Creating an innovative matrix switching system for the Dayton Dragons

The Dayton Dragons are the very successful Single-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds, and currently hold the longest sell-out streak in all of North American professional sports. They were even voted one of the top ten hottest tickets to get in all of professional sports in 2007 by Sports Illustrated. Owned and operated by Mandalay Baseball Properties, the team continues to produce high-quality, family-friendly entertainment and provide unsurpassed customer service to a large, loyal fan base. Mandalay Creative Services, a division of Mandalay Baseball, helps meet that goal by providing in-house system design, technical integration, and production services.

The Dragons’ commitment to creating an unmatched fan experience led them to upgrade their video, audio, and control systems prior to the start of the 2014 season. The team is unique in that they produce two separate productions—an in-house and a broadcast feed—with two separate crews sharing core system components. The caveat was that the crews and components were split between two rooms: one space for each production.

Mandalay Creative’s first key goal was to enable the two small but efficient teams to work across multiple systems, producing shows that would normally require big-league budgets and staffing. Their high standards also demanded no sacrifice in video quality, maximum uptime, and enterprise-grade reliability.

DKM FX HD Video and Peripheral Matrix Switch

DKM FX HD Video and Peripheral Matrix Switch

Also vital, the Dragons required a solution that would grow with them, providing easy and cost effective ways to add additional servers and users to the matrix routing system.

With that in mind, Mandalay Creative sought us out to create an innovative and flexible digital KVM matrix solution using our DKM line of products.

Designed through a partnership between Mandalay Creative, and installed by Alpha Video, the solution provides connectivity for up to 48 users and computers (they currently have 17 users and 24 computer stations). Users can work on the same servers simultaneously. Advanced access right management reduces conflicts and bars unauthorized access.

A mix of single- and dual-monitor user stations were configured with the option of creating larger setups in the future. All of the switching and routing can be done instantaneously with preset configurations. These can be activated with keyboard hotkeys or optional integration with third-party controller systems. The Dayton Dragons were also able to back rack all of their servers because the DKM system includes extenders that provide up to 800 feet extension over CAT5e. This allowed them to secure and cool the servers more efficiently while also creating a quieter work environment for their production team.

“The demands of producing multiple productions simultaneously each night require a control system that is flexible and bulletproof,” comments Scott Rohrer, Creative Technologist with Mandalay Creative Services. “The Dragons are unique in that they produce two separate productions—in-house and broadcast—with two separate crews, while sharing core system components. The solution that Black Box provided has given us major league capability on our minor league budget. Not only is the DKM system flexible and solid, the video and control quality is exactly what you’d expect if you were right next to the machine. No other solution on the market passed our test.”

For more information on how we help clients in the media and broadcasting industry, visit

The two biggest causes of fiber light loss and how to fix them

By Fluke Networks

Fiber optic cabling carries pulses of light between transmitters and receivers. These pulses represent the data being sent across the cable. In order for the data to be transmitted successfully, the light must arrive at the far end of the cable with enough power to be measured. Light loss between the ends of a fiber link comes from multiple sources, such as the attenuation of the fiber itself, fusion splices, macro bends, and loss through adapter couplings where end-faces meet.

Among key sources of loss that can bring a fiber network down, dirty and damaged end-faces are the most underestimated threat. Dirty end-faces are a leading cause of fiber link failure for both installers and private network owners. Contaminated end-faces were the cause of fiber links failing 85% of the time. It’s easy to prevent, but there continues to be a lack of appreciation for this crucial issue and lots of misinformation about proper techniques.

There are two types of problems that will cause loss as light leaves one end-face and enters another inside an adapter: contamination and damage.

Visual Inspection Probe

Dig up the dirt on your endfaces with this Visual Inspection Probe.


Contamination comes in many forms, from dust to oils to buffer gel. Simply touching the ferrule will immediately deposit an unacceptable amount of body oil on the end-face. Dust and small static-charged particles float through the air and can land on any exposed termination. This can be especially true in facilities undergoing construction or renovation. In new installations, buffer gel and pulling lube can easily find its way onto an end-face. Continue reading

On-demand KVM and Wireless webinars

Catch up on our latest on-demand webinars from this past month:

“Wireless Solutions for M2M, Security/Surveillance, and Temporary Data Networks”

  • Learn how cellular wireless routers can be a reliable and cost-effective alternative for Internet or WAN/VPN access compared to POTS, DSL, and cable modem technologies.
  • Explore how cellular routers can support the necessary interface types, environmental requirements, and protocols associated with remote SCADA applications.
  • Understand how 4G cellular wireless routers support the throughput and latency requirements for backhauling security/surveillance video.
  • Learn how to quickly set up temporary, mobile networks in field applications, such as sporting events, outdoor gatherings, and digital signage installations.


“KVM Outside of the Data Center”

  • Acquire a high-level understanding of the KVM technology solutions spectrum. Understand the market forces that are shaping the need for KVM technologies in different industries.
  • Understand the thought process behind selecting a KVM technology for a specific application scenario.
  • Understand the return-on-investment benefits that KVM solutions can provide.


What is HDBaseT technology?

HDBaseT is a connectivity standard for distribution of uncompressed HD multimedia content. HDBaseT technology converges full HD digital video, audio, 100BaseT Ethernet, power over cable, and various control signals through a single LAN cable. This is referred to as 5Play™, a feature set that sets HDBaseT technology above the current standard.

1. Video
HDBaseT delivers full HD/3D and 2K/4K uncompressed video to a network of devices or to a single device (point-to-point). HDBaseT supports all key HDMI 1.4 features, including EPG, Consumer Electronic Controls (CEC), EDID, and HDCP. The unique video coding scheme ensure the highest video quality at zero latency.HDBaseT-Logo

2. Audio
As with the video, HDBaseT audio is passed through from the HDMI chipset. All standard formats are supported, including Dolby Digital, DTS, Dolby TrueHD, DTS HD-Master Audio.

3. Ethernet
HDBaseT supports 100Mb Ethernet, which enables communications between electronic devices including televisions, sound systems, computers, and more. Additionally, Ethernet support enables access to any stored multimedia content (such as video or music streaming). Continue reading

Pew study finds digital technologies help and challenge teachers

A survey conducted by the Pew Research Center found that the majority of Advanced Placement and National Writing Project teachers reported that digital technology in the classroom helps them teach middle and high school students in many ways. However, at the same time, the Internet, mobile phones, and social media also bring new challenges to education environments.

The survey also found that there are “striking differences in the role of technology in wealthier school districts compared withTablet-Laptop-Lockers poorer school districts and that there are clear generational differences among teachers when it comes to their comfort with technology and its use in their classrooms.”

The teachers surveyed use a wide variety of digital tools in the learning process, including mobile phones, tablets, and e-book readers, most commonly to have students conduct research and access and submit assignments online.

To read more about the study, which was designed to explore teachers’ views of the ways today’s digital environment is shaping the research and writing habits of middle and high school students, as well as teachers’ own technology use and their efforts to incorporate new digital tools into their classrooms, click here.

Black Box tablet and laptop carts are uniquely designed to easily accommodate any type of device used in today’s classrooms.

Additional resources:
Tablet Cart Selection Guide
Charging and Storage Cart and Locker Assessment and Evaluation
White Paper: 12 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Tablet and Laptop Cart


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