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Old School AV

The last thing Chaminade High School needed, it seemed, was an upgrade of its AV technology. The numbers said it all: of its 1,600 students, 99.7 percent of them go on to attend college upon graduation, and the 2004 graduating class of 389 students garnered a total of 872 scholarships.

The 10 classrooms in the first phase represented a sampling of the current diverse construction with ceiling heights that ranged from 8 to 14 feet and four to five different room setups. McAward drew on his previous experience running a television studio and working with AV equipment to tackle any issues during the installation.

Once the first 10 classrooms were operational, the school board and the faculty realized the value of the technology in academics. McAward received additional funds and proceeded to install a system in each remaining classrooms.

Some classrooms were constructed with sheet rock and drop ceilings, which made the installation (and snaking wire) a bit easier; others were plaster walls and ceilings that required the installation team to use a surface-mount channel for wiring. The Canon projectors are hung approximately 24-inches down off of the center support beam using a pipe flange and a Chief RPA-620 projector mount.

For budget purposes, McAward used the school's existing pull-down or bow screens, whenever possible. Because the rooms and screens were various sizes, McAward had to determine the optimal mounting location for the projector in each room.

“I tried to place the projector between 9 and 10 feet away from the screen, but I could get what I needed as close as 7 feet, thanks to the excellent keystone correction function built into the projectors,” he says.

McAward needed a projector that could handle the short throws and was small enough to position based on the existing beams and light fixtures in each room. The Canon LV-7215 and LV-7210 LCD projectors fit those requirements, and also include all of the inputs the school needs: two VGA, analog video, and a wireless remote mouse. The projectors operate independently of the Canon RE-450X visualizers, and enable the faculty to display PowerPoint presentations, VHS tapes, DVDs, Internet websites, or even broadcast television.

The Canon video visualizers also offer image-capture features that greatly enhance their versatility in the classroom. The cameras in the visualizers can tightly zoom in and capture intricate details on any type of instructional material such as fossils, art illustrations, or field specimens, and also include a still picture function that enables teachers to freeze-frame any image during a classroom presentation. Connected to the Canon LCD projectors, the visualizers' images can be projected and displayed onscreen.

“We saw the visualizer as a good way to get technophobes to use the technology,” McAward says. “Teachers could use the same transparencies as before, and with the installed projector we could eliminate the need for wheeling in the AV carts.”

In each classroom, McAward also installed a custom corner wooden cabinet with the visualizer placed on top. Two shelves within the cabinet hold a receiver for the sound system and a Sony DVD/VCR combo unit. Because the installation lasted longer than 12 months and there were issues with product availability, McAward used three receiver models: a Panasonic SA-HE100, a Panasonic SA-XR25, and a Sony STRDE197. Each classroom also includes an independent audio system consisting of two Polk Audio RTi4 loudspeakers in a left/right stereo pair at the front of the room.

The Smart Classroom initiative also encouraged each faculty member to purchase a Dell laptop with the school subsidizing half the cost. Behind the teacher's lectern, a connection interface in the wall offers ports for VGA video, stereo sound for the computer, a USB hookup for the wireless projector mouse, and a Cat5 connection for access to the Internet and the school's data network. The interface includes a 10-foot, flexible umbilical that holds all four connectors in one place for quick and easy connection before class.

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