Quantcast Burst Electronics Pixie-FS TBC review? - digitalFAQ Forum
  #1  
05-09-2015, 06:25 PM
Towncivilian Towncivilian is offline
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I saw an eBay listing for a Burst Electronics Pixie-FS TBC the other day and was wondering how it compares to the "later", often recommended TBCs like the AVT-8710 and TBC-1000, etc. This one is compact in size like those - is it roughly comparable or better than them?

Here's more info on the TBC from Burst Electronics' website. It retails at over $700 apparently - what makes it so different / special compared to the less expensive consumer TBCs?
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  #2  
05-09-2015, 08:18 PM
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2020 update:

Since this old thread has been bumped, it must be understood that prices mentioned in these 5+ year old posts is not valid, no longer accurate to the TBC market. DataVideo TBC-1000, for example, is routinely now $500+, sometimes more than $825 for a single unit in mint condition. The Pixie may be worth $825 now (still doubtful), but definitely not then. These posts were written back when both used and new TBCs were more plentiful.

And my review of this device is in post#13: Burst Electronics Pixie-FS TBC review?



original post:

For $825 MSRP, I could buy 2-3 DataVideo TBCs.
Even if it were decent, the eBay auction would need to around $225 to be realistically priced. Is it?

EDIT: I see the eBay listing, and it's $100 currently. It's a gamble. There are zero reviewed for this thing online, which is never good. It may just be a Cypress TBC in a custom shell.

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Last edited by lordsmurf; 02-04-2020 at 12:21 AM. Reason: Outdated info addressed. -LS
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  #3  
05-09-2015, 08:20 PM
Towncivilian Towncivilian is offline
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Right now, it's an auction @ $100 with no bids and I'm the only watcher with about one day left on the listing, which is why I'm strongly considering this device.

I had a couple opportunities to get a green/black (i.e. most likely not defective) AVT-8710 for $200 shipped, but I didn't have the funds available until now. And of course the eBay listing ended and hasn't been relisted again so far...

UPDATE:

I passed on it and just won a TBC-1000 for $145 instead. Thanks for your feedback.
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  #4  
05-31-2015, 02:16 PM
dpalomaki dpalomaki is offline
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Based on the rather meager documentation it is an infinite window frame synchronizer, with genlock capability and some built-in proc amp capability. Can do NTSC or PAL, and can do Y/C separation from a composite input. The output format (Y/C or composite) is selected by in an internal jumper setting.

It claims to have 9-bit A/D, 4:2:2 processing, a 4-line adaptive comb filter, and offers AGC keyed to sync level, 52 dB S/N, and frequency response down 1 dB at 5.5 mHz, and is a compact package.

FWIW: it uses BNC connectors, not a cheap thing to do. Would be interesting to know more about the internals. Based on the GOOGLE hits, it is not a widely listed device.
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  #5  
06-02-2015, 10:00 AM
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Eh, that doesn't mean much. The Big Voodoo had all sorts of features, used BNC, and it was a paperweight.

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  #6  
07-01-2015, 07:17 PM
dpalomaki dpalomaki is offline
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Had hands on to examine the Burst Pixie-FS innards, but not to do electrical tests.

The guts include the following ICs:
AT17LV256 EE Programmable Serial Memory
LM39401S power regulator
TI 5150AM1 NTSC/PAL/SECAM video decoder
24LC32A Serial Electrically Erasable PROM
ATMEL ATMEGA168 Flash memory
XILINX Spartan XC2S15 field programmable gate array
AVERLOGIC AL422B-PBF 32Mb dram (4 each)
LMH6643MA dual output amp (130 MHz bandwidth)
NXP SAA7113H 9-bit video input processor (A/D)
NXP SAA 7121H digital video encoder (digital YUV to s-video and composite analog)

- The manual says you should have a vector scope and waveform monitor to use the device.
- That is, apparently no way to tell what the stored settings for contrast, brightness, saturation, hue, etc. are except by observing the waveforms.
- s-video or composite output is selected by an internal jumper. The other internal jumpers are not documented.
- s-video or composite input is selected with the Mode and Inc/Dec switches, as are proc amp, NTSC/PAL, and genlock settings settings
- It requires a 5 volt DC, 0.5 amp wall-wart to power it.
- The case is extruded aluminum ~0.06" thick
- overall about 5 1/4" x 2 3/4" x 3/4" including connectors.
- build quality look decent, a cute device, but not one for folks who like knobs, switches and readable settings.
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  #7  
02-03-2020, 09:18 PM
latreche34 latreche34 is offline
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I got the Burst Pixie-FS TBC today and opened up the hood to take some pictures, Tests will follow after I gather some tapes from the thrift store:













Attached Images
File Type: jpg IMG_3953.jpg (96.1 KB, 67 downloads)
File Type: jpg IMG_3954.jpg (84.9 KB, 68 downloads)
File Type: jpg IMG_3955.jpg (151.4 KB, 69 downloads)
File Type: jpg IMG_3956.jpg (108.2 KB, 67 downloads)
File Type: jpg IMG_3957.jpg (106.2 KB, 68 downloads)
File Type: jpg IMG_3958.jpg (99.7 KB, 70 downloads)
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  #8  
02-04-2020, 12:26 AM
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lordsmurf lordsmurf is offline
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OOooo.... interesting. But let's see how it actually performs.

Given the above data, then your images, this may actually be a Cypress as I guessed many years ago. But the problem is then good vs. bad chips (aka green vs black AVT-8710), meaning nothing new for sale is any good. Only old models are acceptable.

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  #9  
02-04-2020, 11:05 PM
latreche34 latreche34 is offline
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We don't know if these Pixie devices are new old stock or newly made, Only tests will show how good they are. I still have the black Avttool, I want to get rid of it but I don't want to break someone's hopes, Maybe I'll list as "defective", After all that's the best word to describe those boxes anyway.
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  #10  
02-05-2020, 01:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by latreche34 View Post
We don't know if these Pixie devices are new old stock or newly made, Only tests will show how good they are. I still have the black Avttool, I want to get rid of it but I don't want to break someone's hopes, Maybe I'll list as "defective", After all that's the best word to describe those boxes anyway.
Based off chip ages, your exact Pixie unit looks like really old NOS.

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  #11  
02-05-2020, 10:07 AM
hodgey hodgey is online now
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The SAA chips are philips branded, which would suggest it's a bit older. Newer ones would have NXP branding instead, slightly older ones were produced by Trident before they went bust.

The SAA7113H sits between the SAA7111 used in the datavideo units and the SAA7114 that's in the cypress ones. It's also been used in a bunch of older capture cards, including the original EZCap.


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File Type: pdf NXP catalog.pdf (2.27 MB, 3 downloads)
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  #12  
02-09-2020, 12:46 AM
latreche34 latreche34 is offline
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The first test, total failure, This thing has a weird zebra/checkerboard pattern on almost all colors, It must be defective, Going back to the seller. Here is a screen grab:


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  #13  
02-09-2020, 04:31 AM
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This is literally the worst TBC I've ever used. And that's having used lots of TBCs.

Both of my units are complete POS. Both are definitely used. One has marker scrawled on it, and the other has a broken INC selector button. Not NOS whatsoever. Used and abused.

As usual, the seller claimed "very good condition, clean, fully tested". All of that was BS. Not good condition (broken), not clean, and clearly no testing could have been performed.

- The output of the 1st unit is just random distortions.
- The 2nd has the same frame sticking problems of a black AVT-8710 -- actually, MUCH worse. The JVC menus are not just sticking, but insanely distorted, and chroma and luma have differing distortion. The distortion is similar to what you can see from an Elite BVP4+ when you crank the knobs hard left or right, and the values are out-of-bounds/illegal.

Because the POS TBC has zero reset functionality, there's no way to know where any of the values currently are, not being the original owner. The official document states to simply "used a scope". So you find yourself randomly pressing the INC/DEC (increase, decrease) buttons.

This TBC was designed by morons, and should be avoided at all costs.


I vaguely recall testing a new Pixie at least 10 years ago, and came to a similar conclusion then. I forget what exactly was wrong with it, but I do recall rating it "DO NOT BUY", lumping it with Big Voodoo and broadcast rackmount units. Complete worthless, and ridiculously expensive (at the time, $800+ when MSRP for DataVideo was $500+), so double punishment.

I'm sure many a clueless "professional" bought these over the years, to go with their quality-losing 4:1:1 Canopus ADVC DV boxes, and low-quality 6-head VHS VCRs.

After we return these, and report as damaged malfunctioning goods, I'm sure the seller will just slap them back onto Amazon, recycling the "very good, clean, tested" lie. Somebody else will be a buyer victim, but the new buyer may be clueless enough to think that's how TBCs are supposed work, so the buyer will use it to convert ruin his/her videos. Worse yet, the buyer may see the bad quality, then deride all TBCs as bad, eventually discovering the still-bad use of a Chinese HDMI converter like certain Youtube rubes claim to be "best" (but better than worst still isn't good, and certainly not "best").

Another test, another waste of time.

I'll take some test captures this week, before returning, and post those here.

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  #14  
02-09-2020, 04:53 AM
msgohan msgohan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
Because the POS TBC has zero reset functionality, there's no way to know where any of the values currently are, not being the original owner. The official document states to simply "used a scope". So you find yourself randomly pressing the INC/DEC (increase, decrease) buttons.
Do dpalomaki's Reset instructions work?
Quote:
Originally Posted by dpalomaki View Post
My test was not a detailed or comprehensive one, more a look at it and its internals. I did not have a good selection of sloppy signals in need of TBC available to use to test effectiveness.

Not covered in the manual is factory reset (e.g., to unity gain). I believe you turn the mode dial to "0" and hold both "INC" and "DEC" buttons when you apply power.
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  #15  
02-09-2020, 03:55 PM
latreche34 latreche34 is offline
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I've already printed out the return shipping label, thank god I don't have to pay to ship it back, I will leave a nasty feedback at the product's page on amazon.
Lordsmurf, Removing the power cable resets all the values to default, Just to help you doing the tests, I know you're returning it, So you will have to set the S-Video/Composite and PAL/NTSC values every time you disconnect it from power.
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  #16  
02-09-2020, 06:32 PM
dpalomaki dpalomaki is offline
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I note the regulator IC, LM3940, has what appears to be a tantalum capacitor next to it (orange thing in the attached photo). I wonder if it has failed? I have had gear exhibit a high failure rate with them.


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File Type: jpg TantCapture.JPG (19.1 KB, 5 downloads)
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  #17  
02-09-2020, 08:23 PM
latreche34 latreche34 is offline
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Also possibly that red goo is shorting out something, I don't see myself going into the trouble of fixing it. Maybe Lordsmurf wants to try it if he has some electronic components laying around.
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  #18  
02-10-2020, 02:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by msgohan View Post
Do dpalomaki's Reset instructions work?
Nope. Though #1 may be because the INC is broken, and #2 outputs a garbled signal.

Quote:
Originally Posted by latreche34 View Post
Lordsmurf, Removing the power cable resets all the values to default,
Nope. #1 arrived with off values, and yanking power doesn't do anything. For example, #1's brightness was insanely high, and contrast was insanely low. Unplugging #1, testing #2, unplugging #2, then test #1 again showed the same adjustments.

DataVideo and Cypress remember settings session-to-session, and require manual resetting. (I actually like this, because I've always preset TBCs when selling to others, they can plug-and-play. The VCRs, by contrast, always reset, must step a person through it before 1st use.) So while it does seem to share some Cypress chips, it's not a clone.

I actually wonder if Pixie is a (poorly) reverse-engineered Cypress?

Quote:
Just to help you doing the tests, I know you're returning it, So you will have to set the S-Video/Composite and PAL/NTSC values every time you disconnect it from power.
These did not reset on the unit not giving me garbled output. No idea what the garbled unit is doing, because it's just outputting crap.

Quote:
Originally Posted by latreche34 View Post
I don't see myself going into the trouble of fixing it. Maybe Lordsmurf wants to try it if he has some electronic components laying around.
Nope. Perhaps if this was a known-good TBC, I'd be more inclined to repair it. But repairing a problem unit is just wasting time. Sort of like repairing a Funai VCR, completely pointless, worthless whether functioning or not.

I will spend some more time playing with it, but not much, more important tasks to do.

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  #19  
02-10-2020, 03:06 PM
latreche34 latreche34 is offline
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That's weird, Because my unit looses all the settings when I power it off, I set the brightness to high until everything clips off and power it off and on and the video looks normal, I did the same thing with other settings.Though I'm not sure if the default settings are the right settings.
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  #20  
02-11-2020, 07:49 PM
dpalomaki dpalomaki is offline
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Interesting. Proof of the warnings about buying used gear from ebay.

Have my hands on the unit I looked at 3 years ago. Powered it up and fed several test patterns to it including color bars and it appears to work. Also fed a bit of Fantasia VHS to it from an AG-1980. The default brightness and contract were off a bit (no time to adjust them yet), but the colors are correct in the vector scope. The black burst, white and gray waveforms appear to pick up a bit of noise fuzz compared to the generator output, visible on an o-scope but not obvious on the monitor I was using.

The unit is a PITA to adjust, the dials is tiny, the inc/dec buttons small and too close to other ports, and the manual is sparse at best. While most settings are stored it takes ~15 seconds for a setting to be stored. Having waveform monitor is a important requirement.

This appears to have been designed to sit in the back of a rack having been adjusted to meet the requirements of a fixed configuration modest cost studio and control room layout where one can set it to compensate for cable runs, etc., and forget it because nothing changes on a day-to-day basis. It is not especially suitable for applications where it may be necessary to tweak settings for each new tape/source several times a day

And I have no idea how well it handles sloppy sync source videos.
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