Applied Technology: Preserving a facility's routing investment

Preserving a facility's routing investment

By Robert Alpine

There are many areas in a video facility where brands and formats don’t matter. However, when it comes to a facility router, the formats it supports and the strength of the router manufacturer matter a great deal.

Figure 1. PESA’s UCI-2000 controller can allow a facility to leverage legacy router technology (whether PESA or third-party) by providing an upgrade path to new formats and configurations by acting as a master or slave controller to PESA and other brands of routers.

Generally, once you buy a router, you’re locked into that company’s future new products and upgrade path because of the requirement to maintain compatibility with the existing equipment. The difficulty is that not all router manufacturers support all the formats required for today’s rapidly changing digital state. Also, because some manufacturers have ceased business, a facility can even find itself with no upgrade path at all. These conditions mean that, short of purchasing an entire new routing system, owners of older technology routers may find themselves with few options.

The desire to support TV stations and video facilities finding themselves in this situation led PESA Switching Systems to develop a conversion product called the UCI-2000. The device provides interface compatibility between major brands of routing systems and, most importantly, allows legacy routers to be updated and expanded as needed.

Ultimate flexibility

The UCI-2000 is a versatile controller card designed to handle a wide range of router protocol conversions. It is available as a stand-alone unit or in a fully redundant configuration with automatic changeover, which eliminates the chance of single point failures. It can operate as either a master or slave within an existing router control system.

When in the Master mode, the facility would use a PESA router to control some or all of that facility’s legacy matrix frames. All switch commands are made from standard PESA control panels. This enables third-party routers to be used as though they were native PESA frames.

When the controller operates in the Slave mode, it provides the opposite functionality. This allows PESA routers to easily be added to existing third-party routing systems. The UCI-2000 controller currently supports Ditech, Sony and Philips routing systems. The controller interfaces directly with Sony’s S-Bus, providing support for Sony 7000 and 8000 series production switchers. This allows the production switcher to control a PESA house router using standard PESA control system mnemonics.

Connection to the Philips matrices and control system is accomplished using either the native crosspoint bus or the ES-Bus port on the Philips VM3000 controller. Support for additional manufacturers’ routing systems are currently under development.

While there have been plenty of advances in routing technology, today’s facilities still need cost-effective solutions. Add to this requirement the desire for a variety of router configurations and signal handling capability, and it’s clear that any one manufacturer may not have all the answers. That’s especially the case if the solution would mean replacing a backbone routing system. The UCI-2000 allows a facility to preserve its current investment in router technology while providing an efficient and cost- effective upgrade path to newer technology, features and formats.

Robert McAlpine is senior vice president of sales and marketing for PESA Switching Systems.

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