First, you need to have the External Communications feature enabled on your account - if you don't, just reach out to us so we can add it for you (it's free!)
With this enabled, there is a three step process to follow:
Create a new External Communication setup
Add the relevant commands to the Ext Comms setup
Configure the commands in a Layout to perform the actions you want (send + receive commands)
Let's dive in...
Set up the New Communication:
Go to the External Communications section and add a new comms setup by clicking 'Create New':
Give it a name that is relevant to you and hit 'Create'
Under 'Type' select 'RS232':
We now need to specify the COM port for the BrightSign device to communicate with the RS232 device. We recommend using the USB port with a USB Serial Convertor / Adapter cable. When using this method, the COM Port will be '2'
Next we need to specify the Baud rate, Data bits, Stop bits and Parity for the communication with the RS232 device. This information will be provided by the manufacturers documentation for the RS232 device. The options are:
With the Baud, Data, Stop and Parity set we can click 'Save Changes'
Set up the Communication Commands:
Click the 'Commands' tab:
Then click, 'Add New Command'
Give it a 'Label' - this is just a UI name that will make it easy for you to recognise the command in the layout builder, for example we may want to turn the Power On or Off the screen so we might call it 'Screen On':
We're going to set up the 'Command Type' as a 'Custom String':
Then we'll set the 'Command Encoding' to 'Hex':
Then we add the 'Command String' which is the HEX code for turning the 'Power On' on the screen:
Finally, we need to specify the 'Line Ending (EOL)' which for this setup will be 'None':
The command is now complete and looks like the below:
We can add more commands as we require by repeating the steps above. Once all your commands have been added, hit the 'Save Changes' button:
Now, the Ext Comms configuration is complete, we can head over to the Layout builder to start to configure the actions we want.
Using Commands in a Layout with an example:
We will presume that you are familiar with Layouts already but if not, head over to our Layout Builder articles to learn more.
In this demo, we're going to setup a single zone and assign actions to send RS232 commands to the connected RS232 device (in this case a Samsung screen) when content plays within the zone playlist.
First we need to add two playlist items to the zone playlist - in this case, two text items setup to read 'Screen on' and 'Screen off' when played.
Now, we need to click on the 'Triggers' option for the 'Screen On' playlist item;
Here we're going to add a command on the start of the playlist item, so we click 'Add New' on the 'When playlist item starts' option:
Set the 'Action' to 'Send External Comm Command'
Then click into 'Configure'
Here we can 'Add Command'
We select the External Communication Connection we created earlier called 'RS232 with BrightSign'
Then we can choose which Command we want to associate - in this case 'Screen On':
The 'Send External Communication Command' will look like this:
Now we can hit 'Save Changes' and we can repeat the process for the 'Screen Off' text item and apply the 'Power Off' command when the text item starts.
Finally you can manipulate the timings of the playlist items and you could even add conditional play for when each is valid to activate in order to control when you'd like the power on and power off commands to be sent to the screen. For example, setting the Screen on command triggered from the Screen text to only be valid to play at 8am and the Screen off commands triggered from the Screen Off text to only be valid to play at 9pm:
This is just one example of how to use RS232 with embed signage and BrightSign devices but it can be applied to any external devices that communicate via RS232.
Should you have any questions about using this feature, please reach out to us via firstname.lastname@example.org