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  FAQ's:
How do I Control the Playback from a Videodisc?
 

ALERT! This section of the FAQ's is presented more for its historical significance than actual technical support. Videodisc players are difficult to find these days. As well, serial ports have been replaced by USB and Firewire connections on most contemporary computers. Lastly, the information here is relevant for Macintosh computers running OS System 8.6 or earlier and for Windows computers running OS Windows 98 or earlier. The protocols and drivers used to control the playback of videodiscs simply don't function on the newer computers and operating systems.

Now that you are forewarned, please proceed.

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WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS IN FINDING A FRAME ON A VIDEODISC AND PLAYING IT BACK?

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DO THE SLICE OF LIFE & SLICE OF BRAIN COME WITH BARCODES?

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HOW DO I CONTROL VIDEODISC PLAYBACK FROM A COMPUTER?

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I HAVE MY SERIAL CABLE CONNECTING THE LASERDISC PLAYER TO MY COMPUTER, BUT I CAN'T SEE THE IMAGES OR HEAR THE SOUNDS. WHAT'S WRONG?

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HOW DOES THE FILEMAKER PRO INDEX CONTROL THE PLAYBACK OF A VIDEODISC PLAYER FROM A MACINTOSH COMPUTER?

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HOW DOES THE FILEMAKER PRO INDEX CONTROL THE PLAYBACK OF A VIDEODISC PLAYER FROM A WINDOWS-BASED COMPUTER?

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WHAT ARE BAUD RATE AND SERIAL PORT SETTINGS?

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HOW DO I RESET BAUD RATE SETTINGS ON A VIDEODISC PLAYER?

Bullet HOW DO I RESET BAUD RATE AND PORT SETTINGS FOR MY COMPUTER'S SERIAL CONNECTOR?
   

 

 

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WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS IN FINDING A FRAME ON A VIDEODISC AND PLAYING IT BACK?

A laservision videodisc is not much different than a standard home VCR. There are minimal controls on the front of the videodisc player itself. Industrial players used in the interactive training and educational marketplace can be purchased with a hand controller that allows the user to call up any frame or chapter on a videodisc. Multiple slow or fast playback speeds can be requested. Digital or analog audio tracks can be specified.

Many industrial players can also be controlled through the use of a barcode reader. Individual frames or motion sequence chapter designations can be translated into printed barcodes that, when read by a barcode reader, will be accessed. Syllabi and notes that include printed barcodes are a very fast and low-tech method to use, especially if a presentation is being made before a large group with little tolerance for equipment breakdowns or reconfigurations.

A last option for controlling the playback of a videodisc is to use serial control through a computer (see info below).

 

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DO THE SLICE OF LIFE & SLICE OF BRAIN COME WITH BARCODES?

If you purchase one of our FileMaker Pro Indexes (either Macintosh or Windows-based), barcodes for all frames and motion sequences are included. Special barcode fonts are provided which allow you to copy and paste barcodes into word processing documents for syllabi or lecture notes. You can also print directly from the FileMaker Pro Indexes (see INDEX TO THE SLICE OF LIFE VII VIDEODISC or INDEX TO THE SLICE OF BRAIN I VIDEODISC).

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HOW DO I CONTROL VIDEODISC PLAYBACK FROM A COMPUTER?

Many users have interactive tutorials and teaching software on computers. Images and motion sequences from the SLICE OF LIFE and SLICE OF BRAIN can be used to illustrate concepts and questions. Through the use of special "videodisc drivers" a computer and its software can automatically control the playback of a videodisc.

Industrial grade videodisc players have an RS-232 port which allows their playback to be controlled through software when connected by a serial cable to a computer. Special serial cables are required with specific pin-out configurations matching the computer, the connectors, and the model of videodisc player. (ALERT! standard, off-the-shelf PRINTER CABLES do not work with videodisc players). For more information, see our page on SERIAL CABLES.

The drivers which allow either a Macintosh or Windows-based computer to communicate with a videodisc player are specific to each player's manufacturer. There are drivers for Sony players, different than those for Panasonic or Pioneer. If you purchase one of our FileMaker Pro Indexes (either Macintosh or Windows-based), the drivers for Sony, Panasonic and Pioneer players are included, along with complete installation instructions.

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I HAVE MY SERIAL CABLE CONNECTING THE LASERDISC PLAYER TO MY COMPUTER, BUT I CAN'T SEE THE IMAGES OR HEAR THE SOUNDS. WHAT'S WRONG?

The serial control cable only controls the playback of the videodisc player and does not carry any video or audio signals. The output of the videodisc player is fed by a video cable and audio cable to a regular television set or monitor. This is how most people see and hear what is on the videodisc. The images cannot appear on your computer screen unless you have a special video capture or playback card installed and connected.

For more information, see our page on SERIAL CABLES.

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HOW DOES THE FILEMAKER PRO INDEX CONTROL THE PLAYBACK OF A VIDEODISC PLAYER FROM A MACINTOSH COMPUTER?

In order to control the videodisc player, we are using a combination of functions integrated into Operating System 7.x or 8.X and FileMaker Pro 2.x (or greater). The actual operating commands are sent to the videodisc player through a HyperCard stack called SLICE DISC DRIVERS. It uses the Voyager Company's Videodisc Drivers (under license). These communications are looped back to the FileMaker Pro database through the functionality of "Apple Events." Apple Events is a System 7.x or greater technology that lets applications communicate with one another on the same Macintosh computer or over a network. It is primarily a data transport mechanism. Both the sending and receiving applications (FileMaker Pro and SLICE DISC DRIVERS) must agree to use a mutually understood data format. Version 2.x (or greater) of FileMaker Pro and the version of HyperCard we are using for SLICE DISC DRIVERS are both Apple Events aware. SLICE DISC DRIVERS is designed to run in the background if you use the FileMaker Pro INDEX with the videodisc. When being loaded, SLICE DISC DRIVERS flashes a text frame on your screen momentarily, then retreats invisibly into the background. YOU MUST ALWAYS RUN SLICE DISC DRIVERS IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE SLICE FILEMAKER PRO INDEX, whether or not you use a videodisc player. (ALERT! HyperCard stacks don't function well with Mac OS 9.x or OS X. Therefore, the drivers we used for Macintosh computers will no longer function on contemporary machines. Additionally, videodisc drivers have not been updated or new ones made for some time. Well, we managed to maintain serial control of videodisc players for 10 years. That's an achievement in itself.)

 

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HOW DOES THE FILEMAKER PRO INDEX CONTROL THE PLAYBACK OF A VIDEODISC PLAYER FROM A WINDOWS-BASED COMPUTER?

In order to control the videodisc player, we are using a combination of functions integrated into Windows 3.1, Windows95/98 and FileMaker Pro 2.1 (or greater). The actual disc operating commands are sent from FileMaker Pro to the videodisc player through a helper program we wrote called FMLASER.EXE. It uses a videodisc driver for either a Pioneer, Panasonic, or Sony player that must be installed on each PC. These communications move back and forth to the FileMaker Pro database through the functionality of "DDE" or Dynamic Data Exchanges. Installation of the videodisc drivers is different in the original Windows 3.1 operating system. Therefore, we have written comprehensive, illustrated installation instructions for both Windows 3.1 and Windows 95. These instructions are part of the Adobe Acrobat PDF manuals supplied with the FILEMAKER PRO INDEXES for either SLICE OF LIFE VII or SLICE OF BRAIN I. (ALERT! The drivers we used don't function well with the latest Windows operating systems. Additionally, videodisc drivers have not been updated or new ones made for some time. Well, we managed to maintain serial control of videodisc players for 10 years. That's an achievement in itself.)

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WHAT ARE BAUD RATE AND SERIAL PORT SETTINGS?

Similar to the everyday modem, a videodisc player, when connected via a serial cable to a computer, communicates at certain pre-established speeds. The most common are 1200 bits/sec, 2400bits/sec or 9600bits/sec.

If the baud rate setting on your videodisc player is different than the baud rate setting for the serial port on your computer, you cannot establish communication between the two. Additionally, the serial cable connecting your videodisc player to your computer can be plugged into either the "modem" or "printer" port on a Macintosh, or COM1/3 or COM 2/4 connector on a PC computer. Whichever serial connector is used, you must instruct your computer which one to use. (for more information, see below)

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HOW DO I RESET BAUD RATE SETTINGS ON A VIDEODISC PLAYER?

Different makes and models of industrial videodisc players (with RS-232 ports) use different techniques to allow you to change the baud rate setting on your videodisc player. Some use dip switches on the back of the player. Others require you to use "on-screen" menus viewed on your television monitor. We provide some of the more common methods here. For dip switch settings, a convention of "d" = down and "u" = up is used.

Philips VP406

  • Depress the baud rate switch on the back of the player to set the baud rate at 1200. Release the button to set the baud rate to 9600.

Pioneer 2200

  • Settings for 4800 baud, with auto play: Dip Switch 7 controls the baud rate. Up = 4800 baud, down = 1200 baud. Put Dip Switch 1 down for auto play (player goes into play mode automatically), or up to disable auto play.

Pioneer 4200

  • Settings for 4800 baud, with auto play: Dip Switch1 up, 2 down, 3 down, 4 up, 5 up, 6 up, 7 up, 8 up. Dip Switch 7 controls the baud rate. Up = 4800 baud, down = 1200 baud. Put switches 2 and 3 down for auto play (player goes into play mode automatically), up to disable auto play. Switch 5 controls the video monitor's background color. Up = blue, down = black. Set switches 1, 4, 6, and 8 up.

Pioneer 4400

  • The Pioneer 4400 baud rate settings can be reset by using the control buttons on the front of the player or via a remote control unit, while observing the video monitor. The menu choices must be viewed "on screen" of your television monitor. To ready the player for setting changes, turn off the power. Next, keep the DISPLAY key pressed (on the player or on the remote control) while turning the power back on. A menu (P-0) will be displayed on your video monitor. Press the SCAN FORWARD key 3 times to go to menu RS-232C Switch P-3. Then press the STEP FORWARD key once to highlight "Baud Rate," the first item on the menu. The current baud rate setting is shown below the heading "Baud Rate." Press the STEP REVERSE key to change the value shown. When the baud rate you want appears on the monitor, press the DISPLAY key to memorize the settings and return the player to normal play operations.

Pioneer 6000 Series

  • The first three Dip Switches in the bank of ten on the back of the Pioneer 6000, 6000A, and 6010A control the baud rate setting as follows:

    Baud Switch Settings

    1 2 3
    300 d d d
    1200 d u d
    2400 u u d
    4800 d d u
    9600 u d u
  • Additional video switch settings for the Pioneer 6000: Switch 7 should be in the up position. Switch 9 should be in the up position for auto play (goes into play mode automatically) and down to disable auto play. Switches 4, 5, 6, 8, and 10 should be down. Although you may have heard otherwise, the Pioneer 6000, 6010, 6000A, and 6010A ALL USE THE SAME SERIAL CABLE. This may save you time if you are looking for a cable and the sales person is not familiar with the Pioneer player.

Pioneer 8000

  • The Pioneer 8000 baud rate settings can be reset by using the control buttons on the front of the player or via a remote control unit, while observing the video monitor. To ready the player for setting changes, turn off the power. Next keep the DISPLAY key pressed (on the player or on the remote control)while turning the power back on. A menu (P-0) will be displayed on the video monitor. Press the SCAN FORWARD key five times to go to menu P-5, RS-232C Switch. Then press the STEP FORWARD key once to highlight Baud Rate, the first item on the menu. The current baud rate setting is shown below the heading "Baud Rate." Press the STEP REVERSE key to change the value shown. When the baud rate you want appears on the monitor, press the DISPLAY key to set the switch and return the player to normal play operations.

Sony LDP-1200, 1450, and 3600

  • Use a small screwdriver to turn the arrow on the circular switch to point to the appropriate number.

Baud Switch Settings
1200 1
2400 2
4800 3
9600 4

Sony LDP-1500, LDP-1550

  • These models of Sony players use a combination of 4 dip switch settings to change baud rates.

Baud Switch Settings

1 2 3 4
1200 u d d d
2400 d u d d
4800 d d u d
9600 d d d u

Sony LDP-2000

  • This model of Sony player uses a combination of 4 dip switch settings to change baud rates:

Baud Switch Settings

1 2 3 4
1200 d d d d
2400 d u d d
4800 u d d d
9600 u u d d

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HOW DO I RESET BAUD RATE AND PORT SETTINGS FOR MY COMPUTER'S SERIAL CONNECTOR?

The method to change the baud rate setting on your computer's serial port to match the setting of your videodisc player is different for Macintosh and Windows-based computers. The advice given here is directly related to the installation and operation of our FILEMAKER PRO INDEXES for either the SLICE OF LIFE VII or SLICE OF BRAIN I videodiscs. If you are using other software, you may be able to generalize.

For the Macintosh:

Resetting baud rate and port settings on the Macintosh when using our FILEMAKER PRO INDEXES is a quick and simple menu selection. Embedded in the INDEX on the screen LVD SETUP is a button labeled DISC PLAYER SETUP. When this button is clicked, a separate window appears containing settings licensed from the Voyager Company. From the pulldown menus, you simply select which serial port (modem or printer) is being used on your computer, which model of videodisc player, and which baud rate setting you need to match that set on your videodisc player.

For Windows 3.1 or Windows 95/98:

Resetting baud rate and port settings on a Windows-based computer requires several steps. First and foremost, you must have properly installed the correct videodisc driver for the make and model of player you are using. This also means you must have de-installed an older, inappropriate driver before installing the new, appropriate driver. Complete instructions for this installation are included with the purchase of a FILEMAKER PRO INDEX to our videodiscs for both Windows 3.1 and Windows 95.

When setting the Communication Port Properties for either COM1/3 or COM2/4 on your computer, you will be asked to confirm 5 variables. The first one, BITS PER SECOND, refers to the baud rate setting or the speed of communication between your computer and the videodisc player. From the pull down list, select whichever baud rate matches that set for your particular model of videodisc player. The speed of 4800 and 9600 are very common, but be sure to confirm what your disc player is set at. Don't guess, because it likely is incorrect.

The other four settings must be set as follows: DATA BITS = 8, PARITY = none, STOP BITS = 1, and FLOW CONTROL = Xon/Xoff. Note that you may also want to confirm that the videodisc player's PARITY setting is also set to NONE. Some players, particularly the Pioneer models with "on screen" menu adjustments, give you this option. The producers spent several hours trouble shooting a stubborn videodisc-PC connection at one conference only to finally discover that someone had reset the laserdisc's PARITY setting to something non-standard. Be vigilant and thorough.

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