Friday, November 02, 2007

Visit to Probel in Reading

Simon and I had a day at Probel in Reading to learn about configuring and programming the Sirius router range - we're putting in a 128x128 HD-SDi (with RS422 level as well) at Channel Five and we'll have to do the detailed config before we hand over. I am very familiar with Quartz routers (using their WinSetup tools) but Probel's Nebula tools are new to me. The current version specifically supports;
  • Support for Sirius 256 routers.
  • Dual output mode. This marries two outputs together to provide redundancy. These are in groups of eight; i.e. outputs 1 to 8 are the first output of destinations 1 to 8, outputs 9 to 16 are the second outputs of destinations 1 to 8. Outputs 17 to 24 are the first outputs of destinations 9 to 16, outputs 25 to 32 are the second outputs of destinations 9 to 16, etc.
  • A source can now be set to one of three trigger methods, 625 PAL, 525 NTSC, and HD.
  • Selection of either Field or Frame switching for each of the reference types.
  • The facility to convert Router/Freeway databases to a Nebula database is included in the Nebula Editor. The database must already be on the editor PC (it’s usually called curr_sys.fr1). The user then clicks “File”, “Convert database”, and selects the database to convert to Nebula format. This is saved with a “.ne1” file extension.

The hardware seems rock-solid but the software seems a tad old! When you programme the button panels you don't have the luxary of defining the inputs (example, VTR1 -> VTR9), the output and then just nominate a VTR button on the panel - no - you have to define a VTR button an then define every possible sequence of keypresses and what sources (and then after that destinations!) they refer to. Quartz make it a lot easier!
The Aurora distributed control system (which we haven't bought for Five) allows you to tie many panels to multiple routers and monitor the whole shooting match in a very complete way.
Having avoided Probel (really since I left the Beeb in '92) preferring Quartz for ease of setup and economy I think I'm having to re-visit my prejudices.

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