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Installation Profile: Into the Tunnel

Jun 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By Dan Daley

It wasn't exactly working in a coal mine, but installing the complex digital signage in the connecting tunnel at JFK's new Terminal 8 was a logistical challenge.

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Content is stored locally, but it can be updated remotely and securely via a dedicated IP connection to DMG's virtual private network (VPN) at the company's Kenilworth, N.J. offices. (While Microsoft remains the sole client of the signage, its campaigns are changed every two to three months.) They can also remotely manage the system using Nimbus' simple network management protocol (SNMP) monitoring software, as well as do diagnostics on all aspects of the system. One additional monitoring element reflects the dynamic nature of the signage: Multiple Sony Ipela SNC-DF40N webcams with attached microphones let the Kenilworth office monitor the entire environment visually and aurally, as well as with telemetrics.

The wiring for the project's audio benefited greatly from the fact that the airport's own life-safety and paging audio system was already in place in a plenum running above the metal-pan ceiling of the tunnel, providing ready-made cable troughs for the video and audio. “The hardest part of the cabling portion of the project was getting wiring through a 3ft. section of concrete between the tunnel and the IDF closet,” Mittler says. “Most of the wiring infrastructure was already in place as part of the paging and IT infrastructure. We just negotiated to use two of the dark fiber strands to tie into the existing audio system and used pre-terminated fiber for video, which just had to run from the plenum down to behind the display pods.”


Seventeen channels of discrete audio accompanies the images on the screens and can be synced to the video. “If the image of a jet plane was running the length of the tunnel, we could make the sound follow the airplane all the way down and back,” Mittler says. Tannoy CMS501 DC BM loudspeakers are recessed into the ceiling above the display screens, and from the server, they play 2-channel (i.e., stereo) background music and the occasional sound effects. The zoning of the audio is done via three dbx ZonePro 1261 zone controllers that are housed in the IDF closet. The IDF closet also houses Crown CTS 8200 amplifiers, the Windows-based custom-built DMG computer, Linksys Ethernet for remote monitoring, and an AMX NI-700 control system.

Jim Titus, an independent programmer in Dallas, did the programming for the AMX system. Controlling 40 LCD screens without looping RS-232 ports proved challenging.

“We used RS-232 Ethernet converters to IP-enable the screens,” Mittler says. “Each pod of five screens has a PoE switch-connect back to the main equipment room via the fiber infrastructure where the AMX NI-700 and touchpanel are located. The control system is used to power the screens on and off as well as poll the screen for power and input status to alert our helpdesk if there is a problem.”

The sound system is tied via fiber cabling into the airport's IED-manufactured life-safety and paging system by regulatory necessity. The audio system is subject to automatic override for announcements and pages.

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