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Time-lapse VCRs tend to be fairly mundane pieces of equipment, designed for a single routine task; GYYR's  S16-TDS is a complete contrast, it combines the functions of an advanced time-lapse VCR with a programmable 16-camera switcher, and an alarm control system with interfaces, for a variety of devices, including  the usual assortment of sensors (switches, PIRs etc) , plus ATMs (automatic teller or hole-in-the-wall, cash machines), cash registers, access control systems and PC or computer terminals, to name just a few!


GYYR, who are a division of the US company Odetics, designed the S16-TDS with medium to large-scale commercial and industrial installations in mind;  the ATM and specialised interfaces suggests that banks and financial institutions are particularly high on their list of target end-users. The S16 is based around a Hitachi VCR chassis, though most of the electronics are custom-designed and built by GYYR in the US, as are the machine's control and processing software.


The S16 is an extraordinarily complex piece of equipment and we would need rather more space than we have available in the entire magazine to fully detail all of it's facilities so the easiest way is to deal with the most important functions separately, though operationally they are all fully integrated, sharing common control and display systems.



The VCR is comparatively straightforward, though unlike most other time-lapse machines this one is significantly larger and heavier than its contemporaries. General layout and transport controls are much the same as other machines, though, that's where the similarities begin and end. The front-panel display shows deck mode, tape count in seconds, recording speed in hours and a variety of status indicators. Most of the VCRs functions, and indeed the rest of the S16's systems are controlled  from a menu-driven on-screen display. The initial set-up procedures involve setting the time and date; it's necessary to have at least one camera on line in order to accomplish this as it requires a video signal  to generate the display, This appears to have been overlooked in the instructions which led to some confusion during our preliminary checks. If required the time and date display can be synchronised with an ATM clock using one of the S16's RS-232 ports, this option is also controlled from the display sub-menu.


The S16's has no less than 13 recording modes, from 3-hours/real-time, to a 960-hour time-lapse mode which records one field every 8 seconds. For the record a standard 3-hour, E-180 VHS cassette can record for 3, 12, 24, 48, 72, 120, 168, 240, 480, 600, 720 and 960 hours (40 days!). Audio recording is possible in the 3,12 and 24 hour modes. The VCR has a full set of picture search options, including still and field advance in either direction, fast picture search, and everything in between, using the record speed control functions. Picture replay is remarkably stable, so the machine can be used to analyse recordings in considerable detail.


Alarm-triggered recordings can be rapidly accessed using index marks which are automatically recorded on the tape's control track. The machine can be set to fast-wind to index markers, whereupon it reverts to the playback mode; incidentally this particular facility only works in the 3, 12 and 24-hour recording speeds. Parts of recordings may also be quickly found using a tape search system which fast-winds to a specified time-code, or transaction number, in the case of machines connected to ATMs and similar devices.



The bank of  video inputs for the 16-camera switcher section are located on the back panel.  Each camera is assigned a number and presettable ident of two lines of up to 24 characters per line. The display system generates a full set of alphanumeric characters, including both upper and lower case alphabets, 0-9, punctuation marks and specialised symbols. The full display for each camera also includes date, time, day, number of alarm triggerings, recording mode, power loss, timer mode and control lock indicators plus an additional (optional) line for a system code or ident,  which is the same for all camera inputs. Alternatively the display can be condensed to only show time date and camera information. The display can be moved to any part of the screen using a pair of horizontal and vertical position buttons.


The camera sequencer display sub-menus (for day and night-time operation) are accessed from the main menu, these control the dwell time (1-99 seconds or fields), for each camera. A similar display is also used to set alarm priorities, so that the sequence in which camera outputs are recorded can be determined when an alarm or alarms have been triggered. Additionally the display shows the duration of the sequence, both in seconds and frames.


The S16 has an on-board timer which can be programmed to switch the machine on and off up to six times each day; each timed event is signalled by an output on the second of two alarm ports on the back panel.



What really sets this machine apart from ordinary time-lapse VCRs are it's four specialised

connectors, these comprise two 25-pin  RS232 ports, a 25-pin remote control/STD (storage transfer device) socket, and a 15-pin DB socket.. 


The RS232 ports are configured for a variety of common control protocols, used by ATMs and electronic cash registers etc., the software is regularly updated to include new models, as and when they are introduced. When connected there is a two-way transfer of data between the S16 and the external device, this is used by the S16 to select a specified camera input, and to record time and date information, plus a transaction number. Recordings covering individual transactions can be rapidly accessed using the tape search facility.                                                              


The third serial port is a remote terminal interface, allowing most of the S16's functions to be controlled from a personal computer or dumb terminal. These include operational commands (tape transport, recording speed etc.), extended commands, such as setting the clock and timer program, and status messages. The fourth socket can either be used to control a second backup VCR, or connected to a wired remote control unit.


The two alarm ports on the back panel use convenient plug-in connectors fitted with screw-terminals. Between them there are 12 alarm inputs, and two alarm outputs, the inputs can be individually configured for normally open or normally closed contacts, using one of the sub menus. The system has an alarm memory which stores time and date details of up to 255 events.



Picture quality is excellent, our sample resolved in excess of 240 lines on a colour signal; this remained more or less constant over all of the recording speeds. It is possible to almost completely eliminate jitter, giving a very stable picture in all replay modes. Noise levels are very low and did not increase even after many hours of operation and several dozen passes on the same tape. Considering that the sequenced video inputs are free-running there is surprisingly little disturbance at the switching points, though at higher sequence rates there may be some instability on some inputs, we found that swapping the inputs around sometimes helped.


OVERALL ASSESSMENT                                                                  

The S16 is a most formidable piece of equipment,  and in this short review we have only covered a fraction of its full potential. Clearly it is vastly over-qualified for most routine video surveillance installations but this ingenious combination of time-lapse VCR, multi-camera switcher and alarm control system has been superbly well thought out and it is ideally suited for banks, building societies and similar applications where its many specialised features can be put to good use. The only critical note concerns the instructions which have been written by and for technical experts in this rather narrow field, and anyone not intimately familiar with the workings of ATMs and computer systems may find some of it quite hard going.



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                                ****



R.Maybury 1993 2605




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