Oil & Gas Networking and Control Room Solutions

Industrial connectivity and KVM control room solutions for upstream, midstream, and downstream environments.

As the oil and gas industry continues to grow, more and more well sites, pumping stations, pipelines, processing plants, and refineries are being built. Along the entire route, safe, reliable networking and industrial automation are critical to smooth operations, efficiency, and productivity.

In 2014, the United States produced 9.2 million barrels of crude oil a day. The U.S. is now the largest producer of oil and gas, overtaking Saudi Arabia and Russia due to production from the Marcellus Shale. However, reservoirs of oil are becoming more difficult to access and increasingly less productive. To keep pace global consumptions, oil companies must constantly look for new sources of petroleum, as well as improve the production of existing wells.

Read more about industry solutions at our landing page for the oil and gas industry at blackbox.com/Oil-Gas.

Digital KVM Control and Monitoring Solutions for the Energy Industry: Automation, processes, and workflow

Black Box is committed to helping our customers succeed as they transition to the digital media environment. We help clients in the energy industry design and deploy mission-critical solutions.

In drilling operations, KVM systems provide high-quality and instant access to video and control signals from multiple sources to multiple users. In oil and gas exploration, rapid access to graphical data and processes throughout a seismic survey and the ability to respond quickly to status changes are crucial for safe and efficient operation. Remote monitoring solutions in control rooms provide users with better overview, quicker access to data, and failover connectivity. With KVM solutions, users can switch and extend real-time HD video and USB HID over LAN/WAN for remote monitoring.

Black Box KVM Solutions

  • KVM and hybrid KVM peripheral switching platforms
  • Virtual desktop remote management
  • Signal conversion and signal distribution
  • KVM extension to improve ergonomics by reducing heat and noise in the workplace
  • KVM extension over fiber for long distances

Benefits for you:

  • Updating current analog systems to faster and more reliable digital KVM.
  • Remote monitoring operations reduce risk for injuries in dangerous areas.
  • Reduced risk for downtime and accidental environmental disasters.
  • Asset Integrity Management (AIM)
  • Maximize human capital by running parallel tasks with fewer users who have instantaneous access to critical resources.

Learn more about high-performance KVM solutions for the oil and gas industries.

If you have a control room project coming up, contact Brian Lang at Brian.Lang@blackbox.com, or register for our upcoming Control Room seminar with product demonstrations, which is Tuesday, October 27.

Stay Ahead of the Curve: Visit Black Box at Rocky Mountain AV Expo 2015

Innovation happens… fast. How do you keep moving forward with the cutting edge technology? How do you stay informed? How do you make the right technology buying decisions?

For those in the audio/video industry, events such as the Rocky Mountain Audio Video Expo (AVX 2015) give you the opportunity to connect with the top minds and tech in the industry. AVX 2015 brings together decision makers and experts in IT, film, AV, video, broadcast, sound, animation, computer imaging, and editing industries to present and exhibit emerging technologies. The event takes place October 28–29 at the Crowne Plaza DIA in Denver, Colorado. Register by October 24 for free access to exhibits, seminars, and keynote sessions.

To stay on the forefront of AV, video, broadcast, and digital signage developments, be sure to connect with Black Box technical experts at booth #902. The team is excited to share these AV and KVM technology solutions and more at the event.

    1. New Modular Video Matrix Switcher
    This new, configurable AV matrix switch enables seamless switching of audio and video with up to 4K resolution as well as extension up to 230 feet (70 m). The modular matrix switcher with built-in conversion and scaling enables users to mix legacy equipment with new digital systems. Although the world is moving to digital, there are still a multitude of interfaces around. This flexible solution meets those needs with switchable input/output cards for HDMI, DVI-D, DVI-I Universal, VGA, and RJ-45 for extension.

    2. DCX3000 Digital KVM Matrix Switch
    Small in size, but large in features, this 30-port digital KVM matrix switch is for multiple users in smaller broadcast studios and control rooms. The intuitive graphical user interface with thumbnail previews makes setup and configuration simple. The DCX3000 supports up to 30 endpoints and features an attractive price point.

    The space-saving switch uses Server Access Modules (SAMs) powered by the interface to extend DVI or DisplayPort signals over CATx cable 30 feet (10 m) from the KVM switch to the workstation and 165 feet (50 m) from switch to CPU.

    3. HDMI-over-IP Extension, Switching, and Video Walls – MediaCento IPX
    The popular MediaCento IPX video extenders enable HDMI video distribution over an IP network to a virtually unlimited number of screens. Add the MediaCento IPX Controller to the system for easy setup, user friendly matrix switching, and video wall control from any source to any display.

    4. 4K Solutions
    Black Box’s 4K video solutions allow users to create impactful, state-of-the-art video systems. The 4K video product line includes:

    • VideoPlex4, a video wall controller that enables users to create stunning video walls with 4K output across four or more screens.
    • iCOMPEL P Series, an enterprise digital signage solution with high-quality video display and 4K resolution support.
    • A high-resolution DisplayPort video extender with USB 2.0, DisplayPort 4K KVM Extender over CATx, which enables the user to create an unchanged user experience at remote consoles with 4K monitors.

    5. DKM FX Video and Peripheral Matrix Switching System
    A highly reliable video and peripheral matrix switching and routing system supporting high-resolution HD-SDI, HDMI, and KVM in one flexible, scalable product.

    6. Multiviewer KVM and Video Processing
    The 4Site Flex KVM Switch provides fluid video performance in a multiscreen viewer with KVM and video processors for monitoring and control. Process high-resolution video signals from four sources to one monitor.

    7. Freedom II 4-Port KVM Switch
    Get fast, reliable switching between computer systems simply by moving a mouse from screen to screen. Freedom II creates a unified desktop across multiple PCs and operating systems.

    8. Agility IP-Based KVM Switching and Extension
    Improve workflow and efficiency, and send HD video and KVM signals over an IP network. The Agility IP-based KVM transmitters and receivers extend signals over CATx cable up to 330 feet (100 m), and even farther with the addition of network switches.

If you see something that sparked your interest, stop by booth #902 for a demo from a technical expert. Ask about our free application engineering. Can’t make the event? Call a Black Box technical specialist today at 877-476-0478 to talk about your upcoming AV or KVM application needs.

Black Box Knows KVM: Client Testimony

In the fall of 2013, Anthony, a senior engineer from a global energy company headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was tasked with implementing a new, customer-facing command and control room. The center was being designed to showcase the energy company’s capabilities to potential customers. Shortly after being assigned this job, he received an invitation to a presentation at Black Box.

Anthony had heard of Black Box, but didn’t know very much about them. His company had purchased cables and other infrastructure technology products from them, and he knew their headquarters were close to Pittsburgh. The topic of the event was “High-Performance KVM Solutions.”

He decided to attend on the basis of his company’s past relationship with Black Box. He was pleasantly surprised to find his investment of time paid off in dividends.

Anthony learned that Black Box does more than cabling. Until he visited the Lawrence campus, he was unaware of their extension and switching capabilities.

At the presentation, Garrett Swindell, Black Box KVM engineer specialist, talked about signal management and extension, high-definition video and USB switching, and streamlining operator desktop workstations for a leaner organization.

Anthony immediately scheduled a follow-up visit during the session to have Garrett and Brian Lang, a Black Box KVM sales specialist, come to his company’s headquarters. The goal of the visit was to capitalize on Black Box’s KVM capabilities and design a solution that met the needs of his newly developed control center.

“This event gave me the opportunity to visualize how Black Box products will help us improve the level of monitoring and control we have over our systems,” Anthony says. He thinks other engineers who work in control rooms can benefit from attending a Black Box presentation. “Seeing your products operate in person allowed me to fully appreciate how well Black Box has implemented these new technologies, and the value that they can add to my projects.”

If you’ve got a control room project coming up soon, please contact us. Our next high-performance KVM event is Tuesday, October 27. You can register here, or email Brian Lang at Brian.Lang@blackbox.com.

8 Critical features next-generation KVM switching and extension systems should offer

Here’s a checklist to use as you shop for a future-proof, high-performance digital KVM switch or switching and extension systems. It’s easy to remember as FAR-PARSS.

Flexibility
Any enterprise-wide KVM system should be flexible enough to input and output many types of video and peripherals, especially if you are in broadcast or command and control. Video signals such as DVI, HDMI, and VGA should be supported with resolutions ranging from 1080p to 4K. Other signal types to look for are audio, USB 1.1 or 2.0 for peripherals like keyboards and mice, and serial signals for industrial applications.

A flexible system should also be scalable for future growth. Calculate the total number of video sources and displays you have, and try to plan for growth. The KVM switches need to support current and future users with enough ports so that users do not have to create silos of servers and users. Look for a KVM system that can replace a video-only router with a high-performance digital KVM matrix switching system. A management controller enables central administration of the system. Does the management controller use a graphical user interface, or a text-based OSD?

Accuracy
When a KVM system can support video resolutions of 1920 x 1080 at 60 Hz or 3840 x 2160 at 60 Hz, test to make sure video does not lag or drop frames with rapidly changing content. Not all analog KVM systems or IP-based systems are up to the task, although most digital systems, including digital IP-based systems, can support fast, high-definition video.

Responsiveness
Test keyboard and mouse setup to make sure there is no latency. A true USB emulation KVM switch is responsive and consistent; an unresponsive K/M jars the operator out of his/her workflow.

Productivity
Optimally, a high-performance digital KVM system improves users’ productivity. In a matrix setting, all resources and displays can be connected and switched between by multiple users. Collaboration is enhanced by the ability to view and control the same resources simultaneously.

Accessibility
Calculate the longest distance between your endpoints, and make sure the KVM system can work over CATx or fiber cabling – or a mix of both – to reach all your targets. With digital matrix KVM systems, multiple users should have real-time access to targets.

Reliability
New generation KVM systems will support redundancy options such as multiple power supply units for 24/7 uptime. Be sure to eliminate single points of failure. Make sure the system you select can support routing transmitters and receivers through two separate core KVM switches for full redundancy.

Speed
Many digital KVM switching systems support video-switching speeds of under a half second. Anything longer interrupts an operator’s workflow as he or she switches between resources and may be noticeable to a viewer. Does your KVM solution support custom keyboard shortcuts (also called hotkey shortcuts) that can be set for switching a local display as well as remote displays, such as other user terminals for collaboration or a video wall?

Security
Lastly, KVM switching and extension systems need to be secure. Be sure administrators can assign specific access rights to specific resources. Remote configuration and maintenance of the KVM system enables an admin to securely log onto a system.

When you can mark off all eight of these categories, you’ll have maximized your ROI.

View our webinar about how digital KVM benefits the broadcasting industry.

Mining Solutions Company Increases Productivity with Black Box Digital Signage [Case Study]

Many companies are using digital signage for corporate communication to replace posters, boards, and other printed notices. The real-time messaging saves the cost and time associated with printing posters and static signage. Moreover, small and large organizations are leveraging the benefits of digital signage to:

  • Increase sales and profits
  • Inform, educate, notify, and alert
  • Encourage certain behavior
  • Satisfy customers or employees
  • Improve business processes

Find out how a worldwide leader in high-productivity mining solutions found a real-time digital signage solution to improve communications and processes, and increase productivity.

Read the case study: Mining Solutions Company Increases Productivity with Black Box Digital Signage

Need help planning your next digital signage solution?

Black Box offers digital signage solutions that range from plug-and-play to highly scalable, sophisticated solutions. If you’re considering a larger deployment with a fully integrated network solution, enlist the help of a seasoned digital signage professional. Contact a Black Box technical engineer at 877-877-2269, or comment below.

Nine types of fiber optic cable and how you use them

Simplex vs. duplex patch cablesSimplex-Duplex-Types-Fiber-Optic-Cable

Simplex cable has one fiber, while duplex (zipcord) cable has two fibers joined with a thin web. Simplex (also known as single strand) and duplex zipcord cables are tight-buffered and jacketed, with Kevlar® strength members.

Because simplex fiber optic cable consists of only one fiber link, you should use it for applications that only require one-way data transfer. For instance, an interstate trucking scale that sends the weight of the truck to a monitoring station or an oil line monitor that sends data about oil flow to a central location.

There is a unique application where simplex cable can support two-way communications if the equipment can transmit and receive on two different wavelengths. For example, transmit could be at 1310 nm and receive could be at 1550 nm. This application is found more with single-mode cable.

Use duplex multimode or single-mode fiber optic cable for applications that require simultaneous, bidirectional data transfer. Workstations, fiber switches and servers, Ethernet switches, backbone ports, and similar hardware require duplex cable.

Indoor/outdoor cableIndoor-Outdoor-Cable-Types-Fiber-Optic-Cable

Indoor/outdoor cable uses dry-block technology to seal ruptures against moisture seepage and gel-filled buffer tubes to halt moisture migration. Comprised of a ripcord, core binder, a flame-retardant layer, overcoat, aramid yarn, and an outer jacket, indoor/outdoor cable can be run from building to building. Because indoor/outdoor cable is typically plenum-rated, it can be run from equipment room directly to the other equipment room without worrying about fire-safety codes or terminating the cable within 50 feet of the building’s entrance. The cable should be run in a conduit.

Interlocking armored cable is jacketed in aluminum interlocking armor so it can be run just about anywhere in a building. Ideal for harsh environments, it is rugged and rodent resistant. No conduit is needed, so it’s a laborand moneysaving alternative to using innerducts for fiber cable runs.

Outside-plant cable is used in direct burials. It delivers optimum performance in extreme conditions and is terminated within 50 feet of the building entrance. It blocks water with dry blocking, absorbent tape, or powder. If it is armored, it will require grounding. Outside-plant cables are also rodent resistant. If they are too used in aerial applications, they will have a messenger strength member. Outside-plant cables also have a much higher tensile strength and can withstand the rigors of long, campus-wide installations.

Distribution-style vs. breakout-styleDistribution-Style-Breakout-Style-Types-Fiber-Optic-Cable

Distribution-style cables have several tight-buffered fibers bundled under the same jacket with Kevlar or fiberglass rod reinforcement. These cables are small in size and are used for short, dry conduit runs in either riser or plenum applications. The fibers can be directly terminated, but because the fibers are not individually reinforced, these cables should be broken out with a “breakout box” or terminated inside a patch panel or junction box.

Breakout-style cables are made of several simplex cables bundled together, making a strong design that is larger than distribution cables. Breakout cables are suitable for conduit runs and riser and plenum applications.

Loose-tube vs. tight-buffered Loose-Tube-Tight-Buffered-Types-Fiber-Optic-Cable

There are two types of fiber optic cable construction: loose-tube and tight- buffered. Both contain some type of strengthening member, such as aramid yarn, stainless steel wire strands, or even gel-filled sleeves. But each is designed for different environments.

Loose-tube cable is specifically designed for harsh outdoor environments. It protects the fiber core, cladding, and coating by enclosing everything within semi-rigid protective sleeves or tubes. Many loose-tube cables also have a water-resistant gel that surrounds the fibers. This gel helps protect the fibers from moisture, which makes loose-tube cable great for harsh, high-humidity environments where water or condensation can be a problem. The gel-filled tubes can also expand and contract with temperature changes. Loose-tube cable also has a higher tensile strength than tight-buffered cable.

But gel-filled loose-tube cable is not the best choice when cable needs to be routed around multiple bends, which is often true in indoor applications. Excess cable strain can force fibers to emerge from the gel.

Because loose-tube cable is typically 250 microns, you’ll need a fan-out kit to build up the individual fiber strands to 900 microns when making the transition at the entrance point from outdoor loose-tube to indoor to tight-buffered cable.

Tight-buffered cable is optimized for indoor applications. Because it’s sturdier than loose-tube cable, it’s best suited for moderate-length LAN/WAN connections or long indoor runs. It’s easier to install because there’s no messy gel to clean up and it doesn’t require a fan-out kit for splicing or termination. You can install connectors directly to each fiber.

Additional Resources
White Paper: Fiber Optic Technology
Fiber Cable Selector
Custom Cable Configurator

Part 2 – How to Set Up a Dynamic Video Wall Without a Video Wall Processor

In just seven quick steps, take our AV-over-IP video distribution system from a static video wall to a dynamic video wall with switching and control. No additional video wall processor required.

In Part 1, we covered how to set up a static video wall without a video processor. Now it’s time to turn it up a notch and learn how to set up a dynamic video wall with added control and switching.

Recall we started with the MediaCento IPX PoE Multicast 1 x 4 Kit. The kit includes a transmitter, four receivers, a PoE (Power over Ethernet) network switch, and five 2-meter (6.5-feet) locking HDMI cables. Everything you need to multicast HDMI video over an IP network and create static video walls.

In order to make the video wall dynamic, you’ll need to add to the existing system:

The additional sources and transmitters enable additional content to display, and the controller enables you to take full control over the IP-based transmitters and receivers.

Let’s dive right in to the MediaCento multicasting system and get the controller up and running.

Step 1: Connect Additional Transmitters to the Switch and Source
In this scenario, we have one additional source, a laptop, so we will need one additional transmitter. Connect the second transmitter to the PoE network switch using a CATx cable. Then, using a locking HDMI cable, connect source – in this case, a laptop – to the transmitter unit.

Step 2: Connect the MediaCento IPX Controller
Connect the power supply to the controller and connect it to the network switch using a CATx cable.

Step 3: Access the Controller’s Web Interface
Use the Web interface to configure the controller. Open the Web browser, and type the IP address in the address field.

Note: For more details regarding IP addresses, see the user manual included with the controller.

Step 4: Detect Units
In the Web interface, go to the Hardware tab and:

  • Click the “Detect Units” button. The controller automatically detects all receivers and transmitters on the network. In this case, the IP address of the transmitter connected to the laptop is 169.254.4.73 and the iCOMPEL media player is 169.254.2.58.
  • Optionally, rename the receivers for easier setup. Click the “Show OSD” button to show the receiver’s IP names on the displays, and then click the “Rename Device” button to rename each of the receiver’s IP addresses to a findable name. For example, C1 R1 (for column 1, row 1), C1 R2, C2 R1, and C2 R2.

web-interface-hardware

Step 5: Update Group Settings
In the Web interface, go to the Groups tab and:

  • Name this group to “2×2 Video Wall” in the Title field.
  • In the “Receivers not in Group” list, select the receivers that you want displayed in the video wall and click the > button to add them to the “Receivers in Group” list. The receivers will appear below the lists.
  • Check the Video Wall This will open the video wall settings where you can specify the number or rows and columns in the video wall as well as monitor information (i.e., bezel width and monitor height and width). It also displays a video wall table.
  • Enter 2 for the number of rows, and 2 for the number of columns. The table will change to show a 2×2 video wall table.
  • Drag and drop the receivers where you would like them displayed in the video wall table. (This is where having the receivers renamed to something more meaningful helps with setup.)

web-interface-groups

  • Click the “Save Group” button.

Step 6: Enable Full-Screen Video Wall
Still in the Web interface, go to the Custom Display tab and select which source you would like to connect to the grouping that was just created. To switch the iCOMPEL media player to show the video wall across all the screens, click the box in the 169.254.2.58 (the IP address associated with the transmitter connected to the media player) column, 2×2 Video Wall row. Then, click the “Switch” button.

web-interface-custom-display

Step 7: Switch Content to Dynamic Display
To switch the display from the video wall only to show the source from the laptop in column 1, row 1, click the box in the column with the second transmitter, 169.254.4.73, and click the “Switch” button.

web-interface-custom-display2

The screen will change to show the content from the second source. In this case, it is pulling content from a Web page.

dynamic-display

Still in the Custom Display tab, click the “Save as a New Preset” button to make the configuration available in your dashboard. The dashboard is available on the mobile application; therefore, with the preset defined you can switch and control the displays from your mobile device.

That’s it! In just seven steps we took the static 2×2 video wall and made it dynamic with switching and control. This is just a snippet of the system’s capabilities. The system can create up to 8×8 video walls with 64 screens.

Need help planning your AV solution?
Enlist the help of a seasoned AV professional. Contact a Black Box technical engineer at 877-877-2269, or comment below.

Cable Basics: Fiber Optic Cable Construction

Fiber optic cable provides one of the most effective means today for safe, and long-distance communications, and it offers a number of advantages over copper. Fiber optic cable construction consists of a core, cladding, coating, strengthening fibers, and a cable jacket.

fiber-optic-cable-constructionCore
This is the physical medium that transports optical data signals from an attached light source to a receiving device. The core is a single continuous strand of extruded silica glass or plastic that’s measured in microns (µm) by the size of its outer diameter. The larger the core, the more light the cable can carry.

All fiber optic cable is sized according to its core’s outer diameter. The two most common multimode sizes are 50 and 62.5 microns. Single-mode cores are 8.5–9 microns.

The cores of OM1 and OM2 multimode cable are made differently than the cores of laser-optimized OM3 and OM4 cable. OM1 and OM2 have a small defect in the core called an index depression. This enables them to be used with LED light sources. OM3 and OM4 are manufactured without the center defect to enable them to be used directly with VCSELS for greater speeds and distance.

Cladding
This is the thin layer that surrounds the fiber core and serves as a boundary that contains the light waves and causes the refraction, enabling light to travel the length of the fiber segment. Typical fiber cladding is 125 microns.

Coating
This is a layer of plastic that surrounds the core and cladding to reinforce and protect the fiber core. Coatings are measured in microns and can range from 250 to 900 microns.

Strengthening fibers
These components help protect the core against crushing forces and excessive tension during installation. The materials can range from aramid yarn (Kevlar®) to wire strands to gel-filled sleeves.

Cable jacket
Just like copper cable, fiber cable comes with PVC and plenum-rated jackets. Whether you choose PVC- or plenum-jacketed cable depends on where you are going to use the cable. PVC cable is typically used for patch connections in the data center, wiring closet, and at the desktop. Plenum cable is used when you need to route a cable through the buildings air plenum. Plenum cable has a flame-resistant jacket to inhibit the spread of fire.

Fiber cable and connector colors
To easily recognize what type of fiber cable you have in the data center, the cable jackets, connectors, and connector bodies are color-coded.

OM1 62.5-/125-Micron Multimode Fiber
Jacket: Orange
Connector: Beige
Connector Body: Beige

OM2 50-/125-Micron Multimode Fiber
Jacket: Orange
Connector: Black
Connector Body: Black

OM3 Laser-Optimized 50-/125-Micron Multimode Fiber
Jacket: Aqua
Connector: Aqua
Connector Body: Black

OM4 Laser-Optimized 50-/125-Micron Multimode Fiber
Jacket: Aqua/Violet
Connector: Black
Connector Body: Aqua/Violet

OS2 8.5-Micron Single-Mode Fiber
Jacket: Yellow
Connector: APC: Green, MPO: Black; UPC: Blue
Connector Body: APC: Green; UPC: Blue

Additional Resources:
White Paper: Fiber Optic Technology
Blog post: Understanding Fiber Jacket Color Coding
Webinar: High-Density Fiber Connectivity for Data Centers