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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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One of several AV control systems offered by Cue USA, the ipCue-delta provides control through two bidirectional RS-232 ports, four RS-232/422/485 ports, one bidirectional RS-485 4-pin connector, eight IR/serial outputs, eight general I/O 2-pin connectors, and 16VDC-to-24VDC relay connections. Based on the Motorola ColdFire processor, the ipCue-delta has an onboard realtime clock and an internal web server for setup and diagnostics using a web browser. The unit is also fully compatible with Cue's existing range of button panels and touchpanels. The front-panel LEDs indicate the status of all control ports, and the internal IR sensor allows custom IR drivers to be learned from handheld infrared remotes. A +5VDC power output provides power to external equipment, and there is also a Cuewire port. The chassis is suitable for desktop-, rack-, DIN rail-, and wall-mounting applications with all port connections made through captive screw connectors on the rear panel.

One very handy little AV control module recently added to the product line at Extron Electronics is the IPL T PC1. This small box is ideal for adding centralized control to a small local AV system. Extron's IPL series modules are intended to provide such control to systems not originally designed for networking. The PC1 includes a serial port for control of a local projector or other display device, as well as a contact-closure sensor that can be used to trigger events such as projector shutdown after a motion sensor has detected no motion in the room for a preset time. An IR port can be used to control a local media player through a wired IR bud attached to the infrared sensor area on the player. One of the handiest features included in the PC1's box of tricks is the IP-linked AC outlet control. This can be used to reboot a projector, computer, or other device after it hangs, which is frequently a problem with projectors subjected to momentary voltage drops. The AC control can reboot the machine, and then the serial control can be used to turn the device back on — all from a central monitoring and control location.

The Room Navigator from FSR is a multiformat video switcher and AV controller in a 1RU enclosure with four serial ports, four IR ports, and four contact closures. It offers 4×1 RGBHV, 8×1 composite switching, and 8×1 S-Video switching. Inputs 1-4 are multipurpose connectors, and they can be used with either RGBHV or composite and S-Video. The unit also provides 8×1 stereo audio switching with audio input level trim and volume control. Remote control is available through FSR's wall plates, RS-232, or a built-in IP port with an integrated web server. Functions on the basic wall plate — which fits a 2-gang wall box — include volume control, audio and projector mute, source selection, and six user-definable buttons. For a larger system, the advanced wall plate — installed into a 4-gang box — has an additional six user-definable buttons, transport control buttons, and menu navigation keys.

For small-room applications where a single 1-gang wall-plate controller is all that is required, the RC-6iR from Kramer Electronics has six programmable, backlit, and label-capable buttons to operate audio, video, lights, screens, and other devices. Programming options include four macros per button and 15 commands per macro for a total of up to 360 commands. An RJ-45 IP connection allows remote operation from anywhere by Internet and control and configuration through Kramer's RC Configuration software. The IR learning function permits the unit to be programmed with IR commands derived from handheld IR remotes. In addition, there are two relay closure ports, two bidirectional RS-232 ports, one RS-485 port, and a lock-out feature to prevent tampering with the controller settings. The power required is 12VDC at 155mA.

For single device control in an extremely small box, the LANMate MT-1-LM from Mediatech can provide the control necessary in translating IP-linked central operation to RS-232 serial activation with data rates of 300bps to 921,600bps. The LANMate is configured and operated with Mediatech's ControlCenter software application (MT-CC-SW), and it can be set up through a web interface made possible by the internal web server and operated with any web browser on an Ethernet 10Base-T or 100Base-TX network. The unit can autosense which type of network is being used. The chassis has LED indicators for power, network link, and network activity. A 6VDC, 0.5-amp power supply is included.

For point to multipoint video distribution and control, the Panorama PANVP500 and PANVP700 can work with NetStreams wall plates to route up to four HD video signals around one or more rooms. The PAN6400 Video Distribution Center is the central switch, and it handles four composite, four S-Video, or four component video sources via Cat-5 to as many as six Panorama video ports for output to a maximum of six displays. The PAN6400 can also be cascaded for expansion to a much larger system. The unit is capable of learning IR control codes from the handheld remote controls for the displays and transmitting those via wire for complete display control. Panorama may be used on a standalone basis, integrated with NetStreams Musica 5000 series multiroom audio system, or integrated with NetStreams DigiLinX IP-based multiroom audio and control system or third-party control systems.

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