EC R&D, in conjunction with Sound Associates, Inc, designed an automated line array control system called the FlexArray System (patent pending).
The FlexArray automated line array control system allows the autonomous control of the frequency response of an audio line array by remotely adjusting the angles between consecutive speakers. This process, which once required manual interaction at ground level with heavy, unwieldy speakers, can now be accomplished from up to 250 feet away, while leaving the array suspended, and controlled directly in the audible path of the array. Changes in relative speaker angle are now obtained in seconds, instead of hours. This invention has made possible a new level of control and optimization available to the high-fidelity live audio marketplace.
The system was on placed on the Billy Joel's "Movin' Out" tour and in use on multiple Broadway Shows, this product has allowed formerly difficult or impossible installs and show load-ins to be accomplished with ease.
The control system for the FlexArray allows for up to sixty-four sets of custom linear actuators to be controlled as simultaneous pairs using bi-directional RS-485 communications protocol. This network allows the user unprecedented control over the response of even the largest line array applications.
The ABS plastic enclosure and extra-heavy duty design of both the electrical systems and hardware are designed to be used in the most demanding environments in the world; from rock tours to installations, this product will handle whatever comes its way.
Due to the dangerous nature of the FlexArray Rigging product, safety was the first concern in its design. The FlexArray allows the suspension and control of up to 3000 pounds of load, including the shifting of the array's center of gravity; thus the safety concerns for this product are extremely important.
In order to handle this task, the control system's safety features include analog and digital redundant circuitry in every slave box, a "hard-stop" at the pendant controller (disconnects power to the motors directly-either as a precaution or as a last resort control measure), and a multi-microprocessor design that allows for processing power that far exceeds the need of the product, allowing for smooth control over the array. The user is informed real-time of faults in the array, while status indicators can be easily viewed from the ground to allow personnel on the stage to remain aware of the motor control status.
The master pendant provides the data needed for the user to allow for maximum safety and usability. Providing data such as the failure of communications between the slave boxes and the master, and safety faults determined real-time during use, allow the user the comfort of knowing the control is in their hands when they need it.
The design is completely modular; each slave control box contains all the circuitry necessary to take on any position in the array. Simply change the dip switch arrangements on the side of each box and it is ready to go. Each box is also reprogrammable to allow its use on any size line array speaker that exists and even those that will be produced in the future. Quick disconnects allow the starter capacitors, which drive the motors from a state of static to dynamic operation, to be changed easily to allow for increasing or decreasing load requirements. The robust design and the ability to reconfigure both software and hardware components ensure that our customer can use this product for years to come.