Control from Home – TSL Shifts R&D Resource to Support US Network Stations

A Shift in R&D prioritise supports new working from home practices put in place due to COVID-19 with a new feature added to TSL's Universal Control Panels, used by major Networks in the US to manage, control and monitor devices remotely.

As the realization that Coronavirus is going to have profound impact on every aspect of our lives became clear, some forward-thinking broadcast groups began to plan for worst-case scenarios. Several origination and technical facilities have been forced to shutter and seek temporary space elsewhere, and while major media entities prepared by decentralizing Network Operation Centers (NOCs) and created disaster recovery and other “fail-safe” strategies, pandemics respect neither geography nor contingency planning.

One of TSL’s key broadcast network customers with a nation-wide footprint saw reached-out early to their technology partners for ideas to help prevent disruptions to programming and revenue. By fortunate happenstance, this network had invested in back-room infrastructure upgrades in recent years, including device management, control, and monitoring technology from DNF Controls (now a valued part of TSL Products) based out of Northridge, CA.

Having experienced the Northridge team’s ability to innovate on-the-fly as requirements inevitably changed mid-project, the network again called on the company for What if? solutions. The DNF team was able to quickly develop, test and deploy a software-based Control from Home capability using virtual “Web-Key” buttons on a computer screen – which can be located anywhere with an Internet connection – to remotely activate any production device connected through one of multiple Universal Switch Panel (USP) units or similar control products on DNF’s flagship Flex Control Network at the broadcaster’s origination center.

A second, more hands-on option employs TSL’s IP Control Buddy – a compact, user-configurable panel with 1, 2 or 4 LCD switches. It’s purpose-built to remotely trigger distant equipment via GPI, serial or Ethernet protocol, depending on the individual device. Both virtual and physical control buttons can, for example, advance a MOS-enabled newscast rundown, initiate a live-event commercial break through station automation, reroute signals, and much more.

The broadcast technology community is small and close-knit. Word of one network’s preparations quickly spread, prompting other key clients to explore and implement similar worst-case solutions for their own critical infrastructure. On-camera talent, given a broadband connection, laptop and a few smart gadgets, can broadcast from home, it’s obviously more challenging for behind-the-scenes staff to do likewise without access to status screens and physical device interfaces.

While perhaps switching may not be as smoothly switched as hands-on, in-studio operations, such Control from Home solutions make the broadcaster’s Prime Directive – Stay On-Air – possible under extreme circumstances. That’s especially important for must get the word out news, current affairs, and public safety messaging from government leaders – a core requirement for station licensees, and an invaluable “back pocket” ability for the inevitable next disruption.

Fortunately, as of this writing, the featured network’s staff have followed social-distancing and other stay healthy guidance, so it hasn’t been necessary to exercise Plan-B. With a bit of luck, akin to grabbing an umbrella when there’s rain in the forecast, it won’t be needed.


Written By:
Steve Krant
Creative Technology Associates
for Desertmoon Communications
+1 (972) 644-0232

  • Directly control other devices from anywhere.
  • Controls any GPI/O, Serial, IP enabled device, located anywhere, from a single button push.
  • Turn a GPI Output On or Off Transmit a Serial Command Transmit an Ethernet TCP, UDP, SNMP, or HTTP command
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UPS3 Range
  • Give users control over only those functions they need to simplify operations and reduce errors.
  • Monitor and Control multiple devices from a single panel.
  • Create multi-action commands
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  • Bridge systems and achieve that key bit of functionality required.
  • Provide a choice of communication paths back to the station.
  • Prefect for remote control, interfacing kit, or simplifying device monitoring.
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