The Fountain of Life Center, a multi-building "Spiritual Oasis" spread over 106 acres in Florence, New Jersey, is using a suite of Barix products for a variety of control, automation, security, and audio transport applications. Barix products, selected for their cost-efficiency, programmable open software, and technical reliability, are now live in the campus' Life Center, a sports, recreational and fitness center that opened this spring; Life Center Academy, a private, non-denominational K-12 school; WIFI-AM, a 500-watt Christian radio station; and the worship sanctuary, chapel and 2200-seat auditorium in the main Fountain of Life Center building.
According to Thomas Spadaro, Director of Technical Ministries for Fountain of Life Center, the majority of the technology on campus is funded through donations, and the low cost of the Barix devices are ideal for his budget. Spadaro says open-standards technology from companies like Barix allow him to develop custom software applications with three main goals in mind: cost-efficiency, enhanced control capabilities, and system interoperability. The low power consumption of the Barix devices exemplifies the Fountain of Life Center's "green" initiatives to minimize heating, electrical and other energy-related costs.
The new three-floor Life Center, for example, complies with ASHRAE 90.1, the nationwide energy-management initiative to establish guaranteed energy controls in new constructions of certain sizes. Spadaro and his team installed Barix Barionet control and automation products to provide lighting control through motion detection and scheduling, as well as heating control by connecting specialized temperature sensors to the Barix devices. The Barionets are housed in ten main control panels within the Life Center and support both automated and manual remote control over IP. The devices also interface with the Geothermal HVAC system to control temperatures for 41 heat pump units in various buildings, and their associated chillers, valves and dampers.
"The Barionets replaced older, less efficient heating control systems that fell into disrepair and became expensive to maintain," says Spadaro. "No central computer is required to operate the Barionets, and if the IP backbone goes down, the stand-alone, built-in features will automatically kick into gear so the Barionets can operate autonomously."
The Life Center Academy uses the Barix range of Annuncicom IP intercom technology with the BellCommader scheduling system from AcroVista software to provide point-to-multipoint audio communications to 22 classrooms from the central office. Each Annuncicom device in the network is assigned a static IP address, allowing for controlled communication to specific classrooms; or an all-call configuration to every device in the building. In addition to transmission of school bells and music, the system can be used for live paging and audio monitoring in security situations.
"The distributed architecture configuration eliminates the possibility of an intruder defeating the system in a critical security situation, as two remote, well-hidden hubs in the school provide all the power to the Annuncicoms over Ethernet cable," said Spadaro. "This allows us to access the central PC from an external location to listen into classrooms, or communicate emergency messages over the system to Annuncicoms in each classroom."
The campus is also using a Barix Instreamer audio encoder to stream live programming from WIFI-AM over the internet, and also has several Instreamers and Exstreamer audio decoders to transport audio to different rooms and buildings on campus. According to Spadaro, the Instreamer/Exstreamer combination comes in handy when preparing for upcoming shows and concerts in its 2200-seat auditorium, all of which are produced in-house by church members.
Spadaro says what most impresses him about Barix is the flexibility of its devices, which has allowed him to tie Barionets into an existing AMX control system and integrate customized control features into Annuncicoms in the Life Center Academy. A telecommunications software engineer by day, Spadaro devotes much of his spare time to projects at the Fountain of Life Center and appreciates the technical support he receives from Barix at odd hours.
"The cost versus performance ratio is phenomenal, considering all that you get with the web interface, the I/O control expandability, the programmability, and the fact that Barix truly has an open source mentality," says Spadaro. "I can't tell you how many nights I've been up dealing with other equipment that claims to be open source but in actuality is the opposite. I am often developing software at night, since I work here on a volunteer basis. I can e-mail the Barix group and receive a response almost immediately. They are very accessible and committed to making sure their products are successful."