Event recording with S-video/Cat5 baluns out from the DVX-100B at DVinfo.net

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Old March 13th, 2009, 10:33 PM   #1
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Event recording with S-video/Cat5 baluns out from the DVX-100B

Hello all.

(here I deleted a novel. You're welcome. :-) If You have questions because I left something out You want to know, ask please. It's still overly long. sorry.)

I'm currently running multiple cameras (GL2's) for a regular event(twice a week) in an enormous Cathedral.

S-Video to Cat5 Baluns. I love these things, I do. I've run (for other events) up to 750 feet of video from a Sony PDX-10 to my switcher with no visible signal loss or degradation. I use passive Muxlab baluns for the most part. I've had no trouble from the Sony cameras going S out to baluns/cat5 back to baluns/S into my switcher. They are rated at 1000ft for video.

We need to buy some new cameras though. GL2's are dying (finally...Yay! *grin*). There is no point in going HD right now for several reasons. After much research it looks like the DVX-100B would be the best option for us for now. I've never used a Panasonic but I'm excited at the prospect. I'm looking forward to playing with the options on this camera.

Here is my question. Is anyone using the S-video out with a baluns setup and long cat5 runs? I can't afford to buy these and then have the S-video out simply not be strong enough because they only planned on You using it for a monitor out. Yes, I know they *do* plan on this, but obviously with the lower end Sony or the Canon GL/XL1-2 models it doesn't seem to be an issue. It is with my XLH1's though, big time.

So, is anyone using the S-Video balun to Cat5 for a setup? Is it working with no visible signal loss?

Yes, I've left a lot of info out so You didn't need to read the novel, but ask if You need the info...
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Old March 14th, 2009, 05:55 AM   #2
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We use Niles Audio baluns (link below) without incident. I think the electronics and build quality are important and you get what you pay for with Baluns.

However, unlike you, we are not driving them from battery powered devices. We are driving them from a DVD player (s-video), and Panasonic commercial remote cameras (composite and SDI). We also use KOWA devices for in house distribution over CAT5 directly into Panasonic plat panels.

I sense the substance of your concern is the quality of the S-Video output from the camera, right? If you were going with a cheap consumer cam well OK but the 100B is reported to be an excellent camera and a step up from the GL2. I have no direct experience (although I almost bought one and I've used the little DVC-30 a dozen times) so I'll abstain from writing a novel myself but the critical factor I think is what's missing from your novel: how long is the s-video run?

Niles Audio Corporation
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Old March 14th, 2009, 09:33 PM   #3
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another novel..I apologize.

Hi Les. I appreciate the reply. Yes, most of Your questions were answered in my extended novel. I'll recreate it. I know You'll be thrilled. :-)

The runs for this place from camera to switcher are anywhere from 150ft to 700ft. Huge Cathedral and we have to go up in the rafters and through walls to make the cabling as invisible as possible. Also we have events where we use roaming cameras twice the length of the Cathedral again almost.

As a solution for the length of the audio and video signal cabling (especially audio as we at times use up to thirty inputs on stage and need the signal to travel 200 to 400 feet depending on the event) we decided to run a cat5 network back and forth with a patch bay, etc. The audio uses an Aviom distributor for the Sound board. We use S-Video/Cat5 baluns for video. These are passive, simple baluns that come straight out of the camera and directly into the Cat5 cable winding its way back to a Cat5 patch bay in most cases...and then on to the Switcher/Directing pc.

MuxLab VideoEase - S-Video Balun

So I've used them on the extremely long Cat5 runs with the Sonys, as I mentioned.

However, in the Cathedral, they have (bought before I got there) three GL2's. One quit working through the baluns last year, and another one just gave it up as well. I have a couple XL2's that work fairly well (we use those for special events where we need to roam and attach 600-800ft of cat5 to them), and I have three XLH1's that I simply cannot use the s-video out over cat5 because I get a digital anomaly obviously due to signal loss. All three of them to some degree, so I can't really blame it on an isolated case. Canon, rightly so, does not expect You to use the S-Video out as Your primary signal. Yes, it is vaguely embarrassing, but we pretty much have to do it that way for now.

So the more expensive the cameras gets, the worse time I have with the S-Video out having a good signal. I actually got a tech at one of the big boys repair shops to vaguely admit to me that they aren't too concerned with making the S-video out consistently good on HD cameras or the like. They have the idea that if You are using, say..an XLH1...You will pull the HD signal out, and if You are using the S-out, then You deserve what You get..heh. I can see that point, but since I *am* using the S out, it's a tad bit annoying. *grin*

So length of run, baluns used, and quality of the S out. Yes, that is my main concern.

I took a look at Your Balun and it is very cool looking. Perhaps the problem does lie with the Baluns I am using, but I've been using them for several years with no problems. Occasionally one will go bad if mistreated, but I have enough to switch out and troubleshoot it if that is the problem. I can't find the impedance and insertion loss on the Niles. I'd be interested if it is similar to the Muxlab. Its interesting to see they rate it at 500ft instead of 1000ft. I wonder if that is to be safe and it will really go over that, or some other reason. Being S... impedance should be 75 ohms I would think. The insertion loss is supposed to be less than 2 db over the pair in and out though, from what I understand. Return loss is supposed to be up to 15 db. Perhaps just that small bit is the source of my digital anomaly from the XLH1 Y/C outs. :-\ The Cat5 itself provides more impedance and loss than the Baluns though, it seems. Dunno.

Since I've tried so many different baluns and different runs of Cat5, I'm blaming the S-Video out, but maybe I need to re-examine it and at east try a different Balun brand. I've thought of trying the powered ones, but they get worse reviews and less accolades than the passive models frankly. heh.

I'm just hoping someone can assure me they have used Baluns and Cat5 over 700ft runs from the S out on the DVX-100B and had no issues.

Sorry..another novel.
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Old March 15th, 2009, 12:22 AM   #4
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...

...and I don't mean it to look like I'm bashing Canon. I'm not at all. I'm surrounded by them. Unfortunately three of them are obsolete for our needs and the newer ones seem to have an issue with how WE need them in a specific situation, which can be true of any technology in many cases. They never should have bought 1/4 inch CCD cameras for the situation since 60% of the time we are shooting in extremely low light and 80 yards from the subject. heh.

My Digital Media group and students have to be forced to use my Sonys when the Canons are all checked out...lol. Poor guys. :-) They do appreciate the low light capabilities though. :-)
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Old March 15th, 2009, 12:26 AM   #5
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Does the cable still meet spec?

According to its data sheet, that balun is specified to work with:


Cable – UTP

24AWG or lower solid copper twisted pair wire
Impedance: 100 ohms at 1 MHz; Maximum capacitance: 20 pf/foot.
Attenuation: 6.6 dB/1000 ft at 1 MHz


Not all cat5 is the same. Sometimes contractors just pick the cheapest...not always wise.

Also, make sure some wayward carpenter has not driven a nail through it, it has not been kinked, etc.

...three GL2's. One quit working through the baluns last year, and another one just gave it up as well.

This suggests a possible grounding or static problem betwwen the cameras and patchbay/mixer. (assuming 'not working' means 'blown output')

If the drive circuit on a camera is not capable of driving this long, capacitive load, a small dist amp should fix the problem.

Normally you would want a proc amp when driving very long lines to make up for the cable losses. A small one at the camera would also solve the drive problem.
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Old March 15th, 2009, 12:53 AM   #6
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All great points. Thank You.

I honestly don't know about the Cat5 Quality. That possibility did not cross my mind. That will be my first point of research. The campus network guru probably made them. Well, bought and terminated them. I'll find out anyway.

The Cat5 runs that are permanent are probably good, and I've checked them periodically. They seem to be unscathed. Carpenters and mice certainly need to be considered though. :-) We actually just came through a major renovation, but most of it was away from the main Cathedral area.

"Not working" simply means I can't get a signal from the S-out going through the baluns. Well, I can, but it is multi-colored rolling lines with no recognizable scene emerging. :-) If I hook it straight into my video breakout box with a 25ft S cable, the picture comes through, but it looks like a permanently out of focus signal basically. The S out bit the dust. I *think* the rest of the cameras is okay. I tried to take the a/v combined mini-jack in/out to component and through the baluns just to see. That was a bad idea. I had to try though. ;-) We have a few that are combined audio/video balun. I tried to run the video through the RCA audio jack. Hey, it works for a DVD to TV setup..*grin*

I've never used any signal amps or any dist amp to drive video signal. Well, I have tried, but with little luck. I think it's time to research some good options though. It's been awhile since I began trying to ignore that option. Thanks for the good ideas and options.
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Old March 15th, 2009, 06:17 AM   #7
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Poor Cat-5 cables may work fine with computers, the connection just slows down. The same cable may look horrible for video, which is an analog signal, so much more prone to degredation. Your network guy probably has a cable continuity tester. Have him ckeck with that to start with.

If you really want to know if the cables meet spec, -licensed- installers have (usually) more expensive ($500+) testers than can fully check them. These guys wire commercial projects where their work is checked.

You can look up the original specs of the cable on the manufacturers site; of course that will not tell you about damage.

One thing I might do is buy some cable in the lengths used, making sure it is properly speced, and test the system with that. If it works fine, you will know the problem is in the cable in place. Cat 5 is pretty cheap.

The dead S outputs are a more serious problem. If whatever caused this is not fixed, you will likely lose more over time...which gets expensive.

Check there is no voltage differential between the grounds of the remote cameras and the mixer/patch bay. They (mixer and cameras) should be on the same AC phase (or completely isolated), you also need to look at the grounding. I don't know if those baluns carry the grounds through, but if they do, you could have some pretty serious ground loops - ground differentials with that long of runs. S-video is single ended, so proper grounding counts. Stuff you can get away with on short runs may not work on long runs.

Sometimes static electricity can kill electronics too, if earth grounding is not done quite right.

Transients from plugging into circuits with motors.

but it is multi-colored rolling lines with no recognizable scene emerging

Maybe:

One side of cat 5 pair broken or damaged.
Sharper than 1" bends in cat5
RF inteference.
Too much loss from line length to properly sync - needs proc amp.
Cable too close to something causing interference (overhead lights on dimmer, air conditioning, run too close to metal pipe...).

There are some inexpensive little proc amps designed for home theater use now.

But I would suspect the cables first before buying anything, from your symptoms.

Category 5 cable - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Note from the chart there that a cable may meet cat-5 specs but not the specs needed for your baluns - 20 pf per foot vs 52 pf per foot, for example.

Given the environment, I probably would have specified a shieded cat-5 in this use.

-Mike
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Old March 15th, 2009, 03:46 PM   #8
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All excellent information. Thank You.

As with many people and groups, I'm always having to find cheap (if not the cheapest) options to accomplish my goals. Higher Education (in the private sector anyway) has been hit as hard or harder than anyone with this economy. They are looking at everything to tighten the belt. I'm slowly but surely showing my bosses that sometimes they simply must let me spend some money to get the results they desire though. Video production before I came along was more of a one chip, handi-cam with straight to DVD recording, with no editing or digital record beyond the DVD. It sucked. :-) Now I've got them expecting full commercial style DVD's with menus, options, extras, remastered audio, etc. That's good in a way, but now they gripe if the quality isn't almost professional as well, and with a week turnaround on huge events. I've shot myself in the foot I guess. *grin*

Anyway, to get that quality I need better equipment, higher grade infrastructure, smoother work-flow, etc. I'm working to get people on my side and helping as well so I'm not a one man production team fighting for every thing I get. Dragging old school College administrators into anything resembling this day and age is probably one of the toughest parts of my job. They want magic, but they don't understand what it takes to make the magic happen. I know most people in my position run into that though. Having people smarter than me assure them that really they don't even see how I'm doing the job with what I have and it needs to be a lot more, is about my best recourse right now.

So yeah, I'll multi-meter everything (just learning how to use one) and see if the things You pointed out are part of the issue. I actually have very little doubt that I DO have some of those issues and they are adding up as a part of the problem at least. I'll probably do as You suggested as well and buy new Cat5 at the lengths and specs that I know are correct and test them all that way as well.

I'm also now heavily suspecting simple grounding issues and transients from having things plugged into the same circuits as the pc's, and god knows what else with motors and other 'noise' generating items. The building is old, and the wiring with it. It's one of the first things I look at when I have sound issues, ground buzzes, etc. Not sure why it didn't occur to me for the video issues. Now I'm surprised, frankly, that I don't have more signal issues cropping up on a regular basis. heh. I have gone to lengths to avoid having cables run by HVAC, power cables, florescent fixtures, etc...but that isn't enough and I should know that.

I'll also look at the proc amp option. Good to know they have some inexpensive options.

Thanks again for the great ideas and helping me pull my head out and look at some of the possible issues I hadn't fully examined.
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Old March 16th, 2009, 02:27 AM   #9
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Something we often forget, if employees, is that our own salaries ae often the biggest expense.

An expert with the right test gear could probably test all the cat5 in less than an hour - and then you would be certain.

Perhaps your salary is lower than said expert - but if you are spending hours trying to troubleshoot stuff with inadequate tools and 'learning to use a multimeter' then you are not getting your real work done, and I'd guess costing them MORE.

If an electrical socket sparked I bet they would call an electrician.

Sometimes, 'it's broke' is more easily understood by administrators than technical explanations.
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Old March 16th, 2009, 03:09 AM   #10
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Honestly, I'd use the 3 XL-H1's with three of these and go 720p or 1080i. I just don't know what type of switcher investment you're looking at. Although, blackmagic-design has some cheap and efficient intensity pro's (with HD component input) which allow stacking (3 cards in one macine) and offer a live switcher software. It'll be an investment but you'll be 720p/1080i and the large investment is already taken care of with the three XL-H1's.

-C
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Old March 16th, 2009, 09:58 AM   #11
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Excellent points...also one I will need to convince them of. "It's broke" might just work. :-)


Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Demmers View Post
Something we often forget, if employees, is that our own salaries ae often the biggest expense.

An expert with the right test gear could probably test all the cat5 in less than an hour - and then you would be certain.

Perhaps your salary is lower than said expert - but if you are spending hours trying to troubleshoot stuff with inadequate tools and 'learning to use a multimeter' then you are not getting your real work done, and I'd guess costing them MORE.

If an electrical socket sparked I bet they would call an electrician.

Sometimes, 'it's broke' is more easily understood by administrators than technical explanations.
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Old March 16th, 2009, 11:37 AM   #12
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Well, You were saved from a novel by the post being consumed into the ether, so I'll make it shorter. *grin*

It would be ideal to use the XLH1's but they belong to Broadcasting, not Event Technology...so they only let me use them for a couple big events a year.

Still, I'm tempted to buy HD cameras anyway since they are so much cheaper. My flow all the way through would have to redone though. We use Virtual Toaster by NewTek with no HD inputs. So yeah, we'd have to reinvest in that as well. I'll look at Blackmaginc though..thank You.

Also we stream the events live and archive them as well at the same time. I filmed four events last month in 16:9 and caused chaos with the embedded players on campus and the Archive recording. Made lots of people made with my anomorphic squeeze. heh. So I need to get the webmaster and other people onboard with a redesign of their stuff as well.

I'm definitely in one of those places where, big analog to digital switch or no, people still want 4:3 and they specifically request it. People wanting HD around here will be a few years away unfortunately. I probably need to buy the cameras and just down convert for now until I get all the rest of the components up to speed, but I'd like to avoid that if possible as well. :-)

At the same time I have a Digital media department that only wants to buy HD cameras now and shoot everythign in 16:9...rightly so. So whether they like it or not, to be able to show these films and projects on our campus TV station (and stream that as well, which we do), they will simply have to make changes, and soon. I'm just choosing my battles for now. :-)

Really this one was shorter. :-)



Quote:
Originally Posted by Christopher Drews View Post
Honestly, I'd use the 3 XL-H1's with three of these and go 720p or 1080i. I just don't know what type of switcher investment you're looking at. Although, blackmagic-design has some cheap and efficient intensity pro's (with HD component input) which allow stacking (3 cards in one macine) and offer a live switcher software. It'll be an investment but you'll be 720p/1080i and the large investment is already taken care of with the three XL-H1's.

-C
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