AV Control Systems Technology Showcase
Feb 23, 2011 12:00 PM, By Bennett Liles
In no other aspect of AV manufacturing have more hardware and configuration solutions been offered in recent years than in controllers and connection devices that make them work. While the trend still moves toward generic compatibility, there have been notable examples of proprietary systems with remarkable versatility. Here we take a quick look at what the market currently offers and the solutions possible for control and interfacing for AV systems and beyond.
The V16 controller from Alcorn McBride is a two R2U rack unit with 16 serial I/O ports, discrete I/O on DB-37M and DB37F connectors, MIDI I/O, timecode in and out on XLRs and dual Ethernet RJ-45 ports. The unit includes video frame sync and a real-time clock along with programming with WinScript Live so that changes may be made without the need to compile or download. For a quick and easy show control touch panel interface the company offers ShowTouch, a complete controller with preloaded design and interface software. ShowTouch can be used to operate any Alcorn McBride Ethernet compatible show control device such as the V16 from single or multiple control locations. Newly arrived is Touch for iPad, offering mobile operation and update capability for the Pro line of show controllers.
Primarily designed for use with the MultiTouch family of touchpanels, the Altinex CP500-110 Neutron mini controller connects either on an Ethernet network, enabling it to be controlled from several touchpanels, or directly through an Ethernet crossover cable. A very small unit, the Neutron can be mounted in a rack, in a cabinet, or on a wall using an optional mounting bracket. Devices may be operated with two bidirectional RS-232 connections, two IR ports, and two relay contact closures along with two sensor inputs. The sensor inputs can also provide 12VDC and 24VDC for powering sensor devices. All of the terminals including 12VDC power are on quick-connecting terminal blocks.
The NI-4100 NetLinx integrated AV controller from AMX is the flagship of the NI series of master controllers. The unit features Cafe Duet compatibility and 64MB onboard RAM (upgradable to 256MB) to control devices through seven configurable RS-232/-422/-485 ports, eight relays, eight IR/serial ports, and eight digital I/O ports. Capable of using three communication networksAxLink, ICSNet, and Ethernetthe NI-4100 has four NetLinx control card expansion slots that support all NXC control cards. Its 2GB CompactFlash is upgradable to 4GB, and once connected, it can use automatic device discovery for any AMX devices on the network.
Designed to fit in standard 3-gang electrical wall boxes, the NXT-470 hybrid touchpanel from Aurora Multimedia uses its built-in control ports and WACI engine to automate device operation, and its NXB-100 Voice-Lift option can be used with a Bluetooth headset as a microphone for the system. Its line-level audio in/out can also be used for MP3 playback. The 900 MIPS processor has 128MB DDR and 256MB flash memory expandable to 16GB, an IR receiver window on the front panel, and a 4.7in. LCD touchscreen with 280 nits brightness. Included are two two-way RS-232 ports, an IR/serial port, a USB port, and a POE-capable LAN port.
With eight programmable buttons and a large rotary volume control, the CB-1050 wall-mounted AV controller from Calypso Systems supports up to four IR emitters with built-in IR learning, an RS-232 output, onboard scheduler with battery backup, and serial programming port all in a single-gang chassis. The unit includes a passcode security feature, and its configuration can be saved to an external file and used to duplicate functions in a number of others. Its CB-50 volume control works in conjunction with the CA-1000 classroom amplifier to adjust sound levels for the room. Connections are made on an RJ-45 port and through captive screw terminals on the back. The CB-1050 is now network-attached, allowing it to send out IP-based commands in addition to serial and IR, and allowing for remote monitoring and control of the devices to which it is attached.
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