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Smart Analog

Nov 17, 2011 10:12 AM, By Steven Swift

Fort Leavenworth conference upgrade combines high tech with fiscal responsibility.

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Digital signage monitor outside the ballroom shows the day’s schedule.

Otting, who has worked in meeting support for more than 20 years, says the new FCC systems are the most advanced he has ever seen.

“The video is crystal clear, the audio is unbelievably clean, and it’s user-friendly. I can set up the AV for a major conference by myself,” he explains.

According to Otting, by putting virtually all of the system components into a master control room, Martin and CTI made it possible for a single technician to support the multiple meetings typically going on at the center. A 17in. AMX Modero touchpanel in the control room gives Otting the ability to operate every system in the facility, switching inputs, dialing videoconferences, even adjusting the gain on microphones.

In addition, 12 7in. AMX touchpanels give presenters basic controls over individual systems, and a password-protected technician’s page on each gives Otting the ability to finetune the systems. “We also have a wireless AMX panel, which I can take from room to room during setups or use for close support of an important meeting,” Otting explains.

The 64x64 matrix switcher allows Otting to route any signal from any source to any combination of displays and sound systems in the facility, allowing very flexible overflow for large meetings. Otting can also route cable TV programming into the lobby or meeting rooms, which he does frequently for social events.

The ballroom includes an ABC room-combining audio and video system, with individual

Panasonic projectors and Da-Lite screens on the north walls serving each section and a larger projection system on the east wall serving the combined room. The room-combining and other audio functions are handled by seven Biamp AudiaFlex processors.

CTI installed two Polycom HDX8000 videoconferencing systems, one in the ballroom and one in the 20-seat Centennial Room (shown on this issue’s cover), together with Polycom EagleEye HD cameras. There’s an additional Polycom system on a rolling cart, which can plug into any of the other meeting rooms and combine with the center’s AV and control systems.

Another rolling cart delivers a Mackie 16-channel mixer and 100ft. snake to any meeting room. Otting uses it mainly to mix microphones for events with multiple presenters or speakers. Seven wireless mics can be assigned individually to a particular room from any of the technicians’ touchpanels. A ClearCom Tempest wireless intercom system allows up to three technicians to communicate during larger events.

A facility-wide paging system extends into every meeting room, hallway, kitchen, and nearby outdoor area, making it easy to reach any officer or address any group should there be a major or minor emergency.

There’s also a digital signage system, powered by a KeyWest MediaZone server, which can send messages to an LCD panel in the lobby, another outdoors, and to each of the meeting rooms. The outdoor system uses a 55in. LG LCD display in an iTech environmental enclosure.

Still have their place

As conservative as FCC managers have been with their capital and operating budgets, they are very pleased with the capabilities they have been able to add. “The more I work with the AV system, the more I am amazed at all the features it has,” Otting explains.

“The other day, for example, I set up 16 microphones on a U-shaped table. Some of the generals are a little older and don’t speak very loud. I was able to leave all the mics live and adjust the gain for each individually, with absolutely no trace of feedback.”

“Analog systems still have their place,” Martin adds. “When thoughtfully designed, they can provide exceptional value and outstanding service for many years to come.

Steven Swift is a freelance writer based in Des Plaines, Ill. Images: Pamela Kudlacek of Conference Technologies

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