The purpose of SETUP is to make sure that all equipment is wired correctly and functioning properly and to complete as much of the initial equipment setup as possible prior to systems integration.
System Test and Integration Procedures Part 3 - Equipment Setup and Testing
Taming the Beast
Part 2 in this series describes the process of low-level testing, using continuity or other electrical testing procedures, of wiring installed to insure there is not any open conduction or shorts that might have been the results of damaging during or after it has been installed. This is refereed to as the test and verification procedures. The procedures also allow for comparing the installed cable with a wiring list for wiring schedule to make certain all cables have been installed that are required and that the source and destination is correct. This is a very important step in the installation process so that wiring issues to do impede or complicate the final installation or functional tests.
Once the final installation phase is completed, the next step is to conduct the System Functional Test and Setup Procedures (SETUP). These procedures might seem mundane at first thought, but they nevertheless important to complete prior to the systems integration task. As discussed previously, each set of procedures builds on the previous one and subsequent steps are important to the procedures to follow. None should be less for more important to the other.
The purpose of SETUP is to make sure that all equipment is wired correctly and functioning properly and to complete as much of the initial equipment setup as possible prior to systems integration. They involve a rudimentary, yet comprehensive, functional test after all equipment and connections that have been completed.
Furthermore, they should be considered critical and therefore be completed by the installation personnel who have the necessary expertise to faithfully conduct these procedures in an accurate and dependable manor. Not all installers are adequately knowledgeable or trained for this task, although many do. In some cases the only qualified personnel are those who are skilled in systems integration and programming.
The important point is that they are conducted properly to ensure the correct outcome whoever does them. However, you do not necessarily want to have those who are expert in programming and systems integration performing basic systems setup and test. Your goal should be to train at least a few installers to perform this task or to hire some with the skill to do so. System integrators and programmers require a higher skill level and usually paid more than the average installer wages, so it makes economic sense as well.
Defining the SETUP
SETUP is to ensure the correct functionality of all equipment in a system and that no faults with the equipment exists prior to systems integration. You want to verify that all active equipment is working as it should, such as power amplifiers, distribution amplifiers, switchers and source equipment such as receivers, CD/DVD players, digital storage mechanisms, and the like.
You also want to perform as much setup for each equipment item as possible prior to systems integration. This could include internal programming, such as internal input/output programming or presents and signal normalization. Some systems include "local" systems that can operate independently of a master system and might have remote controls that need to have some setup or programming for local operation. In some cases the local equipment might also be controlled by a system programming device and require some form of setup for that integration to take place.
Most of the information needed to do preliminary setup or programming is included in the manuals and technical information supplied with the equipment. Although each manufacture and model of equipment will vary in each system design, your company will probably use a core of equipment models so the processes will be nearly the same for each project. Therefore, you could easily write procedures that are somewhat generic and use them for each project.
You could also develop individual procedures specific for each equipment model you commonly use and include them anytime that unit is used and you could compile your test procedures based on what is being installed. In some cases there are customer specific requirements that must also be taken into consideration. In some cases the order of performing procedures might be technically important. Sometimes it might be dictated by customer preferences.
The most important factor in executing a well planned and technically complete SETUP is why it is important to the systems integration phase. For instance, a person performing control system programming (if applicable) must do so with the assumption that the system is wired and operating without any dysfunction. The process of debugging code is much more time consuming and very inefficient if the system or its components are not functioning correctly, whatever the cause. This is because in the process of debugging code you have to assume that hardware is not the issue. Otherwise you may wind up devoting a lot of time debugging code only to find out it is not the code but incorrect wiring or dysfunctional equipment.
In some cases equipment in the integrated system is supplied by the owner or others. Often times this related to equipment the owner already posses and it needs to be considered just like any other part of the system.
Furthermore, if it is a hardware issue, the programmer's task becomes one of troubleshooting hardware issues that are not in the programming part of the budget for the project. In extreme cases it is likely that the programming and systems integration tasks could take three times as long. This could seriously compromise the profit of the entire project or impact the ability for the system to be operational on schedule. Either of these you want to avoid and performance of this task is critical to the outcome of the project even though they are not technically superior.
With all of these procedures completed prior to systems integration, the remaining installation tasks are capable of being performed more expeditiously than otherwise would be experienced.
Once all equipment setup and testing and any local programming has been completed, the next step is to perform preliminary systems checkout procedures for each major technical discipline for all equipment installed.
Preliminary Systems Checkout
The initial step in functional testing of the system with active components is the need to initially power up the equipment. It is prudent to check the AC power prior first to ensure that it is the proper voltage. While it would be a rare occurrence, the results of having 240 VAC when equipment installed is configured for 120 VAC power could be catastrophic to equipment and a very expensive error that could have easily been avoided.
You do not need to check every outlet, but at all places where equipment racks or other enclosures exist and where the majority of the equipment receives its power should be checked before any equipment is connected to power. If it is greater than 125 VAC or less than 105 VAC, you may have a power problem that needs to be resolved before you continue. You should also record the exact reading as part of documenting the procedures.
The follow lists procedures identify several types of basic systems as examples to help you compile your own set of procedures. There not in any way considered comprehensive or complete. The following are examples for a few different technical disciplines and not indented to be comprehensive or complete. Most manufactures offer test procedures of their own that can be used to prepare your procedures.
Telephone Distribution Systems
If telephone service has already been established at demarcation, the simplest test would be to plug a phone into each outlet and confirm a dial tone. However, the outlets, cable and distribution panel should be tested for proper operational functionality prior to service being connected by the service provider so that any equipment or installation problems can be resolved prior to connection to the local telephone service provider.
These procedures test for a two line system. If there are three or four lines required for a specific installation, you will need test equipment designed for four-line capacity.
Network Distribution Systems (LAN)
Even though the underlying technology is sophisticated, LAN systems are usually as easily installed as a telephone system. However, the quality of the cable and connectors installed has to meet a certain degree of performance if the network is expected to be functional and reliable. Transmitting data through copper wire is much more susceptible noise, interference and other line quality issues that may be acceptable to voice only transmission but will not work well with sending data over those lines. Also, the type of service, modem, network hubs, switches and other LAN devices connected in the system
The most simple and adequate test for a LAN system is to use a laptop computer after internet service has been established. If you can get onto the internet using a browser, you have it tested and verified. Email and other internet related operations are normally the responsibility of the service provider the customer has chosen to use and setup of their account information to access their email. Once internet service has been established, account information is not necessary to test for access, so any computer with an internet browser will usually work without any problem.
RF Distribution Systems
RF systems are technically more critical to other types of signals and required more specialized test equipment. I it a mistake if you install RF systems without having the proper test equipment. At least, you will need a RF signal generator (known source) and an RF meeter or analyzer.
Other Systems and Components
Regulated or Filtered Power Centers
Integrated and Non-integrated Power Amplifiers Speaker Outputs
All Receivers or Receiver Sections
Surround audio requires special attention for it to perform best and not setting up the surround sound properly is a mistake for high quality systems. Although some equipment have built-in audio setup capability by using a microphone (sometimes provided), it is better to use professional setup equipment for best results. Sencore, for example, has a systems that automate the entire process designed for every configuration, including 5.1 and 7.1 systems, among others.
DVD players are often neglected and overlooked as simple with no setup or concerns, which is not the case. Todays players are more technically sophisticated than ever and with HD players now coming out on the market attention to them are more important. It is also important to make sure all features are operating correctly. Sometimes new equipment out of the box has some dysfunction it is important to make sure they all work before the customer discovers it and gives them the impression you did not do your job properly.
Like DVD players, CD players need to have all functions checked for proper operation. In addition, there are certain issues associated with CD players that need special attention.
Although these devices are quickly going the way of dinosaurs, many installations still require them and they to be fully functional, including the recording features. Even setting the clock is frequently overlooked but is important not to forget.
Cable, Moxi (or equivalent) or Satellite Receivers
These units are sometimes provided by the service provider, but they are frequently provided by the sales and installation company. In either case, the equipment needs to be integrated with the system and therefore needs to have the same attention of any other equipment included in the system.
TiVo (or equivalent) Recorder/Receiver
Digital Music/Video Systems
With the market trend moving toward digital content delivery, this equipment is supplied with every increasing frequency in each system designed. This equipment has special considerations, such as Internet connection and digital control and needs to be connected and operating correctly before integration and control programming. Make sure the Internet service is available at the time for these procedures to be fully tested.
In addition to functional testing, it is important to make certain the displays are connected with the highest resolution available signal available, such as digital over analog, that should be indicated in the installation documentation but sometimes overlooked by installers. It is also important to set display to the the highest compatible resolution, especially for systems with HD content that is becoming more prevalent.
Hum, noise and interference in audio and video systems is a common occurrence. Some may be a result of improper grounding techniques, poor or broken shielding, cabling run too close to offending wiring, or equipment with severe interference radiation by other equipment. There are methods of design and wiring practices, if implemented, to avoid most of these issues in the first place. However, if every precaution has been followed in the design and installation to avoid them, it may be necessary to resolve the issue in an appropriate and acceptable manor at the job site.
Sometimes there are multiple techniques to correct the problem. However, some of them may be a violation of local or national governmental regulations and these should always be avoided. In other cases there may be a preferred or best method to correct the problem. Contact Engineering about the best resolution before one is implemented.
Many miscellaneous items are often overlooked that can impede system integration. This list is not exhaustive, but cover several as examples.
Record all Data and Update Installation Documents
This part is frequently neglected and often ignored by installation personnel. If this is the case with your company, you need to rectify this situation immediately. Every company should finalized the system documentation with what is referred to as "as-built" documents; the name is self explanatory. They serve as a valuable asset for servicing the system and troubleshooting problems later and also serve an importance if Sales needs to respond to a customers request to add or change equipment to serve them better later on.
If for no other reason, it is just not professional to not have documents that reflect the complete and accurate system as installed. Even if your projects are for homes and not commercial establishments, you are still supposed to be professionals and documentation is one marker that sets apart those who claim to be professional and those who are professional. These are but a few items that need to be attended and your list is likely to be much greater.
George Wilkinson is a 35-year veteran in project management, system design, programming, testing, problem resolution, calibration and systems analysis for computer controlled audiovisual systems. He is a graduate in Electrical Engineering Technology from the University of Texas. His firm, Advanced Technological Services serves the commercial and home automation industry and he is a certified CEDIA designer. You can contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.
© Copyright 2006-2007 George Wilkinson. All rights reserved.
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