Using x-keys with Atem switcher. Troubles, questions, etc

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Alexander Kinov

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Using x-keys with Atem switcher. Troubles, questions, etc

PostSat Nov 11, 2017 10:44 am

Hi guys. My topic is not exactly about BMD, but is ATEM related, so I hope it is ok to post it here. Maybe someone has experience and can give me advice. Thanks :)

So. I work with a small TV production team. They use mostly BMD equipment, our switcher is ATEM 1M/E production studio 4k, controlled by X-Keys control panel (and also controlled by the BMD software).
The guys who installed the equipment (it was before I joined the team), didn't leave any schematics and documents, so I'm still trying to figure out the purpose of some connections.

Anyway, what troubles me is that the X-Keys sometimes goes crazy - it stops working and all the indicators on it are flashing. The problem is solved when we restart the power. In the meantime the ATEM switcher still works properly and can be controlled by its software. I have the feeling the problem is caused by bad power connection of the X-keys, but I can't be sure. The X-keys cable goes to some small box. There's one cable going out of the box and going to some small power adapter (charger). There is another cable going out, but the box stays in place that is really hard to reach or see without disconnecting few other devices, so I don't really know what this box is, but I want to find out. I guess this is some sort of converter that connects the X-Keys panel to the ATEM switcher. It's impossible to follow the cable (and there aren't any marks on it). Any ideas or suggestions? Maybe it goes into the Switcher Control plug on the back panel of the ATEM switcher. The switcher stays in a rack in small server room, the access from the back is a bit hard, but I can try to look.

And then, there's another question. The X-keys works pretty fine with the ATEM 1M/E.
The ATEM Television Studio HD (another switcher we have) uses the same software as the 1M/E.
Does this mean I can use the X-Keys panel also with the ATEM Television Studio HD?

Thanks!
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Andrew Martin

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Re: Using x-keys with Atem switcher. Troubles, questions, et

PostSat Nov 11, 2017 3:12 pm

This is a guess in the wild cause there ain't a lot to go with, but
I'd guess the Xkeys is plugged into a microprocessor (arduino maybe) or some small form factor pc of sorts, ( you'll really need to get in there to know for sure) it will be connected to a network switch of some sort ( if it's direct connected to the atem you wouldn't be able to connect the control pc ) so there must also be a network sw. or router inbetween there someplace..

Re controlling the TVS with the same setup you'll have to access that 'box' in order to set it up to connect to the TVS IP address instead of the 1me, so I guess one way or another ur gonna have to dig in and see what you have there..

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Alexander Kinov

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Re: Using x-keys with Atem switcher. Troubles, questions, et

PostSun Nov 12, 2017 8:45 am

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I've attached two pictures of the "black box". No signs on it. On the bottom you can see some sort of slots. Maybe they were used to connect the device to another device for programming...I have no idea. There is circuit board inside with many elements and chips, so it could be some sort of processor/controller. There's network cable that goes to a network switch. Many other cables are going into that switch (computers, various BMD devices, etc), including the ATEM switch. The PC that has the ATEM control software is also connected to that network switch. There are various apps on that PC for controlling HyperDecks, ATEM switcher, Videohub, etc. but I didn't see anything for the Xkeys controller. I have no idea how it was set.

I also wonder what will happen if I connect the network cable of the black box straight into the ATEM switcher. I'm always curious to know how a certain system is installed and how it works. Well, in this case maybe I won't do that, cause if something goes wrong I have no idea how to fix it.

However, when taking out the box, the Xkeys went mad again. I feel it has something to do with bad cables or maybe with the box (everything looks well connected). I have another idea. The Xkeys goes into the box with USB cable. When I have more time, I'll try to look into Xkeys website, maybe there is solution that will help me connect the keyboard to a PC (connected to the network switch, along with the ATEM), and maybe there will be a way to control the switcher without the black box. If someone has an idea. I'll be thankful. If I find something useful, I will also post it here - someone else might need help too.
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Andrew Martin

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Re: Using x-keys with Atem switcher. Troubles, questions, et

PostSun Nov 12, 2017 10:13 am

It does look like an arduino

https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=ardui ... 24&bih=768

https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=ardui ... e&ie=UTF-8

Copy this search line into Google..

arduino: site http://www.atemuser.com
and/or this one...
arduino: site http://www.forums.blackmagicdesign.com
But generally ignore every reference it gives you to the arduino SDI shield, as it's not that.

skaarhoj.com produce panels created with arduino and have a sketch available for arduino, which is prob. what ur running on that box?

Connecting xkeys to the pc will limit it severely unless you look into using justmacros, power shell or similar. Using it natively with the atem software will only allow you to switch sources on the pvw bus.



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Alexander Kinov

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Re: Using x-keys with Atem switcher. Troubles, questions, et

PostSun Nov 12, 2017 8:51 pm

Thanks mate, things look more clear now (and a little bit more confusing :D )
I think that's definitely Arduino, at least that's how the circuit board looks inside the box. I found some useful info on the skaarhoj website and I think their ATEM proxy "box" looks closer to what I have, or maybe it's the same.

Btw, I had to be more detailed about our setup.

We have BMD atem 1m/e production studio 4k switcher. We have Xkeys 124 Tbar control panel, used for controlling some of the functions of the ATEM. In fact we don't really use more complicated macros. The Xkeys is used for basic TV production functions. Like switching different input video sources to the PGM, Preview and AUX outputs. Also some transitions. And also sometimes we need to "turn on/off" the different downstream and upstream keyers of the ATEM. Nothing else. If there is anything else we need, we just use the ATEM software. My plan was to use the same Xkeys controller for the ATEM TV Studio (which is part of our mobile system)...well, speaking honestly, I'm trying to optimize our expenses.
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Andrew Martin

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Re: Using x-keys with Atem switcher. Troubles, questions, et

PostMon Nov 13, 2017 11:01 pm

Well I'm glad we have at least identified what you have there, now comes the fun of learning how it all works together with ur setup.

I thought if anyone of the links would work it was the skaahoj site they have a great reference to arduino and atem well worth a read through their website if you choose to continue with the arduino setup.

Good luck.

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Alexander Kinov

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Re: Using x-keys with Atem switcher. Troubles, questions, et

PostTue Nov 14, 2017 5:31 am

I actually found something on the atemuser.com page. There's app called JustMacros, that you need to install on your computer. Then you connect your Xkeys panel by USB port and there should be a way to map it and use it to control your ATEM control software (software already installed and ATEM switcher already connected to your computer). I think this way I can eliminate the little black box (and we have few computers at the studio, so it's not s problem). I'll see if I have some time to try the solution today or some of the next days and then I'll post my experience here.
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Alexander Kinov

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Re: Using x-keys with Atem switcher. Troubles, questions, et

PostWed Nov 15, 2017 7:58 am

Yesterday I did some interesting experiments. I was able to re-program some keys and behavior of the X-keys panel. However, I had some troubles. When I press some of the keys, their backlight is flashing, but also some other backlights are flashing and I have no idea why. Another problem is that I couldn't make the AUX buttons work.
After some playing, my shift was over and I had to go, cause I had something else to do. So I packed my stuff and connected the Xkeys back to the black box used for controling the other ATEM switcher. But the Xeys didn't work. I panicked and I tried few things. Nothing. Then I really had to leave, but later I came back and while trying to make the Xkeys work I found it was really stupid problem - bad network cable. Everything works now and today I'm planning some more experiments.
However...there is something that worries me a bit and I'll be grateful if someone has information, cause I didn't find one. If the Xkeys panel is just a box with buttons, nothing can go wrong, because the behavior of the unit depends on the black box or the PC. But if there is some sort of memory inside the unit, maybe the unit can be reprogrammed in some way and after that (if I don't know what I'm doing) the behavior of the unit may be different. I don't know, it's just a guess, cause I couldn't find information about that.
Anyway, I'll do some careful experiments later, but if someone else is planning experiments - just be careful what you're doing.

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