Recording in a New Age

By Pappageorge, Thomas S. | Security Management, November 1989 | Go to article overview

Recording in a New Age


Pappageorge, Thomas S., Security Management


RECORDING IN A NEW AGE

MICROPROCESSOR. RS-232 PORT. SOFTWARE. WORDS ONCE associated only with computers have entered the vocabulary of time-lapse recorder manufacturers, dealers, and users.

The time-lapse recorder is no longer simply a mechanical closed-circuit television (CCTV) tool that records on tape what the camera sees. It is now an intelligent, programmable electronic device that can communicate with electronic cash registers (ECRs), automatic teller machines (ATMs), and other digital devices. The recorder gathers data from such devices, reads the information, selects items of interest to the user, and overlays the resulting text onto the picture taken by the camera.

Time-lapse recorders are able to communicate with other electronic devices and operate by remote control via an RS-232 port. The RS-232 port is the most commonly used telecommunications interface in the computer industry.

With an RS-232 interface, the time-lapse recorder user can

* combine a complete list of cash register journal data with the video of the transaction scene,

* record identification data of individuals using key cards in access control areas, and

* record all transaction data at ATMs and ATM links such as electronic gasoline pumps and grocery store cash dispensing machines.

Time-lapse recorders have more programmable features than ever before. Key among these are the increased number of alarm features. Some recorders can be programmed to respond differently to suspicious and normal alarm situations. The recorder can, for example, be programmed to trigger a warning light in a manager's office during a suspicious event. The normal alarm output might be the activation of an audible alarm.

Other programmable features include the following:

* Alarm memory. This allows the user to query the microprocessor to find when alarms or power losses occurred.

* Alarm search. When an alarm occurs, the time-lapse recorder marks the tape. When the tape is replayed, the recorder fast forwards to that point for user review.

* Read after write. This important feature constantly verifies that the recorder is being fed good video from the camera, quads, switchers, etc., and is recording a usable signal.

* Recycle record defeat. This allows the user to specify what happens when the tape comes to its end. For instance, the time-lapse recorder could be programmed to rewind and rerecord at the end of the tape unless an alarm had been recorded. In this case, the recorder would sound an alarm to notify the user that the tape had come to its end and needed to be reviewed.

State-of-the-art time-lapse recorders are performing the function of more than one piece of equipment. One example is the introduction of time-lapse recorders with built-in camera switchers. Time-lapse recorders and camera switchers operate hand in hand at the command center of multicamera CCTV systems. The switcher directs the camera recording sequence, while the time-lapse recorder captures the camera views on videotape. By consolidating these important features, two indispensable CCTV components are available in one compact unit.

A time-lapse recorder with a built-in switcher allows the user to program individual camera on/off times, switching sequence, and dwell times. During nonalarm periods, the switcher either sequences according to the user's program or switches between cameras using its built-in software program. An alarm input calls up the switcher's automatic homing mode or a user programmed sequence to ensure the recorder is locked into the cameras with the active alarm.

Not only are time-lapse recorders performing more functions but they are also lasting longer. In the early days of video, most recorders operated mechanically. Because of the number of moving parts, time-lapse recorders had a shorter life and more down-time than they do today. …

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