Aerial links go live with Zenith Light

Boxx TV has introduced a new lightweight Zenith transmitter designed for use on remote controlled helicopters or drones for airborne filming in HD.
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Boxx TV has introduced a new lightweight Zenith transmitter designed for use on remote controlled helicopters or drones for airborne filming in HD. “This seems to be a really big emerging market. We are seeing a lot of interest in transmitters for airborne cameras. Zenith is already proven for TV - for commercials, live sports and wildlife documentaries, but it’s also a very useful solution for any situation requiring high quality video from an aircraft,” said Scott Walker, Boxx TV’s co- founder. The Zenith Light introduces just three frames delay, and weighs 400g in its plastic case. Boxx will also custom make units using the buyer’s own carbon fibre case, which can bring the weight down to about 320g, for use on smaller drones. It uses H.264 encoding, for resolutions up to 1080/60p, and is offered in two versions, for HDMI or HD-SDI input. “Most of the market seems to want HDMI,” he said. At the low end, small Sony cameras seem to be widely used, due to in-built lens stabilisation, while at the high end, cameras like Red’s Epic are popular as its modular design makes it easier to reduce weight. At the receiver end there is just HD-SDI output, although Boxx will add HDMI output on special order if that is needed, but Walker believes that most users will only need HD-SDI. The codec can go up to about 30Mbps, but “for broadcast between 10-20Mbps is sufficient for most HD use. Even 10Mbps looks great because the movements tend to be slow and graceful and they are fairly wide shots,” he said. The Zenith transmitter and receiver operate in the licence-exempt 5.1-5.9GHz band. During flight tests Walker didn’t see any breakup, except when he pointed the antennas in the opposite direction. “With the antennas facing the right direction it’s been fantastic; really solid,” he claimed. “The range is fantastic.” He has got up to 2km with this technology, “but it is an easy 500m, and if you know what you are doing you can double or triple the distance.” The Zenith Light can be powered from 9-36v batteries – Walker says that most drones seem to have batteries around 11v. User choices, such as data rates and signal strengths, are configurable using web-based software running on a laptop connected by a Cat 5 cable. Although Walker says the Zenith Light is cheaper than rival broadcast links, at about £10,000 “it is only really applicable if you are going live to air. There are much cheaper systems for monitoring. This is for rock-solid pictures off the aircraft if you are broadcasting live.” David Fox www.boxx.tv

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