As we transition into a focus on our third generation of EuroRack video instrument products with Chromagnon, TBC2, ESG3, FKG3, SMX3, DSG3 and DWO3, we agreed it would be good to publish a primer about differences between what we are doing now and what we have done in the past. That’s the purpose of this post, to serve as a living reference and FAQ about anything related to compatibility, new options, or changes in approach.
- Composite and S-Video inputs/outputs support these 2 timings: NTSC and PAL.
- Component (YPbPr/RGsB) and Sync inputs/outputs support these 15 timings: NTSC, PAL, 486p5994, 576p50, 720p50, 720p5994, 720p60, 1080i50, 1080i5994, 1080i60, 1080p2398, 1080p24, 1080p25, 1080p2997, 1080p30.
- In NTSC and PAL modes, full backwards compatibility is maintained with previous LZX modules and instruments.
- Most previous LZX modules and instruments will be able to integrate into a system running in HD timings.
- If the earlier module does not have a sync input or output, you can expect the module will function without additional consideration for video standards.
- If the earlier module has a sync input or output, it likely will not support the new standards, but will still work with the newer modules in their NTSC and PAL modes.
- There will be some exceptions to the two above statements, we’ll create and maintain a list of those modules along with additional notes.
- EuroRack form factor with maximum adaptability. Modules follow a consistent set of design constraints related to ergonomics, legibility of function, and mounting tolerances. All modules adhere to a maximum mounting depth of 45mm. You won’t be surprised by a future release that requires a case with more mounting depth, or find many off the shelf enclosure options that are unsuitable for LZX modules.
- EuroRack power supplies are optional, but not excluded. All modules may be powered directly from a 12V DC input barrel, just like industry standard video equipment from the Broadcast and CCTV industries. However, backwards compatibility is maintained with EuroRack power connectors.
- Low noise no matter the environment. Each module integrates a noise filtering internal power supply that keeps your signal path’s noise floor low whether the power input comes from a noisy 12V wall wart or a precision EuroRack power rail.
- Power budget expectations. DC 12V @ 25mA per HP. 3 Amps per 104HP is a good rule of thumb that leaves 15% headroom over this budget.
The main things you need to know about power are:
- If you’re adding a few Gen3 modules to your combined EuroRack system or earlier LZX system, and your EuroRack supply can support the current, you don’t need any kind of special cable or adapter. Just install the Gen3 module as you have Orion, Expedition and Visionary modules.
- If you’re starting fresh with a Gen3 system, we recommend you skip EuroRack power entirely and power your system with a 12VDC distribution module, bus, or cabling. Combining a passive EuroRack enclosure with our DC Distro module is a good place to start.
- In 2019 we reached the decision that we needed to make an architectural shift in the design of our products. We needed to solve for some performance issues introduced by the variable nature of EuroRack power, and create a better power ecosystem for video processing in EuroRack format. We also wanted to make sure we were fully implementing the capabilities of the hardware and format, by introducing a range of new supported video standard timings. Furthermore, we wanted to standardize all of our circuitry to a common library of hierarchical schematic blocks, make some tweaks to our ergonomic standards, and really create a canonical set of core modules we could commit ourselves to in the long term. In other words: we had stuff to change – and it was better if we could do a complete redesign.
- Throughout the end of that year, we discontinued most of our catalog of modules and began work on Chromagnon, which is meant to be an ark project that allows us to restandardize all the main components of our core circuitry in a single project. Chromagnon is a master design reference for anything to follow (we solve video input, output, tbc, ramp generators, and core analogue circuitry in a single project.) We also swept TBC2, an existing Orion project, into this initiative so that we could ensure we weren’t releasing two TBC type modules back to back with different feature sets.
- We opened preorders for Chromagnon in early 2020, expecting we could be shipping the complete instrument in full by that Summer. The pandemic forced us to close for a few months right as we were, as a whole team, highly focused on getting that job done. The months of uncertainty that year and isolation from each other pushed our entire schedule into chaos.
- In 2021, we were finally able to begin production on Chromagnon. During this year, we built over 700 control board assemblies – while these assemblies represent the bulk of the assembly hours required to build a Chromagnon and most of it’s material costs, they are all still waiting on completion of the rear assembly before we can turn them into complete instruments. TBC2 & The Chromagnon rear assemblies are closely linked to each other and firmware development has been slow going. But as we near the end of Summer 2021 we have solved most of our issues with both projects, and have all essential features working, but were about to get distracted.
- In late 2021 our production team ran out of work, and had taken the Chromagnon assemblies as far as they could go up to that point. Since we had discontinued our previous catalog of products this left us without a product to build, since Chromagnon presales were dwindling and we had no other primary product available for sale. Chromagnon rear board finalization was going well, but we were experiencing setbacks, and new problems – supply chains for our most expensive subcomponent, the Zynq SoC, were becoming more expensive and uncertain. We needed to revise the boards again to take this into consideration – that way we’d have multiple strategies on the path to fulfillment.
- Running out of revenue in late 2021, we decided that we needed to release the first few modules of our new core modular system, and that we needed to engineer their internal sub-assemblies to also be reusable in the final Chromagnon host assembly, this way we are taking two steps forward at once: One toward Chromagnon fulfillment and one toward having a modular video synthesizer system in stock again. It would mean another overall slowdown in the schedule, but at least we would be moving forward on firm ground.
- Coming into early 2022, this plan has worked out well, and is allowing us to continue our work through your support of the new module releases. We’re focused right now on delivering on the long term projects most (TBC2 and Chromagnon), as well as introducing our new 5-module modular system into production to support us while we do that. After meeting these deliverables with TBC2 and Chromagnon, we plan to spend a while patching these new instruments, promoting them, and catching up on educational assets and documentation related to them.
- The Gen3 circuitry is built on the Patchable Video Standard.
- All analogue functions are on 6-layer PCBs with dedicated internal planes for power and ground connections. We found this was one of the most effective methods we have for improving overall performance of the system.
- Texas Instruments LMH1980 is used exclusively to extract timing from sync inputs, using the recommended application circuit in TI’s datasheet.
- All video and sync output jacks are buffered by video opamps and intended to drive a standard 75 ohm video transmission line. There are no 75R termination / loop through options to ensure the transmission line is not hindered by electromechanical contacts in switches. All outputs must be buffered.
- To minimize stackup of propagation delay along a series of rebuffered sync outputs, place modules with lower timing requirements towards the end of your sync chain, or use a video distribution amplifier to distribute sync from your source generator in parallel to all modules. We don’t expect this to be a practical concern for most users.
- Our local analog power supply for most modules uses +/-5V power rails, generated from internal switching DC converters and ultra-low noise low dropout regulators (such as Texas Instruments TPS7A4701 and TPS7A3301). Power supplies for digital parts such as systems-on-module and FPGA subsystems are typically derived directly from the 12V power entry with separate power supplies designed for their needs.
[UNDER CONSTRUCTION: Additional sections will be added to this document over time, as relevant – please feel free to discuss or add questions below]