HAL’s Multi-client Crestron & AMX Control Server

I knew it. You’re only reading this because the word “multi-client” in the title excites you.

Halogen Coffee

Rane’s HAL products are often used in Crestron, AMX and other Ethernet control systems as the corporate system audio device that adjusts volumes, selects presets or a source, and turns things on and off. One cool, previously impossible example is using the RAD27 USB Audio sound card to automatically detect that a presenter’s computer has been plugged in. Then, automatically, the control system can turn on the projector, lowers the screen, dims the lights and starts the espresso maker.

But, back to multi-client. When programming such systems, especially large or multi-room ones, having all the controls on all touch screens update quickly is a challenge. Often old-school, the RS-232 world encountered here is slow, tedious or both. Remember, RS-232 is a ~50-year-old technology. I’m almost this old and, believe me; I’m slow and tedious.

Both HAL and Halogen use a multi-client Gigabit Ethernet control server. This means multiple client devices (control devices) can simultaneously log in, and the communications speed is considerably faster and more responsive than any RS-232 anything. Also, since Halogen software allows multiple “Links” to act as one and automatically follow or track each other, one client control device can send a message to HAL, and several messages to other clients can automatically be sent from the same HAL. When there are lots of devices and coffee machines to control, HAL can reduce the workload on clients that are taxed.

THE BEST THING!? Now let this sink in a bit after reading this:

The same TCP/IP multi-client server that runs in the HAL hardware is also running while Halogen software is open. So the control system programmer never needs to see or touch HAL hardware. And, since all behaviors in the Halogen software 100% emulate the hardware of a HAL System, you can 100% test all control system code without a HAL. To a project manager, this means you do not need to procure or purchase the HAL hardware devices until the day they are physically wired. This means better cash flow to the finance nerds (you know who you are and you haven’t read this far, have you?).

My favorite example is the Texas chain of bowling alleys (Main Event) where HAL Systems have been going in for years now. Their AMX programmer is in Thailand. And they’ve completed their eighth complex using HAL, yet, their AMX programmer has never even seen a real HAL. He is sent the Halogen configuration design file via email. Then he does the AMX programming on the same computer that he writes the AMX software on. He checks that Halogen’s levels and toggles and checkboxes change, emails the AMX code to Texas, and he goes back to the beach.

Halogen’s AMX Support Package

Halogen’s Crestron Support Package

Rane HAL Crestron Testimonial:

I recently had the pleasure of working on the Hard Rock Casino project as the Crestron programmer, and as you know, they had a HAL digital signal processor. Integrating the HAL into my Crestron program was a breeze, it dropped into place seamlessly.
The simple ASCII command protocol makes it easy to understand and implement.
The response from the DSP is also very snappy, so real-time feedback is bang on!
Great product, I would highly recommend it to anyone looking to provide an audio solution to both big and small venues.


Brendan McAlpine, CTS
Alpine Automation Ltd.
Crestron Services Provider

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