Nowadays everything is supposed to be “Smart” or in the Cloud. That said, we were thinking about buying a SmartBoard for one of our meeting rooms. We had heard both good and bad things about these boards and we didn’t quite know if it was our cup of tea.
We were fortunate enough to get a demonstration of a “Smart-Projector” instead (actually an Interactive Projector). The model was EPSON ultra short throw projector EB-1410Wi. We were pleased with all the functions/features so we decided to get one.
Whiteboard Function – Perfect alternative to copyboards, conventional whiteboards and old fashioned flip charts, this easy-to-use function facilitates “instant meetings” without the need for a PC. After the meeting, you can save, print or email the meeting notes.
Save – Load and save image files on USB or network drive.
Print – Print your meeting notes wirelessly (peer to peer) or to the network printer.
Email – Instantly share your meeting notes via email – to an individual or group address.
Capture – Capture a screenshot from other sources (eg PC, DVD, iPad etc) and annotate over it on the whiteboard. From there you can save, print or email the annotated version
Split Screen Function – Allows images from 2 input sources to be projected simultaneously.
Control Pad for Easy Operation – Neatly designed and easy to install control pad for efficient and intuitive operation. All buttons on the control pad can also be found on the remote control.
Remote Interactive Collaboration – Collaborate from multiple remote locations (up to 4).
Wireless Projection and Interactivity – Projection and interactive function without the wires (using peer to peer wireless and Epson’s EasyMP Network Projection software).
Dual Pen Interactivity – With simultaneous dual pen functionality, you and a colleague can annotate at the same time.
No Driver Installation Required – Installation has never been easier (Driver install is required for Mac however).
Advanced Networking Capability – Enables users to monitor, control and present from a remote location.
Broad Connectivity Including HDMI – HDMI, DisplayPort, USB display, PC Free slideshows, network and wireless connectivity.
Lowest Epson Lamp Price Ever Seen – Incredibly low price of only $79.
10W Built-in Speaker – Built in audio with the power to fill the meeting room.
People were requesting a projector with a function that enables you to save all the notes (made on top of a slide for example) during a presentation. This is possible with the Epson in two ways; either save to a USB stick or to a network drive. The projector can also work as a “normal projector”. We had to buy some equipment and make some modifications to the existing room to get all this working. For starters, the room only had cables for vga. We wanted to use dvi/hdmi as vga is getting old and the quality isn’t that great either. We used the existing wireway and added three new LAN cables (+ extenders). Other equipment include:
3 x 15m Ethernet Cat-5 cable (one for video, one for usb and one for the Buffalo)
Aten UCE60 USB-extender
Aten VE800 HDMI Extender
Existing LAN cable with existing vga extender
On the meeting room table: Aten VS481A 4 Port HDMI Switch
Buffalo Airstation Nfiniti WZR-HP-AG300H (hidden on top of the roof tiles)
With this done we now have 1 x VGA, 4 x HDMI (with different adapters) and 1 x USB port available on the meeting room table. It’s easier and cheaper to use an Ethernet cable instead of a hdmi/usb cable. It’s also much easier to install it in the wireways. This configuration will work for almost any laptop configuration out there. You can (and you should) use the wireless projection anyway.
That was the hardware part…almost. We also have a Buffalo Airstation Nfiniti WZR-HP-AG300H that has NAS support. This means that you can connect a usb stick or external hard drive to it and use it as a network drive. This way people can save their files to a network share. We have placed the Buffalo (with a connected usb stick) on top of the roof tiles in the meeting room. This way it’s invisible and you are also literally saving your files to the cloud 🙂 (You are requested to join the wireless “projector network” when you enter the meeting room. There are also instructions available on how to access your files from the Buffalo).
Setting up the projector was a bit harder than normal because there are A LOT of options. Actually the setup itself wasn’t that hard, it was the challenge of memorizing all the stuff you can do with it. Well, that’s our problem. We have written a more compact mini-manual that is available in the room.
Everything went fine except for the network part which turned out to be a bit tricky. We wanted to have the projector connected to the internal Buffalo network so it could connect to the network share. Connecting it to the network itself was no problem, it was the network share-part that got us confused. You can enter a hostname for the projector itself (epson in our case), but you can not connect to a network share with an IP address, only by UNC path. We were a bit confused on how to get the UNC path from the Buffalo. I don’t actually remember how, but in the end I got the idea of looking at the samba configuration on the Buffalo. First we enabled ssh to the Buffalo (this is possible because it’s running dd-wrt by default), and then ssh’ed in to it to look at the configuration. I had a hard time finding the configuration file as it’s not in the “normal place” (/etc/samba/ or similar). A few google attempts later it turned out that the smb.conf was located in /tmp/smb.conf. How logical, don’t you think? Source: http://tips.desipro.de/2010/09/09/dd-wrt-samba-custom-configuration-kong-mod/. Anyways, I had a look at the file:
BusyBox v1.19.4 (2012-06-03 12:59:27 CEST) built-in shell (ash)
Enter ‘help’ for a list of built-in commands.
root@xxx:~# cat /tmp/smb.conf
netbios name = DD-WRT
server string =
syslog = 10
encrypt passwords = true
obey pam restrictions = yes
preferred master = yes
os level = 20
security = user
mangled names = no
max stat cache size = 64
bind interfaces only = Yes
guest account = nobody
map to guest = Bad User
smb passwd file = /var/samba/smbpasswd
private dir = /var/samba
passdb backend = smbpasswd
log file = /var/smbd.log
max log size = 1000
socket options = TCP_NODELAY
printing = none
load printers = No
usershare allow guests = Yes
[epson] (This section has been auto entered by the Buffalo itself after successful connection with the projector)
comment = epson
path = /tmp/mnt/sda_part1
read only = No
guest ok = Yes
force user = root
and there it was; netbios name = DD-WRT.
With this information in place, it was just a matter of entering it in “Settings –> Save –> UNC Address” (\\DD-WRT\epson in our case) on the projector. Now the projector can save files directly to the usb stick on the Buffalo. People can also map the network drive to retrieve their saved files/presentations.
Using the projector
The projector can be used in three ways (see Fig 1 below):
- Whiteboard only, with ability to save scribbling (see Fig 2 below)
- Projector only
- Interactive projector (see fig 3 below)
Fig 1. Areas of usage
Fig 2. Whiteboard
Fig 3. Interactive projector
As said before, you can also use the projector as you would with a “normal” one. This means connecting vga or hdmi cables to your laptop and project the picture. You don’t have to use the interactive bit at all if you don’t feel like it. However, you can also write stuff on the whiteboard or on top of slides and save your work. When saving you can choose network or usb. You can plug your usb stick into the accompanied Control Pad (fig 4) which is situated next to the whiteboard. If you are using the Easy Interactive Tools (and the usb cable) you can save directly to your computer.
You can also use Network Projection by using Epson’s EasyMP Network Projection software. The software will find the projector if the PC and the projector are on the same network. You can also project from an iPad or iPhone using a downloadable app called iProjection (by Epson). If you install Easy Interactive Tools on a PC or Mac, you can get the “drawing tools” (Fig 2) to your computer instead. This means that you can draw on your computer instead of on the whiteboard (or on both).
Fig 4. Control Pad
This was just a short description of all the projector functions. The projector can do just about anything so it’s probably best for all of you to read the manual if you are interested in getting one: https://www.projectorpoint.co.uk/imagelibrary/projectors/epson/eb-1410wi/epson_eb-1410wi-manual.pdf