The next series of switchers, launched in 1978 only three years later, was a major jump forward introducing the now industry standard “Next Transition Operation” concepts including the first patent for “Transition Preview” now copied by almost all higher end switchers made in the industry.
A great example of the second generation of switchers is the RVS-508, a 2.5 MLE switcher that sold successfully all around the world. As before, the 508 eventually became a line of many different sizes of switchers known as “the 500 series”. The RVS-508 and RVS-505 were used extensively by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation during the 1982 Commonwealth Games held in Brisbane.
Analog switchers, such as the 508, were very challenging to manufacture compared to today’s digital switchers. Depending on the size of the switchers and the options purchased, a large analog switcher could spend 4 to 8 weeks in the test department being calibrated before it was ready for a customer to use! Today, of course, a 4 MLE digital switcher can be tested in less than a day!
The 500 series switchers predated the use of microprocessors and high speed serial communication between the control panel and rack frame electronics. Dozens of cable bundles were used to connect between the panel and the rack frame. The cable bundles contained many wires to individually connect the buttons, faders, and knobs in the panel to corresponding sections of analog circuitry in the chassis. As the distances between the control panel and the chassis were different for every customer, the calibration of the circuits in the frame would have to be custom adjusted for the length of the wires going back to the control panel. There is a sad but amusing story of one customer that wanted a quick “touch up” to his switcher and sent it back to the factory with all of the cables cut. The “touch up” turned into weeks of recalibration work.
Later in the life of the 500 Series, when customers wanted memories for their switcher, this was no simple task to add. There was a very expensive switcher option for the 500 series called “Encore” that added a large chassis to the system. The control panel was connected to this chassis and all of the knob and button sections were converted to digital. This was then stored in a microprocessor for later recall. The processor then took the desired values and converted them back to analog and sent them to the main switcher chassis, as if the chassis was talking to a control panel. Clearly, there was an opportunity here for a revolution in production switcher technology!