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.
DELL T5820: Recommended Computer Specification. Two of these units
are required, one operational and one for a hot spare. Each machine requires
two NVIDIA Quadro P2200 video cards. They are available as an option from Dell
when you customize the computer. See video card
specifications for details.
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 to 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 brighter
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 (for a 68" sphere). We’ve used the “lens” calculator found
Projector Central 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 within the distances
listed below (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.
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-RZ570u, we recommend the RPA324 mount. Use
the MountFinder to find the custom RPA mount for you.
Each SOS computer should be ordered with two NVIDIA Quardo P2200 video cards
installed by Dell. Please make sure that you order two for each computer. It is
listed as “dual” on the computer specs quote with a quantity of 1, but that
means two cards!
These cards have four DisplayPort outputs. If you use the recommended
DisplayPort extenders below, then you won’t need to order any adapters. If you
choose to use HDMI or DVI or VGA extenders, you need to order active
adapters. It is critical that these adapters are specified as active, or
they will not work. We recommend ordering the active adapters from
Please let the SOS Team know if you are not using DisplayPort extenders.
If the projectors have a built-in receiver, then the 230 Rx will not be needed.
DisplayPort cables will be run from the graphics card to the transmitters and
then a ethernet cable will be run from each transmitter to the projectors.
If the projectors do not have a built-in receiver, then DisplayPort cables will
be run from the graphics card to each of the transmitters and then a ethernet
cable will be run from each transmitter to the receivers. An HDMI cable will be
needed to run from the receivers to the projectors.
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
As of SOS release 3.4.2, SOS supports the Apple iPad and other iOS devices 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 and iPad Mini provide a richer interface with more information
available to the user. The free app is named SOS Remote and is
available in 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
Further information about the iPad app, including Wi-Fi requirements, is
available in the SOS Remote App Manual.
Many sites find that having an iPad case with a hand strap that makes it easy
to hold during presentations is really nice to have. There are lots of options
SOS comes with additional optional software that is available to all SOS sites.
This software includes the SOS Public Kiosk software. To utilize this software,
additional hardware is needed, as described below.
The Public Kiosk software runs on a PC running Microsoft Windows. It is
officially supported on Windows 7, 8, and 10, with Windows 10 being preferred.
The User Interface looks best on screens with 16:9 ratios. It requires a touch
screen, which can be separate from the computer or in an all-in-one
configuration. The touch screen works best when mounted either in a kiosk
housing near the sphere or mounted to the railing that surrounds the sphere.
The kiosk PC must be on the same network as the SOS machine, either directly
connected with Ethernet or by Wi-Fi.
In our experience, basically any Windows PC that works with a touchscreen will
work with the SOS Kiosk. One configuration that is well tested is a PC with the