Three Reasons Why Collaborative Workspaces Are a Must

Collaborative workspace is not just a buzzword or trend; it’s a way of doing business that’s here to stay. Whether you’re in an academic setting or a multinational corporation with a worldwide workforce, collaborative interaction is part of life. Here are just a few ways to make collaborative workspaces at your business or school more effective.

1. Understand collaborative working and why it’s important

To start, set up workspaces in a way that will facilitate, or even encourage collaborative working. Individual cubicles or lecture-style layouts have their place, but not when creating a space for people to work together. While this mostly deals with the orientation of tables and chairs, consider placement of audio and video equipment as well. Use of wireless presentation systems or video conferencing interfaces must be accounted for in such a way that everyone can participate comfortably, including having their ideas viewed and heard. Also consider the needs of both local and remote participants. The days of everyone being in one room at the same time are fading fast.

2. Choose efficient collaboration systems

Choose collaboration systems that are simple to use. We’ve all been there: wasting valuable time trying to figure out how to use a program or find the right cable. There are resources that are well-suited for a facilitated environment, but for collaborative workspaces, choose easy-to-use tools. Few things will quell one’s creative ambition to share like being intimidated by the wireless presentation or collaboration tools. When dealing with a physical work space, be certain that access to A/V equipment connections and power outlets does not create a hindrance.

3. Embrace secure and open collaboration

In today’s climate with globally dispersed workforces and supplier/partner relationships, it’s important to have a communication framework that can securely enable open collaboration anywhere, at any time, on any device. Openness and security are two sides of the same coin — it cannot be one over the other, it must be both. If your solution is not open and supportive of multiple device types such as PC’s, Mac’s, Android/iOS/Windows tablets, and smartphones, you risk losing valuable input by alienating participants. But if you don’t keep it secure, you risk losing valuable information and people possibly becoming reticent to openly share their ideas.

Whether a board room, a classroom, or a project meeting in multiple rooms, collaboration enables participation from more people in every setting. From a single location or multiple sites across a campus or across the globe, the generation and sharing of information and great ideas is vital to driving business forward. A simple to use, yet full-featured, robust tool set, combined with an overall unified collaboration and communication platform, taking advantage of secure networking solutions is the way to go.

Create a technologically modern and integrated collaborative workspace, where everyone can share their ideas. The Small Conference/Training Room Kit (CONF-2C-KIT-EU) contains everything you need including a Coalesce™ wireless collaboration system, presentation switcher, control panel, and even cables. The kit also comes fully pre-configured with standard or even individual settings. No programming knowledge is required.

Application Diagram

Need help determining what to include in your conference room or classroom to encourage collaboration? Find out more about Coalesce™ or contact us today to schedule a consultation.

7 Tips on How to Improve Collaboration in the Workplace

The benefits of collaboration in the workplace are countless, from saving time, to more efficient productivity outcomes. Many organisations struggle trying to find the right enterprise collaboration system that removes collaboration barriers and improves meeting effectiveness.  Here are seven tips that may help your organisation.

1.  Intuitive and easy-to-use team collaboration tools increase the adoption rate

Select a team collaboration tool that is easy to use. Systems that are hard to set up and difficult to use will have a harder adoption rate. Too often, the first 5 or 10 minutes of a meeting are spent setting things up. Therefore, in order to avoid spending too much time, it’s advisable to look for a product with an intuitive user interface (UI) that requires little or no training to use and enables wireless screen mirroring within seconds.

2.  Make sure your enterprise collaboration system is BYOD ready

Be sure your enterprise collaboration system can support any type of device. Within a BYOD environment, all types of devices used in a corporate conference room will allow a vast array of apps, docs, images, and videos to be shared from any laptop, tablet, iOS, or Android device. This is particularly important as millennials enter the workforce.

3.  Offer wired and wireless connectivity

Offer both wired and wireless connectivity. Some devices require a wired connection while others can connect wirelessly. A solution that allows for both wired and wireless connectivity at the same time will eliminate any connection guesswork.

4.  Enable collaboration with people outside of your organization to get a wider range of opinions

In many instances, people from outside of your business will want to share and collaborate with your team. To ensure the highest levels of security, look for a collaboration tool that has dual-network support. This means that internal team members are connected via your corporate network and visitors are connected via a guest network.

5. Share an unlimited number and type of content items

There may be times when the group needs to share multiple items at the same time for comparison. Being able to share an unlimited number and type of items is a great feature to look for when selecting a team collaboration tool.

6. Allow for an unlimited number of participants

Don’t compromise collaboration productivity by restraining the number of participants in a meeting. If your meetings typically have more than two to four people, you’ll need to look for a system that allows an unlimited number of users.

7. Take ownership of meeting moderation

In some instances, a team member may need to be able to manage the meeting and control who shares what and when. There are collaboration tools with multiple-use modes that enable different types of meeting moderation including open, password, screen key, and line of site.

Black Box can help you design a collaboration system that will create a collaborative environment and enhance meeting efficiency and effectiveness. See how Coalesce™ removes all collaboration barriers. With Coalesce™, any number of users can wirelessly connect, share, and control content from any device. Encourage involvement, drive collaboration, and embrace the BYOD culture in meetings, lectures, and classrooms.

Watch the Coalesce™ demo video below:

Find out more about Coalesce™ or contact us today to find the solution that’s right for you.

Five Types of Video Walls for Control Rooms

The majority of control rooms have some sort of large display wall, whether a single or multiple screens, tiles, or projectors.  This helps to create large-scale visualisation and a common operating picture for everyone in the control room.

There are several ways to implement video walls for control rooms depending on the level of complexity and budget.  The purpose of this post is a focus on the video processing aspects of the video wall, not on the display technologies.  To help put different options in perspective, the following descriptions are provided for comparison.

Basic Video Walls

basic-video-wallMonitor Wall
The Monitor Wall is the simplest form of video wall as it is just a collection of individual monitors.  Each piece of content is limited to a single screen and cannot be scaled across multiple screens.  A monitor wall can be driven by dedicated sources, or it could be front-ended with a matrix switch (AV or KVM) to switch content on the screens.  Alternatively, an IP-based matrix can provide significant scale for switching the number of potential inputs in a distributed manner while avoiding a centralised matrix chassis.

quad-screen-wallQuad-Screen Wall
A Quad-Screen Wall is a 2×2 video wall on which a single input is scaled across all four monitors.  The wall could be front-ended with a matrix switch (AV or KVM) or even just a small presentation switcher if the number of inputs is limited.  Alternatively, an IP-based matrix can provide significant scale for switching the number of potential inputs in a distributed manner while avoiding a centralised matrix chassis.

Intermediate Video Walls

intermediate-video-wallMulti-Window Wall
A Multi-Window Video Wall can support content that scales across multiple screens, can be larger than a 2×2, but the content windows are limited to screen sizes.   For example, with a 4×4 wall, up to four 2×2 windows could be displayed, or a 3×3 window with 7 additional single screen windows, or the entire 4×4 could be a single window.  Or, there could be two 2×2 windows with eight additional single screen windows.  An IP-based matrix solution is a very easy and low cost way to implement this type of video wall.

Multi-View Video Wall
A Multi-View Video Wall is driven by a multi-viewer, which is a video processor that provides a limited number of pre-designed layouts for a single output.  Options typically range from 4-8 windows.  A multi-viewer can be used when the number of windows and scalability of a larger video wall processor is not required.  A multi-viewer can also be coupled with a projector or quad-screen wall processor to increase the viewing size.

Advanced Video Wall

radian-video-wallAn Advanced Video Wall is one that supports a large number of screens of different form factors (e.g. 2×2, 3×2, 6×3, etc.) and offers a canvas-type display interface on which numerous content windows can be dynamically moved or resized.  Advanced video wall processors support dozens of screens and numerous types of video inputs. The processor can also support native decoding of IP streams for displaying large numbers of streams from IP-based security cameras, and can also support encoding of video sources for sharing to additional sites or users.  Advance wall processors can typically drive more than one video wall from the same system.

Below is a summary of several features and capabilities of the different type of video wall processors used in control rooms.

Control Room Video Wall Types

Monitor Wall Quad-Screen Wall Multi-Window Video Wall Multi-View Video Wall Advanced Video Wall
Suggested video wall processor MediaCento IPX AVS Series MediaCento IPX VideoPlex4 MediaCento IPX 4Site Radian
Size Basic Size Intermediate Size Advanced Size
Content
Windows
1 per screen One for the entire wall Multiple sizes, typically limited to 4×4 Typically 4-8 Only limited by practical viewing size
Content
Size
Limited to single screens One image across all screens Limited to screen boundaries All windows on a single video output, but can feed into other wall processors. Windows can be freely moved and resized anywhere on the screen
Window
Resizing
No No Yes, limited to screen boundaries (e.g. increase a 2×2 to 3×3) Yes, typically based on pre-set window layouts but PiP and Windowed views can be scaled. Yes. Any window can be any size.
Video Input Types Limited. Monitor inputs type limit options unless driven by a flexible matrix switch. Limited. Typically a single video type such as HDMI, DVI, or DispalyPort Limited, but modular processors typically support multiple input types. Limited, but modular multi-viewers typically support multiple input types. Typically support all standard video types including VGA, Component, Composite, DVI, HDMI, DisplayPort, SDI, and IP.

 

The digital signage industry is growing big with video wall installations being used in retail stores, hospitality environments, sports venues, emergency operation centres, power plants, traffic management centres and more. We’re living in an age where monitoring business-critical or even life-critical operations 24/7 is a must. Operators need to rely on dependable visualisation, often in a networked setup, for their decision making. Whilst choosing the right video wall processor depends on distinct factors that rely on different factors like the level of complexity and budget, it is unquestionable that large-scale visualisation is necessary for critical monitoring environments, making it easier for information sharing, faster communication, and optimal performance of control rooms. Black Box provides expert engineering support to design a solution that meets your technical and budgetary requirements. Contact our technical team today for a free, customised system design.

Visit our Video Walls Solutions page to get to know more: www.black-box.eu/videowallproducts

Cable tidy and re-patching solutions and services from Black Box Network Services

Disorganised cabinets and racks cost time and money.

Constant staff and equipment moves and changes over time can result in your communications cabinets becoming congested, unreliable and difficult to manage.

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Problems escalate if it is necessary to trace faulty or disconnected patch cables resulting in network downtime and lost productivity.

Black Box Network Services offers a complete data cabinet tidy and re-patching service to maximise the performance of your network.  We can untangle years of messy network cabling, radically improve the cable management and help you take back control of your comms cabinets.

How Black Box can help you achieve a cleaner, more manageable solution:

  • Audit existing cabinets, creating a patching schedule of the interconnecting leads and equipment.
  • Record, label and remove all equipment, patch panels and cables.
  • Provide and install new racks and enclosures or utilise existing cabinets.
  • Optimise the location of switches and panels within the cabinet or rack, leaving room for future expansion and reducing patch cable lengths.
  • Install vertical and horizontal cable management throughout the cabinet to allow patch leads to be added or removed easily without impacting other cables. Well-spaced cable management is key to a maintaining a bulk cabling system.
  • It is important to leave plenty of space for expansion to the network. We can provide different sizes of blanking panels which also help to prevent the ingress of dust.
  • Install vertical or horizontal power strips to suit the size of cabinet and active equipment within.
  • Reinstate patching in line with the original schedule using short – 0.3, 0.6, 0.9m, or custom length patch leads.
  • Provide colour-coded patch leads to indicate function or area.
  • Work can be undertaken out of office hours to avoid disrupting your business.

BENEFITS

Future additions and changes on the network are easier to manage and stress-free.

When it is time to upgrade active equipment in the cabinets, it can be swapped over with little effort.

Remember: only let authorised personnel have access to your IT cabinets.

Talk to Black Box about our on-site network services today, or register for a free consultation on your cabinet tidy requirements.

The benefits of choosing Managed Ethernet Switches

What are Industrial Switches?

Industrial Networking Switches are computer networking devices aimed at establishing inter-connectivity between industrial environments and enterprise business applications, joining multiple computers together within one local area network (LAN). These types of switches are built for mission‑critical applications, designed to withstand extreme temperatures and harsh conditions in a multitude of environments from factory floors to traffic controls.

Importantly, some network switches allow configuration of its settings to VLAN mode in order to group devices per working departments (for example marketing/finance), thus isolating traffic between these groups so that critical information can flow without delay to the rightfully allocated place.

Managed Industrial Switches

Managed Switches are oriented towards redundancy, offering real-time targeted communications through built-in protocols that enhance determinism and provide stable and consistent flow of data. These switches provide QoS (Quality of Service) which can prioritise bandwidth for data subsets, allowing more bandwidth to be allocated through the network to ensure IP data comes in smoothly, obtaining the sensor data without an interruption using minimal bandwidth. Managed switches also provide additional protocols like RSTP (Rapid Spanning Tree Protocol) allowing alternate cabling paths to prevent loop situations, which usually are the reason for network malfunction.

Industrial Control Room

Benefits of Managed Switches

These switches excel for a vast array of features such as PoE capabilities, extended temperature range, DC power,  and additional flexible SFP-slots with Din rail mounting options. In short, they add value in:

  • Network redundancy (network back-up plan): These switches offer the ability to run redundant power supplies, so that when a surge takes out one of the power supplies, the switch keeps on running as if nothing happened on the second power supply, suppressing any down time. By offering resilient ring protocols, it allows for alternate data paths in the event a link or node goes down.
  • Remote management: Mission critical networks demand remote configuration, monitoring/traps, reboot, re-imaging of OS. If there is a network issue, operators want to remotely diagnose and fix to maximise uptime. The SNMP protocol allows you to visualise and maintain an entire network remotely, providing real-time data at every node. With SNMP, it’s possible to collect and organise and also modify information from each switch in order to change the device’s behaviour without having to go through a web console and also do mass upgrades to maintain the latest firmware.
  • Security and Resilience: In terms of limiting access to the network to trusted devices and prevents users from setting up unauthorised sub-networks. The switches enable complete control of data, bandwidth and traffic control over the Ethernet network, allowing you to set IP/port restrictions on actual physical ports. This means you can setup additional firewall rules directly into the switch. In all, managed switches support protocols which allow operators to restrict/control port access, like the 802.1x port based network access control.  In addition, managed switches support protocols to limit management plane access via user authentication such as RADIUS, LDAP and more.
  • RSTP (Rapid Spanning Tree Protocol): Managed switches incorporate Rapid Spanning Tree Protocol  which provides path redundancy in the network and prevents loops, allowing one active path at a time between two network devices so that there is lesser downtime.
  • SFP (Small Form-factor Pluggable): The benefit of having multi-rate SFP slots is the network flexible expansion possibility, which allows the user to be able to use 100Mbps and 1Gbps SFP Modules for either multi or single-mode fibre optic (or copper) and mix and match as needed. If requirements change, the SFP module can be replaced and easily protect your switch investment.
  • Support multiple VLAN as per requirement: Managed switches allow for the creation of multiple VLANs where an 8-port switch functionally can turn into two 4-port switches (where ports 1-4 are VLAN 1 and ports 4-8 are VLAN 2). It’s possible to allow VLANs to talk to the router/NAT, but deny the ability to talk to each other. You could even lock down the wireless VLAN to only allow port 80/443 or similar so they can browse the web but nothing else.
  • Prioritise bandwidth for data subsets: The switches are able to prioritise one type of traffic over another allowing more bandwidth to be allocated through the network (voice and video streaming, for example).
  • Resilient ring protocols: Allows alternate data paths in the event a link or node goes down.

In applications such as an IP security camera backhaul, it is not practical/economical to deploy hub and spoke topology since each node has a direct connection to the core/aggregation node. With a ring network topology it’s possible to allow a loop to be constructed and avoid additional fibre trenching costs.

Ring Topology

When and Where to use Industrial Managed Switches?

Managed switches are suitable for networks that have applications with fast response times requirements and are aimed at companies that need to manage and troubleshoot their network remotely and securely, allowing engineers to reach optimal reliable network performance and maintenance.

These switches are robust and appropriate for Industrial Network settings, made to stand up to harsh applications like extreme temperatures (-40 up to +75°), vibrations and shocks; and contributing to a cost-effective, reliable, and secure network. Managed switches should be used on any network backbone switch so that segments of network traffic can be monitored and controlled such as:

  • Security/surveillance
  • Defense/government applications
  • HVAC
  • Water/waste water
  • Utilities
  • Oil/gas

Black Box Industrial Network INDRy Series

The Black Box INDRy (Industrial DIN Rail Switches) series are designed for the far edges of an industrial network, delivering an easy and cost-effective way of integrating legacy networks, eliminating the need for additional configurations and modifications, and reducing deployment time. These switches allow redundancy in mission critical systems by rerouting the traffic over a backup link within milliseconds overcoming situations like the cut-off of communication of the traffic control system of some infrastructures.

Additionally they are characterised by a DIN rail feature which is an effective mounting option that offers a metal rail of a standard type widely used for mounting circuit breakers and industrial control equipment within equipment racks.

Industrial Ethernet Switches

Our customers are very satisfied with the INDRy solutions. Uses include strengthening substations’ network connections, effectively increasing electric energy distribution, and monitoring and controlling security camera functions in the field.

These switches are extremely easy to install, however should you need help, our specialised technical support staff can assist you by offering you the best advice in terms of individually optimised applications, completely free of charge. Learn more about our Tech Support Centre by visiting our Black Box Tech Support Centre page.

To find out more about our industrial switch solutions, please visit our INDRy Industrial Switches online store page.

Save space, improve airflow, and optimise cable handling with Slim-Net™ 28-AWG Cable

Black Box recently introduced Slim-Net, the company’s 28-AWG CAT6 and CAT6A UTP cables to answer a need for better patching in crowded cabinets and racks. Over the past few years, 28-AWG cable has been gaining fans and is becoming a popular choice, especially for high-density data centres and telecom rooms.

In this article, we’ll examine the advantages of using Slim-Net 28-AWG cable as well as some usage considerations.

What is 28-AWG cable?

It’s a patch cable made with thinner, 28-AWG stranded copper conductors as opposed to traditional patch cables made with thicker 23-, 24- or 26-AWG conductors. Black Box Slim-Net 28-AWG cable is constructed with top-quality, stranded copper conductors. The plug is custom designed to ensure a snug fit on the RJ-45 gold-blade contacts and to guarantee top performance.

Here are some of the advantages of using Slim-Net 28-AWG cable.

Blog_28AWG_Image1Advantage 1: Space savings

With a diameter of only 4.1 mm, Slim-Net 28-AWG cable is almost half the size of a typical 24-AWG cable at 5.9 mm. This gives you a lot of extra space in cable managers and in pathways. The difference can be dramatic, as shown in this photo of a bundle of 28-AWG cable compared to a bundle of 24-AWG cable. When you calculate the physical cable area in bundles and in patching connections, you’ll actually save more than 50% space when compared to traditional cables. This can make a significant difference in congested telecom rooms and data centres.

Advantage 2: Improved airflow

Cooling is a hot issue in today’s data centres, especially in crowded racks and cabinets. Slim-Net 28-AWG cables actually help cooling because they are so much thinner than traditional 24-AWG cables. The result is that they take up less space in front of patch panels and hot network equipment, such as switches. The extra space between cables results in improved airflow and cooling for the equipment.

Advantage 3: Easier handling

There’s more space between patched Slim-Net 28-AWG cables, so the cable is much easier to handle. Compared to 24-AWG cables, which often are a dense mass in front of equipment, you’ll find there’s more space for your fingers to get a hold on plugs when doing installs and moves, additions, and changes. Also, you’ll find it’s much easier to identify port assignments on equipment because of the extra space.

Advantage 4: Fewer cable managers

Slim-Net 28-AWG cables are much less bulky and offer better flexibility than 24-AWG cables. With a bend radius that’s 70% tighter than 24-AWG cable, you can easily route cables to other equipment or to the side without cable managers or with fewer horizontal cable managers. Because of that, you can reduce the number of horizontal cable managers you need, or possibly eliminate them entirely. When routing Slim-Net 28-AWG cables in vertical managers, you’ll also gain up to 50% more space.

Blog_28AWG_Image2

Advantage 5: Conserve rack space

By eliminating horizontal cable managers, you’ll actually conserve valuable rack space. Consider how many rack units you can free up in a typical rack enabling you to add more equipment or to reserve space for future expansion. Depending on your application, you may even free up enough space to consolidate equipment from two racks into one rack.

Advantage 6: Big performance

Black Box Slim-Net 28-AWG cables meet or exceed all TIA 568-C.2 performance requirements and pass all tests. The standard currently specifies 22- to 26-AWG cable, so 28-AWG cable is not included. When the standard is revised, it will most likely include 28-AWG cable.

Another benefit of using Slim-Net 28-AWG cable is that the thinner conductors actually increase NEXT and PS-NEXT because there is less copper in the jacket. Higher NEXT is a good thing in terms of cable performance. Here’s the formula for cable performance: Bandwidth = NEXT – Insertion Loss

Advantage 7: PoE

One of the most common questions about Slim-Net 28-AWG cable is if it can support Power over Ethernet (PoE).

The answer is a resounding “Yes.” Black Box cable can support all PoE levels: IEEE 802.3 af PoE, 802.3 at PoE+, and the upcoming 802.3 bt (PoE++). This makes Slim-Net cable a more economical choice for powering remote security cameras, manufacturing sensors, wireless access points, and more. The only consideration you should keep in mind is that because the cable is smaller, it should be grouped in smaller bundles to counteract any extra heat build-up and to comply with the 15°C temperature rise outlined in TSB 184.

Advantage 8: Price

Slim-Net 28-AWG cable has less copper in its conductors, so it costs less than traditional 24-/26-AWG cable. This can add up to significant savings when setting up and patching high-density telecom rooms and data centres with hundreds of cables.

Mix and match in the channel

When using Slim-Net 28-AWG cable, you’ll need to reduce the size of your channel, but not by much. For example, if you have 90 metres of 23-AWG horizontal cabling, you can run three-metre Slim-Net patch cords on each end instead of the traditional five metres. That gives you a total channel of 96 metres.

There’s no problem using Black Box’s Slim-Net cable on one end of your channel and our premium 24-AWG GigaTrue® CAT6 or GigaBase® CAT5e cable on the other end. In fact, this will give you a few extra metres in your channel.

Blog_28AWG_Image3

Summary

Black Box Slim-Net 28-AWG cables are a great alternative to traditional 24-AWG cable, especially in high-density telecom rooms and data centres where rack space is at a premium. The thinner, 4.1 mm diameter is almost half the size of a 24-AWG cable so it’s ideal for saving space, reducing clutter, and improving airflow. It’s easier to handle, so the need for cable managers can be reduced or eliminated. It also costs less than traditional cable.

With almost 50% more space between cables, you’ll like working with Slim-Net cable. It’s much easier to get your fingers in between the cables for patching; easier to identify port designations; and easier to route cables.

Guaranteed for life

Black Box offers CAT6 and CAT6A Slim-Net cable in seven lengths and seven colours. The company unconditionally guarantees the cables for life and will replace them if they fail. The entire line can be seen here.

Reliable Pro Switching System for Control Rooms

In a control-room, mission critical application, security, reliability, and network availability are three fundamental concepts that network administrators strive relentlessly to deliver. The switch between systems is just as important as the information technology systems themselves. Black Box partnered with a prime government contractor to install secure, stable hardware switching systems in up to 150 locations. The switches add real power to the physical layer of the network, where they control access and provide nearly instantaneous backup and immediately available switching systems.

To ensure 24/7 uptime, users run two separate and fully redundant automation systems in parallel. In order for the two separate automation systems to provide instantaneous back-up to users, the switching system in between them needs to be reliable, secure, and available to an IP network for remote access. Enter the Pro Switching System of intelligent Layer 1 A/B gang switching.

Because of the way the Pro Switching System works, it is an incredibly reliable switching system. Since it only looks at physical connections, it avoids misconfigured network protocols and has no firmware or software to manage. Additionally, air-gap isolation of the system ensures secure network connections for high-security applications.

Pro Switching systems are the superior choice for network access control and backup switches, providing ultra-reliable, hardware driven security. Capable of supporting more than 4,000 network users, Pro Switching Systems ensure a controlled access environment using rugged and precise mechanical and optical movements that deliver the unequaled reliability of hardware. System administration is simplified and fast for easy monitoring of individual users with automatic shut-off control when tampering is detected.

KVM Matrix Extension System Supports 4K60 Over a Single Cable

Extend 4K resolutions at 60Hz over a single fibre cable in a point-to point extension or multipoint-to-multipoint matrix configuration for the highest onscreen resolutions in post-production suites. DKM FX 4K60 Interface Cards support 4K60 in full, 8-bit color depth.

More production suites are deploying 4K monitors for viewing, live production, and post production. For example, the Black Box DKM solution is being deployed at fileCAST Media GmbH. The manufacturer of the new LiveLogging solution for its Online Media Library (OML) platform is using Black Box technology to extend signals and connect to live production multi-feed environments. The purpose is to tag media content from multiple sources during a live event. This will enable content owners to offer valuable media assets in a searchable format in near real time.

4K in post-production editing suites will enhance an editor’s ability to see how the finished product will appear. 4K extension at 60 Hz has been challenging in the past because 4K requires higher bandwidth. The DKM FX 4K60 cards can overcome this challenge because the system also uses high-speed interface cards to support high-bandwidth signals. In addition, control surfaces for post-production editing that use high-speed USB, such as DiVinci Resolve, can be deployed using these interface cards.

The DKM FX system is flexible, scalable, and highly reliable. Video standards supported by interface cards in the modular housing include DVI-D up to 2560 x 1600; HDMI up to 2560 x 1440; and DisplayPort 1.2 (4:4:4) resolutions up to 4K.

The DKM FX Modular Housing frames come in 2-, 4-, or 6-slot chassis with optional redundant power. The 21-slot frame is 1U for rackmounting in a server room or machine room. Fibre cable supports distances up 1000 metres over multimode fibre or 10 kilometres over single-mode fibre, which means editing and post-production suites can be in different buildings in a large enterprise solution.

For more information, call our application engineers at 00800-2255 2269 or use our online DKM configurator to plan your high-performance KVM extensions system.

Related Links:
Black Box Whitepaper: 4K video – piecing together the puzzle

6 Collaboration Equipment Considerations for AV/IT Managers

Take a look at the next conference room or classroom you enter. Is it set up for a collaborative environment?

Collaboration is a key part to all types of work, from working with a team at your workplace to working on a project for class. In recent years, more organisations have been reaching out to AV/IT managers to design collaborative spaces. Before designing a space, it’s important to identify what is needed to retrofit a room for collaboration.

We asked our technical specialists here at Black Box what it takes to retrofit a room for collaboration. Here are the top six considerations we uncovered:

  1. Ease of setup and installation.
    Collaboration technology has to be easy to setup and install. For example, organisations don’t want users to have to spend the first 10 minutes of the meeting setting up the call, entering passwords, logging into a website, providing additional meeting information or credentials, working with others in the room to connect, finding the right cables, hardware, adapters, etc.
  2. Ease of use with minimal or no user training.
    When your CEO comes into a conference room and wishes to share his/her ideas, he/she typically doesn’t have the time or inclination for a 30-minute training session on how to use the room. It’s essential to choose products that are intuitive and adopted with limited instruction.
  3. Intent of the room.
    Ask the right questions to discover the intent of the room. How will the room be used? What are the user’s preferences in terms of sources? Will there be dedicated PCs, set-top boxes for video streaming, or other equipment in the room? Or, will content typically come in from outside the room on a user’s laptop, mobile device, or both?
  4. Easily maintained.
    Collaboration technology must be easy to manage remotely. A centralised location brings simplicity to the task of updating and troubleshooting enterprise applications. Does your system have remote management capability?
  5. Compatibility.
    Look for equipment with open systems that are non-proprietary and that will work with existing infrastructure such as presentation switchers, controllers, and other leading industry products.
  6. Upgradeability.
    Choose products which can be upgraded as needs and technology changes. For example, software-based solution updates can be made without replacing the system.

Have any more equipment suggestions that can help optimise your rooms for collaboration? Let me know in the comments below!

InfoComm 2016 Preview: Exciting New Black Box Solutions

Infocomm 2016 Banner

InfoComm will be here before you know it! It’s the largest event for professional AV with 10,000+ products and nearly 1,000 exhibitors. We thought we’d give you a sneak preview of the new and exciting solutions Black Box will showcase at InfoComm, June 8-10!

Not registered? Be our VIP guest. Use guest pass BLA176 for free access to the exhibitor hall. Stop by the Black Box booth C5034 any time during the show, June 8-10.

Here’s what you’ll find at the Black Box booth.

Conference Room and Classroom Collaboration Solutions

CoalesceDEMO_AP1CImagine idea sharing without barriers. Encourage collaboration with modern huddle spaces, conference rooms, and classrooms.

  • Coalesce™ Wireless Collaboration System:
    Create. Connect. Collaborate.
    Your path to smarter collaboration starts here with Coalesce, the new, one-of-a-kind BYOD wireless collaboration system. With touchscreen simplicity and simultaneous wired and wireless connectivity for an unlimited number of users, you’ll be able to encourage collaboration and share ideas without barriers.
  • Best-in-Class Presentation Switchers
    Connect, extend, and switch any wired video device to any conference room display with Black Box Presentation Switchers. These all-in-one switchers/scalers support resolutions up to 4K (UHD), upscale/downscale video to match the display resolution, and support all standard video formats, including DisplayPort, HDMI, DVI, and VGA.
  • HDMI Extenders with Built-in Scaling
    Use the new VX1000 Series HDMI Extenders with our Presentation Switchers to easily switch and present any video signal on a remote display. Or use them alone for simple video extension. Two transmitter models available: standalone box or wallplate. USB support enables them to be used for basic KVM applications.
Stunning Visual Solutions

MediaCento4K_diag

When you want to impress, inform, and educate, turn to Black Box for AV technologies that turn boring into bold. Send signals from any source to any screen over IP, and get real-time data visualisation.

  • Better than Ever AV-over-IP Extension, Switching, and Video Walls
    The ever-popular MediaCento IPX product line has expanded to now include MediaCento IPX USB 4K. The new AV-over-IP extenders are now better than ever with increased video performance and 4K (UHD) support. The new transmitter and receiver also support built-in 4K to HD downscaling, analog and digital audio, touchscreens, and KVM functionality.
  • Stunning iCOMPEL™ Digital Signage
    Your complete digital signage solution begins here with iCOMPEL. Select from an array of digital signage media players and content commanders.
Command and Control Room Solutions

CONTROL-ROOM-NASA_PCImprove productivity and mission-critical reliability in broadcast, public safety, industrial, and defense command and control rooms.

See something that sparked your interest? Call a Black Box technical specialist at 00800-2255 2269 (00800-CALLBBOX). We look forward to connecting with you!

We look forward to connecting with you!

Preventing Cable Theft Through IP Surveillance

Industry: Government

IP-video security and surveillance for a city road-works department.

The problem: preventing theft
A city road-works department in Germany is responsible for installing and maintaining traffic lights and street lights. The department houses its raw materials, including lampposts and cable reels, in an outdoor area on its premises. Until a few years ago, there was never any problem with the outdoor storage area. But, as metal prices rose, the department found itself the victim of metal theft, not once, but multiple times. Lockers and barriers set up to protect the materials proved to be an unsuccessful solution as the thieves were quite professional. The city needed a better solution to secure its outdoor storage area.

An IP video network
To improve security, the department turned to Black Box for an IP-video surveillance system.

The first step was to perform an on-site survey to determine the best locations for the security cameras. The next step involved the implementation of the IP infrastructure. The plan called for three distributed camera locations, each equipped with an Ethernet switch connecting the IP cameras. For convenience, it was decided to use a PoE switch to power the cameras over the Ethernet lines instead of running separate power lines. In addition, each camera location was furnished with a wireless Ethernet extender providing a remote, wireless connection to the city’s central LAN. Black Box delivered the wireless Ethernet radios fully pre-configured for an easy plug-and-play installation by the customer. Because both the switches and extenders are being used outdoors, they are designed with IP-rated cases and are capable of withstanding extreme temperatures.

A legal regulation demands that the system have the capability to be shut down on demand. To meet this requirement, Black Box provided on-site training to instruct the security team how to control the cameras over the web interface on the Ethernet switch. The operation is quite easy and the team understood quickly how to switch cameras on and off and how to change the viewing angle. Monitoring the video the IT team still needed a solution for displaying the video from the surveillance cameras. Black Box suggested and installed a 2×2 video wall with four HD screens at the gatehouse for 24/7 monitoring.

Because the customer had experienced theft, everyone was worried about the security of computers in the gatehouse. Black Box suggested that the customer back-rack these computers to a secure location inside the main building. The advice was highly appreciated and the customer moved the computers to a secure location and connected them to the gatehouse using a KVM extender.

Black Box products
Industrial Managed Gigabit Ethernet PoE+ Switch: LIE1014A

Wireless Ethernet Extenders: LWE200A-AP and LWE200A-S

KVM DVI/HDMI Extender: ACX300

VideoPlex4  4K Video Wall Controller: VSC-VPLEX4

The competence Black Box showed here convinced us that we made the right choice. Everything was simply perfect—the consultancy, services, expertise, and delivery.”

Top 10 Products from Black Box for 2015

Taking a look back at 2015, it’s clear that Black Box provides end-to-end infrastructure, professional AV technology, and networking solutions. The variety of products that made our Top Products’ list is representative of many different walks of IT and AV. Let’s take a look at our best sellers from 2015, and how they fit your applications.

1. IP-Based KVM Switching and Extension

Transmit DVI, USB, and audio signals in real time over an Ethernet LAN with the Agility IP-Based KVM Switching and Extension System. Standard CATx cabling delivers IP traffic via the Agility transmitters and receivers up to 100 m. For longer distances, add a network switch, which will give you an additional 100 metres.

With the Agility Controller Unit turn your IP-based Agility system of transmitters and receivers into a managed matrix switching system with this component at its center directing traffic over your LAN.

For more information, visit our Solutions pages.

2. MediaCento IPX Solution
Distribute digital video signals, including HDMI, over IP to multiple screens. This system is big in hospitality, retail, and other applications where you need to share video. Lossless HD video means crystal-clear images on every display. Check out this digital solution for the future, which comes at an analog price.

MediaCento IPX Receiver
MediaCento IPX Receiver

The MediaCento IPX solution integrates easily into your local area network. Transmit HDMI video and audio over an Ethernet network to a virtually unlimited number of screens as far as your network reaches. The MediaCento Controller adds many features to the solution, including flexible control of video walls, up to 8 x 8. In addition, the LPB2900 Series Gigabit Ethernet Managed PoE+ Switches can be outfitted with the MediaCento Controller software for HD video extension and switching. It’s the market’s first network switch that enables users to remotely control and switch AV from any source to any display. Three switches plus the software is available at Black Box.

3. GigaTrue™ CAT6 550-MHz Bulk Cable and GigaBase™ 350 CAT5e Solid Bulk Cable
ETL-Verified. HDBaseT recommended. Reliable performance. Guaranteed for life. When it comes to cabling, Black Box doesn’t fool around. Our bulk copper cabling integrates into new building projects whether you’re expanding or starting from the ground up.

All cabling solutions offer performance designed to last the lifetime of your system, whether in the data center or at the desktop — or beyond. Visit our CATx cable selector or our cabling home page for more choices.

4. Media Converters enable you to connect to different types of media within a network. To find the right media converter for your application, visit our media converter selector.

For example, look at the Multipower Miniature Media Converters. The autosensing MDI/MDI-X copper ports of these small converters means you don’t need to worry about what kind of cable to use. Easily migrate networks from Ethernet to Fast Ethernet all the way to Gigabit Ethernet. Compact in size, and still supports distances up to 10 kilometres.

5. KVM Extenders

Extend digital video signals and USB functionality over CATx or fibre cabling in order to streamline workflow, improve operator efficiency, and benefit from reliable signal distribution without interruption.

KVM extenders that support digital signals enable you to reduce noise and heat in the workplace, which improves productivity. Secure your hardware and secure your data by backracking vital workstations. A few examples are the ACX300/310 Series KVM Extenders, Wizard SRX DVI Extender for USB, and the Dual-Head DisplayPort KVM Extender over CATx. Digital signals are higher in quality, interconnectivity is more reliable, and the technology is future proof in regards to connected devices. Remain competitive by integrating KVM solutions across the enterprise.

To choose the right KVM extenders for your application, visit our KVM extender selector, or call one of our tech experts at 00800-CALLBBOX (00800-2255 2269).

6. Video and multimedia extenders enable you to distribute audio and video signals for digital signage, enhance presentations, and extend video beyond the boardroom. With Black Box video extenders, you can send video and audio signals farther than with conventional cabling. Deliver pixel-perfect video and high quality audio to remote displays.

Mini CATxVGA Extender Kit
Mini CATxVGA Extender Kit
Multi DVI-D CATx Extender Receiver
Multi DVI-D CATx Extender Receiver
3D HDMI CATx Extender
3D HDMI CATx Extender

7. Copper Patch Cables, 3-Series Lockable Patch Cables
Our high standards shine through with our 3-Series patch cables. These CAT5e/6/6A cables give you three levels of security, depending on the optional locking pin you choose. Secure your network ports, but only when you need to. Guaranteed for life!

These cables offer easy Layer 1 security for many environments, including healthcare, education, finance, government, retail, transportation, and more. Choose from locked (Red), secure (Green), or protected (no pin) to get the level of security that suits your application best.

8. Console Servers

Ensure maximum uptime with out-of-band management console servers, sometimes called terminal servers. They give network managers a single-point-of control to remotely monitor, manage, and troubleshoot critical IT infrastructure from anywhere in the world. Console servers offer backdoor management for business continuity, multiple applications for multiple industries, and problem solving for distributed sites.

See our selection of console servers here, and find one to fit your application.

9. USB Extension

Demanding users trust Black Box USB extension products for applications like pro audio visual, industrial automation, education, medical diagnostics and imaging, remote desktop extension, security, surveillance, and military systems.

Learn more about extending USB over CATx, fibre, and IP networks, and how to deploy USB extension in applications including healthcare, manufacturing, security, and harsh environments. USB extenders are simple to use and cost-effective.

IC282A_PC
USB 1.1 and 2.0 Extender over CAT5e
IC400A_PCS2
USB Ultimate Extender over UTP
LGB304A_PCS
USB-Powered Gigabit 4-Port Switch

Use our USB guide to configure your ultimate serial solution.

10. Black Box networking products make the list with ethernet switches, industrial solutions, and console servers. Find what you need to connect and improve your network, including USB switches for increasing network speeds, such as the USB-Powered Gigabit 4-Port Switch, pictured above. Expand a small network without breaking the bank. Increase to Gigabit speeds via four autosensing 10-/100-/1000-Mbps ports. This compact and convenient switch can be powered via a PC’s USB port or the included AC adapter.

For more information about integrating and deploying infrastructure, networking, and extension products for your organisation, please contact Black Box pre-sales application engineers. Call 00800-CALLBBOX (00800-2255 2269) to talk to a technical expert today. Visit the Black Box store to see all our products, and shop for your end-to-end solution now.

Machine vision: 100% assembly line inspection

Machine vision technology—the image-based automatic inspection process—has matured greatly and is now becoming an indispensable tool in manufacturing to increase quality and profitability. USB 3.0, with its 5-Gbps throughput and ability to send power and data over the same line, has greatly contributed to this growth.

What is machine vision?
Machine vision is an image-based, automatic inspection and analysis system for applications, such as process control. It automatically takes pictures to inspect materials as they come down the assembly line.

Other machine vision applications include:

  • PCB inspection.
  • Medical vial inspection.
  • Robot guidance and orientation of components.
  • Engine parts inspection.

Machine vision uses a small industrial camera and lights mounted near an assembly line to take pictures of product as it passes. The images are then analysed by software to determine if various aspects of the product meet acceptable specifications. For instance, if a label is misplaced, the bottle will be rejected. All of this is done at incredibly high speeds—fractions of a second.

Years ago, machine vision systems were very expensive, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. But in the last 15 years or so, advances in technology have brought the cost of machine vision down, making it a practical solution for 100 percent quality control. And the cost for implementing machine vision keeps decreasing as technological capabilities increase.

Machine vision is now an indispensable tool for quality assurance, sorting, and material handling in every industry, including electronics, food processing, pharmaceuticals, packaging, automotive, etc. It is an economical way to make sure sub-spec product is rejected. Machine vision can be used to inspect for geometry, placement, packaging, labeling, seal integrity, finish, color, pattern, bar code, and almost any other parameter you can think of.

USB 3.0 and machine vision
USB 3.0 brings a number of advantages to machine vision systems. Because of its 5-Gbps throughput, ten times more than USB 2.0, it eliminates problems of stability and low latency for image transmission and camera control. USB 3.0 enables the transmission of higher-resolution, higher-frame rate video with no loss of quality.

USB 3.0 also sends data and power on the same line. This is enough to power a camera without worrying about a separate power supply or power line.

In addition, compared to older systems, USB 3.0 is plug-and-play, making it easy to swap out cameras and other hardware, such as USB 3.0 extenders, and other devices.

Related:

USB Product Selector

Virtualized remote computing for retail outlets

KVM matrix switching gives multiple users access to a variety of target devices, including but not limited to CPUs, digital signage, and servers; the ability to monitor workflow; and flexible control of visual and peripheral elements.

Deploying KVM extension that operates over a LAN/WAN (local area network/wide area network) and incorporates virtual and physical CPUs gives retailers access options, reduces clutter in the workplace, and saves on energy costs.

In retail and inventory management systems virtualized remote computing is especially advantageous. Receiver units at the cash registers can access information on a virtual machine that runs on a server appliance.

This remote virtual system gives users access to their Active Directory accounts that is incorporated into a connection broker, with no need to set up a separate directory on the KVM system. The receivers gain access to virtual machines via Microsoft® Server 2008 or Microsoft Server 2012. By utilizing a connection broker, the virtualized machines can be easily duplicated, enabling workers to connect to the first available target without having to identify the target. This streamlines workflow and simplifies processes in busy retail applications.

Retail Point-of-Sale Application
A) Cash registers with KVM receivers
B) Server with virtualized CPUs
C) Manager workstation with KVM receiver
D) System manager unit

In addition, a KVM system that works over a LAN/WAN this way supports NLA (network level authentication) for security. It also can continue to support physical CPUs while expanding into virtualization.

As is seen in KVM technology, other benefits include a low total cost of ownership (TCO); improved operability and quick ROI; maximum, scalability, and improved reliability; and green IT solutions with energy-saving design and distribution.

To see details about Black Box’s virtualized solution, visit our InvisaPC pages. Contact our application engineers to see how this next-generation KVM can improve your organization’s workflow and ergonomics.

How to terminate your own patch cable

Of all the components in your network, none is arguably more underrated than the RJ-45 connector. Simplicity incarnate, this transparent marvel literally defines plug-and-play connectivity—from the desktop to the data center. Yet it defies the obvious: How’d they get those wires in there? Who puts these things together? Where are the seams?
Wiring-Standards-terminate-your-own-patch-cable

So, in the spirit of demystifying one more aspect of modern-day communications, we give you this behind-the-scenes look at terminating twisted-pair cable using RJ connectors.

The prep work.
First, gather your materials. You’ll need bulk cable, such as the bulk cable, a cable cutter and stripper, a connector, a pre-plug (optional), a crimp tool, and a continuity tester. All these items—except the cable and the pre-plugs—are in our CAT6 and CAT5e Terminations Kit.

The challenge: Do it right the first time.
You must take time to install each connector carefully, according to the specifications of the wiring system you’re installing. Then test each cable to certify that it supports the specified performance levels — in this case, the TIA specs for CATx cabling. The wiring standards illustration (above right) indicates proper T568A, T568B, and USOC pairing and pinning for twisted pair cable. T568B wiring is most commonly used in Europe for networking.

Terminate-own-patch-cable-step-1Step one
First, start with a wire stripping tool, such as the Multi-Strip (FT231A). Next, put the tool around the cable, squeeze, and carefully remove the jacketing from the cable. You’ll want to expose about one inch of the insulated wire conductors.

DO NOT remove any insulation from the conductors.

When you crimp the RJ-45 connector, the contacts inside will pierce the conductor insulation to make contact, so there’s no need to do it here.

terminate-own-patch-cable-step-twoStep two
Untwist each pair of conductors to within 1⁄8″ of the jacket with a stripping tool. Do not untwist the conductors more than 1⁄2″. Arrange the wires according to the cable spec you’re using (T568B in this case). Flatten and align the wires. Use your wire cutters and make one straight cut across all the conductors. Trim the ends to ensure they’re all of equal length. Once you cut the cable, make sure you flatten out the wires.

terminate-own-patch-cable-step-3Step three
Orient the wires so the cable’s Pin 1 connector aligns correctly with the RJ-45 connector’s Pin 1, and do the same for all pins. (To maintain the correct alignment, see “Rule of Thumb” below.) While carefully maintaining the proper position of each conductor, slide the wires into an RJ-45 connector.

All connectors must extend all the way into the conductor so they’re flush against the back and aligned underneath the contacts within the plastic connector housing. The cable jacket should also extend into the connector about 1⁄4″ for strain relief.

Rule of Thumb:
Many people miswire RJ-45 connectors because they’re careless about proper conductor alignment. Before terminating connectors, be sure they’re oriented properly so connector Pin 1 aligns with cable Pin 1, etc. To determine which RJ-45 contact is Pin 1 in CATx applications, hold the connector in front of your face as if you were going to plug it onto the tip of your nose. With the locking thumb tab up, connector Pin 1 is on the far left.

terminate-own-patch-cable-step-4Step four
Insert the connector into an RJ-45 crimp tool. Make sure you’re using the proper die for the type of connector you’re using. For instance, connectors that use a load bar require a different crimp die than connectors that don‘t feature a load bar. If you don’t use the right die, you’ll damage the connector when you try to crimp it.

Firmly squeeze the crimp tool handles together. They’ll lock in a ratcheting action as you crimp the connector. A final click indicates the connector is firmly latched, and you can release the handles.

terminate-own-patch-cable-step-fiveStep five
Check your work using a continuity tester or cable certifier rated for the cable standard you’re installing. Your tester should be able to check for shorts, opens, or miswires.

For network certification, more expensive testers can even store and download test results based on standardized minimum performance levels.

The result
The majority of RJ-45 cables are terminated by machine. But field technicians and professional cable installers crimp on modular connectors every day. You can terminate cables, too. Once you do, you’ll gain a new appreciation for the skill it takes to successfully terminate these cables inside a connector the size of a jelly bean.

For questions or to learn more about building and testing a patch cable, contact our FREE Tech Support.

Additional Resources:
Video: How to Terminate and Test Copper Cable
Video: Learn how to identify counterfeit cables