AV Design & Configuration
In 2019, I helped design and program a new flexible AV control system for Lancashire Teaching Hospital’s Health Academy.
The suite consists of a lab space divisible into 4 rooms. There is also a fifth “practice” lab opposite these. The original kit was installed in 2008 & more hardware supplied by the Clinical Skills management over time. Each setup included:
- A large wooden lectern
- A DVD/VCR player
- A Windows PC
- Apple Mac (initially an iMac, later upgraded to a Mac Mini).
- AMX control system complete with a lectern mounted control pad.
The outboard equipment included:
- Panasonic D5700 projector
- Electric 4:3 screens (manually controlled)
- Stereo pair of RBH ceiling speakers
Separately there was a mono speaker in all 4 labs. These were used for pre-recorded announcements for the OCSE examinations hosted multiple times in the space throughout the year.
The system age, complexity to use/troubleshoot and the increasing failure rate of the audio system were created challenges which called for an upgrade.
I lead in the design of a number of drafts for a modern upgrade after discussion with the suite manager. As a result, we developed this specification:
- New 16:9 electric screens to allow for 1080p content to be displayed correctly.
- Addition of a portable signage display with a HDMI output in one of the inner labs to allow for use as a relay screen. Doubles as an additional teaching screen if required.
- Change the speakers from 3 systems to one flexible setup for either independent lab use, OSCE exams or shared AV content.
- Creation of an “OSCE Mode” to allow for one touch setup of audio only commands whilst a visual timer could be set up on the lectern monitors.
- Additional speaker in the smaller lab opposite for “OSCE Mode” to allow for green room participants to hear relevant instructions.
We took our concept designs to our main AV suppliers and the final contract was awarded to Universal AV in Manchester for lectern building and installation. From there I provided guidance alongside the direction of the project manager to ensure the specification was met. We opted to program the control system ourselves in house using Extron’s Global Configurator Professional environment. Using processor grouping I was able to build a network driven dual touchpanel system. The features I included were:
- Source switching per room using easy, colour coded icon buttons on the touchpanel user interface.
- Startup to said source from an off state.
- Split ‘n’ Share functionality – An in house umbrella term I co-developed in house with teammate Jonathan Duddle for the authorization and sharing of content across different technologies. Bi-directional sharing of active sources from either lectern to either projector. One lectern can also share to the relay screen output. Unauthorized HDCP sources checked by Extron KeyMinder, will disable this functionality.
- Built logic based monitoring for lamp life (with email warnings when a threshold has passed) on both projectors and currently running “mode” (standard mode, sharing mode or OSCE mode) which will provide warnings and information to users should they select an option that takes them away from that particular mode.