Customer Control Room Goes Down and Reveals Deficiencies

Customer Control Room Goes Down and Reveals Deficiencies

September 13, 2010 I get a phone message that the control room switcher will not function.  In a few hours I appear to check this report out.  The switcher will not work but I figure I must rule out the sync generator.  At first I can not see any sync signals due to my unfamiliarity to the waveform monitor.  I finally find what appears to be good sync going to the switcher.  We discover that the sync generator has a password and no one has the code.  I start to check out the switcher.  I noticed that two LED indicators are out on the main frame electronics.  The control head responds to reset and control head function checks but will not switch.  When the front panel to the main frame electronics is taken off, I notice that there are nine tiny LED indicators on the front left side of the main circuit board.  All LED’s are green except number three is orange.  Service documentation fails to tell me what the LED’s mean.  The documents only say that the blue LED’s must all be on.

September 14, Grass Valley requests that I obtain a boot up record of the switcher start up by connecting a computer to the switcher serial connector using Hyper Terminal and using 9600, N, 8, 1.  I get a good read out and capture it to my Mac laptop using Boot Camp and Windows 98.  I send the file to Grass Valley but they can not read it and advise that I zip the file.  I do so and they said that the read out appears to be from the control head.  I had no idea that the main electronics package has capability and different boot record.  I try to get a read out but NOTHING comes out of the computer port.  Grass Valley advises that it looks like the internal computer has possibly died.

E:Mail to customer: I checked the sync generator and it seems to be ok but Grass Valley and I think there might be a very slight possibility it might be at the root of the switcher failure.  I give that possibility about a ten percent chance.  When looking at the switcher, it shows failure.  There are five LED indicators on the front panel and they are ALL expected to be lit.  Two are NOT!  The one that really bothers our technical support guy and me is the one called “Ref”.  We both think that might refer to the black burst input signal not being liked by the switcher.  GV tech support does not seem to know what the LED lights indicate.  Black burst looks almost perfect to me when viewed on the waveform monitor, which is why I think the problem is switcher and not sync generator.  Next , inside the switcher unit there are nine very small LED indicators, that can only be seen with the cover off.  One shows orange and all the others show green.  Grass Valley technician compared their test unit with ours and a different single LED was orange.  This too points to the switcher having a problem.

A very wonderful Grass Valley technician, suspects the real problem is the switcher computer module inside the unit and thinks we should send the whole unit back for exchange.  The exchange price will be $9,769.00.  Once we tell them we will pay for the exchange, they will ship us an exchange unit immediately and we should get it the next day!  A second option:  Grass Valley will repair our switcher for $6,839.00 but that will take two weeks.  We MUST go with the first option, immediate exchange, in my opinion.

Grass Valley wants me to do one more trouble shooting procedure.  It is a bit weird.  I have to hook up a Windows computer with RS232 connection and use Hyper Terminal to read the switcher boot process.  They want me to send the text file that this process generates to see if he spots some item that he is missing and might redirect our efforts.  I will come in Wednesday to attempt to complete that procedure.  Once we get the exchange switcher in, I suspect it needs to be configured and not sure how much effort that will take.

September 15:  Trying to get authorization to get switcher repaired.  E-mails are traded back and forth to accomplish this.

September 16: Purchase procedure continuing.

September 17: Purchase procedure continuing with one problem after another cropping up:

  • Grass Valley can not call into the customer’s area code.  Grass Valley complains to its phone carrier and later this day the phone lines connect.  This delays the fax process between the customer and Grass Valley and technical support notifications to about five customer employees involved in the equipment purchase swap.
  • Grass Valley originally sent a price quote to me by e-mail.  Customer purchasing department asked for a letter head quote but this was delayed by phone problems.  It took close to half a day to convey the need and response to provide that document.

Once I had the swap out main electronic package I then placed it on top of the existing unit and one by one removed each video BNC cable from the broken unit into the new unit so as not to make any mistake. 

I then switched out the switcher boxes by removing the broken unit and screwing in the new unit into the rack panel.

I could not find any memory stick configuration save for this unit so I had to use the system flow diagrams and figure out the cross point programming for each input.  This part of the installation created some white hairs on my head.  I later found out that the company that installed the system hired a Grass Valley engineer to do this part of the installation.  The payoff for learning how to do this part of the installation is I now have a good feel for making system changes when needed.

Once I had the switcher up and running, I definitely took the time to save the switcher configuration on to a USB finger drive.

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