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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
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
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