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BBV’s open-system approach to video transmission and telemetry simplifies installation and operation. Their current range of bespoke and off-the-shelf systems have the facilities to accommodate the latest cameras and peripherals



Flexibility is the key feature on Building Block Video’s current series of telemetry receivers and transmitters. BBV offer a wide variety of configurations, that can be used as the basis of a remotely controllable multi-camera systems and networks, or easily integrated into existing set-ups, with a minimum of disruption. The core components are the TX and RX transmitter and receiver units.


The TX transmitter range includes numerous options with 1, 8 or 16 camera inputs, with or without alarm inputs. We’ve been looking at the TX1000/16 RX 16-camera unit. The choice of receivers is equally broad, models are available that can accommodate a range of pan/tilt mounting systems and camera functions. We’ve been testing an RX300M receiver module, housed inside a rugged weatherproof case and designed to work with the versatile Mitsubishi CCD 300 integrated colour camera. The transmitter communicates with receiver modules and cameras over distances of 1 km (or more), via coaxial cable or an optional twisted pair.


The TX1000 comes in two parts: all of the controls are brought together on a tough, heavy-duty steel-cased keyboard; connections to receiver modules handled by an equally robust rack or wall-mountable base unit. The top surface of the keyboard is covered by a touch-sensitive membrane, with all functions clearly identified. It has three connections: a pair of coaxial cables carry the monitor video output from the base unit, which passes through the unit to a video output socket, that goes to the to the main monitor; the third lead carries a bi-directional RS-232 data link to the base unit. This is terminated in a 9-pin D-socket. The keyboard has a DC socket for a local power supply, when the keyboard is used remotely.


The base unit is a simple, functional design with all of the video inputs and their associated outputs arranged into two rows, on the top panel. It has two monitor outputs, and a second 9-pin D-socket for an auxiliary keyboard. A set of screw-terminal contacts for alarm and relay outputs are mounted in the bottom left hand corner of the panel, immediately next to the IEC mains socket and on/off switch.



The keyboard is a very straightforward design. The camera selectors are in two rows in the top left hand quadrant. Below that there’s a row of four function buttons, for selecting camera sequence, patrol, preset and monitor modes (we’ll look more closely at what they do in a moment). On the right side of the panel there’s another line of buttons, for the on-screen display, programmable facilities and secondary camera functions (wash, wipe, autopan and lights). Immediately beneath there’s three pairs of keys for iris open/close, focus and zoom. To the left a button with a blue triangle activates low-current contacts on a relay in the base unit. This can be used to flag an event on a VCR recording, or trigger a video printer. On the far right are the four pan/tilt buttons.


The program button calls up the main on-screen menu display, that covers most of the unit’s set-up functions. These include setting the sequence delay and enabling camera inputs. Camera/receiver inputs can also be manually selected or deleted, using the sequence function and camera select buttons. Other options include a self-test facility, that steps through receiver functions, iris level programming, alarm settings (where fitted) and patrol delays.


Each camera/receiver can be assigned up to 16 ‘presets’ that includes pan/tilt position, zoom and focus actions. The patrol feature strings presets together, stepping between each one after a preset period, adjustable from 2 to 30 seconds, or randomly, at intervals of between 0 and 100 seconds. This operates in the background, irrespective of the camera/receiver selected by the transmitter.


Depending on the receiver and camera combination various key permutation can be used to adjust camera parameters. On the system reviewed (with the Mitsubishi camera) they include adjusting backlight compensation in 7 fixed steps, shutter speed (7 steps, between 1/50th auto and 1/1,000th sec) and white balance (auto, indoor, outdoor and lock)


The RX300M receiver has been designed with ease of installation in mind. Most connections, including the twisted pair video/telemetry and power/control signals to the camera, pan/tilt head and auxiliary components (wash/wipe, lights etc.) are handled by a pair of Wago connectors, with powerful spring-loaded contacts that grip the bared ends of cables. An IEC socket on the main PCB carries the local mains supply, and a pair of BNC connectors carry video output and telemetry, to and from the transmitter. The system auto-tunes the telemetry link and the launch amplifier is factory-set for cable runs of 500 metres. Lift and gain controls next to the BNC connectors are provided, for setting for optimum picture quality, when using longer or shorter cables.  


Built-in self-test and diagnostic systems check the operation of the various functions; these can be activated locally, by pressing a button on the receiver PCB, or by a menu option on the transmitter. A pair of flashing LEDs on the receiver PCB give a basic indication of system status, operation or error condition.   


Most of the functions of the transmitter and receiver are reasonably clear-cut, though the supplied instructions tend to be somewhat vague in places and could usefully have gone into more detail, and more fully explained a number of points, including aspects of sequence programming and the operation of the preset and patrol facilities.



Our review system worked flawlessly. We carried out tests using various lengths of cable, from 5 to 100 metres, with no noticeable change in image resolution or increase in noise on the longer runs. In all instances camera functions operated perfectly. Video inputs are free-running, and there may be a momentary jump at the changeover points, when the sequencer is activated.



Installation of the transmitter and receiver components should be reasonably painless in most cases. Operator controls are logically laid out and they’re easy to use. Feedback from the on-screen display is a trifle limited though and user-definable camera idents would certainly be a step in the right direction. The connecting cable for the keyboard is rather short, camera selector indicators on the keyboard wouldn’t go amiss and the instructions need an overhaul, but overall the system has no serious foibles, or disagreeable habits. It works well and it’s clear BBV have put a lot of thought into the system’s design and construction.




TX 1000/16 Telemetry Transmitter

Features            up to 16 programmable presets, 16 presets per camera, variable sequence dwell time, dual alarm outputs, menu-driven programming, wall or rack-mount, 2 monitor outputs, optional proportional joystick control


Connections            video in/out BNC (auto termination on loop-through), 9-pin RS232 (keyboard to base unit & second keyboard), screw terminals (alarm contacts)


Power requirements            240 Volts AC 50Hz mains

Dimensions            base unit 415 x 175 x 30, keyboard 415 x 190 x 30 mm                  

Weight  3kg (keyboard)        



RX300M Telemetry Receiver

Features            camera controls (auto iris override, backlight compensation, shutter speed, while balance, zoom lens), random pan, auxiliary outputs (wash, wipe, lights, autopan) 


Connections            video in/out (BNC), spring terminals (twisted pair output & camera connections)     


Power requirements            240 volts AC 50Hz or 110 volts 60Hz

Dimensions            190 x 380 x 130 (boxed), alternate PCB only 108 x 220 x 38 mm 






Product design              8

Build quality                              9

Electronics quality               9



Ease of installation                     8

Set-up functions             8

Instructions                               7

Manufacturer’s support 8



Functions                                  9

Ease of use                               9



Image quality                             9



Ó R. Maybury 1996 1704



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