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VICON SURVEYOR

 

STANDFIRST

It has been almost two years since we looked at the Vicon Surveyor Mini Dome camera. It's back, but this time we're focusing on the advances made in the Surveyor's control and PC interface

 

COPY

The key feature of the Vicon Surveyor system is 'distributed intelligence'; it's another way of saying that the V7USD mini dome is a whole lot smarter than the average remotely controlled PTZ camera and mount. If fact the Vicon Mini Dome is choc full of microchips, dealing with a wide range of camera processing and configuration functions, as well as looking after communications and servo control. This technique has a number of important advantages for installers, end users and operators. It makes the camera semi autonomous, critical settings are stored inside the dome, rather than in the control unit, helping to simplify and speed up installation, set-up and repair.

 

We looked at the Surveyor Mini Dome camera, its peripherals and mounting options in considerable detail back in the XXX issue. Aside from a few tweaks here and there we're pleased to see that hardly anything seems to have changed. Suffice it to say there was comparatively little room for improvement, the standard of construction, ease of installation and performance was then and still is a class of its own.

 

The reason we've come back for another look is the Nova V1422 Control and Switching unit, which makes good use of the Mini Dome cameras extensive range of facilities. This formidable device can also be controlled from a Windows PC using Vicon's proprietary Protech software (or using command line instructions). But first the basics, the V1422 is a fully self-contained microprocessor-based digital control and switching unit that can handle up to 32 cameras and 8 monitors. Remotely controlled cameras -- such as the Mini Dome -- can be accessed and their movements programmed from the V1422's front panel. It has 32 alarm inputs, control outputs for a VCR, audible and visual indicators/alarms and a printer port, for generating hard copy alarm reports. The V1422 will support up to 8 remote keypads and it can be linked to a Windows PC via a standard serial cable.

 

Visually it is best described as a plain black box. The front panel is divided into three areas. On the far left is a small backlit LCD mode/status display, next to that are the main control keypads used for set-up and installation, camera and monitor selection, programming functions, alarm setting and camera control (zoom, focus, iris). On the far right is a joystick for controlling the remote pan/tilt head. The rear panel is quite a sight with no less than 72 BNC sockets, 64 of them are the video inputs and their associated loop-through outputs. The remaining 8 sockets are for the monitor outputs. Along the bottom edge of the steel case is a row of multi pin connectors, from left to right they are for VCR control, connection to a remote audio switcher, alarm inputs, external keypads, command and control link to remote cameras, printer port and RS232 serial link to a PC. The unit is mains powered and there's an on/off switch next to the socket for the mains cable.

 

Aside from the initial log on and camera/monitor selection functions, which rely on the LCD panel, virtually all of the V1422's many and various features are accessed from a menu-driven on-screen display that appears on the monitor output. The main menu has 7 selections covering Administration (setting user profiles, monitor/displays and programming timed events), keypad and remote receiver configuration, alarm actions, time date and title setting, video switching actions, system diagnostics and setting or resetting system defaults. Menu selection is controlled from the main keypad whilst options are chosen using the joystick to move a cursor. Menu navigation is quite straightforward once you've got used to the menu somewhat peculiar key designations, for example, the 'Fail' key is used to step back through previous menu screens and the 'Home' button stores selections.

 

Installation and set up would have been a lot easier but for the formidable stack of instruction manuals, written in a particularly baffling jargon-riddled dialect of technospeak. They take a while to decipher and it is not helped by the fact that each component has its own manual; it really needs some sort of simple system overview otherwise you can waste a lot of time searching for information.

 

One of the system's most impressive features is its versatility and the vast number of variables and adjustments, everything from fine-tuning the joystick responses to programming the on-screen titles to fade from the screen after a preset period. This extraordinary degree of flexibility is extended to a 'host' PC using the ProTech Windows software. The program is supplied on two 3.5-inch floppy discs; the system requirements are very modest and call for a minimum of a 486/33 processor, 4Mb of RAM and 10Mb of free hard disc space. The PC connects to the V1422 using a serial cable link and communicates using standard protocols (19200 baud, 8 data bits, 1 stop bit, no parity). The software only takes a couple of minutes to load and configure after which the user has to create a new configuration file for the system. Following a brief log-on routine the software sets up the serial communications link.

 

The options available using ProTech are virtually identical to those on the V1422's own menu system, though it has to be said that the Windows-based graphical presentation makes it a lot easier and faster to use, especially during the set-up and configure procedures.  

 

PERFORMANCE

Operationally the V1422 can be quite demanding and we suspect it will take installers operators a while to familiarise themselves with some of the controllers more involved functions. Part of the reason for that has to be the instruction manuals, control labelling and display functions, all of which have some room for improvement. To be fair it also has to be said that this is a complex device with a huge range of detailed functions. However, once the system has been programmed routine operations are mostly straightforward.

 

Starting with the camera movement controls the default settings on our test system were spot-on. Joystick movement is precise and progressive, allowing the camera to be moved though tiny increments, or swung rapidly through 360 degrees in less than a second. The zoom, focus and iris control's felt a tad sluggish but this also means there's less tendency to overshoot the required setting.

 

Video from the camera passes through the V1422 with minimal disruption, or any increase in noise; camera switching is reasonably clean and there is no noticeable loss of resolution or reduction in colour fidelity. For a more detailed appraisal of the Mini Dome camera's video performance facilities refer back to the XXX issue.       

       

SUMMARY

It takes a while to get to know the V1422 but its worth persevering since this system has the potential to solve a lot of problems for installers and end users alike. It's difficult not to be impressed with this combination of performance and versatility and one of the best dome cameras in the business.  

 

PSI RATINGS

 

PRODUCT SPECIFICATION

 

Power supply              V1422 240 VAC, dome 24VAC (mains adaptor supplied)

Dimensions                 V1422: 320 x 100 x 450mm

Dome: 310mm deep  x 305mm dia ( not including mount)

 

PSI RATINGS

 

Product                      

Product design 9

Build quality               9

Ruggedness                9

 

Operation                  

General functions            8

CCTV functions            9         

Ease of use                 7

Instructions                7

 

Performance

Video quality              9         

Speed                          9

Response                    9

 

 

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R. Maybury 1999 2303

 

 


 

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