Small Remote Controls
Sep 1, 2014 3:39 PM, Doug Irwin, CPBE AMD DRB
In last month''s Tech Tips I discussed a few relatively inexpensive devices that can provide remote control for your studio location. This month we''re going to look at a few other devices that have greater capabilities.
The first device we''ll look at is the Davicom Micro. This is a � RU remote control with eight status inputs; eight analog metering inputs (0-5VDC) and eight relay outputs. The Micro can be expanded by way of Modbus, potentially up to 128 metering inputs, 256 status inputs, and 72 relay outputs. The native I/O for Micro is done by way of a small external panel, connected to the unit itself by D connectors. Communication is done through the telephone interface, or through the single Ethernet connection via desktop or mobile web browser, or through the USB port.
Davlink is the windows-based software program used for communications, remote control, and configuration of the Micro. By way of the Davlink software, the user can access 128 virtual logic gates, �qualifier� and inverter gates corresponding to each of its inputs, and the logic functions AND, OR, NAND and NOR, allowing the creation of automated functionality. Individual users can create their own password protected �workspaces� with diagrams and pictures that focus on particular functions.
Audemat Mini Control Silver
Another small but capable remote control is the Mini Control Silver from Audemat. MCS also has eight status inputs, eight analog inputs, and eight relay outputs. Designed for DIN rail mounting, all i/o connections are made directly to the unit. Communication is done via the single Ethernet connector or the single USB port. Automated functionality is configured by way of Scripteasy, which allows the user to create routines and alert sequences based on the status and analog inputs. The logic operators AND, OR, XOR, and inverters are available, as are timers and a real-time clock. The MCS has SNMP capability allowing it to function as either an agent or a manager for up to two agents. The relay outputs can be controlled via functions configured in scripteasy. Alarm outputs are available via e-mail or the optional Voice/DTMF interface. New this year, Masterview 2.0 capability allows a remote user to look at custom user interfaces set up through scripteasy with any desktop or mobile browser.
When you have this kind of capability at the studio location it''s amazing how useful it can become, especially as you become more adept at the configuration of the devices. Here are just a few ideas:
Monitoring air conditioning�If you have an unattended site running many computers, air conditioning is critical. Obviously you would measure the ambient temperature, you may also want to consider measuring the cold air output. Configure an automated function that alerts you when the ambient temp is creeping upwards, with no cold air output from the A/C units. This could give you a �heads up� to get your A/C tech on-site before the room gets unbearable.
Generator monitoring�You need to know about a power failure at the studio location. Gather status from the generator itself, and monitor the local line voltage. Configure an automated function that alerts you when the generator is running due to a power failure rather than weekly exercising. This may seem obvious, but how would you know about these conditions if the studio site is completely unattended?
Building intrusion�With logging capability native to the remote control, generate a record of doors being opened and closed. Match this information with camera �snapshots� later on. This could prove valuable if something �out-of-the-ordinary� happens at the studio after hours.
Keep track of PPM�Those of us in PPM markets know that if you have a loss of PPM, it''s the same as being off-air. Use the status outputs from the PPM decode monitor and alarm monitoring to let you know about loss of PPM.
Off-air monitoring�As I wrote in the last month''s column, sometimes you need to be in two or more places at once. You may find yourself out-of-range of your radio stations, or outside of your normal market. Let the studio remote control alert you to dead air, or loss-of-carrier. It''s always a good idea to do that from a location other than the transmitter site.
Those are just a few ideas for any radio station. Individual stations will have many others specific to their own circumstances. You could probably name a few right now�perhaps something you''d like to share? We''re always looking for your clever tech tips. Send them to email@example.com.
Irwin is RF engineer/project manager for Clear Channel Los Angeles. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.