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Windows Vista – Damaged Hardware (VGA Splitter)

I have been involved in the use of computers in theatre shows. In the past I have projected video onto the stage, but this year I just controlled an autocue system, which I wrote myself.

You can see a bit more about previous shows and the technology used: Flash on the theatre stage: Projecting Sight and Sound.

See details about this years show: St John Ambulance Warwickshire – Theatre Show.

The autocue program is written for Linux using Python wx (a previous version was also written using Perl Tk). As Python wx is available on Windows as well potentially this should also work on Microsoft Windows (although there do seam to be some things that don’t work so well).

I was trying to use a Video Splitter (similar to the one above) to take a single screen output and show this on two projectors.

The Linux setup (Ubuntu / Xubuntu on a Dell laptop) works fine when connected directly to a projector, but didn’t work so well when connected through the VGA splitter. I put this down to the ATI video drivers. I therefore tried connecting my Windows Vista laptop to the Video splitter. This just caused the laptop screen to flash uncontrollably as it detected the splitter and then didn’t see it – so it kept changing the video resolution. When I disconnected this the laptop went back to it’s normal setting, but the VGA splitter didn’t work anymore. Thinking this was just a problem with the splitter, I tried connecting another splitter that I had and the same thing happened resulting in damage to that video splitter as well. The result is one splitter that will not work at all, and the other that shows the output in fluorescent green.

Now I’ve had my fair share of problems with Windows Vista, but none that have actually broken hardware before. These splitters have been used with various Linux distributions and Windows XP and it’s only since trying Vista that they have broken.

A word of warning – be very careful about what hardware you connect to Windows Vista.

In the end I gave up with the splitters as I did not have sufficient time to order a replacement, and instead ran the program on Linux and split it onto two screens using a second laptop and VNC in view only mode. I’ll put more about the autocue setup in a future post.

Also see a related item Computer Hardware Review: Targus Wireless Presenter, which I used during the show (which works under Windows XP, Windows Vista and Linux).

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