NOAA Science On a Sphere 3.4.1 Release Notes

For detailed information on using Science On a Sphere®'s Automation Control Protocol, please refer to the "Automation Control Protocol" web page, available Here.


Science on a Sphere® 3.4.1 requires Ubuntu 10.04 LTS.

New Features/Enhancements/Fixes


  • Removed image noise around the equator that would appear during Red Ball alignment.
  • Alignment commands such as translation, rotation, and scale are ignored unless a projector has been specifically selected using the Wii. This prevents unexpected transformation commands from executing on all projectors simultaneoulsy.

Error Feedback

  • When stepping through clips using the Wii, or via another interface that uses the Automation Control Protocol, if a clip’s dataset cannot be found in the media tree, thus leaving the sphere blank, the clip in the SOS Stream GUI playlist is now highlighted in red to indicate an error status.
  • When a new playlist is loaded in SOS Stream GUI, the dataset filename (and the background dataset filename, if present) of each clip in the playlist is checked to make sure it exists in the media tree. If it does not, a warning message box pops up alongside the GUI showing the names of the offending clips and the absolute path names of the clip's dataset(s).

Frame Rate

  • A clip can now be set with a fractional frame rate (frames per second) below 1.0.
  • The "Frames per second" sliders contained in the Frame Delay dialog
  • and the Edit Playlist dialog of SOS Stream GUI now allow for floating point values to be set.


  • A PIP can now play a directory of images. This can be useful
  • for acheiving transparency effects through a series of images as they are played in a sequence on the sphere. To assign a directory of images to a PIP, in playlist.sos, set the pip parameter with the path to the directory: pip = /path/to/embedded/image_directory
  • You can now specify a PIP name for more dynamic control of the PIP. First, in playlist.sos, set the pipname parameter: pipname = mypipname Then, use the Automation Interface to select the desired PIP, call PIP related commands, and finally delete the PIP: pipselect mypipname pipcoords lat,long etc. pipdelete mypipname
  • PIP alignment has been improved, all the way up to the full sphere size.
  • This can be useful as a global layering mechanism. You can also layer multiple transparent PIPs over an MP4.
  • If a PIP file is to be played in a clip but it cannot be found in the media tree, a "Missing PIP" error image will be displayed on the sphere for a few seconds and then will fade out.
  • When continuously looping through a single clip that contains PIPs, after the first loop of the clip, the PIPs will not repeat playback. To make the PIPs restart at the beginning of each loop, you can set a repeat time for the entire clip by setting the duration parameter in playlist.sos: duration = repeat_time_in_secs


  • Improved label rendering: labels are now written along the surface of the sphere in order to make their positioning uniform. This is useful for non-classic projector positions (before this change, sometimes labels would get warped at the edges).
  • The SOS Stream GUI interface scheme has been updated, and includes a "Details" button that, when clicked, reveals all the parameters of the currently playing clip's playlist.sos file.
  • A search bar has been added to the SOS Stream GUI to allow the user to search for a clip in the database. This can be useful when preparing presentations, and for quickly finding a dataset requested by an audience member. Clicking on the "Plus" icon in the Search Bar opens up an advanced search dialog box with more search options.
  • You can now use Ubuntu's Update Manager to quickly and automatically install the latest release and bug fixes for SOS.
  • An upgrade path for SOS sites with the 5-computer system running RedHat has been developed in order to ease the transition to our latest software and use of Ubuntu.

New Automation Interface Commands

  • Change the fadein/fadeout times of global datasets. fadein [fade_duration] (fade image in over given duration) fadeout [fade_duration] (fade image out over given duration) set_fadein_duration seconds (set subsequent fade-in durations) set_fadeout_duration seconds (set subsequent fade-out durations)
  • Adjust z-rotation rates; this allows rotation of a time-series dataset around the z-axis. zrotationenable [0|1] (set the fps for z-rotation; the default is 0) zrotationtoggle (toggle the state of the zrotationenable flag) zrotationangle angle (set increment angle for z-rot; the default is 0.1) zfps fps (set fps for z-rotation; the default is 30)
  • Move the globe position to the room position.
  • orient glob_lat,glob_lon [room_lat,room_lon]
  • Get the version number of SOS.
  • get_version_number
  • Search the clip database.
  • get_clip_list_from_file [filename] search_clip_list [search_term clip_list [list_of_tags]] search_clip_list_from_file [search_term playlist_file [list_of_tags]] open_clip_list [clip_list] get_all_name_value_pairs [clip_number]