Custom Switch set up for Dante Network

Mstr Matt

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Nov 20, 2020
Location
Columbia, MO
Hi everyone, forgive me if this has been beaten to death on here.. New to the forum!

A client I work with regularly is upgrading his LS9 rig to a CL5 and a couple RIO’s. Hallelujah! I’m trying to put together a network for this with a fairly quick turn around. (And a fairly tight budget)

What I’m thinking.. Rackmount (2) Cisco SG350-10’s in (2) racks. (Possibly the 28 ports, but I don’t think I need it) I’m thinking the non POE so no fan noise. So 4 total. Primary and secondary. Below that, a brush plate that I can feed Ethernets through to a custom panel with ethercons and fiber ports. There would be a wireless router as well for iPad control.

My biggest question is who is making these custom panels and typical cost? Secondly, I’m pretty handy.. can I just purchase the blank panels and connectors and build this myself?My biggest question are the connectors/parts/cables to get from the SFP slots to a fiber connector on the panel.

70% of his events are fairly small-medium corporate systems. The other 30 is large (10k+ person) corporate which typically ends up being a VER L’Acoustic system with TAC fiber. So being able to have the option to go ethercon or fiber would be great along with tying into an LA network. Every system I’ve gotten over the years from VER always comes with the SG-300’s and fibercon runs.. which I then have to pull the ends off of! Trying to avoid that..

Any recommendations on parts/cabling or a bit of wisdom would be greatly appreciated. I’m sure this has been talked about before so pardon the redundancy. I’m not the brightest cookie on networking, but I understand the basics and how they play with Dante. Also, this system will surely get abused by stagehands.. so I want to make it robust.

Thanks in advance!
 

MRW Lights

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Jan 4, 2017
Location
NYC
Ok so... let's come at this from a different angle.

What do you have, what's your budget and what's the future of the system?

If what you describe is all it will ever do than it might be easy, but you're already making a huge leap from "small-medium corporate systems" to 10k plus events.... if your goal is to expand to those or tie them in, then the suggestions might change.

We can suggest lots of parts at lots of prices, but it's best to start with specific goals and numbers to help you head down the right path.
 

Rob

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Jun 10, 2009
Location
On a river near Toronto
Welcome to CB @Mstr Matt
For rack stuff, my go-to is almost always https://www.middleatlantic.com/products/racks-enclosures.aspx
I also like Sweetwater - https://www.sweetwater.com/c1073--Wall_Plates
For lighting related connectors, our own brand is very popular and includes XLR3 & EtherCON - https://pathwayconnect.com/index.php/products/modular-receptacles

I'll also plug our own switch over the Cisco for entertainment venues. https://pathwayconnect.com/index.php/products/ethernet-switches
For a broad overview of why - check out THIS VIDEO. More videos on the VIA page of our site.
 

Mstr Matt

Member
Joined
Nov 20, 2020
Location
Columbia, MO
Ok so... let's come at this from a different angle.

What do you have, what's your budget and what's the future of the system?

If what you describe is all it will ever do than it might be easy, but you're already making a huge leap from "small-medium corporate systems" to 10k plus events.... if your goal is to expand to those or tie them in, then the suggestions might change.

We can suggest lots of parts at lots of prices, but it's best to start with specific goals and numbers to help you head down the right path.
Understood. Here’s what we have.

1 - FOH CL5
2 - Rio 3224 (1 at FOH, 1 stageside)
1 - generic wireless router at FOH for CL5
1 - rack of networked Shure UHF-R stageside
Will possibly throw a Dante card in an LS9-16 as a sidecar desk at FOH
1 - FOH control laptop

That’s all I can think of off hand. This should be the majority of shows.. I anticipate a couple shows a year we will be interfacing with a few Lake LM44s or Galileo system processors (a few backstage and maybe 1 at FOH) and somewhere in the ballpark of 8 - 12 LA racks. They typically send out one of the Ubiquity? Antenna/wireless access points as well. I believe all of those LA racks daisy chain networking together through their drive lines so I won’t have 12 home runs coming back to me.
Potential for some USB AVIO devices in video village (FOH or Backstage). Maybe 6. But I’d want them to hit their own switch so I’m not running 6 home runs back to me.

I can’t fully speak to budget. Just know that they want to spend the least amount of money possible.. 😩. Im sure the fancy Ethercon switches are out of the question, especially if we’re purchasing 4 of them.. But I also like the idea that I can swing over to any Bestbuy and pickup another Cisco router if need be.

The owners goal is to upgrade from a desk that’s falling apart and lacking in processing and I/O. We’re doing a ton of rather large live streaming gigs and there’s a ton of routing happening. I don’t anticipate him upgrading this system for a long time. Possibly adding some small things in the system, but mostly renting stacks and racks for the larger shows when needed. (If we ever get back to that!! 😬)

Hopefully this starts to paint a picture.
 

MNicolai

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Custom punched metal isn't usually very expensive. What gets expensive are ethercon connectors if that's the route you want to go. If you want engraving and clear labeling, call any AV shop up and have a sketch ready of what you want. They can send it to Whirlwind or ACE Backstage or any of the other custom panel shops to put a price on. If you want to keep it simple, you can do something like this and populate the openings as necessary.

Fiber is easy. The SFP sleds that go into the switches will have a certain fiber connector on them. Usually you want to buy adapters with 50-micron LC-style connectors, and then the LC connectors for the 2-strand fiber patch cables land directly on the SFP sled and into a Neutrik OpticalCon connector. So you'd buy the SFP sled compatible with the SG350's, probably a 24" or 36" duplex LC 50-micron patch cable (duplex can also be referred to as 2-strand), and the opticalcon connector.

Most of the expense in the connectors more so than the panel, especially the ethercons. Most audio equipment uses the CAT5e-style connectors -- don't think you're getting a better solution if you do CAT6 -- the Neutrik CAT6 connectors are not compatible with CAT5e connectors -- and you do not want to have to stock ethercon cables with one connector on one end and another connector on the other end.

By the way, I usually disagree with @Rob when it comes to using specialty switches. With other vendors I've discovered it's an expensive way to get something isn't as universal, is harder to ensure compatibility with, and has a much higher cost-per-port fee. The Cisco SG300/350 series is used almost everywhere in the industry for Dante so you're not taking any risks going that route and if one ever dies, you can get a new one overnighted without a problem. My worst experience with specialty switches was doing an install with Yamaha's Dante switches. In an installed project where we had their switches for ethercon in the portable racks to integrate with another manufacturer's switches for all of the installed cabling in the venue -- we spent multiple days with Yamaha and other switch manufacturer on the phone trying to get it sorted out and ultimately ripped the Yamahas out and donated them to some church because we couldn't sell them and never wanted to use them on a project again. Since that experience, my recommendation is always to maintain the same manufacturer for all switches in a mission-critical system like a Dante/AVB/AES67/etc network.

Here's an example of a project where I did something like that you're talking about, except I did everything on a single SG300-10 for Dante and a separate WAP in the rack for the "control network", which is the network that this venue used for their iPad control of the Q-Sys DSP, Meyer DSP's, Lyntec panels, and Stagemix app for the Yamaha consoles.

Couple features of note:

1) When doing custom labeling, use "AUDIO NETWORK" instead of "DANTE". There are multiple audio/video-over-IP standards now and sometimes they coexist on the same network. Easier not to call one out by name that may change later on.

2) The Powercon was something I did as an insurance policy to make sure a power cable didn't fall out of the back of the rack. It also made it easier so if other racks provided for the project were stacked with this one, they could loop them together and keep everything on the UPS.

1605902423519.png



1605902682685.png


1605902626193.png
 

Mstr Matt

Member
Joined
Nov 20, 2020
Location
Columbia, MO
Custom punched metal isn't usually very expensive. What gets expensive are ethercon connectors if that's the route you want to go. If you want engraving and clear labeling, call any AV shop up and have a sketch ready of what you want. They can send it to Whirlwind or ACE Backstage or any of the other custom panel shops to put a price on. If you want to keep it simple, you can do something like this and populate the openings as necessary.

Fiber is easy. The SFP sleds that go into the switches will have a certain fiber connector on them. Usually you want to buy adapters with 50-micron LC-style connectors, and then the LC connectors for the 2-strand fiber patch cables land directly on the SFP sled and into a Neutrik OpticalCon connector. So you'd buy the SFP sled compatible with the SG350's, probably a 24" or 36" duplex LC 50-micron patch cable (duplex can also be referred to as 2-strand), and the opticalcon connector.

Most of the expense in the connectors more so than the panel, especially the ethercons. Most audio equipment uses the CAT5e-style connectors -- don't think you're getting a better solution if you do CAT6 -- the Neutrik CAT6 connectors are not compatible with CAT5e connectors -- and you do not want to have to stock ethercon cables with one connector on one end and another connector on the other end.

By the way, I usually disagree with @Rob when it comes to using specialty switches. With other vendors I've discovered it's an expensive way to get something isn't as universal, is harder to ensure compatibility with, and has a much higher cost-per-port fee. The Cisco SG300/350 series is used almost everywhere in the industry for Dante so you're not taking any risks going that route and if one ever dies, you can get a new one overnighted without a problem. My worst experience with specialty switches was doing an install with Yamaha's Dante switches. In an installed project where we had their switches for ethercon in the portable racks to integrate with another manufacturer's switches for all of the installed cabling in the venue -- we spent multiple days with Yamaha and other switch manufacturer on the phone trying to get it sorted out and ultimately ripped the Yamahas out and donated them to some church because we couldn't sell them and never wanted to use them on a project again. Since that experience, my recommendation is always to maintain the same manufacturer for all switches in a mission-critical system like a Dante/AVB/AES67/etc network.

Here's an example of a project where I did something like that you're talking about, except I did everything on a single SG300-10 for Dante and a separate WAP in the rack for the "control network", which is the network that this venue used for their iPad control of the Q-Sys DSP, Meyer DSP's, Lyntec panels, and Stagemix app for the Yamaha consoles.

Couple features of note:

1) When doing custom labeling, use "AUDIO NETWORK" instead of "DANTE". There are multiple audio/video-over-IP standards now and sometimes they coexist on the same network. Easier not to call one out by name that may change later on.

2) The Powercon was something I did as an insurance policy to make sure a power cable didn't fall out of the back of the rack. It also made it easier so if other racks provided for the project were stacked with this one, they could loop them together and keep everything on the UPS.

View attachment 21143


View attachment 21145

View attachment 21144
This is such great info! Thank you so much!! This is very close to my vision.

One of my hesitations with the 10 port is the external power supply reliability. With it bouncing down the road.. would you recommend securing the connector in place with a type of adhesive or modifying the switch and soldering it in place?
Love the power cons.

I was thinking I’d only put enough ethercon ports on the panel for the essentials and keep the switchface open ether on the back or front depending on depth of units. That way my desk and racks can be nice and secure and any peripherals can just plug straight into the switch. Probably leave room on the panel for expandability down the road if more ethercon is required

I’m thinking nice clean label tape will beat out the custom engraving, even though that would surely be sexy! Does the WAP in that rack have external antennas or does everything work fine enclosed inside?

Thanks again!
 

MNicolai

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I usually immobilize external power supplies or power strips with a combination of zip ties, 3M VHB tape, and adhesive-backed velcro. If you have a plastic SKB or Gator case, almost no adhesive will stick to the finish of the case so the rack right next to my desk has a power strip VHB'd directly to the chassis of the switch. Usually have to do the same thing with a WAP. You can also throw an adhesive zip tie mount near the DC connector on the switch and zip tie that into place so it can't fall or get pulled out of the jack. I don't remember which power bricks ship with those 10-ports but if it's one where there's an IEC connector that plugs into it, you can always hot glue the IEC connector into place so it doesn't come loose.

WAP-wise, I would get one with an internal antenna and let it live inside the rack. My SMAART rack has a WAP with external antennas that live inside the rack and while it works fine, the external antennas have a tendency to rotate loose out of their connectors and the antennas always get gummed up in the connector wiring even though everything is zip tied into place in that rack.

Adhesive labeling is fine if you don't want to do engraving, but I recommend putting a 1U blank above or below it so you have room to put the labels on. If you do a 1U connector panel and fill it up, there will be no room on it for labels.

Drawers can also be nice so an iPad or ethercon cables can live with the rack without getting jammed into the wiring harnesses in the back of the rack. Generally if you're going to have a problem, somebody sticking stuff into the wiring harnesses is where it'll happen. Last hidden feature I do on my personal racks -- as a Macbook Pro user, I often strategically zip tie thunderbolt to RJ45 adapters in the back of all my racks so when I need to use DVS, I always have an emergency adapter available in case I forget to pack mine in my backpack.
 
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Mstr Matt

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Columbia, MO
I usually immobilize external power supplies or power strips with a combination of zip ties, 3M VHB tape, and adhesive-backed velcro. If you have a plastic SKB or Gator case, almost no adhesive will stick to the finish of the case so the rack right next to my desk has a power strip VHB'd directly to the chassis of the switch. Usually have to do the same thing with a WAP. You can also throw an adhesive zip tie mount near the DC connector on the switch and zip tie that into place so it can't fall or get pulled out of the jack. I don't remember which power bricks ship with those 10-ports but if it's one where there's an IEC connector that plugs into it, you can always hot glue the IEC connector into place so it doesn't come loose.

WAP-wise, I would get one with an internal antenna and let it live inside the rack. My SMAART rack has a WAP with external antennas that live inside the rack and while it works fine, the external antennas have a tendency to rotate loose out of their connectors and the antennas always get gummed up in the connector wiring even though everything is zip tied into place in that rack.

Adhesive labeling is fine if you don't want to do engraving, but I recommend putting a 1U blank above or below it so you have room to put the labels on. If you do a 1U connector panel and fill it up, there will be no room on it for labels.

Drawers can also be nice so an iPad or ethercon cables can live with the rack without getting jammed into the wiring harnesses in the back of the rack. Generally if you're going to have a problem, somebody sticking stuff into the wiring harnesses is where it'll happen. Last hidden feature I do on my personal racks -- as a Macbook Pro user, I often strategically zip tie thunderbolt to RJ45 adapters in the back of all my racks so when I need to use DVS, I always have an emergency adapter available in case I forget to pack mine in my backpack.
Makes sense! Great info!
 

RonaldBeal

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TN
Recently finished a large gig with 22 Pathway Via 12s, start one next week with 24 and 3+ miles of fiber. I would not hesitate to recommend them over Ciscos. Don't need SFP sleds, don't need to buy ethercon and optical con connectors separately, Nor the patch leads to get them in from the panel to the switch. Integrated power supply so no wall warts to thrash around, etc... I'm curious what the actual price difference is once you add in ALL of the bits to make the DIY route complete.
My ONLY complaint is that they don't currently have 10GB versions (Video media server KVM's are starting to hog all of my bandwidth, streaming multiple 4k feeds)
 
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MNicolai

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Where would one find pricing on these Via 12s?
First, you want to go talk to your local bank manager. Bring a banana -- you're going to need something concealed in your pocket to stick them up with.

Then, you can take a look over at Musson. Once you've done that, you can start gnawing your own arm off because you'll need to offer it as a sacrifice. One appendage per switch, that's the rule.

About $2500/ea between the switch and the fiber SFP's. Compared to $500 for the Cisco including SFP's, plus probably $300-400 in cables and the panel and such for the rack.
 

Mstr Matt

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Location
Columbia, MO
Loving everyone’s comments and also different opinions on things. This is all so helpful! Glad I found you all!

It occurred to me, if I leave the switch faces open, I don’t really need to worry about extending the fiber to a custom faceplate. For those couple events a year that we’d use fiber, I can just pop the sleds right into the switch and go from there. That’s how VER has always done it for us.. not that it’s the cleanest thing in the world.. but works non the less. Then I can just extend 4 lines or so per switch to my ethercon plate, label it nice and call it a day!

Any suggestions or tips on racks that have the rails far enough set in for me to keep RJ45’s plugged in permanently and routed back through a brush plate?

Also, what would you guys think about the SG350-28 as primary and SG350-10 as secondary? That would give me some expandability on the primary. Allow me to have a few VLAN’s open. Maybe make a couple VLAN’s for other departments if they need to run control back. The secondary just seems like it’s never as full as the primary. In our scenario I’d have the CL5, 2 Rios and maybe 1 more desk on it. Other than that, it’s all little AVIO devices or control lines.
 

RonHebbard

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Waterdown, ON, CA
Loving everyone’s comments and also different opinions on things. This is all so helpful! Glad I found you all!

It occurred to me, if I leave the switch faces open, I don’t really need to worry about extending the fiber to a custom faceplate. For those couple events a year that we’d use fiber, I can just pop the sleds right into the switch and go from there. That’s how VER has always done it for us.. not that it’s the cleanest thing in the world.. but works non the less. Then I can just extend 4 lines or so per switch to my ethercon plate, label it nice and call it a day!

Any suggestions or tips on racks that have the rails far enough set in for me to keep RJ45’s plugged in permanently and routed back through a brush plate?

Also, what would you guys think about the SG350-28 as primary and SG350-10 as secondary? That would give me some expandability on the primary. Allow me to have a few VLAN’s open. Maybe make a couple VLAN’s for other departments if they need to run control back. The secondary just seems like it’s never as full as the primary. In our scenario I’d have the CL5, 2 Rios and maybe 1 more desk on it. Other than that, it’s all little AVIO devices or control lines.
I'll speak to your rack query:
"Any suggestions or tips on racks that have the rails far enough set in for me to keep RJ45’s plugged in permanently and routed back through a brush plate?"
Middle Atlantic Products have ANYTHING / EVERYTHING you could ask for.

Alternately, four short lengths of 10-32 all-thread rod (or four 3" long 10-32 bolts) plus a hand full of 10-32 hex nuts + lock washers and / or Ny-loks would permit you to mount a rack panel behind a rack's existing front or rear rails.
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
 
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Lextech

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The Cisco SG 350 10MP are POE and do not have fans. Trust me, you want POE. There are so many accessories that are POE that will save your butt, don’t skimp. You also do not want to plug directly into the switch, they are not made for that, buy a Middle Atlantic one space punch panel for XLR and mount Ethercon connectors. Spend the money on one Opticalcon panel mount, it will fit in the panel, they are expensive but if it’s in the rack, you won’t lose it. Also if your racks are slightly recessed, most ATA style are, and they have the normal covers that are deep enough to mount the clasp hardware, you can leave things plugged in. I’ll try and post some pictures of my racks tomorrow.
 

Mstr Matt

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The Cisco SG 350 10MP are POE and do not have fans. Trust me, you want POE. There are so many accessories that are POE that will save your butt, don’t skimp. You also do not want to plug directly into the switch, they are not made for that, buy a Middle Atlantic one space punch panel for XLR and mount Ethercon connectors. Spend the money on one Opticalcon panel mount, it will fit in the panel, they are expensive but if it’s in the rack, you won’t lose it. Also if your racks are slightly recessed, most ATA style are, and they have the normal covers that are deep enough to mount the clasp hardware, you can leave things plugged in. I’ll try and post some pictures of my racks tomorrow.
Thanks Lextech! Copy on the opticalcon connector. I will def build those in. Would love to see your pics!

Curious if you have any examples of POE items. I just haven’t had a situation that I’ve needed it with 1 exception. A Microtik antenna/wireless access point and they come with a POE injector. All of the AVIO’s I use are POE or USB buss powered and they’ve been running just fine on USB. That said, I’m thinking of getting an SG350-10MP just to live in video village for all of those devices so I only have 1 home run from them.

The reason I was thinking non POE is because I believe the 28 ports do have fans and have been reported to be quite noisy. That’s really the only reason for me.
 

Mstr Matt

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Columbia, MO
Here’s another question. I know Audinete says to run all of your control on the primary network. Would there be any reason I couldn’t run all of my control lines on the secondary assuming they were on their own VLAN?

Like I said before, I only imagine about 4 devices tops ever being plugged into the secondary. That would allow me to go with the smaller 10 port for the primary switches and still have a bit of room for some extra connections if they come up..
 

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