Product Review (December 2009)
RTI Remote Technologies Inc.
RK-3 In-Wall Universal Controller

By Kevin Nakano


RTI RK3 In-Wall Remote ControllerRTI Corporation offers a full line of professional remote controllers for custom installers with amazing flexibility not found in off-the-shelf products. We have covered many of the RTI designs over the years and with each new model comes improved features and refinements that makes the company one of our favorites. Unlike the handheld units we have covered in the past, RTI also offers in-wall designs with many of the same capabilities found on the handheld models. The RK-3 In-Wall Remote Controller being reviewed here looks similar in functionality to the T3 Handheld Controller we reviewed earlier. The RK-3 has a 3.5-inch (240 x 320 pixels) TFT LCD touchpanel display with 65K colors designed for flush-mount installations in walls or cabinets. The unit provides a self-contained system for controlling audio/video components, lights, or other electronic systems in the home. It has the ability to display digital video (motion JPEG) and a web page (either full screen or in an adjustable window). The RK-3 is designed to control almost any audio/video component or lighting system up to 1000 feet away using its infrared output port. The unit supports both direct infrared control and 10/100Base-T Ethernet for IP control.

Below the LCD screen are three buttons (Previous Screen, Home, and Next Screen). On the right of the LCD are buttons for Volume Up/Down, Mute, and Channel Up/Down. The lower right is the power button that can be programmed for any function using the Integration Designer software. All hard buttons have illuminated backlighting with icons for clear readibility in the dark. The built-in speaker provides audible feedback when buttons are pressed. The RK-3 is available with gray or black faceplate and buttons along with a low-profile faceplate bezel offered in 5 colors (white, almond, ivory, silver, black). The integrated mounting wings provide easy installation.

RTI-RK3Behind the Cover
The installer will need to remove the front bezel to access the mini USB connector in the upper right corner to program the RK-3 directly from RTI's Integration Designer software. A reset button is also located next to this connector. The top middle section has the Plasma Friendly Infrared Receiver and Ambient Light Sensor. The RK-3 unit came with firmware version 1.3 (bootloader 1.4), so we updated it to the latest version 2.1 using the RTI RK-3 Firmware Upgrade Wizard following directions provided at the RTI dealer website. The RK-3 universal system controller comes with one cut-out template, two spare retrofit mounting wings, and an Operation & Installation guide. There is no power adapter provided with the unit, so we installed the RK-3 using the CPB-1 Control Port Connecting Block. The advantage of using the CPB-1 is discussed later in this review. RTI recommends that a Clean mode be created in one of the menus to allow the user to clean the surface of the LCD touchscreen without initiating a command or macro.

On the Back
RTI - RK3 The rear panel of the RK-3 controller has two RJ-45 connectors and an industry-standard (removable) terminal block connector for attaching individual wires. The RK-3 can be wired either from the Control Port or the Terminal Block. A minimum of 3-conductor wire is required for basic operation (+16VDC, GND, and IR DATA) of the controller. CAT5 cable can be used to power the RK-3 up to 1000 feet (300m) if a full wire pair is used for both +16VDC and GND. We connected the RK-3 to an RTI CPB-1 using a standard CAT-5 cable making the installation simple. The RK-3 has integrated mounting wings for retrofit installation in new or existing construction. In addition, the RK-3 can be directly attached to certain walls (wood, etc.) using screws. An optional drywall rough-in bracket (RTI part #: 10-210070-11) is available for conveniently locating the RK-3 in new construction installations.
The RK-3 can be used as a stand-alone device or as a part of an expandable central control system. When used with optional RTI accessory devices, the RK-3 is capable of infrared routing, relay control, power sensing, and an RS-232 communications link for advanced control.

RK-3 Control Panels
The RK-3 Control Panel has six configuration screens that defines how the remote operates. These screens can be accessed by pressing and holding the touchscreen while momentarily depressing the reset button or by assigning a Control Panel page link to a button using the Integration Designer™ software. Features such as Backlight Level, Time Out, IR Receiver, Sound, Touchscreen Calibration, and Network Information are accessed through these screens. The following images show the control panels within the RK-3 In-Wall Controller. Each of the parameters can be defined by the dealer to suite the needs of the customer.

RK3 Control Panel RK3 Timeout
RK3 Backlight On RK3 Backlight Off
RK3 IR Receiver RK3 Sound
RK3 Network RK3 Keyboard
RK3 Touchscreen  

Full custom screens with custom graphics can be compiled by the installer to create a powerful control system. RTI's Integration Designer is the all-in-one tool needed to design user friendly screens that look fantastic.

RTI - Integration DesignerIntegration Designer™
During the course of our RTI remote reviews, we have become very familiar with RTI's Integration Designer software. It is by far one of the best software packages I have used for this type of application. Not only can installers fully customize their screen designs and functionality, but RTI makes it easy to leverage from an extensive database that include bitmaps, IR codes and screen styles. Updating the latest remote design into the controller is a simple process. The latest Integration Designer version is 7.1 and it has come a long way from the earlier editions. One thing that remains the same is the ease of use. The software is stable and offers powerful features for custom applications allowing dealers to save time and leverage from existing designs. Each screen can be fully customized and a complete set of editing tools are provided to create custom graphics for the display. Several preloaded screens and buttons are provided to help the designer create wonderful looking screens in short time.

The buttons on each screen can also be defined with specific IR codes, macros or even jumping to another screen. The Macro Editor provides a simple user interface for allowing every button in the system to carry out complex multi-step actions. In addition, the hard buttons can also be defined globally across all screens or specific to each screen. Integration Designer™ includes a powerful Infrared Library Manager, which gives dealers access to a large IR database and allows infrared codes to be read (using IR PRO) and stored for easy reuse in other RTI systems. Dealers can download updates from the RTI website as needed.

RTI - RK3 ControllerController Updating
The screens created using the Integration Designer™ software can be quickly tested using the remote once the configuration data is transferred to the controller. The software also includes a simulator that will give designers a good feel for how the controller will work without having to download the data to the remote. Many of the operational issues can be resolved early with the exception of the actual IR commands being sent to the components. The photo shows the screen on the RK3 that was created using the Integration Designer™ software. As you can see the remote screen looks exactly like the software screen from which it was created. Our screen shot shown here represents a small portion of the overall user interface we set up for our Dish Network ViP722 HD DVR. We programmed the remote to send four IR commands with a single button push on the channel icon. Navigating through the various menus is completely user defined and can have as many layers as desired (only limited by memory, which is quite large). Once the remote design and setup is complete, a single button in the Integration Designer™ software sends the latest configuration data to the remote through the USB cable. The process only takes a few seconds and can quickly be checked to see if the operation of the system is working correctly. The RK-3 can be used as a stand-alone device or as part of an expandable central control system. When used with the available RTI accessory devices, the RK-3 is capable of infrared routing, relay control, power sensing, and RS-232 communications for advanced control. We connected the RK-3 to a CPB-1 Control Port Connecting Block. This interface unit provides a simple way to provide power and connectivity for most common applications.

RTI - CPB-1CPB-1
The CPB-1 Control Port Connecting Block is designed to provide a cost effective solution for one-room installations such as classrooms that require an in-wall controller to provide infrared and RS-232 control of local components. The CPB-1 provides power and communications to the RK-3 In-Wall Controller through a standard ethernet cable and features two output ports for up to two single or dual infrared emitters. The unit also includes an RS-232 port for control of devices without the need for a separate control processor. The CPB-1 comes with a universal (100-240VAC) AC adapter that provides 9-12VDC at 1 amp and is designed for easy mounting to a wall or cabinet. We connected IR emitters to the components in our system with consistent and reliable control. The RS232 interface was ideal for controlling our projector, which is located behind us in the home theater room.

Conclusion
RTI's RK-3 In-Wall Controller and CPB-1 Control Port Connecting Block combination provides a simple, yet powerful solution for controlling complex media systems. The RK-3 controller offers installers the flexibility needed for fully customized screens and controls. The CPB-1 offers a simple solution for installation by combining IR and RS232 interfaces for full flexibility to components. Installers will love the way the Integration Designer™ works once the time has been invested into designing the screens and controls.

The RK-3 is easy to read whether the room lighting is on or off thanks to the high resolution LCD display and multi-color backlighting. The product looks elegant and still offers the power to control virtually any A/V system. Two simple RJ45 connections on the back of the RK-3 are all that are needed when mated to the CPB-1 and local ethernet switch. RTI also has a full line of accessories for the everchanging systems encountered in today's world.

- Kevin Nakano






OPPO BDP-103 Blu-ray Player




Review System

Projector: Mitsubishi HC5500 1080p LCD Projector
Screen: Stewart Filmscreen 100" FireHawk Screen on a Luxus Deluxe ScreenWall
A/V Receiver: Denon AVR-5308CI THX-Ultra2 A/V Receiver
Amplification: Parasound HCA-2205AT THX-Ultra Five Channel Amplifier
Front Speakers: Miller & Kreisel S-150THX (L+R) and S-150AC (Center) Speakers
Rear Speakers: Miller & Kreisel SS-250 Tripole® Surround Speakers
Subwoofer: Two Miller & Kreisel MX-350THX MkII THX-Ultra Push-pull Subwoofers
Thermal Management: Active Thermal Management Cool-it II Equipment Cooler
Room Treatments: Echo Buster panels and Bass Buster towers
Set-top Box: Dish Network ViP722 HDTV Satellite and Terrestrial Receiver with HDMI
HD-DVD Player: Toshiba HD-A1 HD-DVD Player with HDMI
DVI Cable: AudioQuest DV-1 20m DVI-D Cable
HDMI Cables: VizionWare Hi-Wirez 20-meter, Accell 45-meter UltraRun HDMI Cable
A/V Cables: Ultralink Platinum and Advanced Performance Series Cables


Review - At a Glance

RTI RK-3 In-Wall Controller

Features

  • Ergonomic design permits effortless one-handed operation.
  • Full VGA resolution (480x640) color TFT LCD to display custom buttons, text, graphics and animations.
  • Fifteen assignable/programmable keypad buttons.
  • Three-way rocker switch for scrolling list navigation.
  • Integrated 802.11 wireless Ethernet.
  • Tilt switch can automatically turn on the backlight when picked up.
  • Extremely bright, backlit display and keypad.
  • Intuitive layout of keypad buttons for commonly used functions.
  • Transmits IR and RF (or both - on a single button or within a macro!).
  • Optional RF receiver allows you to transmit through walls, cabinets, etc.
  • Completely customizable and programmable.
  • Extremely wide IR transmitting frequency range.
  • Optional ‘Voltage’ and ‘Video’ sensing modules to monitor power status of equipment.
  • Optional interface for RS-232 controlled equipment.
  • Non-volatile Flash memory stores your system configuration even when power is not present.
  • Field upgradeable firmware.
  • USB Programming.

Specifications
Power3.6 VDC, 1700 mAh Lithium-Polymer Battery Pack
Power ManagementAutomatic On/Off (tilt switch)
Infrared Control Range30 feet (9.1 meters) @ 60 degrees
Infrared Frequency Range15 KHz - 460 KHz
Radio Frequency Control Range

Up to 100 feet (30.5 meters)
(with optional System Interfaces/Processors)

Radio Frequency Carrier433 MHz
Wireless Ethernet 802.11 @ 2.4Ghz
DisplayHigh-brightness color TFT LCD
Full VGA (480x640 pixels) with 65k colors
Integrated high-resolution touchscreen
Display Size (H x W)3.5 in (89mm) diagonal
BacklightWhite LED (Display), Blue/Red/White LED (Keypad)
Operating Temperature+32°F to +122°F (0°C to +50°C)
Operating Humidity5% to 95% Non-condensing
Total System Memory32M Bytes Flash (non-volatile) memory
Device CapabilityTotal number of devices is limited only by memory
Macro CapabilityUnlimited steps in a single macro
Total number of macros is limited only by memory
Macro capability on every button
CommunicationsUSB programming port
EnclosureHigh-impact molded ABS plastic
Dimensions (H x W x D)7.6 in (193mm) x 3.1 in (79mm) x 1.1 in (28mm)
Weight7.4 oz (200g)
WarrantyOne Year (Parts & Labor)

RK-3 Brochure (PDF, 1.72M)


Company Information
RTI Corporate Headquarters
5775 12th Avenue East, Suite 180
Shakopee, MN 55379
Phone: 952-253-3100
Fax: 952-253-3131

URL: www.rticorp.com




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