FAQ - About

What is Billboard v3?

Billboard is a delivery system for displaying URLs on a digital sign or screen saver. Created at NC State University, Billboard is used as the central management system for displaying signage on computer kiosks and web-enabled digital signs across campus.

How can I use Billboard v3 to distribute my slides around campus?

The Billboard Community page provides a venue to share your Billboard content. It allows people to upload their slides to the Community and easily add slides uploaded by others to their groups. Any student, staff, or faculty member of the campus can use Billboard Community. Users can log in with their standard Unity ID and password - no additional prior setup is needed.

How does Billboard v3 work?

Billboard v3 provides a public URL that can be requested from any host. Based on the host's name and IP address, Billboard v3 determines what slides should be shown, the order they are shown in, and the length they are displayed. All these options are configurable from the Billboard v3 application by the users who manage the hosts.

Billboard v3 is generally used in conjunction with the WolfTech Billboard Screen Saver or the Macintosh screen saver webXSaver or webXKiosk. For more information about setting up either screen saver, please visit the Billboard Screen Saver Installation page. Since Billboard v3 runs as a screen saver, it requires that the computer remain idle in order to display slides.

Are there any system requirements?

There are no real system requirements for Billboard v3, though the more powerful the computer, the more seamless transitions will look between slides. Billboard v3 has run on many different types of computers from low-power Dell Zino HDs to current Mac Minis and while it runs better on the faster computer, the performance on the low-power PC is still decent. There is seemingly no performance difference between PCs and Macs of equal technical specifications. A good general rule for is: "If it's powerful enough to be someone's primary computer it should run Billboard v3 perfectly."

Why would Billboard v3 be beneficial to me?

Billboard v3 allows you to manage multiple digital signs, all with varying URLs and configurations. It also allows you to set Group Owners for each host grouping so that other users can manage their own group, without threat of accessing someone elses group.

What type of URLs does Billboard v3 support?

Billboard v3 supports any URL pointing to images (*.jpeg, *.jpg, *.gif, *.png), Flash movies (*.swf), Quicktime Movies (*.mov), HTML webpages (*.html, *.htm), PHP pages (*.php), and JSP pages (*.jsp). Additionally, Billboard v3 supports YouTube videos - you'll find this to be the easiest way to include video content on your billboards.

How do I get YouTube to work on Billboard v3?

To add a YouTube video to your group you can use the URL of the YouTube video page.
*NOTE: You must set the slide display time to be longer than the runtime of the video. Billboard v3 will automatically find the end of the video and transition to the next slide for you.

YouTube videos on Billboard v3 have several additional options:
  • cc_load_policy
    Default 0. This controls closed captioning on the video. To turn on closed captioning set it to 1.
  • quality
    Default hd720. This is the playback quality of the video. Options are highres, hd1080, hd720, large, medium and small.
  • volume
    Default 0. This is the volume that the video will play back at. Options are 0-100, where 0 is muted and 100 is full volume.
  • offset
    Default 1.9. This is how close to the end of the video the fade out transition begins. At the end of the video, it will splash a YouTube thumbnail and play button for the video it just displayed. You can tweak this with whatever number you like to suit your taste.
  • start
    Default 0. This is how many seconds into the video you wish to start the video playing at.
Here's are some examples on how to use them:
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QM1fnjiVbOw
    If you just use the URL of the YouTube video, you'll use the default settings. This video will playback in 720p with NO closed captions at 0 volume and begin its end transition 1.9 seconds before the end of the video
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QM1fnjiVbOw&cc_load_policy=1&quality=hd1080&volume=100&offset=0.5
    This video will playback in 1080p with closed captions at full volume and begin its end transition 0.5 seconds before the end of the video
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QM1fnjiVbOw&volume=80
    This video will playback in 720p with NO closed captions at 80% volume and begin its end transition 1.9 seconds before the end of the video
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QM1fnjiVbOw&cc_load_policy=1&offset=10
    This video will playback in 720p with closed captions at 0 volume and begin its end transition 10 seconds before the end of the video
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QM1fnjiVbOw&start=7
    This video will playback in 720p with NO closed captions at 0 volume, begin its end transition 10 seconds before the end of the video, and start the video 7 seconds in

Where do I get the TV?

WolfTech IT provides you with the software used to manage your slides. We do not provide any of the hardware. You must purchase (through your usual purchasing mechanisms) a television, a computer to run the software (while traditionally, this is a Mac Mini, we do provide a Windows version of the software now if you'd like to use something else), and a video cable to connect the two. Most folks like to hang their boards -- in which case, you'll also need a mounting kit (probably one with a cage to mount the computer within). NCSU Facilities will hang the television for you (for a nominal fee) once it and the mount has arrived; they will ask for a facilities modification to be submitted.

Where does the computer go?

Depending on what type of computer you're using to drive your sign will be the biggest deciding factor on where the computer is mounted. For smaller computers, such as the Mac Mini, there is generally enough room in the TV's wall mount so that the computer can be secured behind the screen. When using an older desktop machine, a longer video cable is generally run that allows the computer to sit in a secure location. In many cases, this is done by having the screen on shared wall with an office, allowing the screen to be public and a cable going through the wall to the desktop.

What are Billboard Alerts and how do I use them?

Billboard Alerts are emergency notification messages that scroll across the bottom of a screen. They are controlled by Unit Owners and Unit Users and will display on all active screens in the Unit. Billboard Alerts will respond within 15 seconds of you enabling or changing it. To disable your Unit's Billboard Alert, simply blank the field. Additionally, there is a global Billboard Alert that Administrators can enable. Global Billboard Alerts broadcast across all Billboard Screens and will only be activated in case of campus-wide emergencies.

FAQ - Troubleshooting

I updated my list of URLs in Billboard v3, but they are not showing up on my sign.

Your sign will poll the Billboard v3 database every 3 minutes for changes to your set of URLs. When a change it detected the sign will refresh itself. Billboard v3 also forces a refreshe every hour just as a fail safe. You may refresh the sign manually if you want the new slides to appear instantly.

After my sign was refreshed, my URL still does not show up. What gives?

Ensure that the URL you provided has an extension that Billboard v3 supports. Billboard v3 will ignore any URLs that are not of the supported types.

Billboard v3 says I have no more available URLs. How do I get more?

Billboard v3 limits the number of URLs each group can have. To request more, contact one of the Administrators and they will be able to assist you.

My sign just displays the WolfTech Billboard webpage.

Billboard v3 checks the existance of URLs based on the hostname and IP address of the requesting page. If the hostname/IP address is not in Billboard v3, browsers will be redirected to the Billboard homepage. Make sure the hostname registered with Billboard v3 correctly corresponds with the hostname of the requesting machine.

How do I add a new group?

New groups can be added by the Billboard v3 Administrators. Contact one of them to create the new group for you. Additionally, you may contact billboard@ncsu.edu to assist in adding a new group.

How do I add someone else to manage my group?

Billboard v3 provides the ability for others to manage the URLs in a group by adding the user as a Group User. This can be done from your groups page.

Other URLs are showing up on my sign that I did not put there. Why?

Billboard v3 has the ability to allow Administrators to insert global URLs into the system, which are displayed over all groups along with the custom URLs for your group. These global URLs are to be used in emergency situations where all digital signs in the system would need something pushed out to them immediately.

I get an error when I try to do ________.

If you are getting an error and you can not figure out what is going on, you should contact the Administrators with what you were doing and the error you received. Additionally, you may contact billboard@ncsu.edu to assist in remedying the problem.

Why is one of my Screens set to not show in the Screen Directory when I haven't set it that way?

Another Group probably has your Screen set up to show their Slide Group, and has set the Screen to not display on the Screen Directory. Currently, whenever any Group disables a Screen from showing on the Screen Directory, all instances of the Screen across all Groups are disabled. The next version of Billboard will move the Screens to the Unit level, to better consolidate Screen management.

Terms and Definitions

Host: A computer or internet-based device that will be requesting URLs from Billboard v3.

Group: A Group is a collection of hosts who will share common URLs.

Unit: A Unit is a collection of groups.

URL: Any web address which you want displayed on your sign.

Administrator: A user who has the ability to create, edit, and delete new groups.

Group Owner: A user who has the ability to manage all aspects of their group, including granting access to other users.

Group User: A user who has the ability to manage the URLs and hosts for a group.

Unit Owner: A user who has the ability to manage all aspects of a unit, including granting access to other users.

Unit User: A user who has the ability to manage the URLs and Machines for a unit's groups.