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DCZ: do I need to install the drivers, and how does the OS manage the items?

The DCZ is an USB keyboard that helps the VMS user to improve the camera and system management.

Most of the VMSs support HID (Human Interface Devices) Game Controllers to interface with the server, and to control VMS functions and mobile PTZ units. The set includes Milestone XProtect, Genetec Omnicast and Security Center, Exacq Vision, Sony Reashot Manager, Seetec Probox and Enterprise, etc.

Windows Operating Systems do have a native driver to recognize HID Game Controllers; when the DCZ works in HID mode (factory default configuration) there is no need to install additional software components to your machine to work with the keyboard: just connect the USB cable, and wait for the Operating System to finish the auto-installation procedure.

Latest firmware releases for the DCZ (fw 7b when this article has been published) allow the Operating System to recognize and use all the main items of the keyboard itself: 38 buttons, 3 axis Joystick, Shuttle Ring, Jog Dial.

The Shuttle Ring adds another axis to the list: X-Rotation.

The Jog Dial (the circular inner part of the Jog&Shuttle knob) is actually recognized as a couple of additional buttons, mapped on #33 and #34: if you turn the Jog Dial 1 step clockwise, the DCZ emulates the press-and-release sequence of button #33; if you go counter-clockwise, same events occur on button #34. The OS therefore sees 40 buttons on the device actually.
The button emulation has been necessary because the Jog Dial is an incremental device (you can turn it endless on one direction if you want...), which can not be managed as a standard axis.

HID Game Controller mode is the basic working mode for the DCZ. If you are looking for advanced features, based on the bidirectional communication between the DCZ and the PC, the VCOM (Virtual COM) mode needs to be used.

A driver installation is required on Windows to recognize the DCZ as a USB Serial Device, and to associate a COM port to the unit.
Digitally signed drivers are available from Videotec web pages; download the proper version depending on the PC architecture and the Operating System (32 or 64 bit).

VCOM mode allows to:

  • control the backlight led of every button (on, off, blinking);
  • control groups of led (row, column, specific sets);
  • control the integrated buzzer (on, off, intermittent);
  • use buttons together with the SHIFT to increase the number of available controls;
  • reversing all keyboard's items for left/right handed users.

DCZ's VCOM mode uses a well-defined protocol to exchange information with the application running on the PC where the DCZ is connected to.
The protocol is fully described inside the DCZ User Manual, and it uses plain chars included between squared brackets:

[K-25], [Led+13], [J+4-3+1], [D-1], [Buzzer/]

Such messages are sent from the keyboard to the PC whenever an item is activated on the DCZ, but also from the PC to the DCZ when a "special effect" has to be activated (e.g. the buzzer).
Clearly, the application must be able to understand what the DCZ is sending, and must also send messages on the correct format to the DCZ. A device driver must be therefore developed and integrated inside the software (the VMS) to use the DCZ on VCOM mode.

Outstanding effects have been obtained by VMS developers who decided to fully integrated the DCZ (Avigilon Control Center, Digivod VMS, Ganz VoIP, ...); live PTZ control, recorded events searching, alarm management, VMS' items control, ...
The user can even forget about PC's mouse and keyboard, having the full system control from the DCZ.

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, Daniele Bottini wrote this article.
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    Daniele Bottini

    Good news for Windows 10 users:

    it turns out that it is no more necessary to install a specific driver whenever  DCZ has to be used as a VCOM Serial Device.
    Windows 10 uses a native USB Serial Device driver to manage the keyboard. The driver is provided and digitally signed by Microsoft Corporation: no more hassles for non-recognized signatures, a typical issue we had (and actually we are having) with Windows 7 and Windows 8.

    Well done Microsoft!

    Edited by Daniele Bottini