The project had a tight schedule to uninstall the previous system, replace the conduit, lay the wiring, install, configure and program the new equipment and start the system.


The Colegio de México, AC, also known as ColMex, is an institution of higher education and research in social sciences and humanities, located in Mexico City. In order to keep up with the ever changing methods of teaching and technology, ColMex embarked on a general overhaul of AV systems for areas such as the Computer Services Coordination and the Digital Education Program (PRED). The PRED is an audiovisual and multimedia development unit, whose function is to bring digital and interactive productions to the public, among others, academic interviews, videos, short courses and complete online mass courses.

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A fundamental objective of the project was to update the AV system of Alfonso Reyes divisible auditorium with a fully automated digital installation in which video could be projected with 4K resolution. In addition, it had to be easy to update in the future, without the need to build a new cabling infrastructure. In order to achieve this high degree of versatility in design, Asesores y Consultores en Tecnología SA de CV, of the ACT Group, installed Extron XTP Systems®, Wireless collaboration gateways of the ShareLink® 250 series, SMP 111, which are H.264 multimedia processors for transmission of a channel, as well as a centralized control system of the Pro series.

"ACT and the university team carried out a rigorous evaluation process of the solutions offered by the main AV equipment manufacturers." Extron XTP Systems, with its control system of the Pro series, achieved the best combination of products, benefits and flexibility for the divisible auditorium of ColMex ", recalled César Centeno Arriaga, engineer of the ACT Group.

Dividable auditorium and AV needs
Each side of the divisible auditorium has three display devices: an HD projection system, an 48 "flat screen" and a support monitor for the lecturers, additional 55, "48" and "32" screens were installed, along with monitors in the two halls located before the events center and in the shared control room.

System requirements included AV connectivity for digital devices, support for HDMI resolution, the 3G-SDI standard and wireless transmissions, as well as video scaling of resolutions up to 4K. The content of the HDMI sources would be converted to 3G-SDI to be processed by two production systems TriCaster TC1 from NewTek. Two independent videoconferencing systems and an 12 audio system microphones would also be part of the installation. To support the PRED program, ColMex wished to have the possibility of transmitting and recording sessions simultaneously, in addition, the switching system had to be easy to control regardless of the configuration of the room.

It was essential to have an exceptionally reliable and fast switching between the various source signals, as was having a secure and encrypted installation. The best solution was to install an integral and integrated AV system. XTP systems allow the convergence of different formats and AV protocols.

ACT and the university jointly chose the XTP II CrossPoint 3200 modular switching matrix 32x32 from Extron. Its integrated technologies and modular design offered compatibility with a wide range of source signal formats along with stereo audio routing and bidirectional control. The ability of the XTP II platform to support the data speed requirements for the 8K video formats also impressed ColMex.

The size was configured as 24x24 with a combination of HDMI, 3G-SDI and twisted pair input and output cards for local and remote signal distribution. "The modular design and hot-swappable components of the modular matrix with CrossPoint XTP II switching make it easy to maintain, and the 50 Gbps circuit board will allow us to keep the core of the system in place when we update sources and displays in the future, "says Centeno.

An Extron XTP CP 4i 3G-SDI input board is compatible with both TriCaster systems. The XTP CP twisted pair input and output cards are compatible with connected devices and transmit content to Christie® D13WU-HS DLP projectors and other display devices.

To power TriCaster production systems, two Extron HD-3G A DSC scalers convert HDMI to 3G-SDI. HDMI signals are also sent to the two multimedia processors for Extron SMP 111 transmission in order to comply with the PRED requirement to transmit / record content transmissions and video conferencing simultaneously. For wireless routing, an Extron ShareLink 200 N gateway is assigned to each room.

The modular design and the digital circuit board of 50 Gbps of the XTP II CrossPoint modular matrix, together with its SpeedSwitch technology and other included technologies, allowed to achieve an optimal solution compatible with the great variety of digital signal types used in ColMex .

Extension of signal within the auditorium
Fourteen XTP T HWP 101 4K type Wall Plate Decorator allow the extension of the HDMI signal through the XTP matrix switcher from the PTZ cameras and the stage computers and from the back and sides of each divisible space. Wall plates also support any connected source. The connection of the microphone is achieved by combining Extron CPM101 gang mounting frames with MAAP modules.

An Extron XTP 4K SR XTP receiver installed in each projector bracket scales the content to the projector's native 1920x1200 resolution, and its integrated relays simplify control of the projection screen. Since the scaling was not necessary for the lecturers' support monitors or for the different screens located in the halls, an Extron XTP R HD 4K receiver was installed with each one.

ACT replaced the existing infrastructure with Extron XTP DTP 24 and STP20 cabling to guarantee signal quality and to preserve it throughout the long stretches that run from the control room to the farthest endpoints. Among the devices, and to allow AV connection, the design includes Extron HDMI Ultra and HDMI Pro cable assembly.

Remote control of space
Thanks to the control system of the Extron Pro series, all AV sources and display devices are monitored and controlled from the central control room and also from a remote location. A TouchLink desktop touch screen, from 10 ", TLP Pro 1022T assigned to each side of the divisible space shares an IPCP Pro 550 IP Link rack-mountable control processor with the matrix switcher. The touch screens and the processor communicate over Ethernet. The secondary control points are two Apple® iPad® tablets and the wireless system.

Two of the eight RS 232 ports on the control processor allow projector management and its eight relays allow a technician in the control room to operate the projector brackets. This, combined with the screen control via the XTP scaler receiver relays, significantly speeds up the configuration of the room. The remaining 232 and bidirectional control ports, four Flex I / O® connectors and the port to connect an eBUS® button panel are reserved for future system expansion.

Programmable control
Global Scripter was used to recover and enable different modes of system operation, depending on the configuration of the room. The control system is programmed to monitor a sensor in the divisible wall. When the wall is open, the room is in the combined mode and the source signals can be routed to one or more screens. When the wall is closed, each side has independent control of its designated sources and devices.

This function has a positive effect on the use of the audio system and each videoconferencing codec. The audio DSP is configured to retrieve presets for each operating mode, and allows you to control audio levels as needed. The VOIP mode is also controlled through the Extron control system. Global Scripter also allows control of two digital recorders, one assigned to each side of the divisible space.

The project had a tight schedule to uninstall the previous system, replace the conduit, lay the wiring, install, configure and program the new equipment and start the system. ColMex technical support staff also received training on how to use the system and solve problems during this period.

Two situations affected the integration of the system. During the installation, the auditorium should have been used for a conference that had been reserved before the system was updated. ACT managed to provide temporary functions for AV systems, which allowed the event to be carried out as scheduled. The second obstacle was quite unique.

The campus was affected by the magnitude 7.1 earthquake that shook Mexico City during the installation. After exhaustive testing, ACT confirmed that both the new AV system and the wiring infrastructure had withstood the 20 seconds of violent jolts without noticeable damage and only needed to re-insert a few connectors and correct some problems in the network. Even with these eventualities, the numerous features of XTP and the control system of the Pro Series, easy to use, allowed to complete the entire project in 13 weeks.

Richard Santa, RAVT
Author: Richard Santa, RAVT
Journalist from the University of Antioquia (2010), with experience in technology and economics. Editor of the magazines TVyVideo + Radio and AVI Latin America. Academic Coordinator of TecnoTelevisión & Radio.


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