This year, we wanted to expand our A/V Club’s involvement in school activities. We decided to try live streaming some of the sporting events.
In the fall, we started filming the football games:
As you can see, we do a multi-camera setup and live mix between the shots. Students run all of the equipment. An adult advisor assists with trying to direct the crew.
During each game, we found ourselves having to film the scoreboard every time we wanted to show the viewer the score. Daktronics, the company that made the stadium’s scoreboard sells a device for overlaying a game clock, score, and other stats. It’s called the All Sport Character Generator, or Allsport CG.
The device is very simple to use — nearly plug and play. Because the All Sport CG only works with standard-definition video and we film/stream in HD we had to accommodate it by only using “video out” and a composite to hdmi scaler. This negates the transparency feature, but our video mixer’s upstream keyer can crop to the top and bottom.
The biggest frustration was changing the logo on the bar. In appendix ‘B’ of the instruction manual , there are steps for uploading a custom design to replace the Daktronics branding. Here are the changes I think need to be made:
- Requirements: “
Modem orstraight-through cable.” Only a straight DB9 cable worked for us.
- Bitmap file: Height
3233, Width 164the right three pixels get covered.
- We had to add a Hue Shift of +120 in Photoshop to correct the colors.
As a linux user, we had to find our own way to do the upload. In Windows, the manual says to use HyperTerminal or TeraTerm. These aren’t available or necessary.
- Connect the serial cable from a COM port on the computer to the CONTROl port on the All Sprt CG.
- Apply power to the All Sport CG using the 12 VAC transformer supplied and wait for LOOKING FOR ALL SPORT to appear on the LCD.
- On the command line, type “screen /dev/ttyS0 115200,cs8,parenb“
- Press [ENTER] on the keyboard to confirm that the COM port has been configued properly and that the serial cable is correctly connected. The message “AllSprtCG” will appear if proper communication has been established.
- Typer “BD” and press [ENTER]. The message “Transfer file now” will appear.
- Press [CTRL] and [a], then press “:“
- Type “exec !! sx logo.bmp“
- After a few seconds, the transfer will complete.
- Press [CTRL] and [a], then press “k” and confirm with “y“.
- Disconnect the serial cable from the All Sport CG and cycle power to return the device to normal operation.
- Without a connection to the scoreboard, press [MENU], then [Down Arrow] [Down Arrow], and [enter] [enter] to begin displaying. Otherwise, the device should begin displaying the new graphic automatically.
Another alternative on linux is to use minicom.
Alternatives to All Sport CG
The best part of the Daktronics All Sport Character Generator is the simple plug-and-play use. The biggest downside is the price. Our school paid around $1000, and that doesn’t include the scaler we needed to interface it with HD.
SportzCast.net makes a similar device we would have preferred, called the ScoreBot. It can interface with many different scoreboards (not just Daktronics). The price is far better (close to $350) but, it needs an additional CG machine to generate the on-screen graphics. HD/SD would depend completely on your CG machine.
(Nov. ’13 – Rumor has it, the company is working on eliminating the need for an additional system.)
Decode Serial Data
Programmatically decode the serial RTD (Real Time Data) by connecting to the RS-232/422 port on the back of the scorer’s console (5000 or 3000 series).
Xiaoyang Kao has done some of this research and serialtools.tv sells a plug for the port.