Rat Chat December 2016

Rat Chat December 2016

Welcome to the winter edition of Rat Chat, RedRat’s company newsletter, intended to keep our customers informed on product development activities, new software releases, firmware updates, support-related information and general company news.

In this issue:

  • 2016 roundup
  • Product and software updates
    •     irNetBox IV –  now launched
    •     RedRat Device Manager software
    • RedRat development kits
    • RedRat X – latest updates
  • Price changes
  • Season greetings

We hope you find our newsletter useful and if you have any comments or suggestions for topics you would like covered in future issues, then please send an email to newsletter@redrat.co.uk

2016 roundup

2016 has been an active year for RedRat; we’ve launched a fourth-generation version of our flagship IR controller (irNetBox-IV), started working with several customers on RF remote control solutions and development of our new, standalone USB device (RedRat X) is well underway.

Work on or software applications has focussed on improving usability and reliability. While this is still work in progress, a couple of points of interest are:

1. Automatic updates: Our applications will now check for updates and prompt for download and install if wanted.

2. RedRat Device Manager, the replacement for the IRNetBox Manager, can be used to setup and manage all RedRat devices. It can also be used to download and apply firmware updates for all current devices (apart from the RedRat3-II).

Our RF module evaluation kits are gaining traction and further to attending IBC (one of the world’s largest broadcast events) earlier this year, we received a lot of interest and positive feedback about our Bluetooth and RF4CE products. The industry is still in a transitionary phase as many STBs have dual IR and RF control technologies, but there is concern about how well STB control automation will work in the future when IR is phased out completely.

We are working with customers to support RF kits evaluation and use in a number of testing environments (in the US and Europe). We are expecting to see them being increasingly used for mainstream testing during 2017 and where possible will share experience gained via our website.

Product Update

The irNetBox-IV

We formally launched irNetBox-IV at IBC in Amsterdam this year, and it has now replaced all previous irNetBox versions. Just like its predecessor, the new irNetBox provides independent control for a maximum of 16 individual set-top boxes and is fully supported by RedRat software.

The irNetBox-IV offers many benefits over previous product versions including:

  • Easier network configuration via the front panel keyboard and OLED display
  • Power over Ethernet (PoE)
  • More robust and powerful IR LED driver circuitry
  • On-board real-time clock (RTC) – to support future autonomous operation
  • Extended APIs – for more flexible use, including web pages and protocols

RedRat Device Manager Software

To ensure a smooth transition to our latest product version, we have developed a new software application – RedRat Device Manager – which, we hope, will simplify installation and set-up processes for new and existing users. This replaces the older IRNetBox-Manager application, and provides an intuitive interface for initial device installation, firmware updates, testing IR output and control of STBs

Please note that RedRat Device Manager is not an end-user application; its intention is to give customers the ability to test the basic functionality of newly installed units before going live. Once the new irNetBoxes have been installed and configured correctly, other software applications and scripting tools (Test Manager or Python, for example) can be used. Full details on how to make best use of RedRat Device Manager can be found on our website http://www.redrat.co.uk/software/redrat-device-manager/

RedRat X

Development of our new, standalone device (RedRat-X) is going well. We are currently undergoing compliance testing processes and we expect these to be completed early in the New Year. It is currently anticipated that the new devices will be commercially available towards the end of Q1.
The RedRat-X is a hybrid device that can be controlled via USB or LAN, contains IR input/output capabilities (blaster as well as three independently addressable ports) and is designed to accommodate one of our Bluetooth or RF4CE RF modules.

This unit is a replacement for our USB RedRat3-II device, which will be phased out in the next few months. The RedRat-X will retail at £250 GBP (ex VAT).

RedRat RF evaluation kits

Our evaluation kits have now been successfully incorporated into RF4CE and Bluetooth STB testing environments of several large set-top box manufacturers and broadband companies, mainly in Europe and the US.

The kit includes the necessary components and software to facilitate easy incorporation of RF testing scripts into current IR testing processes for evaluation purposes before manufacturers and vendors move to a mixed or totally RF testing environment.

Details of the kit can be found on our website – http://www.redrat.co.uk/products/#rf-module.

One of the primary issues when working with RF control protocols is that they are not simply recorded and played back as with IR. It is necessary to determine full details of the Bluetooth or RF4CE setup before being able to pair with and control a STB. This may include advertising data, attribute and service tables, profiles used etc.

So far, we’ve had to work with each type of STB in our office to observe RF communication taking place and so extract the necessary information. It is becoming clear that this is not always possible, so we are working on software tools to be used with our RF kits to help customers extract this information themselves. These tools are still work in progress, but if you would like to become involved in our product development programme, then please call us on +44 1799 520092 or send an email to info@redrat.co.uk.

Twitter

Don’t forget we are now on Twitter so please follow us @RedRatSW to receive updates on product developments, new software versions and relevant industry news. New for 2017 will be a RedRat LinkedIn page!

Price change

From the 1st Jan 2017, the prices of some of our products will be increasing:

  • The USB RedRat3-II – £100 (ex VAT)
  • The irNetBox-IV – £1000 (ex VAT)

These changes reflect the change in the value of the UK pound, and also the increasing cost of working with the latest technologies used in Smart TV and STB control.

And lastly….Season Greetings
Finally, we would like to wish all our customers a happy festive season and a prosperous New Year.

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