There can be no doubt that the humble ‘throw down’ brick as our American friends would call them, (although we don’t recommend throwing equipment around) has played a vital role in broadcast systems for many years. Originally conceived as economical and convenient ‘glue’ to add some basic stand-alone functionality and fiber or format conversion to the periphery of a larger system, the capabilities of the now ubiquitous yellobrik continues to grow. This is the story of yellobrik, enjoy.
Often in temporary systems or emergency situations, a modular brik is an ideal solution. Many Outside Broadcast/Mobile and Fly-away system facilities providers carry a ‘First Aid Toolbox’ of yellobriks allowing them to rise to unexpected challenges on site. From long distance fiber extensions around obstacles that weren’t there during the survey, emergency fiber switching, 12G SDI format conversion, embedding additional audio feeds, generating reference signals and frame synchronization, to converting to a range of output formats for surprise additional feed or monitoring requirements, yellobrik has it covered.
Robustness And Reliability
There are concerns and drawbacks to a modular approach in critical path or core infrastructure.
Reliability is a major concern for the program maker or broadcaster. Our reputation for reliability stems from attention to detail and control in all areas. Hardware and software design, and manufacturing takes place in Germany in our ISO 9001 Certified environment. Cost is obviously a big consideration for us, and the user, but we believe reliability and long-term value are more important. We will not compromise quality, performance, reliability, and after sales lifetime support for the sake of a few Euro saving in the short term. The unrivalled reputation of yellobrik and their extensive use in live broadcast critical paths validates our quality driven philosophy.
Some aspects however are beyond our control. The provision of a redundant AC system power supply is an obvious precautionary measure built into most critical systems, but where does that leave the average brick with its single AC/DC power adapter and single inlet socket? Lynx Technik offers a solution in the form of the yellobrik Rackframe which not only accommodates up to 14 modules in as little as 1U of rack space but can optionally have a second external AC/DC power supply connected, ensuring a seamless switch from the primary to backup AC should one source fail. The modules simply plug in to the rackframe slots and onto the fixed DC connectors and are locked in place from the rear. No DC cables are required to each module and GPI/O contacts allow monitoring of the rackframe power supplies.
With the increases in functionality and the confidence of redundant powering, we continually see broadcast organizations incorporating yellobriks as permanent core infrastructure in static, temporary and mobile applications, including REMI. In fact, there are very few domestic and international sporting events and TV shows to which yellobrik has not made a vital contribution.
Local To Remote - Connecting Is Covered...
Most yellobriks have internal configuration settings, some accessible via external DIP or rotary switches. Some functions, including routing, or multi option parameters, are accessible via a mini-USB socket - your connection point to a PC or Mac running the free of charge yelloGUI intuitive graphical configuration software. Incidentally, a configuration can be saved offboard and reinstalled as required or copied to other modules of the same type. All yellobriks retain their parameter settings through power-cycles, a vital function appreciated by the engineers working with the OB/fly-away teams.
But what happens when a parameter change is needed? Local direct access to each yellobrik is required, which may be physically challenging, impractical and time consuming, particularly at large or multi tech-location venues or studio complexes. Remote production and contribution bring their own new challenges.
Ideally there would be an access system allowing the user to configure, control, automate, monitor and apply firmware updates to each yellobrik individually from any PC or Mac, via their local ethernet network, or a VPN to remote locations. In a perfect world, it would also auto-respond to SNMPv2 Traps and fully integrate with any existing automaton system. Just like its ‘big brothers.’
So, the RCT 1012 yellobrik Rack Controller and SRV 1000 Server were conceived.
The RCT Rack Controller is a compact, one-slot yellobrik module designed to combine the control of up to 12 yellobrik modules via a single ethernet port. Each yellobrik is permanently connected to a USB socket on the RCT 1012, which in turn is connected by RJ45 to an existing ethernet network. Automatic Discovery of the connected or ‘hot swapped’ yellobriks is a key feature: displaying all units in the installed yelloGUI control software - anywhere on the network or VPN. This provides a system for management and dynamic control of multiple yellobriks without requiring the local individual USB connection to each module every time a change is needed. Status monitoring and alarm functions are also included for every processing yellobrik, and for all future fiber TX and RX modules.
All modules connected via the RCT 1012 yellobrik Rack Controller are visible, monitored, and configurable remotely over the IP network with yelloGUI.
Adding a SRV 1000 yellobrik Server module, housed in the familiar yellobrik rack-mounting package, opens up the ability to integrate and automate. The yellobriks fully integrate into the Lynx Universe with series 5000 frames and greenMachines. All can be managed manually, or automatically by the included LYNX AutoControl application, or be subservient to virtually any third-party Automation system via SNMPv2 or Lynx Remote Control Protocol. With total reliability always in mind, an additional SRV server can be added to the network, possibly remotely, for redundancy. The RCT 1012 and SRV 1000 are fully backward compatible with all yellobriks with a mini USB data port.
David Holloway, Director of Sales EMEA, LYNX Technik.
To accommodate the increased configuration and monitoring capabilities and allow automated SNMP Trap responses and full third-party control of yellobriks, the next generation of the LYNX GUI has been introduced. Building on the established device tree structure of the series 5000 FlexGUI / APPolo Control and greenGUI, the new LYNXCentraal (yes, double ‘a’, not a typo), brings together total control and automation of series 5000, greenMachine and yellobrik in a single application for PC or Mac. (Fear not, for those not requiring this level of integration a new version of the familiar yelloGUI is included in LYNXCentraal.)
So, the yellobrik has truly come of age. Remote configuration, control, reliability and redundant power backup give the system designer the confidence to fully integrate yellobrik in automated, monitored and possibly remote core infrastructure.