How much adjustment is enough?
We at RPT just can’t walk past a video wall without looking at and most likely critiquing the installation and alignment. Most video walls are not well aligned and we wonder why. Recently, at InfoComm 2017, the AV industry showcase convention, I walked the floor and estimate that fully 75% of the video walls could have been improved significantly with proper alignment and 25% of them were just plain awful. Our own industry should be showing perfectly aligned video walls, if not something is wrong with either the mounts or the installers.
Let’s face it; mounts are usually the final afterthought in any video wall project, the last thing to worry about and buy before slapping those expensive monitors onto the wall. Mounts are simple, aren’t they?
If mounts are so simple, then why are there so many badly aligned video walls? Perhaps installers aren’t as skilled as they should be? The wall was more crooked than we expected? We ran out of time, money or both?
A poorly aligned, badly installed video wall is a poor reflection on your brand and your attention to detail, so you should understand how to avoid installation problems. It begins with understanding what a mount needs to do and buying a mount that can be adjusted in your application.
RPT has researched monitor mounting and developed our own mounts where we couldn’t find acceptable alternatives in the industry. We’ve proven, in our testing, that quality Monitors are very accurate and a rigid precision assembled structure can deliver acceptable alignment without any adjustments. In the real world, walls aren’t precision structures, and installers don’t have the tools to measure and mount to less than a hundredth of an inch. SO adjustment will always be required.
There are six axes of possible monitor adjustment:
- Lateral (X axis)
- Height (Y Axis)
- Tilt (Top to bottom relative to wall)
- Pan (Side to side relative to wall)
- Roll (Rotation about center of Face, clockwise or counterclockwise)
- Depth (Z Axis)
Mounts you choose may offer all of these axes of adjustment, or only a few. Some axes may be achieved by combination, example Roll is most commonly adjusted by differential adjustable heights left and right and that works well. Buy onyly what you need, but choose too little adjustability and even the best installer won’t be able to deliver a perfectly aligned video wall.
The Minimum number of adjustable axes to easily achieve good alignment really depends on the flatness of your mounting surface, the skill of your installer and the time allowed to align the array.
Three axis Mounting
A well built flat wall can align an array with three axes: X, Y and Roll only. The bezel to bezel spaces can be near perfect but the planar alignment may not be 100% perfect if the array face is viewed from the side at a steep angle.
RPT’s MVW-GHB L3 Modular Portable video walls are precision assemblies. We build them with RPT GHB 3 axis precision machined mounts of our own design with excellent results. Our customers move these video walls many times per year, and set-up and alignment must be fast and accurate each time. One big advantage is that we don’t need or use a wall; we mount onto a precision modular free-standing structure that assembles flatter than most walls,
Six Axis Mounting
A badly out of true wall will generally need all six axes of adjustment and if the mount chosen has the range of adjustments, and the installer is well equipped, skilled and allowed enough time, the array can be adjusted absolutely flat and perfectly aligned. A badly aligned array with excellent mounts is the installer’s fault.
RPT’s MVW ConnexSys L6+ single or double sided freestanding video wall structures are a great six axis example. We integrate them with the Chief ConnexSys mount that provides wide range full six axis stress free adjustment system with a pull-out for installation and service.
Pull out or drop on?
Monitors should be easily loaded onto the mount. Small monitors drop on easily to some mounts. Large arrays of large monitors should have a pull-out feature to allow center monitors to be removed and replaced without removing a bunch of other monitors. Pull outs also allow easier connections after that heavy monitor is supported. There’s more engineering with pull-outs. You must confirm that the mounting wall’s structure can safely accommodate the overhung loads of your monitor’s weight pulled out to the maximum the mount allows, and one shouldn’t presume that only one monitor at a time will be pulled out at a time. You’ll need to manage a strategy for releasing the monitors or ensuring that they can’t be released by just anyone.
Hard for me to believe and I won’t name names, but some big name six axis pull-out mounts for large monitors can be adjusted in combinations that twist and stress the frame of that expensive thin bezel monitor. Thin bezel monitors are expensive, and fragile. At RPT we insist that mounts never impart extra stress to the monitor no matter how they are adjusted.
Arrays of small monitors
Small monitors (VESA 100×100 and 200×200) present special challenges because there are few fully adjustable options for those smaller monitors. As a result, RPT has developed the RPT Wall Mount 3 Axis Artistic Drop on that handles rectangular and artistic layouts of small and medium monitors. We will soon release a full six axis version of the same mount, making perfect alignment of small monitor arrays easy.
Arrays of monitors should have tiny spaces between bezels. Commonly described as the thickness of a business card, approximately 0.025 Inches or 0.6mm is perfect. Not all monitor bezels are perfectly straight, so we set the design gap at 0.040 or 1 mm and ensure that there is a small gap everywhere along each edge. Gaps are essential to ensure that the weight whole stack of monitors isn’t pushing down on the top edge of the bottom monitor. A business car should slide down the gap without binding. Easy to adjust mounts make that perfect gap easy to set while harder to adjust mounts get the “good enough” in frustration and the result rarely is good enough.
Arrays should present as flat a face as possible. If the array is set back some distance and only viewed from relatively narrow front angles, this is far less important than other adjustments. If a person can walk past parallel to the face of the array, planar misalignment becomes much more obvious and just looks sloppy.
The cost differential between great mounts with enough adjustment and terrible mounts that can’t be aligned is a tiny fraction of what your video wall will cost. Don’t blame your installer if you choose the wrong mounts and they can’t install a perfect video wall, usually for cost reasons, and the results are less than optimal. On the other hand some installers don’t have the skills or attention to detail even with the best available mounts.
If you want more information on RPT Video Wall Mounting Systems or wish to discuss challenging video wall installations please contact us.