Medialon Manager is the main sound and video controller for a new AV installation documenting an important event in Belgian history during World War I at the Fort de Loncin in Belgium, outside Liege. Medialon also controls the lighting and the start of the self-guided audio tour for visitors to the fort.

The Fort de Loncin was part of a fortified belt around Liege, built in 1888. Triangular shaped and partially buried in the ground, the fort had special strategic value, blocking the route to and from Brussels. In August 1914 it endured eight days of shelling before the Germans brought in then-unknown Big Bertha gun. One of its giant shells penetrated the powder magazine, triggering the explosion of the fort and the death of 350 men who are still entombed there.

Blue Squares Projects, museum installation designers and integrators, were recently tasked with creating a new tour experience for visitors to the Fort de Loncin.

“We had to integrate a modern AV tour in a very challenging environment while keeping within budget constraints and staying true to the heritage of the fort,” explains Thierry Renard, Blue Squares Projects' project manager “The old fort is cold and humid. The walls are very thick and, of course, there was no pre-existing wiring. We even had to deal with the presence of the army’s mine clearance service, which supervised the digging of cable runs in about 600 meters of dugouts.”

At least the integration of Medialon was easy for Blue Squares Projects. Medialon’s control of the installation is done through an Ethernet network and RS485 ADLink network. The central control room maintains control of an equipment complement which Renard calls “decentralized to the maximum” due to the layout and wiring of the fort.

"The equipment management is centralized in the control room of the fort. Via the Ethernet network, DMX and AdLink, we control two 'under-central controls rooms' where some equipment such as audio and video players are stored, as well others machines such as video projectors and video players. Infra-red transceivers for the audio guides are disseminated all along the 1km path/course," continues Renard.

"The network functions of Medialon (Ethernet, RS485, RS232 via Ethernet/Moxa converters) are particularly critical to the implementation of this system and allow for decentralization and significantly decrease the amount of cable necessary. Also, the number of possibilities Medialon offers for the creation of the user-interface allows us to design friendly/convivial control screens, adapted to each application, that are attractive, easy and comprehensive," concludes Renard.