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  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2019

    Spark,... Issues ?

    Hi All,.

    We've been using a pair of Sparks to (try) to provide extra cameras for motorsport event live streams.
    They're updated to the latest firmware - ver 1911 at the time of writing.

    We use a combination of Hikvision, Dohua, and HDMI-to-IP connected cameras, along with Ubiquti, TP-Link and Netgear networking hardware, and vMix to switch.

    Some of the headaches we've run into are,.. SD Cards not being seen by the Sparks when inserted, network router incompatibility (not passing through NDI data) and the inability of the NDI-HX format to recover quickly from a network drop-out,.. and the Daft Physical Design Items Missing.

    Edit: I forgot about it needing to reboot repeatedly to negotiate the correct HDMI frame size and frame rate with various cameras - JVC-HD7, Canon XA-10, GoPro Hero4 Black - all need several goes to get to 1080p25, some only get to 1080p50 when the camera is set to 25fps.

    I've tested a group of SDHC and SDXC cards, and none are seen by the Sparks, even though they see and record to 32Gb USD Sticks.
    I'd prefer to use SD cards because they're tucked inside and less likely to be bumped or removed while in use by a camera operator moving around.

    But, it's a metal case, so we can mod it, and it's not as fragile as Atomos's plastic

    I've found that the TP-Link PoE router we use for our fixed cameras (in places where an operator can't be for safety), will NOT pass through the NDI data - the Sparks get assigned their IP address with not problems, and can be seen and adjusted via the management webpages, but the NDI communication gets blocked, so they don't appear in the Monitor application of vMix.
    This may be related to the use of the Bonjour protocol for NDI handshakes.

    This obviously is not a fault with the Sparks, but with the routers, so I'd avoid TP-Link 8 port PoE routers. Our solution was to hang our WiFi AP and Bridge off a second unmanaged Netgear router and only use the TP Link unit for the PoE cameras.

    The WiFi performance of NDI-HX.

    It's crap.

    When it works, it's a clear and broadcastable image, but when it drops out, the extremely long GoP nature means it can take and age to recover, if at all - sometimes it has been faster to go in to the management webpage and reboot the Spark then to wait for the HX stream to recover.

    For some reason the Sparks show up in the Ubiquti management console as using 130Mbits, but I think that's saying how fast the connection is, not how much data is passing through.

    NDI-HX needs to be reworked so that it can recover quickly from drop-outs, and the Sparks should have the option to us the full NDI i-frame only stream.
    1080p can come over WiFi with no problem at 4096 to 32,768mbits on rtsp, so NDI should too., 4K may need to be Wired-Only .

    The physical design,..

    Why on Earth wasn't a pair of 1/4-20 threads top and bottom included from the factory ??
    Or a top mount for an E6 or NPF battery cradle ??

    Surely someone at Newtek thought that the WiFi automatically means the Sparks need to be able to be mounted Too A Camera!
    Even the U8vision and Uray RTSP boxes come with those options.

    Top and bottom 1/4-20 threads should be included in a revised desgin, not having them there is just plain daft.

    But at least they're made with steel shells, so can be modded, and not of fragile plastic like Atomos devices

    Overall, the Sparks are a good product, just not a great product. With enough network coverage, faster recovery, and a few physical mods, they'd be a whole lot more cost-effective then the competions products for mobile cameras at events.
    Last edited by PiD Media; 03-13-2019 at 06:34 PM.


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