DLP® Pico™ Display Projector EVM-BeagleBone Black - Review

Table of contents

RoadTest: DLP® Pico™ Display Projector EVM-BeagleBone Black

Author: jkutzsch

Creation date:

Evaluation Type: Development Boards & Tools

Did you receive all parts the manufacturer stated would be included in the package?: True

What other parts do you consider comparable to this product?: I have not compared any other products of similar design, from what I have read T.I. is very strong in this area and competition would be more among others of their models with unequal price comparison.

What were the biggest problems encountered?: Documentation and guidance by T.I. for proper use of device. Focus adjuster

Detailed Review:

First off a huge Thank you to Texas Instruments and Element 14 for allowing me to review this product.  I have reviewed other T.I. products and quite honestly their sources of information can be so vast, that I can get too distracted learning about a technology instead of actually testing the product.  Texas Instruments once again did not disappoint in regards to potential self-education opportunities with this product and their technology behind it.

 

My focus on reviewing this product was on how functional it would be out of the box stepping through their instructions and also on setting it up as a portable display option for various settings and uses.

 

 

Let's get into the Review!

 

The Unboxing:

 

 

I was quite surprised by the packaging size of the provided demo unit.  I have had much smaller boxes provided for multi-thousand dollar equipment where I had questioned if it was truly safe to ship as is.

 

As you can see with this, from the beginning the box looks impressive for something designed to be small.

 

 

For evaluation only, Not FCC approved for resale.  Interesting.  I don't believe I have came across that labeling before.

 

 

Documentation aside from warning that this an EVM product only was non-existent.  A post card or similar even of where to start with the workings of this interesting device would have been a good item to include.

 

 

Cracking that box open reveals a solid packing of foam outside the products with bubble wrap generously applied within the open foam space.  I felt that they took extra care to be sure this product could be shipped where ever Element 14 may have found Roadtesters!

 

 

 

When I had looked up the EVM on T.I.s website I had read that specifically:

  • Not Included: External 5V, 3A power supply

 

So seeing an external 5v 3A power supply was a Welcome Sight!  Thank you.  I had previous power supply issues with other projects and being able to rely on one perfect for the EVM was nice instead of me going through my own supplies and hopefully finding one that fit the bill.

 

 

One USB Type A to USB Mini-B Adapter Cable perfect for connecting to the BeagleBoneBlack also provided.

 

 

Here we have our DLPDLCR2000EVM Evaluation Board (aka TI DLP LightCrafter Display 2000 Evaluation Module), already premounted to BeagleBoneBlack board provided.

 

As you can see by the size, quite a bit smaller then the packing box and right along what I was hoping to work with for a portable projecting system.

 

 

 

Here we have the "front" of our EVM.

 

 

Here we have the "rear" of our EVM.  If you noticed that it seems canted and actually leaning on the USB port you are correct.

 

 

Here you can get an idea of the height of the device.

 

I really like the small form factor!

 

 

Here you can see the reason why the EVM was canted and leaning on the USB port.  It is missing one of the standoffs.

 

Sadly I do not have an extra one on hand and will just be careful in regards to this.

 

 

Getting Started:

 

Interestingly enough there was nothing with the EVM to suggest what to do with it.

 

While this of course can easily be rectified with a simple search it did seem odd compared to other products I have reviewed.

 

But of course since this is an Evaluation Only item and not a for sale item perhaps they expected all Testers to be able to search for information needed else how would they be able to provide a reliable review.  :-)

 

So I entered "DLPDLCR2000EVM" into a search engine and right away links to T.I. popup:

 

DLP® LightCrafter™ Display | 2000 EVM from TI | ti.com

 

 

This looks like a good place to start our project off at. 

I had previously looked at this page just for a basic gist of what the product may offer and it had intrigued me enough to apply for the RoadTest.

 

 

A little farther down the page you can see a basic description and even a list of Features that included the lack of a power adapter with the kit.

 

One of the links that may be of interest for those Seekers of Further Technology is under the Description:

This links gives some interesting insight into the various models and basics of the technology such as this system block diagram:

 

 

It was enough information that I started getting off track and went looking into more details on DLP/DMD and how Texas Instruments factors in.

 

Without going to deeply down the Rabbit Hole of TechnoGoodies I had came across mention of T.I. DLP technology and Movie Theaters which then led me to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_cinema  this spoke of how aside from Sony all the big Cinema players use DLP Technology licensed from Texas Instruments. 

 

Off of that page there was link to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_Light_Processing  That discusses the history of DLP and how it was developed back in 1987 by Larry Hornbeck of Texas Instruments.  This last link provides more details in the development and use of DLP and is quite interesting to those wanting a little more background on the subject.

 

This is of course all additional information above and beyond the device I have in my hands so back to the specifics.

 

You may have noticed up above there was a Key Document highlighted, this looks to be quite promising for the next steps in getting our Review Rolling:

Key Document

http://www.ti.com/lit/pdf/dlpu049

 

User guides are always good to have so this was quickly downloaded so I could take a look at it.

 

 

Not exactly a Monster Resource for such a promising Device but it is what has been offered up so far so let's take a look.

 

Topic 1 is a very quick Overview.  1 Page with a picture.

Topic 2 sounds much more promising, Quick-Start Guide.

 

Looking over this part shows that it is based on the idea of having just the EVM board sent and you needing to connect all of the parts and pieces.  This could be a useful part later though if need to troubleshoot something not working but we have been lucky enough to already have the board fully assembled and mounted on a BeagleBone Black that was provided.

 

 

Here we can see that by default they will be describing everything for the BeagleBone Black which is convenient for new users following along with the same items I am reviewing.

 

Now we have a reference to another site to ensure we have an appropriate operating system:

http://beagleboard.org/getting-started

 

 

This site provides a good set of instructions on obtaining the latest image and even a link to Etcher so you can install the image on your microsd card.

 

Following their directions I went to beagleboard.org/latest-images. and downloaded

Stretch LXQT (with graphical desktop) for BeagleBone via microSD card

 

This gives me a Graphical Desktop option that is for the BeagleBone Black.

 

Then I got to sit back and wait a little bit while the 775 meg file downloaded.  While the privacy and views are great living out in a rural area, download speeds are nothing compared to when I lived in town.

 

For those of you who prefer to try and get as close as possible to the TI recommended version of Debian Jessie (version 8.9) instead of trying the latest version available they do have older version you can download:

 

 

I am going to work with the latest available though. 

 

Image is down, and now on to the next step.

 

     Download and install Etcher.

 

At only 50.4 megs this one is moving a little quicker.

 

 

Remarkably quick and easy.  Let's flash some images!

 

 

I think one flash is good enough for this project.  Knock on wood...

 

Okay, I have the image on the card.

 

But looking at the Guide it isn't clear if I now need to move the image to the BBB or can I boot from card and further reading stays unclear in regards to further steps.

 

So much for hoping to follow along with the Guide and get things done.

 

While the guide does have a lot of interesting information, such as:

 

 

Which looks promising especially if you want to work with the Raspberry Pi.  Please look at RoadTest:

DLP® Pico™ Display Projector EVM-BeagleBone Black - Review for some interesting information on how implemented the RPI with this EVM.  Thank you

 

But for what I am trying to do the guide has failed in providing a solid resource to step a user through.  Even with multiple hops to other sites and information I feel it does not give the details it needs to provide as a guide.

 

Doing some more research brings up DLPDLCR2000EVM: Quick-Start Tutorial

 

 

Well this looks promising!

 

We would like to present a brief tutorial on how to get your DLP® LightCrafter™ Display 2000 EVM up and running on a BeagleBone Black. This tutorial will assume limited Linux/Debian experience. For more general information on using this EVM, please consult the DLPDLCR2000EVM User's Guide, which can be located here: http://www.ti.com/lit/pdf/dlpu049

 

Yes this looks more like something I want to share out for this review and other users.

 

Step 1: Download and Install PuTTy on your machine. You can download the latest version of PuTTY at: https://www.chiark.greenend.org.uk/~sgtatham/putty/latest.html

 

For those of you with PuTTy already installed, less of an issue, I downloaded this version just in case my version was out dated.

 

 

Step 2: Download the latest version of Debian with driver support for the EVM. You can download this here:

https://debian.beagleboard.org/images/rcn-ee.net/rootfs/bb.org/testing/2017-08-01/lxqt-4gb/

  Okay that is already done.

 

Step 3: Download SDFormatter & Win32DiskImager. These programs will be used to load Debian to the microSD card. You can download them from:

https://www.sdcard.org/downloads/formatter_4/

and

https://sourceforge.net/projects/win32diskimager/

 

Okay this step and steps 4 & 5 all work with doing what Etcher did for us earlier.

Step 6: Use the microSD card to install Debian to the BeagleBone Black. To do so, follow the instructions located at http://exploringbeaglebone.com/chapter2/#Writing_a_New_Image_to_the_BBB

And were back to going to other sites for information...  I think I have ended up with 8 web browsers open so I can check things and write this Review.  There should be a more complete way to have these in one document.  Especially if you are going to say this is for limited experience.

On the plus side exploringbeaglebone.com does seem to have some interesting information for later browsing.

So some more confusion is introduced.  Here we find out:

A.  The BBB should already come with a linux distro installed.  (Of course we always want the latest.)

B.  To "flash" the BBB you need to download a "flasher" version onto your SD.  Format:  BBB-eMMC-flasher-distro-YYYY.MM.DD.img.xz.

C.   Looking at the Guide they are NOT using a "flasher" version.

D.  I don't remember seeing a "flasher" option for images to download. 

Okay, so let's see if we can proceed with our Non Flasher version on our SD.

Step 7: Plug the EVM into the BeagleBone Black The Ethernet port on the BeagleBone Black should align with the indentation cut out of the EVM. Refer to the video located at http://www.ti.com/tool/dlpdlcr2000evm for a demonstration of how to plug in the system with 5V power.

The video has a lot of fluff but does show powering the EVM by itself as well as with the BBB installed.

One thing it shows is to power the EVM with the 5v power and connect the usb to your computer.

Step 8: After booting both the EVM and the BeagleBone Black, the EVM splash screen should show up.

 

Log into the BeagleBone Black by launching PuTTY on the computer (while connected via USB to the BeagleBone Black). When prompted for host information, use 192.168.7.2 via port 22 as shown below.

Step 9: You will be given a login prompt. Use the following credentials:

Username: debian

Password: temppwd

Use the password “temppwd” whenever the system asks for a password for administrator purposes. At this point we will be ready to set up the software side of the BeagleBone Black.

 

This went exactly as described.  Nice to have a smooth flow.

 

Step 10: As a test, you can bring up the BeagleBone Desktop on the projector with the following commands:

If you have a mouse connected to the BeagleBone Black via usb, you can use the BeagleBone as you would a regular PC.

After the First line is entered our splash screen goes away.

 

 

Here we would be able to use this like a normal desktop if mouse/keyboard were connected.  The actual view is much better by eye, for some reason I couldn't capture the color well on this shot.

 

Step 11: To run the video, you need to update the BeagleBone Black with software to install mplayer (python is also needed, but should be installed by default). Run the following commands:

> sudo apt-get update

> sudo apt-get upgrade

> sudo apt-get install mplayer2

 


 

And No Network means no updating!  Interesting not even a mention of network connection in their walk through.

Okay, I had really wanted to follow guides provided by T.I. but everytime I switch there seems to be failures in the process.

So now it is time to creatively wing it while following the last steps.

First off, as you can see I have now plugged in an Ethernet cable to be sure to have networking.  There are other options out there but this seems clean and simple.

In addition you should be able to see my USB hub off to the right so I can plug in a keyboard and mouse.  I have the urge to test out the Desktop potential.

 

Things are looking good, let's take a test run with our web browser.

It is interesting that if you bring the camera in closer to the screen you will start to pick up the color changes.  Farther back you don't notice anything.

 

Network connection confirmed with bringing up our Favorite website!  Element14.com

Since if you are going to use a projector you need to test on the walls, here is the desktop being projected up against my side wall.  It is just concrete with white paint on it.  Very bunker/industrial decor.

Plus I shut off the overhead lights.

Here we are with the lights back on.  As you can see it is a pretty rough wall but the display does pretty well.  Especially when the lights are off.

To give you an idea.  The projector was roughly 45.5 inches away from the wall and the screen was roughly 28 inches by 16 inches at that distance.

So going to a bigger and farther wall with the lights off again.  The picture is not focusing as well as the projector was actually providing.  But I have to admit I am running into serious issues with the focus now that I am farther out.  It seems if you step to heavy near the device it jiggles out of focus.

Here we have the lights back on.  To be fair the main light is almost directly over the left hand side as you can see from the washout of the picture. 

The projector is roughly 101 inches away from the wall here and gives roughly a 62 inch by 35.5 inch screen.

Okay, time to go back to the video options and following the provided steps:

Step 12: Using the cd command, navigate to the following directory:

> cd /opt/scripts/device/bone/capes/DLPDLCR2000/

Step 13: To install the test scripts, follow the instructions below:

Use of the provided Python scripts requires the accompanying library:

dlp_lightcrafter-1.0.19.tar

To install on BeagleBone Black, do:

> tar -xvf dlp_lightcrafter-1.0.19.tar.gz

> cd dlp_lightcrafter-1.0.19

> sudo python setup.py install

 

This went very well, below I provided the final messaging.

Step 14: Finally, we can play the fishbowl video by navigating back to the /opt/scripts/device/bone/capes/DLPDLCR2000/ directory:

> export DISPLAY=:0

> cd /opt/scripts/device/bone/capes/DLPDLCR2000/

> python MplayerTest.py

Success!  Although the frame rate is very slow.  This seems to be an issue of the BBB and not the projector so I will continue my testing.

This is actually projected on yet another wall.  My only one with actual sheetrock and paint.  I was curious on the potential of mounting it high and shooting if over on my wall above my monitors.

If I am not careful my head will be showing just at the very bottom left corner of the screen.

This seems to be a great way to have a large screen display and the device safely up and out of the way!

Be careful on tilting the device very much.  You have only a slight range before the focus bar drops back and ruins the picture.

There is an option to order a replacement/repair for the focus and I will do that but I did not want the RoadTest to have to wait for that.

Now while using putty works, I am curious on what I can push through the desktop/GUI.  So let's test that out.

Here I have used the MPV video player that comes with GUI and it worked but of course it was even slower then from the command line.  As you can see the CPU is pegged just trying to show the fish.  I have a feeling tweaking should resolve this and assist the BBB.

What about my own videos.  I converted a Halloween display video over to 360p and played it via MPV.

It worked, but once again very slow frame rates. 

Now my final test for right now was an idea that I had for setting up temporary screens.

Here we have a simple white bed sheet held up and it displayed quite well.  This seems to have a lot of promise come Halloween time!  This was being displayed just a little in front of the wall where we were seeing 62x35.5 inch projection.

Here we have why I did not have it right on the wall.

This is actually projected through the sheet with the projector on the other side.

Just perfect if you want to do something like Window displays.  I am curious on if a white shower curtain might be better or no noticeable difference.  But that will be in the future.

Over all I have very much enjoyed working with this offering by T.I. and believe it has great potential!

I plan on gathering a few items and trying a couple things for a future update now that I have tested this and it has made me curious on what more I can do. 

Anonymous