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HDcctv: Back to the Future, or Ahead to the Past?

SSI blogger Bob Grossman digs into HDcctv and shares his thoughts on who should implement the technology.



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At ISC West 2014 last week, the HDcctv Alliance provided a first look at the new generation of HDcctv 2.0 surveillance technologies and products. As this is a technology that has been mentioned on and off over the years but never really gained traction, I thought I would avail myself of this opportunity to understand a little more about HDcctv. What you are reading here reflects my take on the technology and the market, not necessarily the staff and/or advertisers of Security Sales & Integration. And the capitalization (and lack thereof) for the term HDcctv is in accordance with the spelling used by the HDcctv Alliance Limited. Ok, all disclaimers present and accounted for.

The premise of HDcctv is that you can get a really good high definition image without the complexities of IP and Ethernet. It essentially builds on the consumer technologies, as set forth by the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) that we are familiar with on our HD TVs at home. That is, images can be 1080p or 720p and utilize legacy cable and connectors. So your camera would have a BNC connector, your DVR would have a BNC connector, and you would plug them in together, and they would work without further configuration. Sounds good so far, right?

The resolution side of this is a mixed bag. A 720p image is roughly 1 megapixel (921,600 pixels) while a 1080p image is roughly 2 megapixels (2,073,600 pixels). When looking at HDcctv 1.0 (the older standard), images look incredible since they are not compressed in any way. And, in addition to the simplicity of connecting cameras (no IP addresses or drivers to worry about), Dr. Todd Rockoff, Executive Director of HDcctv Alliance Limited, a nonprofit group that is responsible for the technical interface specifications, is quick to point out that HDcctv cameras are cheaper too.

While HDcctv touts the use of a digital signal (the SMPTE high definition serial digital interface, or HD-SDI) over legacy cable, there are distance limitations (100 meters, the same as Ethernet), the standard did not account for camera configuration or PTZ control, and there’s no way to power devices over the cable as with PoE. And I personally question the use of legacy cabling and connectors for a digital signal; a badly crimped or twist-on BNC connector won’t simply degrade the signal, it will demolish it.

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Article Topics
Video Surveillance · Blogs · HDcctv · HDcctv Alliance · ISC West · All Topics

About the Author
Bob Grossman
Bob Grossman has held positions in all areas of the security industry — giving him plenty of opportunity to learn from his mistakes! He has spent time as an end user, responsible for security, surveillance and low-voltage electronics at Bally’s Park Place, a major Atlantic City casino. As a senior project manager for Sensormatic Electronics’ Enterprise Accounts group, he learned first-hand the difficulty in translating ideas into reality while staying on schedule and under budget. He has worked for both Vicon Industries (as vice president of Customer and Technical Services) and American Dynamics/Tyco Safety Products (as director of Product Line Management), with responsibilities that included pre- and post-sales support, project design, product line management, customer service and sales. Bob has authored several articles for SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION and other publications and has spoken at numerous industry events both internationally and in the United State. Currently the founder and president of R. Grossman and Associates, a consulting firm, he divides his time between project-based work for large integrated systems and product consulting for a variety of cutting-edge manufacturers.
Contact Bob Grossman: rdgrossman@tech-answers.com
View More by Bob Grossman
HDcctv, HDcctv Alliance


By Zeph on April 28, 2014

No, I don’t believe I missed the point you were trying to make.  You said IP is better than HD-SDI for CCTV.  I disagree with your point.  I believe both are suitable in different situations.  SDI has been in existence for many years and will continue to do so.  Real time video without compression is a very good option.  Today SDI supports up to 3Gbits/s transmission, going to 6 Gbits/s rates..  SDI supports simultaneous transmission, camera control, power and a greater distance (up to 220m) over a single coaxial cable.  There are even HD-SDI repeaters in the market that will enable up to 1Km with simultaneous power, camera control and transmission over a single coaxial cable.  These solutions can be used with existing, already installed, coaxial cable.

By Fadi Tabbara on April 27, 2014

Zeph, I believe you are missing the point of the article. The article is about IP vs HDcctv not about what you can or you cant do with coax cable/SMPTE/etc. I think it will be insane for you to compare all the things that you can do with an IP camera and cat5 to HDCCTV and Coax. The direction of the industry is your best proof. Fewer companies are doing R&D on HDCCTV and this technology will eventually die. The hottest topic on the market is the “internet of things” and the vision of having devices collect data and report back creating knowledge and smarter systems that can interact with you, like Nest.

By Zeph on April 23, 2014

Bob,
I disagree with your analysis.  Our devices (EqcoLogic ; now Microchip Technology) enable 3G SDI, plus camera control, plus power, plus up to 220m over a single coaxial cable.  They are fully based on the SMPTE standard.  Uncompressed real time video is much better.

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