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CopperLan Offers Benefits to Broadcasters

The system offers manufacturers a ready-made toolset for control

CopperLan is a comprehensive system for command and control, combining software, middleware, protocol and procedures for computing platforms and embedded devices.

Currently running on OS-X, Windows, embedded Linux and other dedicated microcontroller implementations, it offers manufacturers of equipment and software applications a ready-made toolset to turn their products into intelligent networked nodes easily.

Unified theory

The CopperLan native network topology is an abstract definition that can be applied to any existing or future physical connectivity solution.

In other words, the CopperLan neutral topology can be conformed to the specifics of Ethernet, USB, Firewire, etc. through a network adaptation layer. Thanks to its abstract upper topology, CopperLan can make a heterogeneous multi-network system appear unified.

Being non-IP based, it does not disturb other protocols sharing the same wires. This perfectly fulfills the goal of CopperLan to work as an independent layer of communication that is complementary to audio streaming or any other purpose, such as web access.

Systems employing CopperLan are self-configuring and allow for hot-plugging. There is no need for libraries to describe the capabilities of the added equipment. Each device is self-declared, exposing its parameters in plain text. This allows real-time device exploration and editing, remote feedback and display, as well as system-wide instant warnings.

CopperLan does not mandate the use of computers. Editing and other advanced features can be based on simple displays as typically found on hardware front panels.

For equipment lacking a text display, this zero-configuration network caters to full functionality, enabling remote editing from another piece of equipment.

Since CopperLan does not impose or imply audio streaming, it is equally useful for stations utilizing analog or digital audio. So even where every piece of equipment does not employ digital audio, all station gear can participate in a unified command and control architecture.

Just like MI has benefited greatly from the MIDI standard, the time is overdue for broadcast to adopt a unified topography where all equipment communicates regardless of cabling type, manufacturer or location.

Speaking of location, the ability for VPN tunneling offers remote management and troubleshooting — a boon for stations lacking permanent technical staff or programming remote broadcasts.

The need for the subtle combination of resilience and security is neatly addressed by CopperLan’s peer-to-peer distributed intelligence.

For example, the loss of a connection will not break down the entire system as there is no “master” unit in the entire setup. Virtual connections can be (self)-locking, preventing accidental disconnections. Data transfer type messages can be encrypted, and since the whole system is non-IP based, there is no access for potential hacking.

CopperLan sports a total-recall setup management maintaining not only the settings in every device, but also the instant re-establishment of all virtual links.

Real world

The first CopperLan licensee in the broadcast industry is Radio Systems Inc. of Logan, N.J. Radio Systems’ vision for their new Platform console included multiple physical and virtual control surfaces each with control of one or more audio engines. Given their high-performance standards and long list of required features for connection and communication, CopperLan provided a ready-made comprehensive solution, dramatically reducing integration effort.

The CopperLan software development environment allowed their development team quickly to implement a working communication platform. Illustrating this is the abstraction layer offered by the CopperLan API that allows the very same code to run inside the physical control surface and its computer application sibling.

Radio Systems choose to communicate via CopperLan by design so that other manufacturers could easily communicate with their console. By supporting this idea of openness and collaboration in system control, the entire broadcast industry benefits from manufacturers and products that work well together.

David Herscovitch and Eric Lukac-Kuruc are chief executive officer and chief technology officer, respectively, of Klavis Technologies in Belgium.