Device Control

Operations for device control are commands sent to a display (e.g., television, monitor, etc.) by Broadsign Player to verify its status or to perform an action. These operations can be programmed directly to a display unit using a time span.

There are two stages in the creation of device controls:

    • Add a device control time span
    • Add a device control operation
To add a device control time span:
  1. Select a display unit, and open its properties. See Edit Display Unit Properties.
  2. Go to Controls > Device Controls.
  3. Click Add. The Add Time Span Wizard opens.

By default, the Add Time Span Wizard contains the following pages:

    • Welcome: Name the device control time span.

    • Date Range: Specify the start and end date of the time span, if you want.

    • Day of Week Mask: Specify the days of the week for which the device control will be active, if you want.

Communication Port

Device control operations are fed to the display device using a hardware interface, usually RS-232. The Communication Port attribute in the Settings tab of the Device Control Operation Properties dialog tells the Player which of the playback PC’s hardware communications ports is connected to the display device to send the command. By using more than one COM port on the Player you are able to perform device control operations on multiple monitors. Should an operation fail on one of the monitors the Player will use its Error Handling routines (see below).

The communication port name on Linux is identified as “/dev/ttyS0” or the appropriate ttySx (where x is 0,1,….).

Quiet Time

The Quiet Time value in the Settings tab of the Device Control Operation Properties dialog sets a delay in seconds for any future operations to be applied to the device after the current one has been executed.

Operation Value

Each operation that can be sent to a display device must be sent with a corresponding value, which is set in the Settings tab of the Device Control Operation Properties dialog. For instance, a Set Power operation can either have an “On” or “Off” value, respectively meaning to turn the screen on or to turn it off, while a Set Channel operation’s value would be the channel to which the device should be set.

Operation Time

The timing settings for device monitoring operations can be edited in the Time tab of the Device Control Operation Properties dialog. For daily operations, meaning operations that are programmed to be performed at a specific time each day, this tab shows the time of day when the operation is set to take place. For repeating operations, this tab is where a limited daily time range within which to repeat the operation as well as the constant time interval between each repetition can be set.

Error Handling

When a failed operation occurs, a Playback Incident is triggered and reported to the Broadsign Server. This causes all related Contacts to receive an email notification informing them of the event. Examples of situations where an operation fails include an Assert Power action when the device is off, a Power On action when the device is already on, or an Assert Channel for a given channel when the device is on a different channel.

The Error Handling tab makes it possible to program the Broadsign Player to perform additional actions when a Device Control Operation fails. There are four supplementary actions that can be programmed to be executed in these cases:

    • The Broadsign Player can be told to stop displaying content until the incident is resolved in order to preserve the integrity of the Proof of Play reports of Ad Copy repetitions.
    • Secondly, you can specify how many times to repeat the Device Control operation before considering it as failed. On each attempt, the error handler will be executed, bytes will be drained from the command buffer if so configured and the quiet time is observed. Only once all the retries have been exhausted, and the Device Control operation has not completed successfully, an incident be recorded..
    • Thirdly, a follow-up Device Control Operation can be programmed. For example, if an Assert Power On failed, the logical follow-up operation would be a Set Power On, or, if an Assert Channel for channel three fails, the follow-up operation could be a Set Channel to channel three.
    • Finally, the Player can also be set to clear the screen buffer after a failed operation with the “drain bytes” option. This handles certain devices that send extra data on errors.
Auto-Brightness

You can combine Query Brightness and Set Brightness in order to automatically throttle the brightness of a display based on the ambient brightness of the environment where the display is installed. This allows the display to lower its brightness automatically as it gets dark, e.g. at night or when there is thick cloud cover.

To use auto-brightness, create a “Set Brightness” operation that repeats at the frequency at which you want brightness to be throttled. In the auto-brightness settings, you must match ranges of luminosity values (returned from Query Luminosity) and set a corresponding display brightness level.

You can also tie in the brightness setting with temperature monitoring as explained below in “Temperature Thresholds”.

Temperature Thresholds

When you use the Query Temperature device operation, you are actually retrieving the temperature value of a temperature sensor. This can help you observe whether your display is going outside its safe operating temperature levels.. If you combine it with auto-brightness (see above), this feature can really extend the life of your display.

To set the temperature thresholds, you need to create a Query Temperature device control operation. Based on the values returned from query temperature, you can specify a Warning Threshold and a Critical Threshold. Temperature values below the warning threshold are considered “Healthy” and above the critical threshold are considered Critical. Temperatures between warning and critical are considered “Warning”.

You can also monitor temperature using multiple heat sensors as explained below in “Number of Temperature Sensors”. In this case, you must enter a list of values in the Query Temperature operation which maps to a list of hex codes defined in the configuration profile, e.g. “Query Temperature” value 1, value 2 and value 3 for three separate sensors.

Number of Temperature Sensors

The Query Temperature device control operation allows you to query multiple sensors if they are on the same communication port. In the configuration profile, you specify multiple Query Temperature hex commands targeting a particular sensor using the sensor’s unique ID. In the temperature thresholds, you can specify that a minimum amount of the sensors have exceeded the threshold before it can be considered exceeded, e.g. if 3/5 monitors are above warning, the display will only be considered in a warning state if the thresholds is set to require a “Number of Sensors Threshold” of 3 or less.

Monitoring

The Monitoring tab in the Device Control Operation Properties dialog allows you to associate Incident Thresholds to your device control operations, which will assist you in dealing quickly with any issues that may arise. Keep in mind that any Incident Thresholds set at the Device Control Operation level will override any applicable domain level Incident Thresholds.

You can associate an Incident Threshold to your device control operation by clicking the Add button in the Monitoring tab. This will cause the Add Incident Threshold wizard to appear, which will allow you to select the incident type using the drop-down list and set the threshold’s escalation options. The Incident Threshold that can be set on this resource is Display – Device Error.

There are two types of device control operation types:

    • Daily Operations: Daily Operations are performed every active day of the time span at a specific time. For example, a Power On operation can be set to occur every day at 9:00AM, and a Power Off operation every day at 5:00PM.
    • Repeating Operations: Repeating operations are performed at a constant fixed time interval, irrespective of the time. For example, an Assert Power On, which verifies that the device is on, can be programmed to be sent every five minutes.
To add a device control operation type:
  1. Select a display unit, and open its properties. See Edit Display Unit Properties.
  2. Go to Controls > Device Controls.
  3. Select a device control time range, and then click Edit. The Time Span Properties dialogue box opens.
  4. Go to Operations.
  5. In the Daily Operations section or the Frequent Operations section, select Add. The Add Device Control Operation Wizard opens.

By default, the Add Device Control Operation Wizard contains the following pages:

    • Device Control Operation Type: Select from one of the supported types.

      List of Operations
      Operation Description
      Set Power Powering on or off the display
      Assert Power Verifying that the display is on or off
      Assert Channel Verifying the channel it is on
      Change Channel Changing the channel
      Assert Input Verifying the input type (e.g., HDMI)
      Change Input Changing the input type
      Set Volume Setting the volume level
      Set Contrast Setting the contrast level
      Set Brightness Setting the brightness level (see “auto-brightness” below)
      Query Temperature Evaluate the temperature level (see “temperature thresholds” and “number of sensors” below)
      Query Luminosity Evaluate the luminosity level
      Device Control For custom commands (e.g., initialization)
    • Device Control Operation Communication Port: Select which communication port to use:
        • Serial: You will need to select the communication port.
        • TCP:
            • Use first defined TCP service
            • Use specific TCP service (provide the Hostname/IP and Port #)

        • Time of the Day: Select the time of day at which the operation is to occur.
        • Value: The value of the device control, e.g., if adding an operation that controls volume, you could set it to “77”.