All the way back in January, I completed a project with Phase 3 Audio Visual. They were conducting an AV Upgrade for a local Catholic school, and brought me in to design & program a new control system around QSC Q-Sys.

P3AV have a long running relationship with St Marys, and this round of upgrades included moving the main auditorium and adjoining gym to a Dante AoIP network, rolling out a new Allen & Heath SQ7 console, and installing this new control system.

Like most control systems, this system needed to make it easy for anyone to walk in and complete the AV tasks they desired to complete. There are many events during the week where it shouldn’t be necessary to have an AV person on hand to power up a system and get a couple of mics working.

Using a Q-Sys Core 510i, Dante Card, and three TSC-80w-G2 touchscreen controllers, I designed a multi-tiered login system for the hall. There are different access levels, based on the functions you need – anything from carpark duty, to simple assemblies and presentations, to external hirers, to full blown productions.

All interactions with the system begin with a PIN number, to determine which features to make available and which components to power on.

Entering the correct PIN code controls some Lindy IP power relays, to turn on/off the correct devices – including amps, and other devices. If you’re already in a lower level of access, you can elevate yourself to a higher privilege level without shutting the whole system down first.

Selecting a video input sends the correct commands to the Kramer HD Base-T video matrix switcher, and also sent ‘power on’ commands to three different Epson projectors (the main Epson 12k Laser projector is incredible), and started rolling down all the motorised screens.

It’s a great feeling the first time you see that giant motorised screen roll down after tapping the touch screen.

If you’re on carpark duty, all you need to worry about is one volume control and two zone controls. It even shuts itself down at the correct time. It couldn’t be simpler.
Assemblies have got much easier with this simple audio mixer. All the complexity of the DSP is hidden away, where no one needs to worry about it.
Part of the upgrade included installing an SQ-7, but no one needs to use this beautiful console for this particular event – Q-Sys handles it all!
Video sources can be selected separately for two separate zones. Selecting a source ensures the projectors are on and the screens are down.

This project amounted to a couple of days of pre-programming & preparation, and then a full day of integration on-site.

The pre-programming stage involved researching all the devices to discover their control protocol, as well as checking various online forums for any known issues. For most devices, I designed communication logic in the Block Controller – and this connected via control pins to various other logic elements, and ultimately UCI buttons.

During my time on-site, we coordinated IP addressing with the school’s IT team, configured the switches for Dante, addressed all the devices, tested all device communications, did some troubleshooting on the control protocols, wired up the relays for the two older projector screens, stuffed around with Epson firmware, and commissioned the system.

As the P3AV team were completing the rest of the project in the following days, I was available via remote support to fix up a couple of niggling issues (#ProTip: check you have the latest firmware on all your projectors).

This was a fun project to work on, and just one of many Q-Sys projects I expect to work on.

Q-Sys is a fantastic platform, and one I highly recommend any AV or Broadcast professionals look into. There is free training available online, it talks to other systems using commonly available technologies such as AES67, SIP, and Dante, and it is much more open than some other competitors in this space.

If you have used Axia technologies before, think of a Q-Sys Core as a combination of an Engine and Pathfinder. If you live in the Wheatstone land, it’s a Blade on steroids with Screen Builder thrown in.

This is really fantastic, versatile technology – and I think we’re really just seeing the tip of the iceberg in terms of the types of projects it can be used in.

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I'm Anthony Eden, and I'm a IT Professional, Broadcast Technician, Software Developer, and Solutions Engineer. I've been working in broadcast media since 2008, and developing software and websites for just as long. Right now, I provide freelance services through Media Realm - in particular, to the media and not-for-profit industries.

Follow Anthony on Twitter: @anthony_eden