I won the auction, now what?

I just bought the following item through ebay: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&ssPageName ME:B:EOIBSAA:US:11&Itemu69988243
It is one of those CCTV camera controllers with joystick, a keyboard and a lcd. My intention is to capture signals using a PC and from there to control my robot. One of the pictures show a cable that looks like an USB cable, so there is hope that they use some standard usb class.
Have anyone of you ever used a control station like that for anything other than well, actually controlling a CCTV camera? Or, do you know more details about it?
Cheers
Padu
PS: I bought it pretty cheap, so even if turns out to be completely useless, well, haven't lost too much.
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"Padu"

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&ssPageName ME:B:EOIBSAA:US:11&Itemu69988243
I was mistaken, looking the pictures closer, the ports are ethernet connectors (RJ45?)
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Hi Padu
There is an article in the new "Robot" magazine that uses WI-FI and ethernet technology to control a bot from your PC:
http://www.botmag.com/issue1/index.shtml
Cheers
|-]
Dale
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"Dale Stewart"

Hi Dale,
Thanks for the link, I just ordered a trial edition of this magazine, seems interesting.
I was thinking that the RJ45 is there for raw signal transmition, it didn't cross my mind that that controller could be network enabled... Do you think it is?
Padu
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Padu wrote:

I think you need to re-evaluate your thiking here.
The pics on the ebay page of the rear panel says: "POWER / COMMS"
Ethernet does not supply power. There are also two connectors showing "POWER/COMMS".
If it were ethernet it would show a network symbol.
I think you need to find a real schematic or manual to help you here.
Donald
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"Donald"

I wasn't thinking it was ethernet, but you're right, I should've deducted that it couldn't be either.

The item description says it is new in box, so I'm hoping for a manual, but I honestly doubt I will get any. I spend some time trying to find any info related to this model on the internet but in vain. Hacking is a possibility...
Cheers
Padu
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Padu wrote:

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&ssPageName ME:B:EOIBSAA:US:11&Itemu69988243
The connectors look like shielded 8p8c connectors. While Ethernet is one system that uses _un_shielded 8p8c connectors it is far from the only one--they were developed for telephone service and were around long before there was such a thing as a computer network. Since they are inexpensive, reliable, and readily available, connectors of that general class get used for many purposes and their presence does not suggest anything about the connection being made other than that it is electrical or electronic in nature and does not use terribly high voltages or currents.
--
--John
to email, dial "usenet" and validate
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"J. Clarke"

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&ssPageName ME:B:EOIBSAA:US:11&Itemu69988243
I couldn't find any information about this specific model, except its manufacturer was bought by one company that now was bought by honeywell and now no information is available. But I was able to find out that other CCTV controllers use either RS232 or RS485. If that's the same for the one I bought, then it will possibly be simple to interface with that.
I'll let you guys know how it goes. Well, it is cheaper than a game joystick and has far more functions and possibilities.
What I have in mind is use this device in two ways: If I connect it directly to the robot's CPU, I will be able to control it directly (it's an ATV, so I will be onboard, and the controller will be my "drive by wire"). The other use is to plug it to my laptop that is wirelessly connected to my robot, then it will work as a remote operator control unit.
Let's see.
Padu
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I think RS485 is pretty standard for CCTV control systems (at least old ones). Did you try emailing Javelin ?
I got a big pan/tilt platform camera that was made by pelco, ancient stuff, but great platform. I politely emailed their techsupport, saying that I had to repair one of their devices (gave the model number etc.) and would appreciate any technical documentation such as wiring and protocols, but could not find it online, probably because it was an old device. They emailed back the full specs, connection diagrams, protocol description, etc.
Usually, there is always some engineer somewhere who has a pile of documentation in a drawer, on stuff he worked on. You just need to find that guy :-). Email, get some names, call left and right, get more names, google them... being really polite and engaging, posing as someone genuinely interested in the history of the company and genesis of the device can get you lots of information. Even if no documentation is really to be found, there is always someone who remembers some valuable tidbits to send you in the right direction. Look for resumes of people who worked at Javelin for example. I personally have been contacted before by some Open Source developer trying to reverse engineer an old chip on which I had worked years ago. they found my resume and noticed I had worked for the company that produced the chip !
bruno
Padu wrote:

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I pulled those docs for my pelco pan/tilt cam, and one of them has some protocol description for american dynamics and pelco. Seems like the most common protocols. I can email it to you...
BTW, once you find out if your controller is RS422 or RS485, you might want an RS-232 to RS 4XX converter if you want to interface with your PC. I got a cheap one from <http://www.rs485.com/pconverters.html
bruno
Padu wrote:

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"bschwand"

Thanks Bruno,
They shipped the unit yesterday, so I should be receiving it this week. Yes, I'd appreciate if you could send me some docs on the protocol. Regarding the RS585, I already have a USB-to-RS485 unit and a couple of ST485 chips. I'm really hoping that it is indeed RS485, because that's what I'm using to connect the multiple sensors of my robot. Depending on the protocol, I could either hang the Javelin unit to my bus or create a separate bus for it.
Cheers
Padu
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On Mon, 12 Dec 2005 23:24:47 -0800, Padu wrote:

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&ssPageName ME:B:EOIBSAA:US:11&Itemu69988243
Did you find any useful information on this device?
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"Just A. User"

Well, I got it but I haven't played with it yet. It has two RJ45's as shown in the ebay picture, and quality of buttons and joystick is ok. I'll open it this week and try to hack it. I'll post the results here later.
Padu
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"Just A. User"

Latest news:
Yester I opened the device to find the power and ground pins on the RF45 jack. I found them and I also got a few more insights:
1-The device uses as PIC16C77 as a microcontroller (nice, I like PICs). 2-It definitely communicates through RS485. I found a MAX487 in there, then I downloaded the datasheet for the MAX487 and traced the A/B signal lines to the RJ45. 3-It communicates at 19200bps. When you power up the unit it displays the following information at initialization (through its LCD) Remote Keyboard V2.04 19200 --- Dest Unit9 My Unit1 -- Retries3 Timeout0
I've plugged a USB-RS485 transceiver to the appropriate pins of the connector and started to listen to signals. When I press a key on the CCTV controller, it seems that the same message is sent 4 times (maybe it has something to do with the "Retries3") and then it displays "Unit not available - 009". I believe it is waiting for some kind of ACK message back. When the joystick is moved, the unit sends data packets through RS485.
I think I'm closer to hacking this thing, the only problem will be figuring out the ACK message and the CRC or checksum algorithm (if any). I'll try echoing back the same message, let's see.
I'll keep posting here what I find out.
Cheers
Padu
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