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Figure 3 – PHABRIX Rx remote browser control Some test equipment provides an option for a physical remote control panel that allows the equipment to be controlled over long distances but with this type of system the control interface video signal also needs to be routed to where the user sits. New web browser technology, available on some products, allows them to be remotely controlled and monitored from a desktop browser window (such as IE, Firefox, Safari, etc) and can provide a snapshot of the test equipment’s operating screen, as if it were being accessed locally. Using a standard web browser allows you access to the test equipment anywhere there is a network connection. In the Figure 2 the front panel of the test equipment is being controlled using a browser window and is accessing the equipment via the local area network. In Figure 2 for example clicking with the mouse on the on-screen buttons controls the test equipment itself. This allows the selection of individual instruments, the selection of test parameters and displays a snap shot of the actual waveform display. Here the display information is a relatively small screen area as it is only representing a hand held instrument. Where the test equipment’s control surface is a high resolution display then the amount of information that can be obtained from this display can be vitally important when trying to track down an elusive issue as shown in Figure 3. In Figure 3 for example a whole array of instruments, available on the PHABRIX Rx rasteriser 1920 x 1080 screen, can be controlled remotely using a browser window and mouse. One of the most significant advantages to this approach to remote control is that if you are familiar with how to use the test equipment you don’t have to relearn how to use it remotely or possibly even worse have to access it via some 3rd party application. Something you don’t necessarily want to do when trying to diagnose a problem with another piece of equipment. Being able to understand a familiar display directly, and interact with it, can simplify the fault finding process. This is primarily because the results of any testing are Figure 4 – Remote web-browser access to multiple T&M instruments displayed graphically and anything out of the ordinary can be seen immediately in a recognisable way. In some cases remote monitoring allows different functional areas of the equipment to be investigated and can allow video waveform analysis, video metadata analysis, input timing, audio levels, audio loudness and error logging which can have enormous advantages. Take for instance being able to remotely view a waveform monitor display that allows you to immediately see if there is something wrong with the levels, gamut and balance. Being able to see the presence of metadata and being able to analyse it can go a long way to determining if the structure of the SDI data is correct. Also being able to remotely check input timing can identify locking reference issues and mistiming between video sources. When there are audio problems, having access to the audio levels and to loudness measurement is essential for compliance. If there are intermittent issues, then being able to remotely setup different event triggers and logging the events to see if there was any effect can identify an elusive error. Another significant advantage of web browser remote monitoring is that multiple areas within a large organisation can be monitored and viewed from a single computer as shown in Figure 4. Summary As the number of broadcast and production formats increase, manufacturers will become more and more dependent on test equipment that allows the automated compliance testing of their products both in the lab and in production. The trend in broadcast, as elsewhere, is to create broadcast systems of more and more complexity and sophistication. The probability of things breaking and potentially becoming harder to diagnose therefore increases. Remote monitoring is essential for spotting issues as they arise but needs to be useable by engineers who understand the equipment being monitored as well as giving them the tools to quickly diagnose the underlying cause. Alan Wheable FISTC, MITOL Senior Technical Author, PHABRIX TV-BAY MAGAZINE: ISSUE 83 NOVEMBER 2013 | 65