Saturday, December 14, 2013

A week is a long time in Blackmagic firmware!

I recently installed a 288x288 Universal VideoHub from Blackmagic - bear in mind this thing has 576 coaxial video connection and 288 RS422 ports it takes more than a day for a wireman to do a nice job of plugging it up.

here's one we did earlier!

Also bear in mind this is a modular system with space for 72 interface cards - each one has four HD/SDi ins and outs (up to 3G 1080 50/60P fact fans!) as well as a proprietary connector with four RS422 standard machine remotes.

So - once unboxed I filled up the chassis with cards, control modules and power supply cards and bolted it into the cabinet. However - the power supply units were delayed and so I got Tony the wireman to finish dressing it in before I powered it up; what a mistake!

I eventually got around to firing it up expecting to start programming it the same day but imagine my horror when I discovered 20 of the 72 modules were not showing up in the GUI. Swapping cards around showed that I did indeed seems to have twenty duff interface cards; pretty poor quality control I thought. BM UK's tech support department gave me the impression they didn't believe me and after lots more swapping of cards they agreed to take them back. 
I called them the following day only for them to tell me they couldn't find any faults with the cards we'd returned! I asked them to go over their testing methodology and the engineer started with "...I upgraded the firmware on the cards and inserted them into our test chassis"; exactly how I'd started - well, long story short, in the three days between me starting and them getting the cards to test BM had issued a new version of firmware. They'd gone from 5.0.4 to 5.0.5 without giving any indication to UK support as to what the changes were. It turns out that 5.0.4 disables some revisions of the card! How many of that version of the cards did I have? Twenty.

It seems like 5.0.4 was only out for less than two weeks...?!


cabe said...

This seems to be endemic across the BMD systems, cracking hardware (Especially the ATEM kit at that price).... Firmware? Ehhhh, not so much.

Unknown said...

I've also had issues with BlackMagic over this sort of thing, mainly very subtle differences between firmware versions on the Decklink cards but have been bitten by other BM products as well. Better communication around releases, some more detailed notes to go with them, and a decent roadmap for the future are on my wish list but then most manufacturers are quite coy about the latter.