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AV Control Systems

Mar 17, 2010 12:00 PM, By Bennett Liles

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There was a time when setting up AV control systems was considered to be sort of a black art reserved only for seasoned techies who never revealed their trade secrets. Since those days, the realm of AV control has become much more open and user-friendly with systems that can do more while requiring less in time and trouble for setup. Most of the systems we examine here can be networked into a larger scheme to allow central control and monitoring for multiple rooms, and even the most inexpensive and simple controllers now have a basic feature set that might have been seen as fairly exotic only a few years ago. The systems in this survey can control audio and video devices through IR, serial, and contact closures and offer some imaginative features in their user interfaces that crush the former fear factor for almost everyone who encounters them.

Designed primarily for use with the MultiTouch line of touchpanels, the CP500-110 Neutron mini controller from Altinex connects with these either directly through an Ethernet crossover cable or over a LAN. The unit offers two bi¬directional RS-232 serial ports, two control relays, two IR outputs, an IR pass-through, and a programmable IR memory for direct control of multiple AV devices. Two sensor inputs allow triggering based on changes in voltage levels detected through external hardware including motion, heat, and light sensors as well as providing 12V and 24V powering for the external sensors. The controller is small enough to mount in a variety of places, and there is an optional mounting bracket available for such mounting tasks.

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With integration of switching, transcoding, scaling, and audio amplification, the DVX-2100HD from AMX is ideal for applications in which available hardware space is at a premium. The unit can detect multiple input video resolutions from DVI, RGB, component, S-Video, and composite and convert these up to 1920x1200. Audio mixing capability can output sound to two 25W, 8Ω channels or 75W into a 70V or 100V system. The control panel is also integrated with the processor, which includes RS-232, IR, digital I/O, and relay control ports. Up to two remote AV sources can be connected over Cat-5/5e/6 at distances up to 150ft. using the same UDM technology found in AMX products of the Endeleo line. The control panel includes indicators for serial, IR, and relay port activity as well as Ethernet signals. There is also a USB configuration port along with an AxLink connection.

The non-platform-specific control system WACI NX-22 from Aurora Multimedia has a built-in web server, FTP server, diagnostic tools, and Event Manager. Control interfaces can be created to link the processor with YIPI (Your IP Interface), Aurora’s Flash-based application. The Event Manager serves diagnostic information in web format using a 32-bit engine with 32-bit pipeline memory, so access can be made though any computer or mobile web interface tool. C-type relays are available in either normally open or normally closed configurations, and the IR input enables control by many types of IR remote. Micro SD memory and a USB 2.0 port are available to increase storage capability. Control applications can be created in HTML, DHTML, Java, Flash, ASP, and Visual Basic. An integral front-panel 106x56- pixel display port provides information and six-button menu navigation. The rear panel includes LAN ports, a reset paper-clip button hole, and control ports while the front panel has an infrared learner port.

For interactive displays and exhibits, the VC-16a from BCD Associates has an interesting array of DVD controls through IR or RS-232. The unit can accept serial commands or contact closure with pushbuttons that are either third-party or available from BCD. It has 16 contact inputs, eight GPI contact outputs, a serial output port for Pioneer and Philips industrial players, and it’s field flash programmable. The device includes a quasi synchronizer for simultaneous control of multiple machines and IR output for all players.

Calypso Systems ezRoom 5000

Calypso Systems ezRoom 5000

The ezRoom 5000 system from Calypso Systems is designed as a complete AV control and distribution system for the K-12 classroom. The kit contains the CB 5000 networked controller with integrated 3in. monochrome touchscreen, CA-1000 32W classroom audio amplifier with four inputs, Smart Block wire adapter and power control adapter, CP-650 Cat-5 wall plate, Encore desktop control-panel software, Maestro client/server software, a secure equipment box, universal projector mount, and 6.5in. two-way loudspeakers and mounts. All of the audio and video signals are carried on Cat-5 from the CA-1000, and the CB 5000 controller/touchpanel is LAN-connected. The system includes the Cat-5 and VGA cabling, and the loudspeaker connections are made on Phoenix connectors. The ezRoom 5000 is intended to be installed with a minimum of wiring, and most of the connections are made to units that mount very close to the projector.

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