Pre-planning to develop a suitable gymnasium control system is a key element in modern gymnasium design, and the subject of the latest episode of Engineering Value, a Draper podcast.

In years past if you noticed a gym control at all, it was a key switch. Only one device can be operated from each key switch. Typically, key switches are momentary, which means the electrical circuit is cut when the key is not held in the “on” position. This forces the operator to remain at the switch until the operation is complete. And while operating one item at a time is a good safety practice, it also means changing setups between sports and events can take a long time. Some recent trends make this a less than appealing option:

  • Gyms are becoming multi-use facilities where different kinds of events are held.
  • Gyms are hosting more activities simultaneously.
  • As we return to facilities in a post-pandemic world, we need ways of allowing groups to participate while distancing from other groups.

Increased complexity has led to the development of more flexible systems beyond simple key switches and handheld remotes. The modern facility is more likely to use a group control system.

Group control systems typically fall into one of two categories: canned field programmed systems with limited programming options, and custom programed systems that are more flexible and can be tailored to a facility’s specific requirements.

Canned systems are more economical, as the cost can be offset by savings on electrical costs through the sharing of circuits if the system is large enough.

With a larger front-end investment, custom programmed systems are a more feature-rich option than the so-called “canned” systems. Consequently, they can be programmed to match a facility’s exact requirements. Custom-programmed systems incorporate a touchscreen interface that supports graphics to match the exact building layout, essentially presenting a map on the screen. Operators can also utilize a dedicated wireless network and operate the system using a tablet, allowing them freedom of movement to better supervise multiple pieces of equipment in motion.

Host Tyler Kern and Draper director of gymnasium equipment Neal Turner, CSI, CCPR, LEED®AP, discussed this topic in depth in a recent livestream, and that broadcast is now available as an audio or video podcast. To listen to the audio podcast, you can go here or find Engineering Value on your favorite podcasting platform.

To watch a video version, click here.