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monitoring by Alan Wheable
Y ou might wonder
to do with test and
measurement. And you
might be pleasantly surprised when
you find out.
For a number of years now,
manufacturers of broadcast
equipment have used remote
controlled test installations to allow
them to test systems and modules
for compliance against a huge array
of broadcast and non-broadcast
video formats and test patterns.
Remote control is one tool that allows
manufacturers to quickly check if
the equipment under test meets its
specification as well as providing
documented test results. In these
types of test installations scripts are
used to select functions (such as
video format and test pattern choice)
and control the test equipment
without the need to manually setup
each test in turn.
Away from the factory, however,
the equipment under test may be
down in the depths of the building
and being temperamental. You need
to find out what is going wrong but
you don’t want to spend the whole
day standing over it waiting for it to
go wrong. Here automated remote
controlled testing does not help you.
The solution here is remote
monitoring. But what can you sensibly
monitor? 64 | TV-BAY MAGAZINE: ISSUE 83 NOVEMBER 2013
Figure 1 - Quantel sQ Server under automated test using PHABRIX SxE T&M instruments
Remote Control in
Manufacturing With over 400 different format
combinations in broadcast and
production worldwide, manufacturers
have to design and test equipment
that may need to support all or a
large subset of these combinations.
These have to be tested both in
development and in production to
ensure that they are compliant with
SMPTE and EBU specifications.
To do this the tools available within
products such as the PHABRIX Sx
and Rx instruments can be used.
Automated scripts and remote control
can be used to make systematic
selection of generator test patterns,
video formats, line rates, frame
rates, colour spaces, bit depths, etc
while the equipment under test is
monitored and errors reported using
the inbuilt logging system.
This approach to large scale testing
for compliance has been adopted by
manufacturers such as AJA (using
scripts in production to test their units
for CRC errors), Snell (production
testing switchers) and Quantel
(production testing SD-SDI, HD-SDI
and 3G-SDI functionality of their sQ
therefore can be difficult to operate
manually. Ideally you need to place a
piece of test equipment next to the
problematic equipment and remotely
monitor the findings of the test
equipment and change parameters
on the fly.
Depending on the type of problem,
you may want to log issues over
time or you may want an alert when
some parameter fails. Being able to
remotely monitor the test equipment
allows you to keep an eye on it while
you go about your normal activities.
In many organisations remote
monitoring of equipment has become
an essential activity for keeping the
studio running and programs on air.
Video test systems need to allow
you to remotely capture video data
and deliver it locally for analysis via
a standard network cable. This,
however, only goes someway to help
diagnose issues remotely.
Being able to intuitively control the
test equipment remotely, including
changing test patterns, analysing
specific waveforms, checking data
and viewing error logs as well as
having a graphical view of the
equipment is a significant advantage.
With tools like SNMP you can only
detect issues or error conditions
that have been programmed to be
trapped. This doesn’t help you if the
problem is with video signal itself or
with equipment stability especially as
most SNMP implementations are for
un-manned computer automation and
Figure 2 - PHABRIX Sx remote browser control