A couple months back we went through a series of articles detailing different types of cable and their uses. We’re are back! Today we are going to talk about Category cables.
Category cables, also known as network cables or just “Cat” cables, consist of four twisted pairs of copper wire which have a RJ-45 end. Over the years they have increased the amount of data that can be passed over the cables. Which is why you will see Cat 5, Cat5e, Cat6, and Cat6a cables. With each iteration of the cable they increased the amount of bandwidth you can send.
Now you may be wondering “Why would an audio/video company care about network cable?”
Many new protocols for sending audio and video are using cat cable to send that signal. An example of that is HDBaseT which we talked about in a previous article (Click here to Read it!!) There are also many different audio protocols that commonly use cat cable to send signal. Many digital consoles use a cat cable as a digital snake to pass audio from the stage box to the console. Cat cables are also used by many monitor systems to pass signal out to an in-ear system personal mixing station. The other big audio-over-network protocol is Dante. Dante is an uncompressed, multi-channel digital media networking technology, with near-zero latency. There are over 1,600 Dante-enabled products are available, enabling you to mix devices from multiple manufacturers.
But back to the actual Cat cable. A common error that people make with Cat cables is that, if it fits, it will work! Because all Cat cables use the same RJ-45 ends that can be easy to assume, but that is not the case! Not only will different cables not pass the same amount of bandwidth, but some protocols, like HDBaseT, pass power over the Cat cable as well. If you plug that cable into just any jack you could seriously damage a piece of equipment. Always verify that the cable you are using for a particular piece of gear is the correct specification for that equipment!
We’ve already done several articles on cabling, but it’s important to understand the difference between them. We hope you’ve enjoyed learning, but we aren’t done yet! So, stay tuned to read more about Cat cables and so much more!
I hope you like finding new equipment as much as we do! There’s lots of amazing things in AV and we love sharing them with you!
Today is all about the Datapath display wall controller! It’s one box with four outputs and a million possibilities! Everyone faces similar challenges using video walls. Fast transmission speeds are a must for project success and often require long distances for a network of cabling. The Datapath box offers the perfect solution for staging and broadcasting. With four SDI outputs and the ability to loop multiple units together, no event is too complex. Datapath’s intuitive Wall Designer software and fully featured API means that whole projects can be quickly set up and easy to manage.
Each output monitor can take its input from any region of the input image as all the required cropping, scaling, rotation and frame-rate conversion is handled by the Datapath Box hardware. These regions can overlap to allow any output to replicate another or can be configured to support any creative splice of the source material. This allows the support of many non-rectangular screen arrangements, as well as any mix of monitor orientations allowing users to create an almost unlimited multi-monitor canvas. The Datapath also allows users to pre-load an image for immediate display in those cases when the media source or cables malfunction and no signal is being received.
The Datapath Box is the simple solution to your display wall! Ensure they are all in sync, with the desired imaging on each monitor. The options are unlimited without causing a headache!
Once you get your design finished it might feel like everything else will go quickly and you’ll have your new equipment in a matter of a few weeks, but, sadly, nothing is ever quite that simple. Even approving a simple replacement part has a whole process behind it. So, today’s tech tip is about timing your AV equipment orders to make sure you’ll get what you need when you need it.
Let me give you a glimpse into what happens behind the scenes here at Lambda!
Right: Looking so professional as we work on an order.
Once you approve your design and equipment order, we begin to put together part lists for each of our amazing distributors. Once the Purchase Orders are created, they
are sent to the vendors who check on each item for availability, processing time and if anything is back ordered. Once the order is processed, it is finally sent for shipment.
As soon as we receive all the items for your order we open and test each one to ensure we are installing quality products in your building! We want only the best for you! Once we know we have everything, that it is all working, we order the cabling, structuring and any special tools needed to install it all for you.
So, ordering equipment can be a big process and though we do our best to keep timing short for you, items can be back ordered or damaged in the mail or have multiple other problems. Some items are only made upon order, such as speakers, and are finely handcrafted for you and only you! Keeping these things in mind when you place your order will help you to plan ahead about your install and hopefully decrease the stress of wondering when you will receive your new equipment.
You might think it’s silly to place an order three months before you’ll need it, but it’s always better to be ahead rather than trying to rush or force something that might not be possible. So, if you are thinking about doing anything for Easter this year, now would be a great time to plan and talk with us about your ideas. We’ll be able to help you come up with a schedule and if what you are hoping for is possible to achieve in your time frame!
These little pieces of equipment may seem small and insignificant, but we order a lot of them here at Lambda! These small tools convert SDI to HDMI so you can output video from professional SDI video equipment to consumer HDMI televisions, projectors and more! The multi rate 3G-SDI automatically switches between all SD and HD formats up to 1080p60. You also get 3G-SDI loop through, support for Level A and Level B equipment, and power over USB! This means you can have quality video with an affordable way to display it.
If you have any questions about how they work or how this might benefit your system, just ask!
The above picture may just look like colored tape but it is one of our owner’s @ryandrby favorite tools of trade. We call it spike tape. Spike tape is thin strips of Gaffers tape in bright reflective colors.
You might remember Gaffers tape from a previous article we did last year. It's commonly used on stages for taping down cables as it does not leave a residue and tears easily like light fabric. Spike tape is named differently because it is used to “spike” or mark a position or item and stand out rather than blend in like black gaffers tape. It’s especially useful for marking the edges of stairs in dark areas, mic stand positions on stage as well as labeling items like control surfaces and cables. It stands out, is easy to work with and easy to write on with a marker or sharpie.
Pick yourself up some to throw in your kit of day to day tech resources. We love to pick up the multi packs on amazon that come with 4 bright colors from our friends at Tape Ninja!
A few articles ago we talked about HDMI cables and the drawback of only being able to run them 25ft or so. We also talked about how you can use SDI to get HD video signal over a long distance. But that isn’t all we have to tell you! There is a third option for you to consider!
This signal is a new comer on the video scene and is called HDBaseT. This signal was first created in 2010 and can be used for the transmission of ultra-high-definition video, audio, Ethernet, control, USB and even up to 100W of power! All of this is over a single cable! It’s the Mary Poppins of cables!
HDBaseT uses Cat6a cable, but because of all the different functions it can be used for, it uses specialized connectors. These look identical to a standard RJ45 connector but be warned! Because HDBaseT carries power as well, if you plug it into a standard RJ45 jack you can severely damage that piece of equipment! If you are unsure, its always better to ask rather than risk your equipment.
HDBaseT can be run up to 328ft giving far more flexibility in running video signal. This cable is also extreamly convenient in instances when paired with a piece of HDBaseT equipped gear. The PTZ camera, for instance, would usually require up to 3-4 cables for signal, power, and control, but with an HDBaseT connection you only need one! Think about all the money that could be saved by only running one wire connection. Not to mention the amount of time running cable through walls and ceilings. If you have a hard to reach place or a tangle of cables attached to that old equipment, it could be worth your time and money looking for an HDBaseT piece of equipment as a replacement and running one cable instead.
We talked briefly about the IDEA screen from Da-lite last week. This is a fun piece to add to your AV system including conference rooms, classrooms and meeting spaces. This interactive screen can be used as a whiteboard with dry-erase markers as well as a projection surface. The special finish minimizes “hot spots” projection onto a regular board would cause. You can now easily project work sheets and use the markers to fill and mark the projection without creating multiple slides to show. It can be a creative, workable, changing surface to inspire the creativity your team needs in the moment! All IDEA screens are also magnetic allowing for expanded creativity. This is an easy, fun dynamic to change up your meeting space and provide the clear projection and versatility you need for any occasion.
If you missed last week's article, check it out for a recent install where we used the IDEA screen.
AAFCU Case Study
Meeting rooms in recent years have made a major transition in space needs. Gone are the days of a central computer at a podium or lectern in the corner or a large rack of automation equipment. The purpose is no longer for a single executive to speak to a room of employees. Meeting rooms today are dynamic environments with a number of people presenting in a live and cooperative environment.
This is where we began with AAFCU a local credit union in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Their IT staff came to us with the challenge of cleaning up an aging mess of wires and updating technology to turn an often-used board room space into an environment for creativity and corporate inspiration.
The first goals set were to clean up the existing hardware that had been ad hoc over the years for conferencing. Next they wanted to update viewability around the conference table for better engagement of all employees. The staff at Lambda Audio Visual set out to understand the problems of the conference room and it's designated uses and put together a solution to make the room usable for a new generation of meetings.
Meetings in the proposed room contain anywhere from 5 to 25 people and with the configuration of chairs around an circular table, clear visibility of the screen was not always possible. The projection at the front was underpowered and the screen small, so that those at the front of the room were unable to see the screen at all. We were able to solve this in two ways: first by improving quality of projection at the front of the room with a new 1080P resolution, 5000 lumen Sony laser projector. This easily doubled the brightness and clarity at the front of the room. Second, coupled with a new IDEEA screen from Da-Lite it also allowed the space to be used as a white board. This white board has a matte finish creating a surface that minimizes projection hot spots and creates a great writing surface all at the same time. At the back of the room we added a 75” Television from Samsung mirroring the projection feed and allowing for everyone around the table to get a great view of the presentation without putting a kink in their necks.
Conference calling, important in many conference rooms was not left out in this space. The staff at AAFCU had a high need for this capability to be easy to use and clean. With board members across the country and goals of working with other businesses across the community, conference calling is a capability they used often and hoped to make simple for quick use.
We chose to implement a ceiling-based system for cleanliness. Adding boundary microphones from Shure into the ceiling created even coverage of the room to pick up quiet voices and adding inset speakers from SoundTube to present clear call audio back to the room. To tie it all together we brought in a top of the line audio processor from Symetrix. Symetrix allowed us to do several fun things simplifying the calling experience for the staff. The audio processor includes auto mixing functionalities to balance the audio coming from the room microphones without needing to adjust anything manually. It also includes an auto echo canceling to filter audio coming from the speakers so that it will not echo back in the call. The Symetrix processor also included the ability to add a VOIP card compatible with AAFCU’s Cisco phone calling system and an easy sheet to help the IT staff in tying it into their systems.
With all of this great technology in the room we then needed a system to make it easy to use for the average staff member and to allow ease of use with a variety of different laptops, phones, and tablets. Enter the Atlona Velocity system! We have talked about Atlona before and we loved how it turned out here! Our team couldn’t be more impressed with how easy to configure and affordable this “Automation” system is. In previous years, meeting room automation technology was bulky, expensive, and required expensive programmers to make modifications. It was not easy to explain or use. The Velocity system is web based, extremely affordable and scalable! It was easy for our team to add each device and have workflows automatically created on a touchscreen for easily turning the room technology on and off and dialing a call.
If you have meeting space with issues, outdated technology, or one that you are looking to increase usability in, give us a call or drop us a line on social media and let us make your meeting space a space of engagement and collaboration with people and technology. We want to help you to feel inspired and productive every time you sit down to meet.