Frequently Asked Questions


How do I report a problem? What information do you need?

If you experience a classroom issue, call Keith Pierce  (2838) or Barry Ready (3602) or drop me an email at barryr@usca.edu. If I am not in my office, please leave a message,  it will automatically forward to my email and I be able to respond quickly or refer it to someone who can.

When reporting the problem, the more information you can give us the better. Be as specific as you can.

Here are some suggestions:

Where are you?

What is the specific problem?

Can we interrupt class?

What are you trying to do?

What is the equipment not doing?

What do you see/not see?

Is the problem with the computer or LCD?

It helps us respond and give better service if we have an idea what the issue is. The reason for this is not for you to solve the problem yourself, but for us to be able to think about the problem and possible tools or equipment we may need when we respond. The more information we have, the less class time is wasted. There have been numerous occasions that a simple button push solved the problem over the phone or I knew enough beforehand that the problem was resolved seconds after arriving in the classroom.

As an example, we get a lot of calls stating that someone is having a problem with the LCD in a certain location. Helpful information might be similar to the following: What equipment is working or not working? Is the LCD on and producing an image, but not the one you are looking for? Do you know which input the projector is on? Is the computer working? Are you seeing lights on the projector that aren’t what you are used to?

If I know what you’ve already done, I’ll have a good idea what is left to check.

Of course, it is perfectly fine if you don’t know what to tell us, we’ll still respond and resolve the issue as quickly as possible, but any information you have can be very useful and usually results in a quicker solution to the problem.

How do I change the input on the projector?

There will be a button on the remote and on the projector that will be labeled as follows:

The button will be labeled source or input and that one button will be used to cycle through every available input.

 -OR-

You will have two different buttons one will be labeled computer or RGB, and the other will be labeled video.

If you are using a computer, you will select the computer or RGB button and if you are showing a video, you will select the video button. The key thing to remember is a lot of projectors have 2-3 different options for displaying the computer signal and 2-3 different options for displaying video. We only use one option for computer display and one option for video display, so it may be necessary to cycle through the inputs to find the correct one.

The best process to follow is to turn on the LCD projector first, followed by the device with the signal you are trying to display. A lot of projectors will auto select for you if only one input signal is being delivered to the projector, but if not, powering up in this order will still aid you in choosing the right option.

Choose either the video or computer input and cycle through until the image you are trying to display pops up. Since you are already sending a signal to the projector, you should be able to identify it rather easily because it will display as soon as you land on the correct option.

Most of the time, it is not a requirement to power up using this procedure, but if both devices are powered off when you begin using them, it should insure that the projector “knows” the device is connected to it.

How do I play audio through the computer or VCR?

There are desktop speakers in every classroom that are connected to both the computer and the VCR. The only adjustment required is to make sure they are turned on and turned up to the appropriate level. There are also BASS and TREBLE knobs that can be adjusted for personal taste but are not required to hear audio. If you do not hear audio, give us a call. It usually means something has been unplugged. This problem can generally be resolved in a matter of seconds.

NOTE: If you attempt to listen to computer audio and hear nothing but static, make sure the VCR is turned off. That should eliminate the problem. A few of the older VCR’s send out a signal that interferes with the computer audio in this fashion. It is generally a Zenith VCR that causes the problem. The problem should go away as these models are replaced with newer VCR’s.

Why is the image on the screen not square?

This is called the keystone effect and can be corrected on the newest projectors by making an adjustment with the remote control.

An image that is wider at the bottom than it is on the top or vice versa, is caused by the projector being mounted or placed either higher (ceiling mount) or lower than the bottom or top edge of the screen. The increased angle required to place the image on the screen causes this effect.

This is becoming less of a problem in classrooms as the equipment is upgraded, but you may notice it when you take a projector off campus. If you have the front legs extended out or are using books to make the image hit the screen, you will most likely have this particular keystone problem.

The other keystone effect occurs when either the left or the right side of the image is noticeably shorter than the other side. This occurs when the front edge of the projector is not parallel to the screen surface. Turning the projector or the screen on its axis will generally eliminate this effect.

How do I make keystone corrections?

There is an option on most of the newer projectors for this, but if you give us a call we’ll be glad to adjust it for you. If you are taking a projector off campus, I will be happy to show you how to make the adjustments. As a general rule, it is better to correct as much of the problem as you can with equipment placement, then make minor adjustments with the remote.

Who can request equipment?

Any faculty or staff member can request equipment for a university related function either on or off campus. Students must have a faculty or staff advisor to make the request for them. For information or requests please contact Barry Ready at BarryR@usca.edu

How do I make the image from my laptop appear on the screen?

First, make sure the power cables for both the LCD and laptop computer are plugged into a working electrical outlet. On the LCD you should be able to test this by watching for the power button to start glowing. It will usually be an orange or green color. Next make sure the VGA cable is connected between the laptop and LCD projector. The ends on the VGA cable are normally blue. If you are using a Dell or other IBM compatible laptop, the end the VGA cable plugs into is usually the same color blue as the VGA cable. It will only fit into on slot on the back of the laptop.

On a MAC laptop, you will need to use the VGA to DVI adaptor that comes with your laptop. This adaptor can only be hooked up one way, so plug the VGA cable into the proper end of the adaptor and the other end into the DVI port on the back of the laptop.

Power on the projector first then power on the laptop. If the image does not immediately pop up, cycle through the RGB inputs until it matches the one you have the cable plugged into on the back of the LCD. There will usually be an RGB1 and RGB2 or it will say Computer1 or Computer2. There are some instances when the projector has only one computer input and the other will be an output. Make sure you plug into the one that says input.

On a Dell computer: If you’ve gone through the process above and still don’t have a signal, press and hold the function key (It is on the bottom left and is labeled Fn) and while holding the function key press F8. The F8 key should have LCD/CRT in blue on the top of the key. If you don’t have a Dell, still press the function key and look for the F button that has LCD/CRT written on it or a symbol that looks like a box with a line on each side of it. While continuing to press the function key, continue to press the proper function key until it finds your signal. You will have to give it a few seconds each time you press the function key for it to try to find the signal. You will know you are at the proper spot when you can see the display on both the laptop and the image projected by the LCD.

On a MAC laptop, you will need to make sure that “mirror displays” is selected in the monitor settings in System Preferences. You may have to reboot the computer, but that is usually not the case.

A reboot of your computer (MAC or PC) may be necessary if you plug in a computer that is already on into an LCD projector. This may be required for the LCD to get the necessary signal that something is being sent to it.

Why does the clean filter message keep popping up on the screen?

The newest projectors have a built in timer that counts the hours the projector has been used since the last timer reset. Usually the clean filter message pops up on the screen after approximately 150 hours of use. Although in some rooms the filter may need cleaning, the message does not indicate that the filter is actually dirty but that a certain number of hours have passed since the timer was last reset. The message will usually disappear and the projector will still be usable, but make sure to give me a call if you experience this problem. The timer can be reset in a matter of seconds.

I periodically go around and clean all of the filters as part of my normal maintenance routine, so if I come in to reset the timer without cleaning the filter, I am simply trying to cause as little interruption to class time as possible. I will generally come back the next time the classroom is open and clean/check the filter unless it is immediately obvious that the filter is clogged and is causing the projector to overheat. In these cases, I will clean the filter while responding to the initial call.

Note: The projector also counts lamp hours and will display a similar message after 1500-2000 hours of use. This message is much more critical and will say the lamp needs to be changed. This is a fairly accurate indicator that the lamp could go out at any time. I will verify the message and order a new lamp. I may reset the timer simply to keep the message off the screen so that it can still be used, but this does not mean the problem has been ignored. When the new lamp comes in, I reset the timer again so that the actual hours on the new lamp are correctly tracked.

How do I know what input to use?

There are generally two inputs used on the classroom LCD projectors. One is a computer input and the other is a video input. The computer input will generally be RGB, RGB 1, RGB 2, Computer 1, or Computer 2. In the majority of cases it will be RGB 1 or Computer 1.

For video, the input should be "video". There will be other selections such as component, S-Video, etc. but we set up all of the classrooms to use the “video” input.

Why are the colors different on my computer display and the screen?

A difference between the colors on your computer monitor and the projected image is not uncommon. Unless there is a problem with the projector, the colors displayed will be in the same color family as those on the monitor. In other words, if there is blue on the monitor there will be blue on the projected image but they may not look exactly the same.

In my experience, the projected image will tend to be a little darker than what is on the monitor. This does not usually indicate a problem with the projector unless there is an obvious double image or the image is so far off as to bear no resemblance to the original. Slight adjustments can be made in the menu of the projector to compensate, but it usually has to be done individually for each image.

There are millions of colors that can be displayed on a computer monitor and sometimes the LCD projector does not accurately represent each individual color.

There may also be cases where someone has gone into the projector menu and adjusted the color, brightness, contrast, red levels, blue levels, or sharpness to an unacceptable level to try to compensate for some image related problem. These problems are fairly easy to correct and I’ll gladly check them for you upon request.

Why do students need an advisor to request equipment on their behalf?

Any request for equipment must be tied to a campus budget that can reimburse Instructional Services for repair or replacement costs, should that become necessary. All advisors should be aware that they are responsible for ensuring that all equipment is returned to us in the same condition it was in upon delivery.

Why did I select the video or RGB input but I’m still unable to see my presentation on the screen?

First, make sure all the connections are proper. Most projectors have more than one RGB input, so make sure the input the projector is on matches the one that the cable is plugged into on the back of the projector. The same goes for video cables. Most video connections on campus are made with RCA composite cables (Red, White, Yellow). These are color coded on both the projector and the device being connected to the projector. Make sure you are plugged into the “out” on the device you are playing your media on and the “in” on the projector.

Since more than one option is available for both RGB (Computer) and Video make sure that RGB is selected for computer (If there are both RGB 1 and RGB 2 inputs on the projector, make sure you select the proper one) and Video is selected for Video.

If you still aren’t getting a signal after checking everything above, try the Fn+F8 keystrokes on a Dell Computer and make sure “mirror displays” option is selected on the MAC. Detailed descriptions of this are outlined earlier in the FAQ.

Why do some images appear to shake in certain rooms? Can anything be done about it?

The simple answer is we don’t know for sure, but we are aware of the problems. We have been looking for a solution to these issues for quite a while but have not found a good way to dampen the effect in certain rooms. If appears to be caused by something in the heating in cooling systems as the effect usually disappears when the air shuts off.

If you have reported the problem to us and still have the issue, you have not been forgotten. We simply haven’t found a solution yet. In some cases, we have explored several different options and none so far have reduced vibration to an acceptable level.

Rest assured, we remain committed to resolving these issues if at all possible and as soon we possibly can.

Do you still have slide projectors?

We still have two slide projectors that are working, but no guarantee can be made as to how long that will be the case. The primary manufacturer of slide projectors, Kodak, discontinued the manufacture of these items about 3 years ago and repair on these items is becoming either nonexistent or cost prohibitive.

It is recommended if you use slides to have them converted to a digital format for use in PowerPoint or a similar program. Converting them not only allows you to continue using them, it is also a good way to preserve them for the future. Slide quality degrades over time and exposure to light, so it is probably in your best interest to have them saved digitally. This will preserve a copy in its present state that won’t degrade any further and still be usable for years to come. Feel free to contact us for assistance in this matter.

What type of video cameras do you have for checkout?

We have 4 checkout cameras in the MiniDV format. Tapes are not provided but can be purchased locally at most stores that carry electronics. Wal-Mart and Target both stock these tapes. Each tape will hold one hour of footage in standard mode. All of the checkout cameras have Firewire ports that can be used to dump the footage on a computer with a Firewire port and video editing software. They can also be converted to DVD.

Do you have lapel mics?

We do not have lapel mics for checkout. We do have a couple of wireless handheld mics.

Who do I contact regarding sound system requests in the Etherredge Center lobby?

Those requests go through Teddy Palmer (3326) or Jane Schumacher (3328) in the Etherredge Center. If you have need for LCD projection in the lobby, we still provide that service in the lobby and main theatre areas.

Do you have CD players?

We don’t have CD players, but we can usually provide a DVD player that can be used to play CD’s although they aren’t typically as user friendly. If you have your own CD player with RCA outputs or an iPod, we can provide cables that will patch those items into our sound system.

Do you have checkout laptops?

We currently have two Dell laptops that can be checked out along with our LCD projectors. Another option is to contact Computer Services as they have some checkout models as well. Bob Wiesner (3522) is the Computer Services contact.

Can I take equipment off campus?

Yes, if a professionally justified or University related need exists. An off-campus equipment waiver will be provided in which you state the purpose the equipment will be used for and provide your signature stating that you are taking responsibility for the equipment provided and personal liability for any damage. Equipment cannot be checked out for off-campus use for any personal use that does not meet a University related criteria.

What do I need to consider when taking an LCD projector off campus?

Any electronic equipment can fail without notice, even if it was working perfectly upon delivery. We strive to provide the best possible service and ensure that what we deliver works as advertised, but sometimes lamp and other failures occur with no prior warning. This is extremely rare, but can happen.

LCD projectors should not be left in cars or in view of possible thieves. You should make sure that you are able to constantly monitor the equipment to ensure that it is secure.

LCD projectors should not be exposed to extreme changes in temperature. Projectors that have been in a cold environment should not be immediately plugged in and turned on. Not only does this reduce lamp life, it can frequently cause the lamp to explode or otherwise fail. Care should be taken to allow the projector to assume the temperature of the room before use. They should never be used outdoors or in extremely dusty, hot, or cold environments.

Although I have checked to make sure all of the cables you need are included in delivery, it is still a good idea to double check behind me to make sure everything you need is there.

Make sure you log on to any University owned laptop before you leave campus so that your desktop settings will be preloaded.

Try to quickly hook everything up and run through your presentation if possible before you leave so that any technical problems can be addressed before you leave. Having the confidence that you know how everything works and is working properly before you leave can relieve a lot of needless stress.

What should I do if the lamp in an overhead projector goes out in the middle of class?

Call Janice Weeks (3769) or Barry Ready (3602) as soon as possible and we’ll get it replaced. Let us know whether or not you want us to interrupt class to replace it. It generally takes no more than a minute or two to replace the lamp.

If you get a projector from another location instead of calling us, please return it. A small problem like a blown lamp can quickly turn into a bigger one if an instructor in another room cannot find their overhead projector. A lot of times we have no way of knowing where the extra projector in a room came from until someone reports one missing.

If the lamp in the LCD projector goes out, whom should I call? How long does replacement take?

Call Janice Weeks (3769) or Barry Ready (3602) or email us as soon as you are aware of it. I will generally report to the classroom to verify that the lamp has indeed failed. There are various other things that can display the same symptoms as a lamp failure, but that can be quickly resolved and have you back up and running without a lamp change.

Once it is determined a replacement lamp is necessary, they can generally be ordered that day and we usually receive the replacement and have it changed out within 3-4 days. This varies depending on shipping times, but is a good average. There is generally very little lag between when we receive the lamp on campus and when it is changed out. Every effort is made to replace the lamp at the earliest time that the classroom is available long enough for the change out to occur.

Sometimes lamps will go out without notice, but usually the projector will display a message stating that the lamp needs to be changed and the timer reset. Please let us know as soon as you see this message so we can get the ball rolling as quickly as possible and avoid as much down time as possible.

Why don’t you keep spare LCD lamps on hand?

There are two main reasons:

  1. We have several different models of projectors on campus and it would be cost prohibitive to order replacements to cover all models possible.
  2. In addition to the cost of the individual lamps that average between $400-$500 each, the 90-day warranty on lamps start when the lamp is delivered. We can’t risk that a lamp sit on a shelf and run out of warranty before it is even installed, or have it accidentally broken. It’s simply too expensive to have a lamp sitting around that isn’t inside a projector.

One of the ways I try to get around this is through frequent checks of lamp hours and tracking average hours usage for each classroom.  By doing this, I can generally predict which ones are most likely to go out each semester and when the time gets close, I am ready to order its replacement. Of course they don’t all go out with the same amount of hours on the lamp timer, but I can generally estimate it within a month and be ready for it. As soon as I verify that the lamp timer has gone off, a new one is immediately ordered to replace it. This generally causes the nuisance of the lamp timer popping up during class as a reminder, but it is usually only for 3-4 days.

If I have a remote with a dead battery, whom should I call?

First check the laser function on the remote to verify the batteries aren’t working. A lot of times you simply need to move closer to the projector or point the remote directly at the projector to make it work properly. The administrative assistant in your department should have replacement batteries for the remotes. We don’t stock replacement batteries for remotes.

What if I can’t find the LCD remote?

Check around the room to see if it was left on the chalk rail or has fallen in the cabinet behind the computer, or is on a table somewhere. If possible check the rooms nearby to see if someone took it in there. I can look for it as time permits, but most of the time these locations are generally where I find them. We don’t have spare remotes. We only have the remote that was provided with the projector when installed. A new remote can sometimes be ordered, but depending on the age of the unit they may either not be available or quite expensive. The replacement cost will be borne by the department responsible for that room’s equipment, so it is a good idea to keep the remotes in the cabinets and lock them when not in use.

What if I have a problem with the Presenter mouse?

Contact Barry Ready  (3602) regarding problems with the mouse.

When is the LCD projector in a certain room going to be replaced?

I generally do not know the schedule for replacement in any particular room. I make recommendations based on the age of the unit and reliability every year and my list is forwarded to the CTE who makes the final decision. I usually don’t know where they are going for the next year until late in the spring semester or the summer prior.

I also make recommendations for additional locations for projectors based on usage patterns, but I have no input as to whether or not these locations are approved.

Can a sound system be set up outdoors?

A sound system can be set up outdoors provided power is available in that location and the requestor ensures that the equipment will be monitored and kept out of extreme weather. It should not be allowed to become wet or excessively dusty. I reserve the right to refuse set up in any location near a pool or any other standing water that presents a risk of electrocution or irreparable damage to the equipment and will assume no responsibility should the equipment be moved from a location deemed appropriate by me to an unsafe location at a later time. The same restriction applies not only to sound systems, but to any equipment requiring an external source of power or that can otherwise be damaged beyond repair due to expose to water, moisture, or other liquids.

Can an LCD projector be used outdoors?

An LCD projector should not be used outdoors due to the sensitivity of the circuitry, lamp, and light engines to extreme temperature changes. This will substantially reduce the lamp life and useful life of the projector and is strongly discouraged. All requests of this type must be forwarded to our director Keith Pierce (2838) and if approved, will be with the caveat that an increased liability risk exists and will be assumed by the requestor should damage to the equipment occur.

Can my laptop be used in a classroom instead of the classroom computer?

It is possible, but not recommended if the presentation will otherwise run on the classroom computer. There must be ample time both before and after your class or presentation for the equipment to be reconnected to the classroom computer so as not to disrupt other events or classes taking place there.

Generally, most PowerPoint presentations will run on PC’s if they were created on a MAC, so if you have the ability to put the presentation on a flash drive or disk, you may find that it will run just fine.

It is understood that some programs are written on platform specific software and every effort to accommodate these requests will be made.

It is generally not wise to repeatedly connect and disconnect equipment in the classroom as the connecting pins can be damaged or bent if done often or without proper care. The classroom VGA cables are plenum rated and are specifically designed and required by law for installation in ceilings and walls and cost 3-5 times as much as typical cables of similar length. Therefore, if it is at all possible to use the classroom computer in lieu of a laptop, that is generally the option that presents the least amount of difficulty and greatly reduces the risk of cable damage.