Welcome to the latest edition of Rat Chat our company newsletter, intended to keep you up to date and informed on product development activities, new software releases, firmware updates, support-related information and general company news.
New TestManager Software Version and Now Free of Charge!
If you haven’t tried TestManager (our bespoke software developed specifically for testing TV set top boxes and associate services) maybe now is the time to take a look. Growing demand for Smart TVs and IPTV services, combined with more and more of DTV providers offering compelling all-inclusive packages, means that an extended range of set top box types are needed to access and operate these services.
The knock-on effect for the set top box manufacturer is that the associated equipment testing processes have become more laborious and time-consuming.
To help with these challenges we have made a number of enhancements to testing software (TestManager) the most fundamental being the integration of Python, a high-level programming language renowned for its ease of use and advanced scripting capabilities.
By combining Python for writing scripts with TestManager’s in-built database of STB management and control data, complex test procedures can be easily created. Python scripts can also interact with external systems to control video switching or capture, for example.
Example coding and detailed functionality is available on our website. If you have any queries or need help migrating to this latest software version please contact our technical support team.
Our new TestManager Software version with Python functionality is available FREE OF CHARGE to all existing users.
TDC use RedRat devices to automate their testing processes
TDC, the largest telecoms operator in Denmark, are using RedRat devices to automate a number of routine TV set top box testing processes, further to their consolidation with YouSee in 2013.
Subsequent to the corporate merger, TDC’s digital TV product portfolio comprised a combination of DVB-C and OTT Set top Boxes (with and without hard drives) supplied by at least two manufactures. Associated testing processes for such a diverse product mix were laborious and time-consuming.
To increase throughput and to improve overall efficiency, TDC wanted to automate a number of routine testing procedures so started researching potential solutions. The company was made aware of RedRat by a third-party vendor who had successfully incorporated its IR-based devices into an existing testing environment.
RedRat devices and associated TestManager software have been incorporated into TDC’s testing environment and are used to replicate remote control functionality on multiple DVB-C and IP set top box models simultaneously. Testing processes involve repeating a series of typical end-user actions multiple times and analysing the captured data for functionality, performance and responsiveness, as part of an overall QC procedure.
RedRat devices and associated technologies have enabled TDC Group to automate a number of routine testing processes, resulting in greater productivity and improved efficiency.
Client quotation: “RedRat has been responsive to our needs from the outset and has worked in close partnership with us to develop testing software that met our exact requirements. We were already familiar with Python scripting capabilities and wanted to take full advantage of this by incorporating this easy to use tool into RedRat’s TV set top box testing software.” Thomas von Eyben – TDC.
You can find the full Case Study here
Product Development Update
We’ve nearly finished developing and testing the next version of irNetBox – the Mk-IV. This latest version offers a number of new features and enhancements over the current MK-III version, many of which are in direct response to customer requests.
Main highlights of irNetBox Mk-IV
- Direct configuration and management via front panel keyboard and OLED display
- Can be powered via Ethernet (PoE)
- More robust and powerful IR LED driver circuitry
- On-board real-time clock (RTC) for autonomous operation (once firmware support complete)
- Extended APIs for more flexible use, including web pages and protocols
- One expansion header for an RF module (RF4CE or BLE)
irNetBox –IV will be commercially available early 2016 and will offer backwards compatibility with all previous product versions.
RF4CE and BLE
We have made great progress over the summer and have demonstrated control of a number of Bluetooth LE (BLE) and RF4CE devices. Functionality includes channel change, playback, menu navigation and on/off functionality. Depending on demand, more complex functionality, such as motion control will be available in 2016.
As we embark on product development projects with different clients, we are finding that the manufacture of RF and Bluetooth-enabled devices is going through a “renaissance period” because unlike simple IR “point and shoot” control, the RF4CE and BLE pairing process varies considerably, depending on the TV/STB vendor and their associated chain of suppliers.
As a result, product development is becoming more specialised because our standard software and firmware needs to be adjusted to work with the different mechanisms we are seeing. What this does mean for customers, however, is that as we move forwards, we can incorporate unique features into our RF development platform to satisfy the niche requirements of their testing processes and environments.
If you are looking at incorporating RF4CE or BLE capabilities into your existing testing environment we would welcome the opportunity to discuss possibilities with you. We can offer advice and support to your internal teams or we can work independently to develop a purpose-built RF4C4 or BLE testing solution that satisfies your testing criteria.