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Simply Connected Halloween Edition: Spooky AV Stories


It’s the season for scaring, so what better time to share some spooky AV integration stories from the field. There’s no ghosts or ghouls involved, but if tangled cable runs, tight crawl spaces and bailing wire-secured projectors are your idea of a frightening time, look no further!


A Giant Spider’s Web or a Tangled Mess of Cables? Sometimes it’s Hard to Tell The Difference 

 It’s one of the most common spooky sights that AV professionals see out in the field - a gordian knot of cables that even a family of rats wouldn’t nest in (more on rat-related mishaps later).

Proper cable running and management are underrated parts of AV integration, so it’s easy to see why installers frequently run into hair-raising cable nightmares, like cables that start and end in places unseen. Or cables snaking like spaghetti, piled on the floor and without a single cable tie in sight. And that’s just the rack room. On the other end of the run, things can get even scarier, with cables punched through makeshift holes in the drywall or running along the floor in high traffic areas.

Most of the time, poor cable management is due to an inexperienced, rushed or just plain careless installer. If you’ve never done cable management before, it’s a lot harder than it looks. For experienced installers, though, there’s nothing spooky about arranging cables neatly.

How do they do it? By using a handful of tricks like the following:
  • Planning where the cables will be routed before connecting anything.
  • Color coding and labeling cables by function and destination.
  • Bundling like cables together and securing them with ties.
  • Running the cable out of the rack’s sides so technicians can access the hardware without cables getting in the way.
  • Using cable management accessories like cable combs and bars.

In this case, the treat that comes after the tricks is a beautifully organized rack room.

They May Not Be Haunted, But Older Buildings Can Still Make an Installer’s Heart Pound 

If you’ve ever wondered why AV integrators ask so many building-related questions before starting a project, there’s a good reason for that. Even if you’ve worked in the same office building for decades, you’ve probably never crawled around in the ceiling, under the floor or behind the walls. Sound creepy? Slinking around in dark, tight spaces is just part of the job for AV installers. Hope you’re not claustrophobic.

Why do AV professionals hang out in crawl spaces? Mostly to figure out where the cable is going to be run, which is why you’ll get a lot of questions about facility access during the project’s initial planning phases.

And it’s no surprise that these old, musty spaces sometimes harbor wild animals, which are typically not happy to have visitors. We’ve heard stories, including one where a rat - it’s always rats - jumped out at a technician inspecting some hardware racks. We’re guessing those racks hadn’t been inspected in some time, giving the rat a chance to find a warm, cozy spot - perfect for staging a sneak attack. When you’re surveying crypt-like networking rooms in old buildings, it's not uncommon to run into the occasional rodent ambush.

Every now and then, though, it’s the building itself that ambushes the installer. We’ve seen, for example, an entire drop ceiling collapse on one of our installation teams. Unsurprisingly, it was in an old school. Tasked with doing more with less, it’s often the case that school districts need to keep their old facilities around until they’re practically haunted. At least it feels that way for some AV installers.

No rats in the ceiling, though, which was a plus.

Nothing Scares an Integrator More Than “Creative” Installation Methods

For many AV integrators, what frightens them the most is their own imagination. For example, imagine what could happen if a projector was suspended from the ceiling with nothing but bailing wire. What if it fell during a class or meeting? Now that would be scary, and potentially dangerous.

Or what if your business took apart its expensive video wall - we’re talking a 3x3 here - and tried to perform maintenance on it without any in-house AV expertise, voiding the warranty in the process?

Yes, it’s terrifying to think about, but stories like these demonstrate why partnering with a certified AV integrator is so important. If those organizations had a maintenance agreement in place, they could’ve avoided the kind of mistakes that make facility managers turn white with fright. That’s why reputable AV integrators prioritize long-term maintenance contracts for their clients - it’s no trick.

How Do AV Integrators Face Their Fears? With a Detailed Needs Analysis and Site Survey 

As you can see, AV installers run into the scariest stuff during the initial phases of integration. Prior installation mishaps, extremely outdated technology, structural challenges, the occasional rodent on attack - these usually emerge before any hardware has been installed.

That’s why experienced AV integrators spend time and effort on a thorough needs analysis meeting and site survey. If there are any potential obstacles the installation team needs to know about - like a disintegrating drop ceiling - they’re discovered during the project’s planning stages. It’s during this stage that the AV team will take note of each room’s layout, size, construction, and access points, including scary crawl spaces that no one wants to go into.

That is, no one but experienced AV integrators, as they are accustomed to dealing with the spooky side of technology installation.