Science On a Sphere® Hardware Specifications
We have tested out a limited set of system components that we know work with Science On a Sphere®. While other components may work, we can only guarantee a fully functional system that is built using these brands and models
Detailed Parts List
DELL T3600 - Recommended Computer Specification. Two of these units are required, one operational and one for a hot spare. Each machine requires two additional third-party video cards from NVIDIA - the NVIDIA GeForce GTSX 650 with 1GB RAM.
Video Projector Specifications
SOS uses video projectors to display images onto a sphere however not every projector is well suited for SOS. The system needs high quality, bright, long duty cycle projectors for proper system operation. Of extreme importance is the choice of the projector lens.
One of the projector characteristics we look at closely is brightness. While this is somewhat subjective, we have found that projectors need produce a nominal 3500 ANSI LUMENs. This can vary depending on the ambient light conditions but 3500 LUMENs is the minimum -- many of our sites use 4000 LUMEN projectors.
The duty cycle of the projector is important for reliability. Since the projectors operate for 8 to 10 hours per day, often 7 days a week, the projectors need to be designed to run for that many hours. Generally, "board room" class projectors fit into this category. We find that these board room class projectors have the appropriate number of fans and filters to operate well in a museum environment.
As you might expect, the projector lens choice is critical. In most cases, the standard lens is usually adequate and always gives the best price. However the zoom and throw ranges need to be checked against the specifics of each sphere installation. The general rule of thumb used is that the projected image needs to be 72" in height at the distance given between the projector lens to the center of the sphere. We've used the "lens" calculator found at the web site, http://www.projectorcentral.com to checkout the throw/zoom ranges for a particular projector lens. Because this component is so critical, we request that each site check with NOAA before procuring a projector.
Here are a few projectors that we've used at other SOS installations and we have high confidence that they work properly with SOS where the sphere is in the 17' to 19' distance (again, the distance is measured from the projector lens to the center of the sphere). Other projectors will work, but we will only support projectors that have been pre-approved by NOAA.
- DLP (1920x1200 resolution - high resolution - best for high dust environments)
- Panasonic PT-DZ570u - standard zoom lens (14'2" - 28'3")
- DLP (1400x1050 resolution - high resolution - best for high dust environments)
- Projection Design DLP F22 SXGA + standard zoom lens [throw ratio: 1.73:2.39] (13.84' - 19.12')
- Projection Design DLP F12 SXGA + standard zoom lens (14' - 17.5')
- DLP (1024x768 resolution - low resolution - best for high dust environments)
- Panasonic PT-D6000US - standard lens (14'5" - 19')
- Mitsubishi DLP XD3200U - standard lens (13'7" - 19'2")
- LCD (1400x1050 resolution - high resolution, potential LCD burn-in/fade issues)
- Sanyo LCD PLC-ET30L + LNS-T10 lens (16.5' to 27.5')
- Sanyo LCD PLC-ET30L + LNS-S11 lens (13' to 17')
- Eiki LCD LC-SXG400 - standard lens (14' to 18')
In order to mount the projector, it is recommended to buy a projector mount that allows for adjusting the pitch, yaw, and height. The RPA series of projector mounts from Chief is customizable for every projector and works well for SOS. Make sure to order the RPA custom projector mount based on your projector selection, and not the universal projector mount. Also, we have found the RPA custom mount is better for our purposes than the RPA Elite custom mount, so don't order any of the Elite versions. For example, for the Panasonic PT-DZ570u, we recommend the RPA278 mount. Use the MountFinder on the righthand side of the Chief page to find the right custom RPA mount.
Video Card Specifications
Each SOS computer will have a total of three video cards installed. The original card that ships with the computer is used for the control desktop. Each computer has two additional NVidia 3-D cards which drive the SOS projectors.
So, we need a total of four additional NVidia 3-D video cards - two for the operational system, two for the spare. Each of these video cards should have two DVI outputs. We recommend the use of GTX 650 Ti cards, which can be purchased from Dell with the system or from most online computer stores:
In order to connect the projectors to the SOS computer, we recommend the use of videos extenders. DVI cables are run from the SOS computer to four video extenders and then Cat6a (not Cat5e or Cat6) cables are run to the corresponding extenders positioned near each projector. Another DVI cable is then used to connect the extender at the projector to the projector. As most extenders come with only one DVI cable, make sure to have enough DVI cables on hand to connect the extenders.
Audio System (Reference System)
Science On a Sphere requires an audio system, however there are numerous ways to build audio components. Here is one example of how to build an audio system for SOS. It includes a basic, 4 input, mono mixer with four speakers. The speakers are two powered speakers and two un-powered slave speakers. The mixer is used to combine audio that comes from the SOS computer system and a wireless microphone. The shopping list for the reference system can be found here (SOS_Audio_Equipment.pdf)
For a higher-end audio installation, David Eltzroth has written a white paper discussing a Dolby stereo surround audio system for SOS.
Nintendo Wii Remote Control
As of SOS release 3.1.4, SOS supports the Nintendo Wii remote for sphere operations (the ATI remote is no longer available and has been discontinued as a product). For SOS operation, a site must have the following components:
- A Nintendo Wii remote control
- The nunchuck accessory for the Wii
- A USB Bluetooth device
For the remote control and nunchuck, make sure to purchase genuine Nintendo parts, as we have reliability problems with third party versions.
Also, a Wii recharging dock system is a useful addition. All of the pieces add up to a little bit more than $150, depending on which Bluetooth device is purchased.
We tested out a few configurations and have provided links to a sample suppliers of these devices for convenience, however these products can be purchased from any number of stores.
Bluetooth adapters -- The Bluetooth adapter plugs into the "nc" computer via USB and is required to communicate with the Wii controller. The following models have been tested to work reliably with Science on a Sphere.
Apple iPad Remote Control (Optional)
As of SOS release 3.4.2, SOS supports the Apple iPad for sphere operations. For simplicity, we refer to this as the iPad interface, but it can be installed on a recent version of any the following devices:
The iPad provides a richer interface with more information available to the user, but the iPod Touch and iPhone can be operated with one hand, which some users prefer. The free app is named "SOS Remote" and is available on the Apple App Store.
In addition to one of the above devices, the use of this interface requires Wi-Fi access to the SOS computer. There may be an existing Wi-Fi infrastructure at your site that you can use. If not, you will need to purchase an additional Wi-Fi router (roughly $100).
Further information about the iPad app, including Wi-Fi requirements, is available in the SOS Remote App Manual.
Equipment List last updated:
January 15, 2013