The trend towards ever tighter platform upgrade cycles in military, security and industrial systems is putting pressure on system integrators to deliver connectivity, fast. Diverse and complex customer needs, such as quickly gluing legacy sensor video sources to modern video over IP networks or consolidating interfacing adaption, media conversion and compression into a single Size, Weight and Power (SWAP) unit, with extended or MIL-spec qualifications, only add to that burden. The search for off-the-shelf solutions to such problems quickly reveals a patchwork of fixed function, inflexible solutions, or software based solutions that do not have the raw speed to minimise video output delay, known as latency; or highly configurable, wide connectivity options that come with an unacceptable power or size requirement. With US goods subject often subject to export license restrictions, and a common expectation that some of the customer’s DNA, such as technology or branding, can be bundled into this ‘convenient’ turn-key integration, the integrator can expect to spend weeks or months trawling the supply chain for a way forward.
Unfortunately the headaches do not stop there. The successful system integrator will also have secured a maintenance, support or similar logistics follow-up role. Comprehensive spares provision, reliable supply, within a quality framework, and service operations know-how are critical. The system client is also reliant on the solution provider to secure the end-users future effectiveness: today’s off-the-shelf solution is tomorrow’s obsolescence challenge, unless the integrator’s supplier has the vision to invest.
In response to this, the new FlexNET family of Small Form Factor (SFF) video management solutions for Video-over-Internet-Protocol (Video-over-IP) systems, aim to provide a comprehensive package of products and support. Launched at an international exhibition by RFEL Ltd. in September this year, it received much attention and praise for its optimised solution. It is designed to provide a suite of highly optimised distribution and processing solutions for the management of low latency video data from one or more sensors, on to the type of Video-over-IP networks, displays and compute nodes that are now commonplace in high end security, industrial and defence vehicles and even airborne systems.
The first product of the line, FlexNet-2, is a Mil-spec, optimised video processing sub-system, powered by RFEL’s HALO™ video processing architecture and realised from the tried-and-tested hardware and embedded functionality of the wider HALO video processing eco-system. The unit is packaged in a rugged, waterproof small-form-factor (SFF) housing and is ready to be mounted straight into any system that needs efficient video management solutions.
Functionally, the device accepts up to four analogue input video channels. It offers multiple options to map two input video sources to a Gigabit Ethernet output, offering extremely low latency channels, and standard compression schemes in addition. There is also developer support for overlay options for symbols, text and graphics, enabling the integrator to truly incorporate this powerful management tool into a user-focussed product. The Ethernet connectivity is configured at the factory for either conventional copper or optical Ethernet connection.
Typical applications include; Consolidation of multiple processing features into a single unit in the design of vehicle vision systems, military or industrial, such as large scale plant or agricultural machinery; the upgrade of outdoor all-weather CCTV systems, replacing multiple video cables with a single network connection, or even leveraging existing structured cabling; and through-life upgrades to PTZ or gimballed optical multi-sensors. With a high performance optical media output as an option, both specialist and conventional solutions open-up; Any designer responsible for passing multiple video sensor data from a rotating structure, such as turret or other single axis machine, will be grateful of a high speed link that can easily pass through a slip ring. The user who must transfer video imagery across very long distances, in an electrically noisy or exposed environment such as an industrial site, oil rig or airport will be able to deploy optical fibre links with considerably increased confidence of a hassle free maintenance period.
The product is a small size, but utilises standard Mil-Spec circular connectors that are easily integrated with standard cabling. With a power consumption of approximately 8 Watts and a wide operating temperature and power supply range, FlexNet-2 is ideal in a space-constrained vehicle or airborne application.
What’s more, RFEL has a roadmap to expand the FlexNet line further. A smaller, flexible, single channel high definition Video-over-IP adapter, with similar gigabit Ethernet connectivity and multiple protocol options is planned for release before the end of year 2015, and with HALO technology underpinning the development work, up to eight channel devices could find their place in the suite of solutions that FlexNet will deliver. With the backing of a successful European multi-national owner (Rheinmetall AG), successful for over 125 years in the automotive and defence market, this story will only run and run.
Further data, pricing and product demonstrations are available from RFEL now. Visit www.rfel.com.
HALO and FlexNet are trademarks of RFEL Limited
All trademarks are the property of their respective owners