Glossary M-P

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Magnetic (“Mag”) Stripe

Mag stripe refers to the black or brown magnetic stripe on a card. The stripe is made of magnetic particles of resin. The resin particle material determines the coercivity of the stripe; the higher the coercivity, the harder it is to encode - and erase - information from the stripe. Magnetic stripes are often used in applications for access control, time and attendance, lunch programs, library cards and more.

Manual Iris Lens

A lens with a manual adjustment to set the iris opening (F stop) in a fixed position. Generally used for fixed lighting applications.

Matrix Switcher

A switcher able to route any of its camera inputs to any of its monitor outputs; a name usually reserved for large systems, that often includes telemetry control.

Mechanical Focus (Back-Focus, Racking)

The mechanical aligning of the imaging device with the focal point of the lens; most important on zoom lenses to ensure the image stays in focus throughout the zoom range.

Megabyte (MB)

1,048,576 bytes or 1,024 kilobytes. Used to measure computer memory. Sometimes used to mean 1 million bytes or 1,024,000 bytes (1,000 kilobytes). Also see Gigabyte.


A device that converts electronic signals into the video image that was generated by the camera and lens. The picture end of a CCTV system.


Having only one color. In television it is black and white.

Multi-Mode Fiber Optics

Optical fiber that is designed to carry multiple light rays or modes concurrently, each at a slightly different reflection angle within the optical fiber core. Typically used for shorter runs (<5000'), multi-mode fiber is ideal for industrial and institution applications. See also Single-Mode Fiber Optics.


MPEG is a video compression method commonly used in digital recording. MPEG-1 is a standard for CD-ROM video and audio. MPEG-2 is a standard for full-screen, broadcast quality video.MPEG-4 is a standard for video telephony.



(National Television Standards Committee. See E.I.A.) Color TV system used in the USA. CCTV


Undesired signal(s) that corrupts the original video signal and may reduce image quality.



The very last optical element at the back of a lens (the one closer to the CCD chip).

Output impedance

The impedance a device presents to its load.



(Phase Alternate Line. See CCIR) Color TV system used in the UK


Side-to-side movement of a camera (on a horizontal axis).

Pan/Tilt/Zoom (PTZ)

Indicates equipment with the ability to pan, tilt, and zoom, usually by remote user control. Much of PTZ equipment is completely integrated, meaning there is only one controller necessary to operate all three features.

Pinhole Camera

A pinhole Lens is only 1/16th of one inch in diameter, so cameras with tiny pinhole lenses can easily be hidden for covert video surveillance applications. Cameras with this type of standard lens are typically referred to as pinhole cameras.


A non powered element of a system.


An optional device that can enhance a CCTV system, for example, a multiplexer, VCR, photo printer, etc.

Phase locked loop (PLL)

A circuit containing an oscillator whose output phase or frequency locks onto and tracks the phase or frequency of a reference input signal. To produce the locked condition, the circuit detects any phase difference between the two signals and generates a correction voltage that is applied to the oscillator to adjust its phase or frequency.


Picture in picture.


Picture element. The smallest cell or area of a CCD chip capable of displaying detail on a screen. The greater the number of pixels, the higher the resolution.


Flat-panel display technology that ignites small pockets of gas to light phosphors.

Pulse Code Modulation: (PCM)

A way to convert sound or analog information to binary information (0s and 1s) by taking samples of the sound and record the resulting number as binary information. Used on all CDs, DVD-Audio, and just about every other digital audio format. It can sometimes be found on DVD-Video.


Anything that processes an incoming signal in some way. Surround processors, for example, can decode a Dolby Digital signal to send to an amp so you can hear it.

Progressive (p) scanning

A method of displaying images from a video signal on a television screen. With progressive scanning, the vertical lines on the screen are filled in sequentially, rather than in two passes as with interlaced scanning. Also see "interlaced scanning".

Proximity (“Prox”) Card

Proximity cards allow access and tracking utilizing contactless technology (usually by communicating through a built-in antenna).

Prox Card Encoder

The prox card encoder uses a HID ProxPoint® Plus reader mounted on the e-card docking station inside the printer/encoder. The ProxPoint is a "read only" device producing a Wiegand signal that is converted to RS-232 using a Cypress Computer Systems CVT-2232. Application programs can read information from HID prox cards via a RS-232 signal through a dedicated DB-9 port on the outside of the printer labeled "Prox."

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