Sony VISCA RS-422 Control

Update – January 2014: Wow, 3 years later this is still one of the most popular posts on this blog! I’ve had some questions about using this with the EVI-HD1, which has only RS-232 DIN ports. Theoretically, it should work, but you might need to alter some pinouts in the breakout box, and I would highly recommend using shielded/grounded cable, as RS-232 is an unbalanced signal. A reader is going to give it a try, and if it’s successful, I’ll update the post with some pictures.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled blog post!

 

We recently acquired a few more of Sony’s excellent EVI-D70 cameras for use in our chapel for streaming weddings, funerals, and other events in our smaller worship space.

When we remodeled the space a few years back, it was originally designed with these cameras in mind.  The original intent was to provide some additional angles for videographers to use, but the idea never really took off. Due to lack of use, the cameras originally installed were re-purposed for Resurrection Online in the main sanctuary. Things have come full circle now, and the ability to stream services and events from this space is being requested. As a result, we acquired some more cameras, and are in the process of updating the camera system in that room.

The original design used an AMX touchscreen/joystick controller and a custom integration over RS-232, with each camera homerun to the control rack. There were numerous difficulties with the cameras randomly freezing up and not responding to controls, requiring someone to get on a ladder and power-cycle the unit.

As part of the updated system, we’ve ditched the AMX controller and are using Sony’s RM-BR300 control unit which is designed for this particular camera. We also have user familiarity, since we already have one of these controllers in our main sanctuary for the BRC-H700 remote camera mounted on the catwalks (aka, the “SkyCam”). The controller can do Sony’s VISCA protocol over RS-232 (via a Mini-DIN) or RS-422 (via a Phoenix connector).

This is where it got sticky. We have an 8-conductor homerun cable from each camera position, but the Sony controller is designed to daisy-chain the VISCA ports. Each camera has two RS-232 Mini-DIN ports (one in, one out). Fortunately, both RS-422 and RS-232 in this application only require four wires, so we can loop out and back on the same cable.

Due to the annoyance factor of having to re-terminate Mini-DIN connectors, I opted for the RS-422 port which uses a Phoenix screw terminal (Part # 1840434 in case you need to order one – Sony wants an obscene amount of money for them, they’re dramatically cheaper at an electronics supplier like Mouser). RS-422 also has the advantage of much longer signal path due to its balanced signal. Since we’re also adding a new location, I wanted to be able to wire it up with standard Category 6 twisted-pair cabling. This cable also has eight conductors, making it ideal for the task. In terms of flexibility, RJ-45 is king in the twisted-pair world, so I had do design a means of daisy-chaining my VISCA ports via ordinary patch cords.

At first, I was a little baffled by the wiring of VISCA, since the RM-BR300 connector pinout is exactly backwards from that of the one on the cameras, and the documentation provided is a little confusing. Fortunately, the Sony POSC was quick to help and they e-mailed me a wiring diagram for this specific application (and were kind enough to allow me to post it. I translated that into two main components, a breakout box and a standard cable, that would work on either the controller or the cameras.

To make the cable, I simply took a patch cord off the shelf, lopped one end off, and terminated it on the Phoenix connector:

The wiring is as follows:

Now, you’ll notice my wiring diagram shows the orange pair on the first two, and the picture shows green. This is because I found out (after much frustration of tracing signals) that the patch cord I grabbed happened to be wired for 568A rather than the more common 568B. Simply swap orange and green if this is the case.

Once I got the cables sorted out, I then replicated Sony’s wiring diagram with a handful of data jacks. The connections go like this:

I used bits I had on the shelf, but I would recommend using a different jack color for the control input so you don’t get it confused. Once I got it wired up, this is what I had (I colored the control jack black with a Sharpie):

Even if this install only has three cameras, I wired it up for five, to fill a six-way biscuit box that I had on the shelf (these are Lucent/Avaya components):

.. and put the lid on it with some labels:

As for the hookup, set the DIP switches on the bottom of the controller and the cameras to use RS-422 and either 9600 or 38400 bps, and hook them up. Note that they must be in sequence, or the whole chain will be broken if you skip a slot. Plug a camera into #1, it will be #1 on the controller after they self-enumerate on startup, in order of closest to farthest on the chain. Connecting a camera will cause the controller to re-initialize.

Action Shot:

I used a biscuit box, but you could also use a modular patch panel to do the same thing. I hope to use a second category 6 run with an S-Video termination on it (2 pairs) and power (other 2 pairs) so that the whole system can run off a standard 2-cable pull.

  • Ron

    Great info. I’m trying to do something similar with two BRC-300 and two EVI-D30’s. I have to use RS-232 because of the D30’s and not sure the controller can handle different types of cameras at the same time.

    • http://ianbeyer.com Ian Beyer

      The controller manual says that it will disable RS-232 if it detects anything on the 422 line. So, no, you can’t do both. 422 can go a lot farther though.

      You should be able to do something similar with RS-232, since on VISCA, only 4 wires are used there as well.

      • Robert

        What did you do with the Ground? or do you rely on the power for the grounding??

        • http://blog.ianbeyer.com Ian B

          Tying to earth ground at each camera location – although it worked quite well on the test bench without it. That works better on RS-422 than RS-232 because of 422’s balanced signals.

  • Ron

    I’d like to do 422 and get away from the mini-din 8 connectors, but if I want incorporate the older EVI-D30s, which don’t do 422 and only have a mini-din connection, I’m stuck. Right now I’m trying to figure out if the controller can run RS-232 with two different types of cameras. Where did you find your biscuit box?

    • http://ianbeyer.com Ian Beyer

      Yes, the controller will run mixed cameras on RS-232, as long as the mode switch (rotary one on the back) is in Auto mode (position A).

    • http://ianbeyer.com Ian Beyer

      The biscuit box I had was a lucent/avaya box, but any vendor will work. Equivalent boxes:

      Ortronics/Legrand
      Panduit
      Systimax (formerly Lucent/Avaya, this is the one I used)
      Leviton
      Siemon

      There are other manufacturers, but those are the major ones.

  • James

    I’m trying to do the same think w/a D30 camera with no Phoenix connector.  I cannot see the diagrams above, so my question is….Using 568B, which cat5 conductors terminate with the R, G, B and Black of the visca wire?

    • http://blog.ianbeyer.com Ian B

      Having some technical difficulties with the images on the blog, apparently. I’m not familiar with the VISCA wire itself – is that the RS-232 Mini-DIN?

  • Bakkenkl

    Great info, thanks. The part number on the Phoenix connector is typoed… 184034 should be 1840434. But it almost doesn’t matter as nobody carries them. I improvised by ordering a 6 and 3 position connector from Digikey ( they stock those), and glueing them together. 1840379 and 1840305.

  • Ryan A Bob

    What are you using for ground

  • Aurel F Buia

    Hi! This is a great idea and we want to try it.
    On the EVI-D70’s, do you know if you can access an on-screen menu to set colors and white balance?

    • http://blog.ianbeyer.com Ian B

      I don’t know if the camera has an onscreen menu, but those functions can be controlled via the serial ports. 

  • Nathan Firth

    Hoping you or anyone on here has some advice. I have 4 EVI-D100 and a RM-BR300. All of them are brand new. I bought a VISCA cable (RS-232 Mini-DIN) and connected the BR300 directly to the VISCA “in” port on the D100. I clicked the power & reset buttons to auto detect the camera but no matter what I do I cannot get the camera to respond to anything. I’ve fiddled with it for two days and I can’t seem to get any kind of signal. I have read the manual and flipped the dip switches to the correct settings but all to no avail. Any advice or help?

    • http://blog.ianbeyer.com Ian B

      It’s possible you have a bad cable, If it doesn’t work at 38400bps try linking it up at 9600bps on both ends, and see if that works. If that doesn’t work, you should be able to make yourself a direct RS422 cable using the phoenix connectors and a bit of scrap Cat5 wire. 

      • Nathan Firth

        Ian thanks for the quick reply. I tried both baud rates on the BR300 but I couldn’t figure out how to change it on the camera. I’m ordering another cable to see if that does anything. Now if that does not work, can RS422 be converted to RS232? Unlike the  D70, the D100 only has RS232 ports on the back.

        • http://blog.ianbeyer.com Ian B

          I’m not familiar with the D30, but on the D70, there is a really tiny set of dip switches on the bottom for switching between baud rates and protocol, as well as image flip. 

          May also be worth a call to Sony, their support for this stuff is actually pretty good. 

          • Nathan Firth

            Great thank you for your help.

  • John Ness

    so, my church believes in getting away in buying china crap, and they will not buy the RM-br300,  i have came across a controller that they want, here is the link :http://amzn.com/B005ZXDVSU    do you think this controller will work for its cheep price?

    • http://blog.ianbeyer.com Ian B

      I doubt it will work with the Sony cameras – it appears to be set up to control security PTZ cameras. You might be able to get it to work with some extensive programming, but I wouldn’t count on it. 

    • Peter Hagestein

      Hello John,

      We are also considering the same controller or equal ones. There are plenty to be found on the internet. Did you/they bought this controller? Were you able to get it up and running?

      • http://blog.ianbeyer.com Ian B

        If it supports RS-422, it should technically work, but what you’ll save on an actual VISCA controller you’ll end up spending on someone to program it. 

        • Peter Hagestein

          So a controller that can handle VISCA, like http://www.alibaba.com/product-gs/667527150/Keyboard_Joystick_Controller_For_PTZ_Camera.html or http://www.alibaba.com/product-gs/625507373/camera_controller_video_conference_equipment_visca.html would do the  job without additional programming?

  • John Ness

    Have you done a biscuit box yet for the s-video and power? I am very interested in seeing what you came up with!

  • John Ness

    so how are you running the svideo and power?

  • Diycolin

    look for the Telemetrics CP-ITV controller or Telesoft software

  • Pingback: The Sony EVID70, Three Questions You Want Answered « Industrial Cameras: CCD, CCTV, USB 3.0 News and More

  • Syed

    Do you know if this controller will work with the
    EVI-H100S PTZ Camera?

    • http://blog.ianbeyer.com Ian B

      As far as I know, yes. Sony’s pretty good about making it work with all their PTZ gear.

  • Baileywx

    Hi Ian,

    I was looking at the Avue controller to run the Sony H100s.

    How tough is it to program visca protocol into the controller.

    http://www.amazon.com/AVUE-KB3S-multi-protocol-programmable-controller/dp/B0056CM2RQ/ref=reg_hu-rd_add_1_dp

  • joe harris

    Have you figured out how to do this with the Sony BRC-Z330 HD cameras? They have a different RS 422 pin-out than the SD cameras do.

  • Tony I

    I just picked up 3 Sony EVI-D30 cameras and am using a Telemetrics CP-ITV-D100 controller. When I purchased the controller the person who I purchased them from made me an extendable cable Visca DIM8 to CAT5 then used a DB9 to RJ45 adapter. Now the only issue I have is this. I would also like it to be POE. Do you know how this is done and if there is a wiring diagram explaining how it is done?

    • David

      how about detailing your extended cable? I am trying to integrate a PTZ controller that has RS-232 and RS-422 outputs but the cameras (3 of them) are of EVI-D30 flavor, NO 9 pin VISCA connector, only Mini-DIN 8 IN/OUT connectors. Help, thanks David

  • Omar

    Hi Ian,

    Thanks for an awesome much needed post.

    Please do let us know about the HD1 connections. I have a setup with 2 x HD1 and 1 x BRC300 and want to use the RM-BR300 controller with it. All the Cameras have home runs and I don’t have the option to run another wire to the cameras. We were using Telemetrics CP-ITV-D100 controller but it doesn’t have the option to turn ON/OFF so we wanted to move to Sony RM-BR300 or Vaddio ProductionView controller. The perfect replacement would have been the ProductionView since it has seperate ports for each camera but the price point was really high so we decided to get a RM-BR300 instead.

    Looking forward to the solution.

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/320961715044?ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1439.l2649

    For people who are looking for a biscuit box, maybe there is something cheaper out there. :)

  • Yong Ra

    This is very informative. One question I have is what about the ground pin #5. Grounding is not required?

  • JT

    I read somewhere that grounding is needed to not having issue with image quality. Another question I have is how do you connect at the camera Phoenix connector? the same as your wiring above for all cameras (or use the Sony connection layout?). This posting is very helpful, I have 1 camera works, now I am trying to get the remaining cameras connected (only 3 cameras for now). Thanks for your post.

  • JT

    I forgot to ask about S-video termination and power, were you successful in doing that? Sony power end is a little different from standard CCTV, did you manage to make it work. Thanks again.

  • edgar

    Will the wiring shown here work with my RCC1000 Camera Controller?

  • Christoffer

    Hi
    Just built one of these boxes, although I have a question.
    Will be using a rs422 to fiber converter for one camera, but the connection is a 9pin dsub.
    Do you have wiring diagram for rj45 to dsub for use with the box?
    Thanks in advance!