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Clay's Corner | Plug-N-Play LED Video Walls

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Clay's Corner Plug-N-Play LED Video Walls Section 1

Direct-View LED Video Walls are the rage of our industry right now. Its an exciting time for those of us looking for new growth opportunities. But, when we dig into Direct-View LED offerings, we rapidly discover there’s a lot of complexity that few of us have experience with. In many cases, that means we are smart enough to walk away from the opportunity, or we are trying and failing to deliver a successful deployment and corresponding poor customer experience.

Sure, there are a few integrators that are heavily invested in this technology and are equipped with the expertise and experience to pull these projects off. Most of us are not so blessed. There are a couple of manufacturers who can provide the training, support and documentation to assist you with the purchasing and installation, but ultimately, they are not on-site to help you overcome bumps in the road.

Clays Corner Clay's Corner Plug-N-Play LED Video Walls Section 2

In an effort to win jobs and be cost competitive for the customer, we are often turning to the Chinese manufacturers that love to sell direct to you. You know the experience. At the end of the day, you’re on your own. And, there’s absolutely zero support available when you most need it. Again, for those heavily invested in the technology, you may feel comfortable enough to embark on this journey. For the rest of us, we simply need more help.

The first step in deciding if you want to be involved in Direct-View LED projects is to identify the potential. Analysts report that by 2020, there will be nearly 5 million square feet of new Direct-View LED displays installed worldwide. The total market growth projection in US Dollars shows $14.93 Billion by 2023. That is more than double the current market in just 5 years. Additionally, it shows that the US market is far an away the largest portion of that market and that the growth rate is projected to exceed the worldwide growth rate in the US and North America over that same time frame. If those numbers don’t motivate you to become involved in Direct-View LED, then you should stop reading now.

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If the growth potential of this market motivates you to consider becoming involved in Direct-View LED, the next step is to consider the required investment. Until now, the requirement to play in this market included a heavy investment in education and training. There is also a substantial investment in test equipment and associated use training. Then, to service these products, investment in high-dollar repair equipment or alternately, the willingness to hold stock of modules, power supplies and hub boards for every conceivable system configuration. Those are hefty investments that need to be made up-front.

The biggest hurdle facing our industry is the lack of knowledge of what actually goes in to a Direct-View LED system. It is a very different technology than we are used to in the Pro AV and low-voltage electrical world. Yes, it is indeed a display. However, it is not a single, complete product that can be tiled to make a video wall, like LCD or even projection products. Instead, each “panel” is made up of multiple LED module boards, a hub board to connect them together, a power supply, a receiving board, and a cabinet to hold all these pieces and connecting cables. Then, after tiling multiple panels together to make a display, you need an LED controller with a transmitter board to convert video into voltage signals that LED diodes can use to turn off and on. What makes this incredibly complicated is that each different manufacturer, and every different pixel-pitch module board from each manufacturer, is a different size. So, different configurations require completely different design engineering.

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For those of you who have electronics training, you’ll already understand how diodes work. For others, let’s just consider them solid-state light bulbs. In Direct-View LED, these diodes (light-bulbs) are place very close together. Direct-View LED is usually considered as spacing of 4mm and less. Each of the diodes can produce R (red), G (green), and B (blue) light, depending how the diode is biased with voltage. Like any other display product, mixing the three primary colors will give you all the possible colors plus white. Black is derived from a diode’s off state, plus the black mask that is attached to the board in-between each diode.

If you understand electronic components, you’ll also understand that each component has a tolerance. That is to say, that a component’s value can be between one value and another value to meet spec. So, a resistor rated at 270-ohms with 10% tolerance can operate between 243-ohms and 297-ohms and be in-spec. With LED diodes, this means that the colors will be slightly different from one diode to another. To minimize these issues, each diode is tested and grouped with other diodes that are closest to the same value. As literally millions of diodes are coming off the line a day, each similar grouping of LEDs are sold as a “batch.” Diodes from the same batch will match-up in color pretty closely. Diodes from different batches can look very different in colors.

Batch-matching is an important process for a good looking Direct-View LED display. Batches cannot be mixed, so it is always important to have spares from the same batch to replace failures over time. Each manufacturer handles this differently, and some concede that lower cost products have greater discrepancies between diodes in the same batch. How are you going to deal with this from a foreign manufacturer? What kind of guarantee do you have against the discrepancies? What will you do when you don’t have all the batch information?

Curved LED Video Wall

Clays Corner Plug-N-Play LED Video Walls Section 5

This is definitely not a task for the inexperienced integrator.

Now, however, Starin has created a way to make this easier and affordable for you to tackle. We have partnered with two American companies who manufacture, assemble and service Direct-View LED right here in the Midwest. They are Adaptive Displays in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Neoti in Bluffton, Indiana. Both Adaptive Displays and Neoti provide products, components, and system design resources. They both have service and repair facilities and stock replacement parts in-country. They even offer full installation and calibration services if you need that. Plus, they repair down to the component-level on their own and other brand Direct-View LED products.

The first step to get started in Direct-View LED is to simply buy a complete kitted solution that has all the equipment, parts, pieces and spares you’ll need to do a plug and play installation. This take all the complexities and variables out of the equation. A single item number gives you the total solution for a single price – guaranteed. Assembled, tested and calibrated at the US factory, with easy to understand instructions make this a convenient way to harvest some of the sales in this fast-growing market sector.

US support and service comes with every system from Starin, and products are kept in-stock here in the Midwest for shorter lead-times. We now have pre-engineered systems crated and ready to ship in sizes that match the video wall sizes you are used to using LCD 55” displays. We have 110”, 154”, 165” and 200” diagonal Direct-View LED walls in both 1.6mm and 3.8mm pitches. Built-to-order walls are available from US stock in just about any sizes imaginable.

Jump on the bandwagon now and share in the huge growth opportunity that Direct-View LED offers.


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