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BAXALL VS82 VIDEO SWITCHER

 

The VS82 is one of a range of  modestly-equipped video switchers, designed and manufactured by Baxall in the UK. The 82 designation indicates this particular model has 8 inputs, and 2 outputs; a variety of other configurations are available, starting with the VS21 (two inputs, one output), to the top of the line VS82.

 

In addition to basic manual or automatic camera switching functions the VS82 has a number of other features, they include a simple two-line on-screen display, provision for independently setting the dwell times for the camera inputs, each of the two monitor outputs and the alarm output. The external alarm facility requires an optional interface unit that plugs into a 14-pin socket on the rear panel.

 

The two monitor outputs are called main and spot; the main monitor shows system set-up and parameters (operating text), the spot monitor carries just the camera input number (system text).

 

The switcher is built into a neat-looking extruded aluminium case, inside there's a single circuit board, supporting all of the input and output sockets, and a mains power supply. The front panel has a single row of push buttons, grouped into two banks. The three buttons on the left side control the various functions and screen modes, the buttons on the left select camera inputs and set secondary functions. Buttons 1 to 8 have adjoining LED indicators, to show which input is active, an LED indicator above the auto/skip button shows which mode has been selected.

 

All of this sounds reasonably straightforward but the VS82 is let down by an incredibly convoluted instruction book that makes every operation appear ten times more complicated than it really is, it has obviously written by someone being paid by the word... Here's a fairly representative sample, we'll leave you to make sense of it:

 

'To make a command which affects the main monitor press the command button required. To make a command which affects the spot monitor press (and hold) the SPOT button and then the required command button at the same time (in the same way as using the shift key on a keyboard, to get capitals). If you inadvertently press the SPOT pushbutton after the command (or input key), then it will be the main monitor which is affected and not the Spot monitor'.

 

The rest of the first half of the instruction book follows along similar lines, which makes installation and operation far more difficult than it needs to be. In its favour the manual also contains a lot of useful advice and safety information, a troubleshooting guide and even a glossary of terms, so it's not all bad. The best way to get to know the VS82 is to simply connect it up and use it, most basic operations, such as camera input selection are fairly obvious. Some functions will require explanation though, including the initial set-up. Most of the factory default settings can be changed by pressing and holding auto and dwell buttons at switch-on. This brings up an option display, numbered 1 to 4, with asterisks, to show whether the function is toggled on or off . Options 1, 2 and 4 are concerned with alarm handling, option 3 controls the display on the spot monitor.

 

Delving further into the set-up routines involves holding down either the auto or dwell buttons, and changing the relevant parameter, as it appears on the display. Camera dwell time can be changed at any stage, pressing the dwell button brings up the letter D on the monitor display, followed by a couple of digits, these can be altered, up or down, from 1 second to 60 seconds, by pressing buttons 1 or 2. Input selection is automatic, and the VS82 senses whether or not a video signal is present; pressing the auto/skip button calls up another on-screen display that shows the status for each input. The letter M indicates the input is missing or unconnected, S means that input will be skipped during auto-switching, and a blank space shows the input is active and selected.

 

The alarm functions can only be accessed from the optional interface. This also contains the alarm output changeover relay, which is driven by the switcher unit. In addition to the numbered alarm inputs the interface also has a VCR reset connection and remote step facility, so that switcher sequencing can be controlled by an external source, such as a time-lapse VCR

 

PERFORMANCE

Video signals emerge from the VS82 more or less as they went in, with no significant additional noise, interference or loss of definition. Auto switching is clean and fast with minimal disturbance at the changeover point, though this will also depend on other factors, such as on camera phase-lock adjustment, if available.

 

OVERALL ASSESMENT

The VS82 is an unremarkable design with few, if any noteworthy features; once installed it can be relied upon to get on with the job, with a minimum of fuss. The benefits of having two sequenced monitor outputs are questionable, and some of the set-up routines could be simplified but these have little impact on day to day operation.

 

The lack of an on/off switch can be irritating, especially during set-up, which requires the power to be switched on whilst two buttons on the front panel are held down -- wall sockets are invariably located in the most inconvenient position -- so it can be awkward, unless you have very long arms, or an assistant. A power-on indicator would also be welcome, rather than having to rely on one of the camera input LEDs, to show that the switcher is on. The optional alarm interface is another niggle, it should be supplied as standard, or better still, use a set of terminals on the back panel.

 

The major criticism concerns the almost impenetrable instructions, which badly need to be re-written in plain English. This, more than anything else, would improve the useability and ease of installation of this otherwise reasonably functional and sensibly-priced piece of equipment.  

 

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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(c) R.Maybury 1994 1304

 

 


 

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