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MOLYNX VIDMECH SERIES 6000 TELEMETRY CONTROLLER

 

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WHAT OUR EXPERTS SAY...

  

Terms like flexibility and ease of expansion are common currency in the video surveillance industry and like most forms of marketing hype it usually pays to treat them with a pinch of salt but for a change they have some meaning, when applied to the Molynx Vidmech Series 6000 range of telemetry controllers.

 

On paper the concept appears disarmingly simple. An operator friendly keyboard, connected by cable to a switcher/sequencer unit, enables any connected video input to be routed to a selected monitor, manually or in response to an alarm input (on suitably equipped models), and an integrated telemetry controller gives full control over a camera’s pant/tilt/zoom plus all available exposure and ancillary functions (wash/wipe, lights etc.).

 

However, the Series 6000’s strength lies in its ability to expand to meet almost any conceivable challenge. From a simple 8 camera/2-monitor set-up, it is possible to progress to a system with up to 256 cameras and 64 monitors, and if required, the entire system can be controlled from any one of up to 8 separate keyboards.

 

Switcher modules are available in five different configurations with 8, 16 and 32 camera inputs and 2 or 4 monitor outputs. The basic 8 camera TX6208 has 2 monitor outputs. Three 16-camera switchers are available, the TX6216 is the baseline model with 2 monitor output, the TX6416 -- the subject of this Bench Test -- has 4 monitor outputs and 64 alarm inputs and the MX6416 adds an integral colour duplexer. The TX6832 is the top of the range 32-camera model with 8 monitor outputs and 128 alarm inputs. Two keyboards are available, TX6T-K is the system standard and the one we’ve been using, and the TX6M-K, which is designed to partner MX6416 switcher.

 

Interconnections between the switcher modules and keyboards are handled by a RS485 serial bus; the maximum system capacity is 16 switchers. The 6000 series supports both coaxial (C type) and twisted pair (D type) telemetry via a RS485 serial bus, or a combination of both; the only proviso being that the telemetry receiver has to be compatible with Molynx data protocols.

 

The switches are housed in standard 19-inch rack-mount cases with reversible mounting brackets, so the connections can be faced inwards or outwards. The TX6416 is built into a 4U format case. The Top half is dominated by two rows of 16-BNC sockets, representing one input and an associated loop through for each camera. On the far left side there are a further four BNCs for the monitor outputs and on the right side there are three D-Sub type connectors. The topmost 37-way socket is for the alarm connections. Below that is a 9-pin female socket for the RS485 keyboard bus and along the bottom edge is a 9-pin male D-sub sub for camera telemetry. In between the two 9-pin connectors is an 8-way miniature DIP switch, for setting the switcher’s identity. Power is supplied from a compact 9-volt mains power adaptor module, which plugs into a socket between the alarm and keyboard connectors. Each switcher can also power up to two keyboard, additional keyboards require their own power supplies.

 

A bright blue backlit display is the focal point on the TX6T-K keyboard module. It’s housed in a slope-fronted case, divided into four areas according to function. On the far left is a solitary alarm reset button, next to that is a group of camera controls, these include iris open/close, focus near/far, zoom in/out, wash, wipe, lamp, sequence and tour. In the centre, below the display are a set of keys covering menu selection and programming and ‘Global’ on/off. To the right of the display is the camera and monitor selector buttons and a numeric keypad and on the far right is a unusual ‘trackball’ style joystick and a pair of buttons for ‘Home’ and ‘Preset’ camera positions. On the back panel there’s a 9-pin D-Sub socket for the RS485 bus connection to the switcher unit, a DC power socket and a 3-pin DIP switch for setting RS485 termination.

 

SETUP AND OPERATION

There are no obvious pitfalls to watch out for during installation; the manual is clearly presented and well illustrated, all the information you’re likely to need is in there though it could be better indexed. The only points to bear in mind are the maximum cable distances between keyboards and switchers (up to 6 metres), cameras/telemetry receivers to switcher and switcher to monitors (250 metres), and you can’t mix switcher types, in other words they all have to be the same model, otherwise it is all very straightforward.

 

Initial set-up, which includes composing camera idents and various housekeeping functions, such as camera sequence dwell times, time and date etc. is set from the keyboard. Program mode is engaged by entering a 6-digit PIN code. It’s an unusual and surprisingly cumbersome system that uses both the LCD display and a set of on-screen menus. It can get very confusing and prompts the suggestion that it’s an awkward combination of two quite separate systems.

 

Once in the programming mode the LCD provides 14 options, accessed by moving the joystick/trackball up and down. To select a function the ‘Play’ key is pressed and, depending on the function selected, the options are displayed on the LCD, or shown as an untidy-looking set of set sub-menus on the monitor display. The main problem is that its uncoordinated and it takes an unnecessarily long time to learn how to use it. For example, on-screen sub-menus are selected by moving the joystick side to side, which moves a cursor up and down the list of options, but selections on the main menu, shown on the LCD are made by moving the joystick up and down. It can get very confusing and mistakes are easily, and frequently made.

 

The main set-up options are as follows: Preset Position, Preset Tour, Video Sequence, Switcher Set-up, Camera Set-up, Alarm Disable, Alarm Enable, Set Alarm Monitor, Max no. Cameras, Camera Reset, System Reset, Change Keyboard ID, Change PIN and Exit Program Mode. Most are fairly self-explanatory but it’s worth looking at Switcher Set-up in a little more detail as it covers the most ground. This section is reliant on a menu-driven on-screen display, the main options are Text (for composing camera idents), Time and Date, Set-up (change on-screen display elements and layout) and Alarms (contact type, alarm monitor and hold time). The camera ident character set is unusually ambitious and in addition to upper and lower case alphabets, numerals and punctuation marks there’s a bizarre range of graphics including things like ‘Man’ and ‘Women’ symbols, something that looks like a snowman an umbrella and a musical note…

 

Fortunately basic operation, once you’ve exited the programming mode, is largely intuitive. Cameras are selected by first entering the camera number on the keypad and then pressing the camera button. The same procedure is used to select a monitor. Only one camera can be controlled at a time and all of the keyboard functions for that camera are enabled for 15 seconds, during which time a keyboard with a higher priority may override the first keyboard. Each PTZ mounted camera can be assigned up to 99 preset positions and up to 16 of these positions can be programmed into a ‘Tour’.

 

Camera sequences can also be controlled from the keyboard, up to 8 sequences can be programmed, with variable dwell times for each cameras and the option to run the sequence forward or backwards.

 

When an alarm is activated a buzzer sounds and an LED blinks on the keyboard, the switcher routes the video output from alarm camera to the alarm monitor and displays the camera number on the LCD. The operator then has the opportunity take control of the alarm camera, or cancel the alarm and resume normal operation.

 

The ergonomics are generally quite good but the rubbery keys can be a bit of a pain and a bit too soft, at least one key on our sample could be persuaded to ‘stick’ down. Initially we quite liked the trackball joystick but it’s not as comfortable, or, as it turned out, as smooth and precise as a ‘stick and the position, in the corner of the case means there’s nowhere convenient to rest your hand.

 

PERFORMANCE

The video processing elements of the system performs well in that basically what goes in comes out. The image shows no noticeable increase in noise, nor is there any adverse effects on resolution or colour fidelity. The only problem is slight instability at the switching point lasting approximately one frame period. The picture jumps and it can be quite distracting when the system is set to a short duration sequence.

 

OVERALL ASSESSMENT

Scalability to the extent that is possible with the 6000 series is a rare commodity but of more immediate interest to most installers and end users will be the almost effortless way in which systems of almost any size can be assembled and configured and later upgraded. From an operational point of view there are a couple of rough edges, the set-up is clumsy but fortunately it’s a part of the system that’s rarely visited and given the choice we’d prefer a good old fashioned joystick, otherwise anyone having anything to do with medium to large scale installations should have this range of components included on their shortlist.

 

PRODUCT ASSESSMENT

Design and design features                      ****

Circuitry and components                *****

Ease of installation and wiring            *****

Range and variety of functions            ****

Accompanying instructions              ****                          

Technical advice and backup            ****    

Value for money                         ??                          

 

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ă R. Maybury 2002 3101

 

 


 

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