Not a new statement: things aren’t like they were before. That’s true in many walks of life and true in the venue of educational media as well. Old solutions won’t work anymore, but there new opportunities for those in the know.
The New Basic Cable
Remember Cable in the Classroom? It was a service that brought a wealth of broadcast content in the analog era. As cable companies are going full digital and encrypt more channels, that service is changing. The good news is – for the better.
The first rule in the New Basic Cable is that you don’t have to take all the programming that’s in the “pipe” – you can pick and choose what you want at your site. That means you don’t have to guard against content that’s not applicable or appropriate. You can subscribe to a specific list of channels and whether you want them as analog, digital or a mix. You won’t need a cable box in every classroom to tune in. The channels can be open-access, and can be tuned in by any standard HD TV set, your existing analog TVs (if you use analog channels), and standard analog and digital HDTV tuners.
In the New Basic Cable, even the analog channels are better than before. Cable companies have the technology to convert the digital channels coming to your site into up to 82 analog channels (schools usually elect for far less channels). By converting at your site, the analog programming is far less fuzzy and weak. The cable company can also provide your site with a selection of open-access SD and HD digital channels.
By selecting just the channels you want, the cost can be fairly low or free, depending on the cable provider in your area. Call your cable provider and talk about the options. Some providers are aware of the new technology they can provide, some are still catching up with the times. Most are interested in offering a solution once you know what to ask for.
- Even in the digital era, you can still get analog channels if you need them
- You can screen out channels you don’t want, saving subscription costs
- You don’t need a cable box in every classroom to tune in
- Because analog is still a viable option for in-house cable, it’s wise to use tuners that can receive both analog and digital channels, like those built into HD TV sets and our 232-ATSC+1 HDTV Tuner. The tuner is controllable via IR, RS-232, IP, and features an onboard Web control page.
- Some schools elect to stay with analog TV channels, and use our 232-MCT TV Tuner to access channels. The tuner can share a video input on a TV or projector, displays closed captioning, and is controllable via IR or RS-232.
Enriching Your RF Network with In-House Programming
The cable company doesn’t have all the resources you’d like to have. Once you’ve cut down your cable channels to the few you want, it’s easy to add some of your own.
Many schools have some type of signage they’d like to broadcast throughout their facility. Creating the signage isn’t difficult, it can be as basic as PowerPoint on a PC, or on a dedicated signage creation/playback system. However distributing the content can be expensive, requiring signage players at every display, Ethernet runs to each, and extra servers and licenses.
It’s much simpler to distribute the output of one player or PC to all HDTVs over RF. As all HDTV sets have a built-in HD tuner, the signage interface is free. Just feed a PC’s VGA to a QMOD-HDSC HD Scaler Modulator, and broadcast the channel over your RF system. The internal scaler allows you to format the PC’s output into a 16:9 video the internal encoder can process.
In-House News and Broadcasts
A growing number of schools have their own video system. Using HDTV technology, you can now distribute the video team’s broadcast as an in-house HDTV channel. Sites that have HD- or SD-SDI capability can use the QMOD-SDI HD-SDI Modulator to convert the studio feed to an HDTV channel. Others might use a basic presentation scaler/switcher such as a TV One C2-1350 or similar and a QMOD-HD HDTV Modulator as a simple studio solution to mix a camera, PC, DVD, and other sources in a broadcast.
Integrate IPTV, Microwave, Off-Air and other Content Sources
Cable isn’t the only content source. An IPTV player or Microwave receiver can be fed to an HDTV modulator to bring district or state programming into the classroom. A media player can access a variety of stored video for broadcast to a classroom. A 232-ATSC+1 HDTV Tuner. can feed a QMOD-HD HDTV Modulator to bring in free HD off-air channels.
If the local cable company doesn’t have the technology yet to provide clear QAM channels (digital channels that don’t need a cable box to tune), they can give you a few cable boxes tuned to the channels you’re subscribing to. Connect each to a QMOD-HD HDTV Modulator to create in-house HD channels. Or you could opt for DirecTV, Dish or other providers in your area.
For colleges, not all games are carried by cable, or vice versa, DirecTV. If your cable feed doesn’t include the programs you need, add a few channels driven by DirecTV receivers.
Integrate Facility-Wide Display and Projector Control
In addition to distributing new educational content over RF, you can also manage your TVs and Projectors through the same RF cable as your content.
Our Display Express system combines Web control pages and scheduling with over-the-RF control. The easy to use software installs on any Windows XP Pro or Win7 Pro PC, serving interactive Web pages for system setup, control panels, emergency alerts and scheduling.
The actions triggered in Display Express sends commands to a Head End Controller, essentially a Control Modulator that inserts a data channel between a natural gap between channels 4 and 5. Combined with the cable and in-house channels, the micro-channel goes everywhere your RF cable travels, to classrooms, hallways, and other buildings. There’s no need to run additional control wiring.
TV and Projector Control
For older TVs and flat-panel displays, inexpensive IR and RS-232 Controllers manage power, volume and channels. Typically, the ICC2-ATSC+ HDTV Tuner/Controller controls a video projector as well as tuning in analog and digital channels via central or local control.
Video Announcement, News and Emergency Broadcasts
When you have the RF network integrated as a control system, many centralized features are possible:
- With single button click you can send a morning public address or news program to a few, a group or all TVs. When the announcement is complete, TVs will return to their former channel and power state.
- Send an emergency broadcast to selected or all locations. This can be launched by a button click on a Display Express web page, or a command sent to Display Express over IP from an emergency center. At the end, displays will return to their former state.
Central Schedule and Power Management
You can create schedules within Display Express that make sure the power is turned off on all TVs and projectors at the end of the day.
In addition, any event, including news, signage and other broadcasts can be scheduled during the day and week. Control options include power, channel, and volume.
Our products add full ADA compliance for educational and civic applications.
The 232-AMP+ Mixer/Amplifier is at work in many school districts, delivering audio amplification so all students can hear clearly. A stereo input accepts a feed from a video projector or display, and 2 mono mix/ducking inputs accept audio from wireless mics and other sources. Operation is fully programmable, and can accept RS-232 commands from wall panels for integrated control. As a Class D amplifier, very little power is used when there is no audio.
All our tuners feature analog and digital closed captioning so all students can understand the programming.
It’s your RF system, take control.