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School Tool Kit

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In Desiging Its CoPilot Solution, Chief Did Its Homework In The K-12 Market

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COMPANY: Chief
HEADQUARTERS: Minneapolis, MN
SOLUTIONS: Chief combined real-world feedback from its wide-ranging customer base with its own expertise to create Co- Pilot, a complete, networked classroom solution.

Bad acoustics within the classroom, ambient noise from outside or within such as traffic clamor and HVAC racket, student disabilities, and soft-spoken instructors can team up in combination or serve by themselves as barriers to learning. Having an AV system capable of providing clear, intelligible audio throughout the classroom can go a long way towards alleviating these problems. With that in mind, manufacturers of AV components have begun paving the way towards providing effective solutions, many taking a modular “kit” approach to classroom AV by offering turnkey packages.

Building upon industry standards spawned by these packaged systems, Chief combined real-world feedback from its wide-ranging customer base with its own expertise in mounts, racks, and other AV solutions to create CoPilot, a complete, networked classroom solution. Ideally suited for K-12 schools, or any room measuring under 160 square feet, CoPilot comes complete with every component required to bring premium audio and video into an environment, including wireless RF microphone technology, fire alarm override, high performance 5 and 1/4-inch plenum-rated speakers, professional-grade cabling, and a simple-to-use template of control accessed via an IR remote or a compact control pad. Adding to this diverse template of functionality, virtually any multimedia device can be integrated within a CoPilot design.

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CoPilot can be quickly deployed using standard wall boxes.

As quick to install as it is intuitive to operate, CoPilot can be quickly deployed using standard wall boxes. To speed installation efforts along even further, a Cat-5e interface found on the CoPilot control module is used along with a single power supply that feeds all system modules without a need for special cabling. PA/intercom override has been made part of the package as well, along with mono/stereo audio outputs for use with auxiliary amps and recording equipment, and provisions for alarm input.

Taking a fully customizable approach to providing a better classroom AV experience, CoPilot is equipped with provisions that allow up to two computers or a document camera to be connected within the free-ranging boundaries of its network, along with a projector, DVD, VCR, and an iPod—a sum total of options that encourages teachers to get creative with their lesson plans and lets students do the same with their presentations.

While most classrooms today still rely upon wireless microphones using IR technology, CoPilot’s cordless mics use RF to transmit sound, thereby eliminating the need to maintain line-of-site between the microphone transmitter and the base unit receiver. Greater range is obtained as well, and up to 25 units can operate in an overlapping space without interference. Receiving its power over Cat-5e from the control module, the CoPilot system’s wireless RF module delivers mic/IR pairing to any room within an entire campus, and includes input for a second microphone to facilitate audience participation.

CoPilot systems offer mounting system options for suspended ceiling projectors, short-throw projectors, TVs, and myriad other mounted media devices. Every pre-built CoPilot kit includes a universal projector mount, suspended ceiling kit for use with most lightweight front projectors, and an extension column that lets installers quickly lower projectors to a desired height.

Governed by free downloadable, PC-based software, CoPilot provides a web-based user interface that can be accessed from any computer on the network. With the software, administrators can control individual and groups of rooms, building automation that can turn off components every day at a preset time, for example, to conserve electricity and eliminate unnecessary wear on costly components such as projector bulbs. PA systems can be connected to CoPilot with the software as well to manage announcements.

Derek Derks is product manager for Chief Manufacturing.

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