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An AV System to Train Firemen, Part 1

Jun 12, 2012 10:44 AM, With Bennett Liles

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And make the presenter look brilliant.

Well as good as they can look, yes sir. [Timestamp: 6:02]

OK, you have serial ports, relays, hard wired IR inputs, Ethernet ports, one with power over Ethernet. Obviously, the AV control business is a very competitive field so why did you decide to go with the Xantech gear?

We’ve appreciated how simple, I guess or maybe straight forward is a better word, that it is to program as well modify your programming on a Xantech system. We’re dealers for and have used other products but the ability to make a quick change and put things in that aren’t already in the library are pretty smooth. There are some trade off’s I think there are some things that could be more robust but all in all it was a smooth flexible system and we were able to assemble a pretty creative kit from regular off the shelf Xantech components. [Timestamp: 6:52]

And you’ve got a whole bunch of video monitors in there for the training sessions. Those can be serial or infrared controlled but IR control on monitors can have some drawbacks.

With infrared you can run into cable length issues and what command did I really press at the time so we used the Ethernet devices to be able to put direct commands into the panels and it’s solid it doesn’t burp at all. [Timestamp: 7:21]

Yeah, one of those big problems I’ve seen with trying to do infrared on monitors is somebody can use a remote to turn on the monitor and then you get out of sync using a generic flip flop power command and the monitor takes an ON command for OFF and it gets all reversed.

Well the other thing that we found is it can look un-elegant to have an IR bud stuck on the front of every device so by using the serial connection in the back it looks way more professional as well. [Timestamp: 7:47]

So you’ve got what, a total of seven audio zones that you have controlled there?

Yes, there are the afore mentioned in a home theater rooms that were 5.1 systems that are basically consumer level devices with big commercial televisions on them. There is a third system that’s on a home component AV receiver in the fitness room. Now these firemen have one of the fanciest fitness rooms in the western hemisphere and it has a big 52, I believe, inch or 55 inch monitor that is run from our system but they can also play Blu-ray in that room. We have four Bose DS 100 loudspeakers hooked into the amplifier so it can get way louder than the treadmills and any of the equipment but again, all that system when there’s an alarm that comes through TV mutes, DVD pauses, audio mutes until the alarm’s over and then it comes back up. [Timestamp: 8:41]

And what type of video signal are you circulating to those monitors? Is it all one format like HDMI or DVI?

Everything’s actually VGA over Cat-5. We use Kramer for that to send the video out. The other audio zones are the engine bay which also has four of the Bose DS100’s, a back patio which has a smaller DS 16 so when they’re cooking out they can also listen to music or whatever and then the training room itself which actually has some reasonable grade ceiling speakers that were put in as, by the electrical contractor oddly enough. One thing that we didn’t talk about in the challenges perspective is this building was built for a year before we got to do our work. There was a, some kind of problem with the concrete so the building sat empty for many months and nothing was put in, in terms of conduit for any of our work. So we had a pretty good struggle, it was a functioning fire station when we got around to putting our equipment in. [Timestamp: 9:36]

Yeah that would have been a lot easier if you had been able to get in on it from the ground up and had gotten in on the planning of the building. Now that can suddenly get to be a very busy place when an alarm comes in. How did you manage to handle the installation without getting in their way or did you have to actually stop working when they had an emergency come up?

From a cooperation perspective we made sure that we didn’t bring any of our equipment online until we had the ducking interface working so when did start playing music, when we did start providing video it was already working in conjunction with the function of the building. We had in addition of course ladders and cable racks and things everywhere we just made sure that we didn’t blockade any of the hallways. Thankfully the building’s laid out so there’s two ways to get everywhere so we did make kind of a box and cable explosion in the training room for a couple of weeks but that was not in anybody’s way. [Timestamp: 10:30]

Well, that would be a smart thing to do to make sure you have the ducking interface working first so you can deal with anything that comes up.

It was interesting on that note that from our perspective ducking is a pretty normal thing. You do that in a lot of systems that are have speech paging and that kind of stuff. In this environment it was amazing to them that we were able to do it so it was a fun blessing as it were to be able to provide them something that on a daily basis was going to be to their benefit that again all we had to do was put the right parts, run the right wire and do the right programming and it’s functional. [Timestamp: 11:06]

Well that’s some feat managing to amaze firemen with all the things they usually see going on. I really appreciate your telling us about it. Andrew Van Veld with Circle City Audio in Indianapolis and outfitting a fire station for AV. And in part two, we’ll get into the projector and the Sony camera that they use and how they record their training sessions and we’ll see you then.

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