Topic: new wall controllers

I have heard that MM is working on some new zone controllers for NION.  Can anyone spill the beans about these new controllers?  We would like to retro them in to a few of our installs as the end user isn't wild about the 4x4


Re: new wall controllers

Yes, that is correct. We displayed a couple of the new prototype devices we are working on at InfoComm08. Please remember that these are conceptual prototype products and are not on the radar for release in the immediate future. If you need something different NOW, you would be well served to look into the offerings from the 3rd party control outfits: AMX, Crestron, Xantech, and any of the other small control companies.

The first is intended to be an update to the XControl series. The unit shown at the InfoComm08 show is called the XControl LCD. It features an LCD display and capacitive touch buttons. We received some great feedback on this unit and we are working towards changing the cosmetics of it to be a lot more sleek and probably fitting it into a US standard 2-gang box so it can be mounted flush with the wall. This unit does NOT have a touch-screen. There is not currently a release date scheduled.

The second is a new series of controllers that are referred to as "nTouch". The name nTouch was chosen since all the controllers in this series are to be touch-screen based devices. We were sporting a 7" widescreen unit at the InfoComm08 show that is referred to as the nTouch 7. We received a LOT of great comments about this unit and are having to go back to the drawing board a bit to incorporate some of the fantastic concepts everyone suggested. There is not currently a release date scheduled. Though you can rest assured that we are making forward progress with these controllers and will be fleshing out this line with some other VERY cool devices!

edit: Ooops! I wasn't supposed to say THAT!!!

Last edited by JoshM (2008-07-25 01:11:04)

Josh Millward
Burnt Orange Studios


Re: new wall controllers

I didn't get to the show, but I'm very curious. QSC/BSS has had cool smart wall controllers for a while, it'll be nice to see similar devices with the Nion family. Are these devices native Ethernet? If so, did anyone ask for PoE?


Re: new wall controllers

jvalenzuela wrote:

I didn't get to the show, but I'm very curious. QSC/BSS has had cool smart wall controllers for a while, it'll be nice to see similar devices with the Nion family. Are these devices native Ethernet? If so, did anyone ask for PoE?

Ohhhh I hope they will have PoE.  That would make my world so much easier.  As I have had the AMX course and installed many AMX  The PoE feature is really nice to have that is for sure!


Re: new wall controllers

I agree that PoE is very nice, but it does mean that you either NEED to buy PoE switches or you would need to get a PoE injector (either from us or someone else). Does anyone view this as an issue?

We certainly do not want to go down the path that others have trod before by requiring the use of only specific network switch hardware.

Please fill me in on what you think.

Josh Millward
Burnt Orange Studios


Re: new wall controllers

Many larger networks already have PoE switches for phones, WAP, etc, so no problem. If you want a smaller standalone solution, I know of some small(<12 port) switches that can be either all PoE or models that have something like 2 PoE ports and the remainder are not. In any case, I would MUCH prefer PoE over running another cable or some proprietary method of sending power over the CAT5 cable(reinventing the wheel).


Re: new wall controllers

Thanks, Jason!

I agree that a single cable solution is much preferred over a multiple cable installation.

Case in point, installing a PageMatrix paging station vs. installing a ControlMatrix paging station...
-PageMatrix is a single cable with power, data, and analog audio all on the cat5 cable.
-ControlMatrix requires a separate power cable in addition to the cat5 that routes control and audio information.

I am curious to know if anyone would be turned off or not interested by having a PoE wall control.

What if we put both PoE on it AND an external connection for a separate power connection?

Josh Millward
Burnt Orange Studios


Re: new wall controllers

A single cable solution is a must - In a lot of existing sites retrofitting for power to a wall plate is a cost that greatly out wieghs the cost if a POE injector. Even in new sites the costs of a priotriety cabling plant versus a generic Cat 5e or greater would out wiegh the cost of POE.


Re: new wall controllers

Yes, POE is a must! When using Nions, I always include a network switch anyway, and there are plenty of them available with POE that are relatively inexpensive.  A rack plate that emulated the look of the Nion front panel may not be a bad thing, either . . . I'd love to be able to hide my Nions in a customers rack room, and give them a rack mount control panel at the FOH and/ or monitor console positions.


Re: new wall controllers

While I agree that PoE is cool, and the way to go for the long term, most contractors will be slow adopters.  Until I have confidence in the "inexpensive" PoE switch "time until failure", I would rather pull either two CAT5 or a CAT5 and a power pair.  Putting a power supply in the rack for controllers (perhaps from a NioNode HCO port) would make sense for many.

Also, serial 485 will continue to be an important control transport.  There is a lot to be said about being able to reach out 1000 feet (and if you supply power locally, up to 4000') to that wall controller.  Are you really going to want to put media converters in to convert to fiber for the controller that is just a little to far?

So what are your thoughts?  We are listening carefully.

Make it intuitive, never leave them guessing.


Re: new wall controllers

485 is fine as a low cost solution for extended distances but I do not understand why putting power down a second CAT 5 cable as a propriety solution is better than using an industry standard of POE. The MTBF of POE devices is the the same as the the switch (form the same manufacturer) I have not seem the MTBF of Cisco switches reduce since they have introduced POE into them. Based on this I do not see the MTBF being different on a lowercost switch and the lowercost switch with POE inbeded. It may also be worth asking about what is installed to the present controlers - Typically I have installed a single CAT 5. By utilising POE this gives an up grade path for existing sites.


Re: new wall controllers

Maybe keep the X Control LCD as the RS 485 solution (in keeping with the legacy of the rest of the X Control panels), and make the nTouch panels POE.  Here are my reasons "pro-POE"-
If the switch or injector does go out, it's an in stock piece from most IT suppliers (albeit through the Internet) that can be replaced within the skill level of the IT staff of most end customers.  In most applications, a wall panel will not be "critical" to the function of the system anyway, so a day (or two) of potential downtime is not a problem.  However, the use of POE panels can also offer the opportunity to the contractor to create redundant systems for more critical applications. 
Most consultants and higher end contractors in the HOW market are going to spec separate conduits for DC power and data.  Using POE is going to substantially reduce the cost of the installation (wire, labor from the AV contractor; conduit, labor from the electrical contractor) for the end customer.
The existing installs of X Controls wired using a single CAT5 can be retrofitted without adding wire.  There is an arguable cost benefit here for the end customer- labor and copper are usually more expensive than a little bit of programming. 
Products that use established IT standards are easier to sell to customers than products that use proprietary or obscure (yes, in this day and age, that does unfortunately include RS485) control protocols or power supplies.  Most people, even if they do not understand the ins and outs of the DSP in their audio system, can understand the concept of communicating with and powering a panel through the network, thanks to the increasing user of POE/ VOIP phone systems in their offices. 
Finally, manageability- the functionality of POE switches can usually be determined over a remote connection, as opposed to standing at the equipment rack with a meter for a conventional PS.  Any of us utilizing multiple NioNodes in a project already rely on network switches, right?