Pathway Gets Connected

Posted on Thursday, January 13th, 2011

Due to Australia in early 2011, the Pathport VIA is a 10 port + 1 layer 2/3 gigabit POE network switch with a host of those industry specific features that make configuring your lighting network a breeze. Firstly the front panel LCD and encoder knob – a feature not found even on enterprise switches – provide easy configuration and status review from the front panel, without need of a computer link or a web browser meaning you can undertake most configuration and fault finding tasks without the need for a laptop. IP address parameters are quickly set without need of a serial connection or web browser, removing a common stumbling block when setting up a network. A rear-mounted SFP port allows a further copper or fibre port, using user-selected mini-GBIC connectors. Also all connections are via secure Ethercon connectors so the VIA is ready to deal with the rough and tumble of the live production market.

The fact that the VIA can recognise ANSI E1.17 ACN, ANSI 1.31 Streaming ACN, ETCNet2, ETCNet3, ArtNet, Strand ShowNet as well as Pathport protocols means it is ready to work with whatever control products may appear in the venue. Importantly the VIA can combine this multi protocol recognition with its support of network management tools such as Rapid Spanning Tree Protocol and Virtual LAN’s to filter traffic by type so that you can let the switch do the work for you in a multi protocol system sending. VIA is also ready for the future with full compatibility with the new AVB (Audio-Video Bridge) standard.

Whilst initially shipping as a lightly managed switch, the VIA is easily upgraded to a fully-managed feature set and true to its entertainment roots (the show must go on) in the event of a management processor failure, the VIA will still function as an unmanaged switch. The simple VLAN interface allows users with limited networking knowledge access to powerful routing tools. Link mode even allows a user to force a slower connection speed – a useful workaround for poor wiring. To further assist with upgrading older networks PoE can be disabled port-by-port – meeting a key compatibility concern when connecting to older locally powered lighting nodes.

It is when you use VIA with Pathway’s Pathport products that you get the maximum benefit.   Pathport devices can be reviewed from the LCD, including the device name, IP settings, MAC address and serial number, and operating firmware version. Once you are all set up switch configuration and logging can be saved to external media via integrated SD and USB ports.

 To help you fault find the VIA provides a comprehensive log of all user initiated and system generated status and error messages.  Of course the VIA limits the possibility of unauthorised access by password protection of configuration functions. 

The VIA fills a long-standing need in the industry and, for the first time, allows the sourcing of a complete Ethernet-based lighting data distribution system from a single supplier.


  • Front panel LCD and encoder knob allow easy status review and configuration
  • IP settings configurable from front panel
  • Link speed, duplex, PoE status including power draw and more are reported
  • Force link mode allows user to determine communication speed
  • Rapid Spanning Tree
  • Display all connected Pathport devices, including each device’s name, IP settings, MAC address, and firmware version
  • Configuration and logging to external media via SD and USB ports

 Q1 – 2011 Fully-Managed Feature Set

  • Audio Visual Bridge (AVB) support
  • Lighting protocol recognition of E1.31 sACN (aka ETC Net3), ArtNet, Shownet, and Pathport
  • E1.17 ACN support
  • Simple VLAN interface allows routing based on protocol type 
  • Packet filtering based on protocol type and universe
  • DHCP/bootp server
  • Port mirroring
  • Port-by-port packet-capture logging to external media line quality