When we had just a handful of data projector/Smart Panel installations, I could call one of our two vendors (BBI Engineering and Audio Graphic Systems) to fix problems that arose. Within the last two years, use has gone way up and we have installed an additional dozen units. Downtime is much more sensitive than before. As a result, I have begun to take ownership over basic troubleshooting and maintenance of the devices.
Basic maintenance is mostly about periodically cleaning the air filters. Otherwise, the units overheat prematurely. At their worst, they may not make it through a lesson before needing to reset. Since our projectors are ceiling-mounted, I need to climb up, remove the filters, vacuum or brush them out, and then put them back in place. For computers, we do this sort of work over the summer. We should now add data projectors to the task list.
Since the manufacturer must complete nearly all repair tasks, troubleshooting is mostly about replacing a bulb and then removing the projector to send it away if necessary. In the past, we could only give teachers a mobile replacement projector, which was a hassle to set up in a room equipped for an installed projector. By purchasing universal mounting brackets that fit our mobile projectors, I can now ceiling-mount a projector to stand in for the permanent unit as it is out for service. In this way, the teacher may continue working with no interruption to the usual setup.
Physically installing the mobile projector is not so hard, but if the replacement is a different model than the original, then you must reconfigure the Smart Panel control device. The good news is that SP Controls makes it easy to download both the configuration utility and the settings file for our projector model.
It turns out that the configuration utility is also easy to use. A normal serial cable connects a computer to the Smart Panel, and then the application can upload, back up, and configure the control panel’s buttons and options. I can even copy one configuration to multiple Smart Panels. Piece of cake.