DataLink serial troubleshooting is somewhat involved since we are dealing with four interconnected elements: the scoreboard controller, serial-USB adapter’s driver settings, Datalink profile settings, and finally LiveText. These elements are listed in the order of the flow of data. This is not always going to be the flow of troubleshooting. For instance, it can help to make sure that LiveText is up to date before troubleshooting the preceding elements.
The scoreboard controller is ultimately what sends data to both the scoreboard itself and to the computer with Livetext/DataLink. Before troubleshooting, verify its make and model such as Translux/Fairplay MP70, or Daktronics All Sport CG. This can ensure you put the right information into DataLink. Before testing your workflow, verify that scoreboard controller is on and one of its clocks, such as the shot clock, is running. This ensures that data is being changed and is being sent out of the controller. If a ticket needs to be submitted or escalated, please include both the make and model as well as the current firmware version of the controller. This can be usually found by restarting the scoreboard controller and watching its LED display as it loads.
NOTE: some scoreboards do not have a separate controller box and instead send data directly to the PC (often via an adapter).
Serial to USB Adapter
Generally, the scoreboard controller uses a serial output that goes through a serial-usb adapter that connects it to the computer. The first thing to check is whether the driver software has been installed for that adapter. If it hasn't, it may not properly transmit the data coming from the scoreboard controller. Next, find which com port handles the connection to the scoreboard or scoreboard controller:
- (Windows XP, Right-click the My Computer icon on the Windows Desktop) (Windows Vista and 7, select Start and then right-click on “Computer”), and select Manage from the menu to open the Computer Management panel.
- Open the Device Manager by clicking that entry in the left pane of this window. (On Windows 8, you can get to computer management by pressing “Start” and typing “Computer Management.”)
- Click the + sign next to Ports (COM and LPT) in the right-hand pane to disclose available communication ports.
- Locate the entry for your scoreboard controller – take note of which COM port number is assigned to it (such as COM 1 or COM2).
Note: You should see your new connection listed. If it doesn’t appear at first, try removing and re-inserting the USB cable connector – or you can use the “Scan for hardware changes” item in the Device Manager’s Action menu. (If it does appear but shows a ! icon appears next to the entry, this may indicate a problem with either the USB connection or your adapter driver installation – try re-installing the adapter driver, following the directions supplied with it.)
In some environments, Windows may arbitrarily reassign the external device to a different COM port following a reboot. If this happens, you could simply update the COM port entry in the affected configuration profile. However, you may prefer instead to lock the connected device to a specific COM port, using the Windows Device Manager.
To do this, please locate the current port entry for your scoreboard controller. Right-click the entry name, and select Properties in the drop-down menu. Next, click the Port Settings tab at the top of the Properties panel, and click the button labeled “Advanced”. Use the Com Port Number drop-down menu to choose an unused port number, and click the OK button. OK the Properties panel too, then close the Device Manager. The Port Number you assigned should now be retained on subsequent reboots.
In the port settings listed above, you can find the information you will need for DataLink. It will usually look like this:
One other thing that this info is useful for is for verifying whether you are getting data from the com port at all.
To use Hyperterminal to look at data coming from a com port, please follow these steps:
- Go the the port settings as described in the image and steps listed above and write them down.
- Extract the contents of this zip file to the system.
- Run hypertrm.exe.
- It will ask to make it the default Telnet program. Select "no."
- Next it will ask you to install a modem. The answer is again “no.”
- Enter a name for the connection and select an icon. I usually type "scoreboard", and click in the transparent area to select an invisible icon.
- It will then ask you for phone number info. You must enter an area code, but leave the rest blank. Select the com port that is associated with your scoreboard’s adapter and press OK.
- It will ask you to select the port settings. Make sure they match the information you wrote down in step 1 and press OK.
- If the scoreboard and adapter are working properly, you will get constantly flowing text output. If this issue needs to be submitted or escalated in a ticket, go to the Transfer menu, click Capture Text and Start. In the File box, type a descriptive name for the file, and then click Start. After a few moments, select Stop. Attach the resulting text file to the ticket.
IMPORTANT NOTE: If hyperterm is running, it will fight with DataLink over the com port. Once you have verified that the com port is successfully outputting text, end the connection and close the program before launching DataLink.
Use the DataLink Configuration utility to prepare a DataLink profile. This effectively notifies LiveText which system you are using, what data it should expect to receive, and where the source is connected.
- Use the Board menu to choose the device brand/model you have connected from the list of supported devices.
- Choose the Sport in the same manner. The rest of the settings for serial devices auto-fill based on your Board and Sport selections, with one exception as described next.
- Select the Port using the information from the info in the Adapter section above.
- Click Done to conclude (Serial Settings does not have a Save button.)
- Verify that Serial is checked, and then press “Update >>” on DataLink.
- Restart LiveText. Do not close DataLink, or the data will not be transferred to LiveText.
A few important notes: Daktronics has two entries. Normally, we would expect the DaktronicsCG to be the DataLink board to go with the All Sport CG controller, but if it doesn’t work, try using the board entitled Daktronics.
One common mistake is mismatching the sport in DataLink and on the scoreboard or the scoreboard controller. It is often worth trying multiple sports to see if a problem is isolated to one sport.
Out of the all of the workflow elements described in this document, LiveText requires the least troubleshooting. Generally, once you’ve verified that the adapter is passing data to DataLink and you’ve verified that DataLink has the correct settings, open LiveText and right-click in the black area in the center of the program. Scroll down through the options and if all of your steps were successful, then you should see the preset codes for the scoreboard, such as DakClock. If you select it, it will put in the whole code %DakClock%. Then click away from it (still within the black area), and it should turn into a series of numbers that match what the scoreboard/controller is sending.
Important note: NewTek often updates the LiveText software to work with the scoreboards listed in DataLink. If the above steps just don’t work, please make sure that LiveText is up to date. The update hosted here: http://newtek.com/support/documentation.html is a full install.
Also, some anti-virus and firewall software may be able to disrupt DataLink/LiveText. I recommend temporarily shutting down security software, or at least putting it in “Game/Silent” mode” as part of troubleshooting. If it turns out that the firewall or anti-virus is the culprit, you may be able to tell the software to make an exception for LiveText.
*Some good info for people using Translux Fairplay boards with LiveText and Datalink: Sometimes the Fairplay boards do not send any information out unless they have actually started a game on the board. Most all of the other boards send info whether or not they have started the game. They may not need to start the clock but definitely need to start the game for info to send through.