Performance Machines

Performance Machines

All artists are most successful and creative when they have access to faster, more powerful computers. They can deliver completed projects sooner, and regain creative freedom because artistic experiments don’t take up too much time.

After reading that, you might expect that we’re going to plug the latest, fastest workstation. Not so. We can help you with that if you’d like, but independent tests show that offloading your rendering delivers better performance gains than stepping up to the next level in processor technology.

One of the most processor-intensive tasks in 3D is rendering, so it stands to reason that when this number-crunching work is farmed out to other systems, your computer becomes much more responsive.

There have been many attempts to solve this problem using technology, such as shifting render processing to the GPU on a graphics card, or dedicated rendering boards containing multiple dedicated DSPs (expensive!). These have tended to suffer from a lack of universal support for workstation hardware, specific operating systems, or modelling apps. The usual compromise has been distributed rendering, by which I mean the ability of many of the major 3D editing software packages to take advantage of idle processor time on other workstations for rendering tasks – the chief benefit being low initial cost.

Outsourcing – it’s not for everybody

An alternative to workstation rendering is outsourcing. You upload your files over the Internet to an online render company (usually based abroad), pay your money, wait, and download the finished job. This may seem ideal – you have the computing power at your disposal plus reasonable rendering time, but without the hardware outlay or the need to maintain what appears to be complicated technology. However, it’s not for everybody. Here are just some of the things that you need to consider:

  • Formats – will they support your workflow, plug-ins, and file formats?
  • The upload and download process – downloading rendered files can be very demanding on your Internet link. You may need to factor-in the cost of an upgrade, especially if you’ll be doing a lot of high definition render work.
  • High cost – up to £2800 for a minute’s worth of footage is not unknown.
  • Pre-flighting and testing – is there an option to do a free test render? This would be fairly crucial in order to ensure you have all the right files and textures in place.
  • You may not be a priority – regardless of how urgent a job is to you, you may just have to wait your turn.

In-house flexibility and freedom

A dedicated render farm will give you the flexibility and the freedom to try out ideas to your heart’s content. It’s undoubtedly a long-term, strategic investment:

  • The equipment is optimised for your needs, incompatibilities are eliminated and your results are perfect.
  • You’re free to make tests, tweak your models, even cancel a job… you’re in complete control.
  • You’re at the front of the queue, every time – make your own priorities based on deadlines and respond to any emergencies as they arise.
  • There are no hidden costs! It’s simple.

Get more done and do it faster

With a dedicated render farm, artists are never left twiddling their thumbs while they wait for a render to complete, or because a shared job is consuming the processor cycles on their workstation. All your resources – people and equipment – are firing on all cylinders, all the time.

For the sake of illustration let’s take a series of frames, where each frame takes a very modest 9 minutes to render. At that rate, 1500 frames (1 minute of footage at 25 frames per second) would need 13,500 minutes of processor time, i.e. 225 hours, 9.37 days, or 28.12 working days. How much more productive could you be by giving over 200 hours to your artists for every minute of footage you render?

Using a basic 5 node, 80 core render farm with dual quad core Xeon E3340 processors, the same minute of footage will be completed in only 1 hour and eleven seconds. With that sort of turnaround you can afford to be creative. Plus, the pressure of deadlines dissolves away.

Few people will turn their nose up at the chance to save money

Since the computing hardware in render farms is designed for density, low power consumption is standard. Normally, when you have a lot of computing power in a small space, a lot of heat is generated. The best way to reduce that heat is to consume less power. So there’s a lot of clever technology in there designed to manage the use of electricity in an intelligent way.

The fully-populated 80 core render farm running at 100% duty cycle draws 414W per unit, equating to 2070W of power in total. In comparison, you’d need 20 quad core workstations to equal 80 cores, each drawing 1050W, which is 21000W in full.

But the render farm runs “headless”, whereas workstations need monitors. Assuming 22″ LCD monitors, each drawing 56W, we need to factor in another 1120W, so the workstation equivalent draws 22120W of power.

At the time of writing, business electricity rates are 11.5p per unit during the day and 6.9p at night. The formula for cost is ( [unit-cost] x [usage-in-watts] ) / 1000. The render farm costs 23.8p an hour to run. The workstation equivalent is going to cost £2.54 per hour. That’s £2.30 per hour difference – it all adds up!

As you can see, investing in rendering hardware takes a lot of thought and planning because of the costs involved. However, there will always be those added benefits that are difficult to quantify in monetary terms – enhanced reputation for the studio, the extra business you will win, the flexibility and control that you will gain and the improvement in the quality of the work you produce. All of these things contribute towards placing your studio in a prestigious position in the 3D industry.

To find out more about render farms, get in touch with the team on 03332 409 309 or email us on 3d@jigsaw24.com. Visit our website Jigsaw24.com. Tweet us @Jigsaw24Video.

Games development in education

Games development in education

New college and university courses and talk of A-levels and GCSEs based on games development are hot topics at the moment. As games development and the integration of 3D animation in everyday life is growing exponentially, there’s no greater time to let student imaginations run wild by letting them create and develop their own video games.

Finding a teenager these days that doesn’t like playing video games is a hard feat, then trying to find one of those that hasn’t ever thought about or talked with their friends about creating their own game is near impossible. Before now, the idea of sitting down with multiple 3D modelling applications and a dummies guide to software coding, kind of took the fun out of starting to create any sort of video game.

Thankfully we now have Unity

Unity is a great all in one games development solution that has been designed to ease creation of games. Aided scripting alongside a vast array of tutorials and walkthroughs makes for a very short learning curve. Pupils can instantly get engaged in exciting, interactive classroom based projects that they have a personal interest in.

When Unity first arrived in the Jigsaw office, the excitement could be seen on the faces of our 3D team. You could slowly see the smiles appearing around the department as the realisation that everything they needed to make that childhood dream game was hours away… needless to say, not much work was done that afternoon!

One of the great things about Unity is that students can get creative and start making interactive games right away. They can build them to play online with their friends, upload to the web or to run on their Mac/Windows PC. The software allows students to work with real-world technologies without subjecting them to the pitfalls and technicalities.

There is support for model import from all 3D applications, meaning whatever your current 3D modelling software, 3D models can be imported directly, hassle free! So there’s no need for students to have to learn new tools or the school to have to invest in new 3D applications in order to create things for their games.

Unity is not restricted to games development however. Unity’s built-in Ageia PhysX physics engine provides a fun and interactive tool for teachers to demonstrate or bring to life other subject areas of the curriculum. Unity allows pupils to build, experiment and interact with endless situations limited only by the imagination of the pupils and teachers – For example what happens to a stack of boxes when a car drives into it? Let the students create the scenarios and explore the consequences using a variety of real life variables such as weight or gravity!

For more on our 3D solutions for education, call 03332 409 306 or email learning@Jigsaw24.com. Visit us on Facebook or Tweet us @Jigsaw24video.

Recording and broadcasting lessons at St George’s College

Recording and broadcasting lessons at St George’s College

St George’s were looking at expanding the reach of their lectures and wanted to find a way of recording and broadcasting their lessons to students at home, as well as other schools and colleges they are partnered with. We set them up with cameras, wireless mics, and screen capture and editing software.

For the recording, we suggested a Sony HVR-V1E HDV camera with a Sennheiser wireless microphone connected to a HVR-D60 hard drive recording unit, all of which can be activated by remote control. This, working alongside a Camtasia screen capture program to record what students see on the interactive whiteboards, allowed footage of both the content and the teaching to be recorded for students to have access to after the session.

We then provided the college with some custom motion templates for their Final Cut Suite, so their recordings could be dropped into the template and exported to various mediums including the college intranet, the web and also DVD, making them easily accessible for everyone who needed to see them.

The system has worked really well and now students, teachers and the partnered colleges can access parts of the curriculum off campus. This has been a particularly useful facility for students who have missed lessons through illness or holiday, and also cuts out the need for students from partner schools and colleges to have to travel between campuses.

For more information about recording and sharing lessons, get in touch with us on 03332 409 306 or email sales@Jigsaw24.com

Google SketchUp: Conceptualisation and Pre-Visualisation at its best

Google SketchUp: Conceptualisation and Pre-Visualisation at its best

In a relatively short time, Google’s SketchUp has seen its user base go from strength to strength with new users from all sorts of backgrounds encouraged to get into 3D by SketchUp’s short learning curve and ease of use.

For those unfamiliar with Google SketchUp, I’ll provide a quick overview. Essentially, Google SketchUp is a 3D modelling programme aimed at architects, civil engineers, hobbyists, games developers and other related professionals who are looking to create quick 3D content for pre-visualisation or conceptual purposes.

The key to SketchUp’s success is its ability to let the designer literally build up or design from scratch complex three-dimensional geometries with minimal effort. Whether you’ve never used 3D before or have been an avid user of AutoCAD since the beginning of time, SketchUp’s unique intuitive interface makes for a very short learning curve. Coming from a CAD/CAM background myself I couldn’t believe the ease with which I could quickly model designs on screen. After a few hours I was producing conceptual models that would have never been worth modelling in my usual CAD software – I just wouldn’t have had the time and would have instead resulted to sketching out the ideas on paper, losing the visulisation and analytical benefits that a 3D model offers.

Now don’t get me wrong – in no way, shape, or form will SketchUp ever replace our trusted CAD or detailed modelling software. Although there are various plugins available for the export of SketchUp models to various external ray-tracing software renderers, such as Artlantis, the possibilities for detailed high-end models and photorealistic imagery are limited.

Having said that, high-end visuals are not what SketchUp was designed for and because of this it already has a firm place in the professional market as a pre-visualisation and concept design tool. The nature in which things can be quickly moved, changed or edited make it a perfect solution for over-the-shoulder type work with clients, where amendments can literally be made on the fly. Where should the house extension go? Here off the kitchen, no… Maybe off the living room? Maybe I should make it longer; perhaps I’ll add a sofa for some idea of layout… It’s really that simple with SketchUp, and it’s this simplicity that allows for a natural evolution of any design into 3D as though being drawn by hand.

Once you’ve got your concept approved and signed off by the client you can go into your dedicated 3D CAD programs and start getting into the nitty-gritty, leaving you safe in the knowledge that the majority of any major changes have already been made and seen in SketchUp.

SketchUp’s ease of use really does lend it to all sorts of situations. Five months ago I found myself moving house and had the usual dilemma of trying to work out if all of the stuff from the old living room would fit into the new one. Now call me a geek if you will, but first thing I did was boot up SketchUp, mock up my new living room (with accurate dimensions, I might add) and in a matter of seconds I was adding and resizing comparable furniture from Google’s free 3D warehouse database!

Before you knew it, my furniture was all in my new virtual living room, laid out as I wanted – leaving me ready for the move.

Now I realise that in the commercial world, this example doesn’t have much relevance, but it does highlight how practical this software is and how quickly and accurately you can create, build up, model and evaluate 3D spaces. Give it a go – I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Visit Jigsaw24 to buy Google SketchUp

Call us on 03332 409 309  or email 3D@jigsaw24.com with all your 3D queries – we’re happy to help.

Creating impressive digital signage at St Paul’s High School

Creating impressive digital signage at St Paul’s High School

St Paul’s Catholic High School wanted to impress with a new digital signage system. We supplied them with all the knowledge, support and equipment they needed, installing a Scala digital signage system and various extras. Since the installation, staff at the school have been able to have great control over the information displayed around the site.

Updating the school environment

St Paul’s is a Specialist Engineering college for 11-16 year olds in Manchester. As part of the ‘Building Schools for the Future’ (BSF) programme, St Paul’s is working towards updating its technology and facilities.

The staff at St Paul’s wanted to give the school’s entrance a modern feel by installing a digital signage system. The aim was to place two screens in the visitors’ entrance and one in the pupils’ entrance, with a further two screens in the main hall alongside a new projection system. All of the screens needed to be able to play the same information and be changed individually, so that both general and subject specific content could be displayed.

The projection system in the main hall had to have the capability to be used with a laptop, play DVDs, work as additional digital signage, and be controlled from the main hall and a control room above.

Designing the solution

After an onsite consultation, our digital signage experts suggested a Scala digital signage system, including a template starter pack and training on how to use the new setup. We created and branded five templates for the school, which were easy to update and add videos, images and text to by using a simple web interface.

Creating a complete branded signage system

As the installation of the digital signage system got underway, we also equipped the control room with an AV rack unit containing a DVD player, AMX Control system and a SMART-E CAT5 Matrix. This was integrated with an AMX Touch panel system (school-branded, courtesy of Jigsaw24) in both the control room and the hall.

In addition to this, a VGA wall plate was installed in the hall. This allows a laptop or PC to control the output of the projector and LCD screens from either room. DVDs could be shown on the projector and signage on the screens, or vice versa.

Creating original material

The system suggested and installed by Jigsaw24 more than fulfilled all of the school’s requirements. The digital signage template package was just a starting point and the training went a long way. Once staff were familiar with how to create, update and schedule content, they could manage the entire system themselves with very little effort. Now they create all of the content and scheduling used at St Paul’s.

For more information on our AV and digital signage solutions, get in touch with us on 03332 409 306 or email sales@Jigsaw24.com

Using Extensis Portfolio to meet growing business needs

Using Extensis Portfolio to meet growing business needs

The customer came to Jigsaw24 needing a storage solution to meet their growing business needs. Our consultants advised them that Apple Xserve RAID and Extensis Portfolio would give their business the efficiency they needed by having digital asset management. With a searchable database to overcome the original problems with lost or dispersed files, and a backup system in place, they now have the reliability they need.

What they needed?

Our customer is an increasingly successful independently-owned publisher, whose computing infrastructure needed to match the growing business. The company is a specialist in photo-realistic art and creating books that are attractive to their readers. The customer came to us looking for a storage solution. A structured filing system had already been put in place, but even with the best efforts of their technicians, this was easily broken. They felt that they could improve efficiency in centralising their file storage on a server-based RAID with secure shared access. The business anticipated further growth so a solution that allowed expansion was needed.

Searchable images and files using DAM

After considering the problem, our consultants recommended Digital Asset Management. By using a searchable database of images and files, the customer could make best use of their investment in storage hardware. Extensis Portfolio was identified as the most cost-effective solution to meet the company’s workflow needs. In the early stage of consultation, Extensis spoke directly with the customer and ran a demonstration so that the benefits of DAM could be seen. From this, they were convinced that the gains of the Extensis solution would far outweigh the investment in new equipment.

3.5TB of server storage in an Apple Xserve RAID was identified as the most suited to providing standard central file storage for the business, as well as for hosting the Extensis Portfolio application. To complement the storage and asset management equipment, a tape library with capacity to backup between 15 and 30 terabytes of files was obtained. Backup software was included to automate and manage the backup of all their files.

Installation without disruption

We did some preliminary work to minimise disruption to the customer. The server was built and OS X Server software was configured ready for the Portfolio installation. A RAID1 (mirrored disks) configuration was chosen to provide good performance and minimal risk of data loss.

The new technology was to be installed alongside existing network equipment in the customer’s rack, which required the addition of rack-mounted power supplies to cover the server in the event of power outage. Extensis Portfolio was installed and the server was configured for file sharing. The backup software was installed and configured with scripts and a schedule. To ensure that the customer was able to get the most from the new installation, the technical staff received training.

Improved efficiency and availability

As a result of the installation, our customer has experienced greater efficiency to their workflow. All of their initial requirements were met and the backup system ensures maximum up-time and availability of computer systems. The use of DAM means that the previous loss or dispersal of files has now been removed.

According to Paul Scott, our systems installation and service engineer, “As well as higher performance when reading files, a RAID1 configuration was selected for its superior reliability. For example, built from hard drives with an estimated life expectancy of four years, a two-disk RAID1 setup might statistically be expected to suffer total failure only once in every 800 years.”

To find out more about how Extensis Portfolio could help your business, visit our Jigsaw24.com Extensis shop, get in touch with us on 03332 409 306 or email sales@Jigsaw24.com.

Make your own TV channel

Make your own TV channel

Educational Youtube-style projects are quickly becoming a popular way to incorporate creative technologies into curricular and extra-curricular activities, and it’s easier than you may think to set up your own channel. 

There are many companies offering schools the equipment, platforms and training required to create a multimedia broadcasting station that allows users to upload content for viewing and rating by students and teachers. Sites are completely customisable to each school, from the colours and branding to security levels so that only those with a valid username and password have access.

One school using this technology to great effect is Wildern School in Southampton. Katie Broadribb, a teacher at Wildern, spoke at BETT about how the school was looking for a way in which they could develop an innovative project they called ‘EduTube’ – a safe and secure website where the students could upload video, audio and photography to share with fellow students. Wildern were winners of the Becta Best Whole School (Secondary) award in 2007, and had received funding from DCSF’s Innovation Unit to develop this idea as part of a project to bring web 2.0 technologies to schools.

Displaying students’ creative talents

Wildern School enlisted the help of Trilby Multimedia’s ‘Trilby TV’ platform and, in 2007, set up Wildern TV. The site acts as a platform for the students to display their creative talents and also helps to develop students’ (and teachers’) understanding of ICT, media skills, team work and real world issues encountered in the creative industries, such as copyright and funding.

Trilby TV is a fully managed system; the Trilby team take care of any hardware or software issues. When it comes to website content and moderation, the school has the freedom to decide on the best approach. Wildern School decided that Wildern TV was to be a site for the students by the students, and so set up an extra-curricular group called ‘The Wildern Moderators’ who decided what could or could not be uploaded.  Training was given to the moderators by local production companies and regional TV & Radio stations. The students also formed a separate extra-curricular group called ‘The Wildern Producers’, who were all given training in production, lighting, editing and sound.

Engaging students

Since setting up Wildern TV, the school has reported high levels of student engagement and it is even capturing the imagination of disruptive students. It is a platform that anyone in the school can contribute to and its popularity amongst the students means that new content is constantly being submitted.

If you do decide to invest in equipment to set up your own channel, it is important not to leave your teachers in the dark about how to use it. Get everyone involved, from all faculties, and show them how your TV channel can benefit their department. At Wildern School, the students were given a (probably well deserved) inset day, whilst the teachers were split into their subject faculties and set the task of making a film about their own department. This not only taught the teachers how to use the technology, but also demonstrated how fun it can be to make a film; the teachers could now relate to the students’ enthusiasm for multimedia-based projects.

Wildern TV has just reached the end of its first full year of broadcasting and, to celebrate, the school held their very own ‘Wildern Oscars’, a full-on glitzy award ceremony honouring the best films that had been submitted over the course of the year. This could be the start of a great annual tradition at the school and has been well received by the students. With the new incentive to work towards next year’s awards, the standard of film making can only get better.

If you are interested in introducing a project like this to your school, all you need is a dedicated server to run the unique web platform software and store uploaded footage, a suite of powerful machines suitable for video and audio work, and students with a streak of creative flair. If you want to add that little bit extra, why not also look at displaying some plasma screens around your school so that your TV channel can be broadcast throughout the day for all to see? The Apple Macbook and iMac are ideal for producing high quality content in schools. They come pre-installed with Apple’s acclaimed iLife suite, which makes the Mac a movie-making, audio-producing, photo-editing, website-creating, DVD-authoring machine straight out of the box.

To find about more about how to set up your own TV channel, give us a call on 03332 409 333 or email us at learning@Jigsaw24.comFor more news on technology in Education, follow @Jigsaw24Edu on Twitter and ‘Like’ Jigsaw Education’s Facebook page.

Bringing Rendering In-house: The Basic Options

Bringing Rendering In-house: The Basic Options

The most obvious option is to cut out the middle man and build your own dedicated render farm. However, if your performance requirements don’t trump any misgivings you may have about the cost of a dedicated farm, it’s not the only option you have…

A number of render management applications don’t necessarily require dedicated hardware for their render nodes. When a rendering job is submitted these applications can also allow you to utilise the power of your existing workstations and servers, particularly when they’re not busy. This is a great compromise.

Distributed rendering on the computers you already have also helps counter a group of related arguments that are often raised against having an in-house render farm (other than the initial cost) – that a typical office, which is home to, say, 30 workstations, is busy enough already. Or perhaps the server rack is close to being fully populated, so there’s nowhere to put a slew of new hardware.

A great roadmap towards a dedicated render farm


Of course, there is nothing to stop you from combining both options. A distributed render farm, based on the computer resources you already have, is an excellent way to start to enjoy the benefits of in-house rendering – the speed, flexibility and cost savings that you’ll accrue – and as time passes you can begin to invest in dedicated render nodes, adding them as you need them, or as the budget becomes available. Who knows? You could even end up generating income by offering rendering services yourself!

In other words, there is nothing to stop you from gradually creating a hybrid system for rendering. Later, you can even invest the money that you’ve saved by rendering in-house in dedicated rendering hardware.

Adding dedicated rendering hardware makes your facilities ever more efficient and quick to turn work around, all of which clearly helps give you a more competitive commercial and creative edge.

Render farm management software

So, there’s software available that manages not only the jobs being submitted but also the servers and workstations on which they’re being rendered.

Client software can be installed on any workstation to make it act as a render node. It gets better though – more advanced render management software, such as Qube!, can even schedule the times when a particular workstation is to act as a render-node.

The productivity of your artists and designers is never compromised.

The benefits of in-house rendering


  • The rendering process is fully integrated into your workflow, making life easier.
  • The time from submission of the job to its completed return should be much shorter, giving you an edge.
  • You can be much more flexible about submitting and changing jobs.
  • The initial investment needn’t break the bank.
  • It’s easy to scale rendering performance upwards as your needs grow.

There is a clear roadmap all the way up to a dedicated rendering resource without having to discard any hardware or migrate to a new rendering method.

Call our team on 03332 409 309. Email us at 3D@Jigsaw24.com. Visit us at Jigsaw24.com.

Bringing Rendering In-House: Further Expansion – a Dedicated Resource

Bringing Rendering In-House: Further Expansion – a Dedicated Resource

As we have already said, many people exploit “quiet time” on their workstations for rendering; they submit frames for rendering either out-of-hours or opportunistically, and this is a great, cost-effective option. However, there are other factors, such as rendering performance, which mean a dedicated render farm may work best:

  • Artists are more creative – When scheduled rendering is not an option (maybe because of tight deadlines and the need to keep the creative process moving) a dedicated render farm won’t draw on the workstations’ processing power or RAM, leaving applications snappy and responsive.
  • Extreme rendering performance – A dedicated render farm is optimised for fast rendering, so the completed job is returned as quickly as possible.
  • Accommodate new projects with ease – The rack-mounted hardware used in dedicated render farms is fully scalable, so if you start a new project you can “scale out” your render farm by adding new render nodes. In an emergency you can also pull in some workstations as additional nodes.
  • Low profile but maximum processor density – There are hardware options that offer thousands of cores per rack, meaning only around two feet by four feet of expensive floor space for a powerful render farm.
  • Protected by server room facilities – Most dedicated render farms can be located alongside other computing facilities and tend to enjoy the protection and security of uninterrupted power, cooling, industrial grade power feed, and restricted physical access. In other words, maximum uptime.
  • Workstations – Regardless of which platform you’ve chosen, whether it be Boxx workstations or Mac Pros, and whether they’re optimised for professional 3D animation or games development and visualisation, a render farm can be assembled to match.
  • Ethernet switches – Connecting the render farm to your workstations, we can recommend options for high performance or close integration with your existing network infrastructure. Gigabit Ethernet is the most common choice today, although 10 Gigabit is available. Leading brands include Cisco, Juniper, HP ProCurve and 3COM.
  • Render nodes – Using rack mounted blade servers it’s straight forward to build a hugely powerful farm. Great choices here include the Boxx RenderBOXX 10200 system or a bespoke HP C-class Blade system.
  • Storage networking – It’s important to identify the right technology for shared back-end storage. The best option for you will depend on your exact workflow. These options include iSCSI, Fibre Channel, FCoE, InfiniBand, and simple NAS over Ethernet. Each has its specific pros and cons that we can cover.
  • Storage – There are some fantastic options for storage. For example, the Isilon IQ series scales performance right up to 20Gb/sec with 3.45TB of shared storage. Even if the numbers are not your thing, the simplicity of management is compelling. For example, more storage can be added, as you need it, without downtime.

The table below shows some examples of the amount of storage that you may require:

10 minute long footage (14400 frames total, 3 passes) = 43200 images

Resolution       Open Exr File size     Total size of project files

1920 x 1080     30MB (per image)       1296000MB
1280 x 720       14MB (per image)

604800MB
640 x 480          5MB (per image)         216000MB

rendering workflow diagram

Points for Diagram:

A)  An artist clicks the render option in his 3D application and is immediately free to continue with his design work. The job passes to the Supervisor node of the render farm.

B)  The supervisor node breaks the animated sequence into frames and allocates them to specific render nodes.

C)  The render nodes pull files they require from high-speed shared storage and process the frames.

D)  Now complete, the rendered sequence is pulled together and made available to the artist.

Call our team on 03332 409 309. Email us at 3D@Jigsaw24.com. Visit us at Jigsaw24.com.

RS control standards explained

RS control standards explained

What are they? What do they do? What are they for? All three are forms of electronic equipment control communications. They are usually connected via 9 pin “D” connectors although RS-232 can also be found on 3 pin audio type mini jack connectors. Note, any form of electronic path needs 2 wires to complete a circuit.

RS-232

This is, in its basic form, a 3 wire system. The signal wires are Transmit (TX) Receive (RX) and ground (screen, earth or common are other terms used).

The ground is the common return path for both TX and RX. There are other signals that can be connected on the “D” connectors. Unfortunately there seems to be as many different RS-232 standards as there are manufacturers of equipment!

This is an unbalanced system and maximum cable length allowed varies but is no more than 50 ft. It is the most common of the three standards.

RS-422

This is a balanced 5 wire system version of RS-232. The signal wires are TX+, TX-, RX+, RX-. The ground connection plays no part in the signal path. The maximum cable length is 4000 ft.

This system is widely used in broadcasting to connect VCRs, vision mixers, non linear editing systems, transmission management systems etc.

RS-485

This is a modified version of RS-422 and allows multi-point control of equipment with the cables looping in and out of each item of equipment. A unique control code is allotted to each item of equipment. This system reduces cable costs.

To find out more, get in touch with us on 03332 409 306 or email broadcast@Jigsaw24.com.