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BAXALL CDSP 9742 B/W VIDEO CAMERA

 

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In the fast-changing field of video surveillance there are few constants but the Baxall CDSP 9000 series cameras is well on its way to becoming a design classic. The basic design has continued virtually unchanged for at least the last four years – an age in technology terms – which either means Baxall are too lazy to replace the range, or much more likely, it's a successful and reliable design that doesn't need changing….

 

The model we're looking at here is the CDSP 9742. It's a highly specified mains-powered low-light black and white video camera. Numerous other permutations are available covering colour and black and white operation, a range of resolution and low-light sensitivities and mains or low voltage AC/DC power supplies. The 9742 is a high-resolution type, at the business end there's a 0.5-inch Sony Exwave HAD CCD image sensor, capable of operating down to 0.04 lux with a maximum quoted resolution of 570-lines

 

In common with previous Baxall 9000 cameras this one is housed in a plain cream coloured case measuring 123 x 67 x 60mm. On the right side of the body there's a hinged flap, behind which is a 10-way miniature DIP switch and a rotary preset for adjusting the video level, when using an auto-iris lens. To the right of the trimmer there's a standard square 4-pin connector for an AI lens. On the rear panel there are two BNC sockets, one for video output, the other is for external synchronisation or genlock. Also on the back panel is a recessed preset adjustment for line-level phase, a 3-way spring terminal for DC-controlled AI lenses, a green power-on LED and the captive mains supply lead. Incidentally, our sample had an odd intermittent fault that centred on the mains cable, the retainer must have been rubbing against on something inside the case – we never did find out what – when the cable was moved the picture momentarily disappeared and the LED indicator went off. It wasn't however a power supply fault as in certain positions the LED would be off but the camera would still operate. We count this as an unusual one-off aberration, contrary to Baxall's normally very good quality control record.

 

The case is built from a combination of lightweight alloy extrusions and castings and plastic panels, it is very well put together and feels durable, however it is not  

weatherproof nor does it offer much in the way of protection from dust or airborne contaminants, so it is best suited to a relatively clean, non-hostile environments, without additional protection. The lens mount on the front has a standard C/CS threaded collar attached to a fairly sophisticated back-focus adjustment; this can be set from the top or side. Inside the case there are four glass-fibre PCBs and a fairly substantial mains transformer, which takes up a good quarter of the space inside the housing. The CCD image sensor is mounted on the PCB attached to the back-focus mechanism; it's connected by ribbon cable to the mains image processing board on the side of the unit. Board number three is in the bottom of the case and this handles power supply and regulation whilst the fourth PCB, on the rear panel, carries the video, genlock and AI lens connections. The standard of construction is very high indeed – our intermittent fault notwithstanding – it looks and feels solidly built and well able to survive the rigours of day to day operation.

 

INSTALLATION AND USE

Installation is reasonably straightforward. There are standard threaded mounting bosses on the top and bottom of the case. The 10-way DIP switch is not as daunting as it looks. Positions 1 and 2 are unused on this camera, position 3 is for gamma correction (normal 0.45 & linear 1.0). Switch 4 is for AGC on/off, 5 is fixed or variable line-level phase adjustment, position 6 toggles between internal and line-locked synch. Switch positions 7 to 10 are concerned with manually setting the electronic shutter (8-speeds between 1/50th to 1/10,000th sec).

 

The location of the DIP switch could prove a bit awkward in some situations, they are very small and hard enough to set when the camera is on the bench, let alone when it is in position, possibly close to a wall, in which case it could become almost impossible. The lens adjustments and in particular the back-focus setting should pose no problems at all, the action is smooth and once set shouldn't drift, even if the camera is subjected to vibration or mechanical shock.

 

As camera instructions manuals go the one supplied with the 9742 is reasonably comprehensive and contains all of the information most installers are likely to want or need, it's clearly laid out with sufficient illustrations. As an added bonus the makers have printed a helpline number next to the DIP switches, just in case the paperwork goes astray.

 

PERFORMANCE

The key feature on this camera is low-light performance and in that respect it is not found wanting. The quoted minimum illumination figure of 0.04 lux was not far off when using our usual set of test lenses; image quality in extreme low light conditions is very impressive. However, the unusually wide operating range highlights the need for careful installation, effective iris and shutter adjustment and control. Used with a manual iris lens the camera was able to deal with a wide span of lighting conditions and it reacts quickly to change though it ran into difficulties when confronted with large bright areas (windows etc.) in the scene. It coped far better when used with an auto-iris lens (video controlled) and was able to produce a clear watchable image in all but the most adverse lighting situations.

Resolution is excellent and again we would not dispute the manufacturer's figure of 570-lines. Contrast is good, even in poor light and the image is very stable with near zero jitter. Noise levels are very low indeed, negligible in fact in a well-lit scene, noise and grain only become apparent when lighting levels plummet to near dark conditions.       

 

The intermittency centred on the mains supply cable came and went, at times when it wasn't happening the imaged remained rock solid when the camera was subjected to a mechanical shock. The only minor operational niggle, which we suspect is confined to this mains-powered model, is that it gets quite warm, borderline hot in fact, so it needs adequate ventilation.

 

SUMMARY

We have seen this range of cameras steadily evolve over the past few years. All of the changes have been relatively minor in nature, in addition to a gradual improvement in video performance there have been some small but useful tweaks to the controls. This tends to suggest that the original design was pretty close to the mark. The 9742 slots neatly into a well-defined market niche, namely that of a high-performance low light black and white camera and it fits the bill perfectly. The features list is practical rather than exotic – nothing wrong with that – and it is highly unlikely that after all this time specifiers and front-line installers will have any problems with it, after all, it's an old friend.

 

PODUCT SPECIFICATION

 

Power supply              230 VAC 50Hz

Weight                        X

Dimensions                 122.5 x 65.5 x 59.5 mm

 

PSI RATINGS

 

Product                      

Product design 8         

Build quality               7

Ruggedness                8

 

Operation                  

General functions            8

CCTV functions            8         

Ease of use                 8

Instructions                8

Manuf. support            9                     

 

Performance               9

Video quality              9

 

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Ó R. Maybury 1999 0209

 


 

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