backlight intensity or room lighting.

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