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Maintenance: Video display walls

Maintenance: Video display walls
The base, mounting frame and wiring and electronics of a Chauvet F4 video module

Maintenance: Video display walls

Though one of the selling features of video display walls is their minimal maintenance requirements, Frank Wells shares that there’s a key service task to undertake

Cleanliness. That’s job one when maintaining modular video display walls. The biggest reason that cleanliness is important is that a buildup of dust on the face of a video display will degrade performance. It’s an obvious concept; the thousands upon thousands of LEDs that make up a common display are the light sources. Anything between the viewer and that light source will interfere with the transfer of light. As dust and possibly grime – dust that’s combined with airborne moisture and ingrained onto a surface – build up on the surface over time, the light transfer from the display to the viewer’s eye will gradually be less efficient.

Turn off the system before you begin cleaning. As often discussed here, an important thing to avoid when cleaning electronics is to have the cleaning process drive dust and contaminates further into a device. A dust cloth can clean, but can also push dirt into any crevices or the small gaps between panels. The same goes for cleaning with compressed air. A soft bristled brush is often recommended to dislodge dust on surfaces, though that can send dust and dirt airborne to just settle again on something else that will then need cleaning. Using a brush in combination with a vacuum is best, though that can be logistically challenging on tall displays.

Once the bulk of any dust buildup is removed, the display surface can then be cleaned with a soft cloth, which can be dampened with water, or a mild soap and water mixture if necessary. Never use abrasive chemical cleaners. You may have to follow the soap mixture with water to clean off any soap residue. Never spray the display surface directly, and never soak the cleaning cloths to the point that they might drip. Always give the display sufficient time to dry completely before restoring power.

Removing one of the four LED arrays from a Chauvet F4 video display
Removing one of the four LED arrays from a Chauvet F4 video display

Modern videowall displays are modular, with a mounting frame housing wiring, drive components and power supplies, fronted by LED panels. Service access to the inside of the displays can be from the front, the rear or both, depending on the design. Front service displays are used more commonly as they can be mounted to existing walls without the need to access the rear of the display. LED panels are commonly magnetically mounted, and a handle equipped with a suction cup can be used to remove panels. The electronics and power supplies are often fan-cooled, and air movement can draw dust into the housing. Over time, airflow and cooling can be impeded by dust buildup, which can lead to premature component failure. As with computer maintenance, contaminants should be removed with a vacuum – loosening stubborn buildup with a soft brush while vacuuming.

How often does cleaning need to be performed on video displays? The answer depends on the environment of a given house of worship. High-humidity climates may result in the need for more frequent maintenance, with a greater tendency for dust to become grime. When starting to develop a maintenance schedule, check the surfaces twice a month until the pattern of buildup is known. Check the interior of the panels less often, maybe every two months to start, until the pattern of need for this deeper cleaning becomes apparent.

The advice of the manufacturers of display systems should be sought for additional, product-specific guidelines for maintenance.

The modular construction of a Pixelflex NXG3 video panel
The modular construction of a Pixelflex NXG3 video panel

Aside from the physical cleanliness of the system, there is not a lot of maintenance to be done on video display panels. The calibration of panels for equal display brightness is software-driven, though any deeper calibration than automatic functions will not be something an end-user should undertake. The user can monitor performance – display single colours on the array and see if individual panels stand out as brighter or dimmer than those surrounding them, or if the displayed colour seems off on individual panels. Such anomalies can hopefully be corrected with calibration. Again, consult with the manufacturer for details on what can be accomplished by the end-user.

Finally, corrective maintenance can be done by capable end-users. A defective panel can be replaced by popping it out, disconnecting a cable and popping a new panel in (with a panel of a matching LED lot number – all LEDs are not equal, and displays are graded so their performance will match). Electronics modules can be similarly replaced. Replacements should be followed by calibration.

Remember, safety first. The higher that display elements are mounted, the more any maintenance requires safety consciousness. Hopefully, the display installation planning considered service, including the possible need to move in a people lift or other method of getting the maintenance worker to the top reaches of the display.

This article was first published in the May-June 2019 edition of Worship AVL. Subscribe at www.proavl-central.com/subscribe/worship



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