When the most prestigious university in the Dominican Republic added 18 classrooms to its campus, creating the physical space was just the beginning. The technology used in those rooms had to represent the school’s high standards for education. To meet these standards, Dominican Republic-based integrator Musitempo turned to RTI control solutions.
When the most prestigious university with the highest standards of academic excellence in the Dominican Republic adds classrooms to its campus, creating the physical space is just the beginning. The technology used in those rooms must represent the school’s high standards for education. So when the Universidad Iberoamericana (UNIBE) added 18 new classrooms to its Francia I building, a completely automated multi-room A/V system was required for a more effective learning experience. To provide it, the university turned to Musitempo, a Dominican Republic-based specialist in the design, installation, and programming of automation systems for professional audio, commercial audio, A/V, and high-end residential applications.
UNIBE had several requirements when it came to control and automation of its new system. With audio and video in multiple classrooms on different floors of the Francia I building, two-way communications were a necessity. This would allow changes made in any room to automatically update on every touchpanel throughout the building. In addition to local control in every classroom, the university also required master control from a centralized control room. And finally, as the system would be used by both non-technical teachers and students, ease of use was paramount.
Musitempo equipped each new classroom with EIKI projectors and Da-Lite projection screens. Video sources include Denon DVD players driven by an Extron twisted pair video matrix, while BSS Audio™ digital signal processors and Crown® amplifiers provided the audio. For system automation and control, Musitempo relied on solutions from RTI.
“RTI has always been our control solution provider due to its top-quality products and outstanding support,” said Fernando Hernandez, CTO of Musitempo. “Another important factor for us is that RTI continuously develops custom two-way drivers for integration with the latest A/V components, while updating existing drivers to meet new industry standards. Combine that with simple programming and customization, and you’ve got the perfect solution for complex systems like the Universidad Iberoamericana.”
At the heart of UNIBE’s control system lies RTI’s XP-8 central control processor, which combines a blazing-fast MPU, real-time/multitasking operating system, and tremendous expandability. In addition to an abundance of basic control ports, such as IR, contact closures, and power sensors, the unit provides advanced control interface options such as two-way communications and a built-in astronomical clock for time-based events. The processor’s ability to communicate through two-way RS-232 or IP over Ethernet allows it to control any device in the university’s system and receive feedback — such as volume levels — via pre-built two-way drivers. The XP-8 can control and receive feedback from the classrooms’ in-wall controllers through built-in Ethernet connections.
“One very important element of this project is a two-way driver for the BSS digital signal processors,” added Hernandez. “The driver built by RTI works perfectly; without it we wouldn’t have been able to integrate these vital components seamlessly into the system.”
For local control, students and teachers interact with the system via RK3-V in-wall touchpanels installed in each room. The RK3-V features a compact display size while providing maximum resolution. The 3.5-inch display is unobtrusive in the classrooms, yet its full VGA resolution displays custom text and graphics with incredibly rich and vivid detail.
For master control, the control room is equipped with a K4 LCD in-wall touchpanel controller. The K4 combines IR control, video monitoring (full screen or in a scalable window), a built-in Web browser, and Ethernet connectivity in one sleek 6.4-inch touchpanel. Additional RTI components featured in the system include CB-8 connecting blocks to power and send signals to wall controllers, PCM-8 port control modules for extra IR control, and RCM-12 relay control modules to trigger the Da-Lite screens.
To provide the ease of use that the Universidad Iberoamericana required, Musitempo created a “simple touch presentation” function, which provides an easy, automated way to start a basic A/V presentation. With one touch, the user can turn on presentation mode, which powers on the projector, lowers the screen, and assigns the source for both audio and video.
For Musitempo, the “simple touch presentation” function was easy to create using RTI’s Integration Designer® programming software. Integration Designer is used to configure all aspects of an RTI control system, whether designing the GUI with included professionally designed graphics or programming the system’s control and automation functions with programming wizards and the simple drag-and-drop of infrared and RS-232 commands. The software’s macro editor — which allows complex multi-step actions to be assigned to every button on a remote — was a powerful tool in bringing one-touch functionality to the university.
“With RTI, we were able to meet all of UNIBE’s requirements easily, and the university now has the distinction of being the only private university in the Dominican Republic to have fully automated classrooms,” says Hernandez. “UNIBE couldn’t be happier with their system. They’ve been very impressed with its flexibility for any application, whether it’s a simple local presentation in a single classroom or combining all the classrooms together for a master class or conference. And of course, the system has been extremely reliable and easy to use. The rest of the university uses analog equipment, and has been completely wowed by this single-rack system in Francia I, floors nine, ten, and eleven. In fact, they like it so much that UNIBE wants us to develop the same solution for the entire university. You couldn’t ask for a better outcome to a project.”