Old analog Gear, need manuals, etc.

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TheSigma
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Old analog Gear, need manuals, etc.

Post by TheSigma » Tue Jun 15, 2010 10:50 am

Hi,
I've picked up some old analog gear dirt cheap, hoped to use it at my church in thier video ministry (no broadcasting). I've got an Abekas A51/51+ that I need a cable for the control panel to mainframe connection, the pinout for which is in the tech manual, and the operating manual would be good to have. I tried abekas, but they did not respond, sent another message today, maybe I will have better luck on this one. I found one place to buy the user manual, but I can't pay 99 bucks for it, that's ten times what I payed for the whole setup. It powers on and boots up, but I can't do anything without the controller cable....

Also need a manual or cards for a Magni signal Creator. Seems to work but card data corrupted so it doesn't generate anything.

Aprreciate any help you guys can give.

Thanks,
Nathan

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PID_Stop
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Re: Old analog Gear, need manuals, etc.

Post by PID_Stop » Wed Jun 16, 2010 11:46 am

Here's the scoop on the control cable, per the A51 Technical Guide:
Abekas supplies a 10 meter (33') cable for connecting a Control Panel to the A51 Main Chassis. Optionally available are cables in 15 meter (50'), 30 meter (100'), and 45 meter (150') lengths.

This cable supplies both the RS-422 style communications between the Control Panel and Main Chassis, and +24V power to the Control Panel.

Instead of using an Abekas supplied cable, you may construct a custom cable. There are two considerations to take into account:

- The Main Chassis 24V power supply can drive a Control Panel up to 45 meters (150') away. Distances greater than this require using a local power supply.

- The RS-422 style communications have a cable length limit of 610 meters (2,000').

The cable used is 22 gauge, 9 parallel conductors, and is unshielded. Note that separate conductors are used for chassis ground, signal ground, and 24V power return. These grounds are at differing potentials and should not be interconnected at any point.
Here is the pinout listing:

Code: Select all

Main Chassis                                Control Panel
(15 pin male)           Function             (9 pin male)
---------------------------------------------------------
     1             +24V Power Supply   -->        1
     2             + Receive Data  <--            2
     3             + Transmit Data  -->           3
     4             Circuit Ground                 4
     5             Not Used                      N/A
     6             Reserved                       6
     7             - Transmit Data  -->           7
     8             - Receive Data  <--            8
     9             24V Return                     9
    10            Not Used                       N/A
    11            Not Used                       N/A
    12            Chassis Ground                  5
    13            Not Used                       N/A
    14            Not Used                       N/A
    15            Not Used                       N/A
If you choose to use a local power supply on the control panel, it would connect to connector P6 "External Power" on the rear of the panel; it takes 24VDC at >0.5A. Positive is pin 1; supply return (ground) is pin 9. Internal diodes in the control panel allow a local supply to be used without concern about back-feeding the main chassis.

-- Jeff

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Re: Old analog Gear, need manuals, etc.

Post by PID_Stop » Wed Jun 16, 2010 12:13 pm

Oh... almost forgot about manuals. I can't find our operator's guide, but I do have both the Technical Guide (it's the 68-page softcover booklet that includes stuff like how to install the unit, cabling info, and how to get the thing timed and calibrated within your system) as well as the large binder of schematics and theory of operation.

We can't part with the manuals, but if you need setup information -- timing and so forth -- I could get you copies of the relevant portions.

As it happens, our system has two A51+ chassis with the keyboard and video combiners, plus four Di-Tech routers -- so we're in a pretty good position to answer even fairly esoteric questions on this beast.

-- Jeff

*EDIT*: I just found the operations manual -- it's a small binder of several hundred pages or so, and was buried in the production control room. If necessary, I could arrange to get you what you need from that manual, also. Depending on the options you have (e.g., Warp, combiner, etc.), much of the manual may not apply to you.

-- J

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Re: Old analog Gear, need manuals, etc.

Post by TheSigma » Thu Jun 17, 2010 10:40 am

Jeff,
That is just perfect, thanks so much. I'll build up a cable and see where I can get. I am sure I will have some questions for you at some point. I've never used one of these before, what is the floppy disk for? storing programs? or Can it load graphics as well. I am under the impression that this thing can do some warping and rotating effects and other stuff. I kinda went out on a limb for this one because it was only 10 bucks and and a 20 minute drive to pick it up, and I got a couple cameras and monitors from the same guy. so far everything has worked perfectly, and the A51 powers up and shows it's status screen so I am hopeful.

I'll get back to you when I have more specific questions, but for starters I don't even know what to do once I turn it on. I'm pretty sure I could figure out something, but if it doesn't take a ton of your time I would appreciate a "quickstart" or something.

Again, thanks a bunch, I'll let you now what option boards are installed, all I know at the moment is that it had one slot that was not populated.

Nathan

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Re: Old analog Gear, need manuals, etc.

Post by PID_Stop » Thu Jun 17, 2010 12:10 pm

TheSigma wrote:...what is the floppy disk for? storing programs? or Can it load graphics as well.
The floppy is used to store programs and what they call "rooms" -- which are essentially preference settings that include timing adjustments. Sorry, it doesn't handle graphics. One twist: it expects 720K floppy discs, MS-DOS format.
I am under the impression that this thing can do some warping and rotating effects and other stuff.
Yes... the basic A51 does rotation around the X, Y, and Z axes. Since only one slot is not populated, you do have the warp option (that board lives in slot 5) -- so you can also do non-linear effects like twists and page turns. I have no idea what slot 1 is used for... there's nothing shown in the manual for that. Perhaps it was used for factory testing.

About installation: you need to feed black burst to the "REF LOOP"; your source video must be synchronous to this reference, but the timing doesn't need to strictly match it.

You will notice two sets of inputs: each can accept either NTSC composite or Y / R-Y / B-Y component. The two inputs form the front and back sides of the effect... for example, if you're doing a page turn effect, input 1 will be on the front side and input 2 will be on the back. As the effect progresses, you will see both sources.

When you turn on the system, the first thing you must do is have the keyboard control the chassis: press the AQUIRE button -- it will light when you have control. (This seems odd, but it's a feature to control multiple chassis and a combiner with a single keyboard.) On the status monitor, you will notice six blocks on the bottom of the screen -- these are labels for the six soft keys on the keyboard. Much of the operation can be determined by playing around... but since you aren't familiar with this box, I should probably send you a copy of the manual, as some elements aren't particularly obvious.

Oh... one thing: there's a nicad battery soldered to the address board -- it keeps the memory alive for things like timing settings. When the battery dies, your timing will change if the power is shut off. If you are fortunate, the chassis will have its card extraction tool: it's a roughly triangular piece of black plastic that's often screwed to the frame next to the power switch. It has a hole that goes over the stud on the side of the card, and acts as a lever.
I kinda went out on a limb for this one because it was only 10 bucks and and a 20 minute drive to pick it up, and I got a couple cameras and monitors from the same guy. so far everything has worked perfectly, and the A51 powers up and shows it's status screen so I am hopeful.
It sounds like you got an exceptionally good deal.

You wouldn't be somewhere in the Central New York area, would you? We have a working system here, and you could stop by for a look at how it works and how it interconnects with the rest of the system...

-- Jeff

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Re: Old analog Gear, need manuals, etc.

Post by PID_Stop » Thu Jun 17, 2010 3:32 pm

After thinking it over a bit, I realized that you really are going to need the manual... the A51 isn't all that intuitive in some respects. I have a copy of both the operations manual and technical guide for you... just hit me with a message to know where to send it. :)

-- Jeff

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Re: Old analog Gear, need manuals, etc.

Post by eadler » Thu Jun 17, 2010 3:41 pm

I have a recently acquired Magni signal generator here (sans manuals) as well. Any details you could provide on it and how to use it would be great :D
Eric "tonsofpcs" Adler
http://www.videoproductionsupport.com/
Twitter: @eric_adler

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Re: Old analog Gear, need manuals, etc.

Post by PID_Stop » Thu Jun 17, 2010 7:32 pm

eadler wrote:I have a recently acquired Magni signal generator here (sans manuals) as well. Any details you could provide on it and how to use it would be great :D
Sorry... the only Magni gear we have here is an old (used) waveform monitor. I just happened to have what Nathan needed (and it didn't hurt that I was the one who installed WSYR's Abekas DVE about 17 years ago, and keep it going today!).

By the way, have we met? Perhaps when WSKG opened their facility to WIVT after the tornado? I was pretty much living out of the Motel 6 for months getting the temporary facility on cable, and then rebuilding on Ingraham Hill... that was pretty wild.

Jeff Hartman
Regional Project Engineer
Newport Television, Northeast Group
WSYR-TV / WHAM-TV / WIVT / WBGH / WETM / WWTI

TheSigma
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Re: Old analog Gear, need manuals, etc.

Post by TheSigma » Fri Jun 18, 2010 9:42 am

I have no idea what slot 1 is used for... there's nothing shown in the manual for that. Perhaps it was used for factory testing.
I'm not sure which slot was not populated, just that one was not, I'll have to take a closer look and get back to you. (i am not near the unit right now)

I did make the cable yesterday and may have some time to play around with it this weekend. I might even be able to find some 720K floppies lying around.

Blackburst won't be a problem.
You wouldn't be somewhere in the Central New York area, would you? We have a working system here, and you could stop by for a look at how it works and how it interconnects with the rest of the system...
Unfortunately not, I am about an hour from Washington DC, in northern VA.


As for the Magni, I do not have a manual for it, and I can't even find a corporate website, Are they Defunct now? Bought up by someone else? I think I could figure it out if my card worked (and the battery is probably dead on it, so If i got a new battery and could get the data for it...)

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Re: Old analog Gear, need manuals, etc.

Post by PID_Stop » Fri Jun 18, 2010 2:39 pm

TheSigma wrote:As for the Magni, I do not have a manual for it, and I can't even find a corporate website, Are they Defunct now? Bought up by someone else? I think I could figure it out if my card worked (and the battery is probably dead on it, so If i got a new battery and could get the data for it...)
Magni was founded in the mid-80s by a handful of folks from Tektronix, but never really made up their mind whether they were in the test equipment business, or the computer graphics business. Ultimately, they failed at both... ironic, because most of what they made then has become pretty typical design by today's standards and should have made them successful. I don't think they shipped a significant amount of product since the late '90s or so.

Abekas had a similar start -- they were started by a team that left Ampex in the early '80s, and the company went through a number of acquisitions over the years before the latest company du jour collapsed... but many of the folks who started the original Abekas managed to buy the assets and restart the company as Abekas, which still makes some pretty good video gear.

About the battery: its been a few years since I had to replace ours... if I remember correctly, the original type is no longer available. I had to fashion a replacement from individual cells, lashed together and insulated with heat shrink tubing. The unit will certainly operate with a bad battery -- but it will forget settings (like timing adjustments) if the power goes away.

-- Jeff

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Re: Old analog Gear, need manuals, etc.

Post by TheSigma » Wed Jun 23, 2010 11:39 am

Got the manuals yesterday, thanks so much. I didn't have time to play with any of it yet but sometime soon maybe, my summers are terribly busy anymore.....
Magni was founded in the mid-80s by a handful of folks from Tektronix, but never really made up their mind whether they were in the test equipment business, or the computer graphics business. Ultimately, they failed at both... ironic, because most of what they made then has become pretty typical design by today's standards and should have made them successful. I don't think they shipped a significant amount of product since the late '90s or so.
I noticed that the company was in beaverton OR, and had wondered if there was any connection. People say TEK isn't exactly the company they used to be eiter, but I can't say because the only TEK gear I can ever get my hands on is over 15 years old, some much older, but most of it still works good. All of thye Magni Gear I've ever used seemed to be good stuff too (OK iv'e used about two different devices, not counting the signal creator I'm stuck on now), I guess it goes to show good products don't neccesarily make successful companies. Heck just look at the Chineese Garbage flying off the shelve's at WalMart....but that's a Rant that probably does not belong here....
About the battery: its been a few years since I had to replace ours... if I remember correctly, the original type is no longer available. I had to fashion a replacement from individual cells, lashed together and insulated with heat shrink tubing. The unit will certainly operate with a bad battery -- but it will forget settings (like timing adjustments) if the power goes away.
I'll cross that bridge when I get to it, though if it's dead I will want to replace it, I think I can handle it though.

thanks again for the manuals, I'll be sure to pay it forward.

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Re: Old analog Gear, need manuals, etc.

Post by TheSigma » Wed Jun 30, 2010 7:56 am

OK,
So I got to play with this thing for a few minutes the other day and my cable works and the unit responds to conrol. Didn't get it hooked up to sources yet, but looks promising.
I do not have a warp board, guess I didn't count the empty spot at the top (which has no card contacts anyway). I also do not have a combiner or the card extraction tool. I see some warp boards on ebay for about $150, is it worth it? I can't do that right now anyway but if it is a must have I'll keep my eyes open.

Thanks again.

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Re: Old analog Gear, need manuals, etc.

Post by PID_Stop » Wed Jun 30, 2010 2:01 pm

TheSigma wrote:OK,
So I got to play with this thing for a few minutes the other day and my cable works and the unit responds to conrol. Didn't get it hooked up to sources yet, but looks promising.
I do not have a warp board, guess I didn't count the empty spot at the top (which has no card contacts anyway). I also do not have a combiner or the card extraction tool. I see some warp boards on ebay for about $150, is it worth it? I can't do that right now anyway but if it is a must have I'll keep my eyes open.

Thanks again.
Control is a good thing!

The warp board option lives in slot 5... I don't think anything goes in slot 1. The combiner option is a separate pair of single rack-unit devices, one of which fans a single keyboard to up to four A51 chassis and coordinates control among them; the other combines video from the chassis according to data that asserts which channel should be visible for any given pixel. We have both options here, because we have a two-channel system.

Your non-warp system can do plain rotation effects in all three axes; for instance, you can spin the picture around like the hands on a clock, or you can rotate it in the Z azis, which makes it look like you're flipping a photo around to see the back (and that's where the two video inputs come into play: you can have a different source feeding the back). The limitation is this: the video will always be flat, in the form of a plane; you can control the position, size and orientation, but it will still be flat.

Warp adds effects that distort the plane into other shapes: for instance, the picture can wrap around a cylinder, or you can have the picture curl for a page-turn effect. You will see a sheet somewhere in the warp section of the manual (I think it's at the end) that shows the different effects you can get from that card. Whether it's worthwhile is really an aesthetic call, based on what you want to accomplish. If you're just doing squeezebacks to inset your live camera over another source -- for instance, a graphic with text on the bottom -- you probably won't ever miss it.

The other thing to be careful about is that there are two revision levels for the system: there's the A51, and the A51+. If you do look for a warp board, it must match the version of your chassis.

-- Jeff

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Re: Old analog Gear, need manuals, etc.

Post by TheSigma » Thu Jul 08, 2010 7:42 am

PID_Stop wrote: The warp board option lives in slot 5... I don't think anything goes in slot 1. The combiner option is a separate pair of single rack-unit devices, one of which fans a single keyboard to up to four A51 chassis and coordinates control among them; the other combines video from the chassis according to data that asserts which channel should be visible for any given pixel. We have both options here, because we have a two-channel system.

Your non-warp system can do plain rotation effects in all three axes; for instance, you can spin the picture around like the hands on a clock, or you can rotate it in the Z azis, which makes it look like you're flipping a photo around to see the back (and that's where the two video inputs come into play: you can have a different source feeding the back). The limitation is this: the video will always be flat, in the form of a plane; you can control the position, size and orientation, but it will still be flat.

Warp adds effects that distort the plane into other shapes: for instance, the picture can wrap around a cylinder, or you can have the picture curl for a page-turn effect. You will see a sheet somewhere in the warp section of the manual (I think it's at the end) that shows the different effects you can get from that card. Whether it's worthwhile is really an aesthetic call, based on what you want to accomplish. If you're just doing squeezebacks to inset your live camera over another source -- for instance, a graphic with text on the bottom -- you probably won't ever miss it.

The other thing to be careful about is that there are two revision levels for the system: there's the A51, and the A51+. If you do look for a warp board, it must match the version of your chassis.

-- Jeff
OK, now that I have bid on another A51, it's a + and I think mine is not....oh well, I didn't bid much for it if I win it oh well, it is not functioning but has a warp board, controller and disk drive. I assume the controller and drive are compatible with both versions? What are the other differences? It is the mainframe that is incompatible, no boards can be swapped between them? What makes the Plus a Plus?

Thanks again for the info,
Nathan

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Re: Old analog Gear, need manuals, etc.

Post by PID_Stop » Thu Jul 08, 2010 1:57 pm

TheSigma wrote:OK, now that I have bid on another A51, it's a + and I think mine is not....oh well, I didn't bid much for it if I win it oh well, it is not functioning but has a warp board, controller and disk drive. I assume the controller and drive are compatible with both versions? What are the other differences? It is the mainframe that is incompatible, no boards can be swapped between them? What makes the Plus a Plus?

Thanks again for the info,
Nathan
You are right: the controller and drive don't care what version the chassis is. The original version can be upgraded to a plus version -- in fact, I had to do it to our original chassis when we got the second, in order for the two to be compatible. It's been a number of years, but as I recall, it involved replacing a number of PALs and EPROMS, cutting several traces on one of the boards, and soldering a couple fine jumper wires. The backplane is the same, as is the power supply.

I can't say this with certainty, but I believe the memory boards are interchangeable for either version, but the boards that actually perform address computation -- which would be every other board -- are version specific.

If nothing else, having a spare controller keyboard is a worthwhile thing: the power regulator IC it uses went out of production years ago, and I had to retrofit a whole new regulator into one of our keyboards.

By the way... is this the unit that has smoke coming from one of its boards? :shock: That could be anything from the NICAD battery (easy to fix) to bad tantalum bypass caps (also easy to fix) to one of the IC's (a skilled job, if the particular IC is even available). If you do wind up with this, I would resist the urge to do a board swap until you know that you don't have a power supply problem that's encouraging smoke to escape...

-- Jeff

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