Fun with A/V equipment

Last month I was called for booth duty to the TechDays 2016 in Amsterdam. This was the first time I had to take some of our equipment to show demos at the venue, including a Intel NUC, a Rii bluetooth mini keyboard and a few other things. After arriving back home, I was working hard to make it the last time :) Regardless the fact everything is designed to be small, all in all it took a considerable amount of space in my luggage. Plus the bonus, that security at the airport asked me a little more intense about all that magic stuff :)

For around 80€ I bought myself some equipment, that is small in size, easy to use and even richer in terms of capabilities. It consists of:

Now let me explain how everything works.

Pairing the Chromecast

First thing to do, is to configure a hosted networks. The WiFi adapter of my MacBook Pro supports to participate in a network and host one at the same time. If your adapter doesn’t, check out the EDIMAX Wireless Adapter. Now let’s say we named our hosted network JB-BOOTH, then we configure the Chromecast to join exactly that network. Any time someone else wants to use this Chromecast, they just need to make sure that their network has the same name and password, and the Chromecast will connect.

Invisible second display

Out of the box, the Chromecast doesn’t allow to extend our screen, but we can trick them with the Headless Ghost HDMI. This little dongle will pretend that we have attached a second display to our machine. Now when we mirror this invisible second display, we will actually extend our display setup.

Controlling the Chromecast

Controlling the Chromecast through the Google Cast extension is inconvenient. Instead I recommend to use AirParrot, which allows to switch between mirrored displays quite fast. I must add, that while testing this setup, I had problems with videos being stopped when I started to work in VisualStudio. Apparently, it doesn’t seem to be a problem with the output settings. Instead, setting a resolution of 2880x1800 for both display fixed everything for me.

Putting together

Using all those components, we have the perfect display setup for our booth. While we are waiting for visitors, we can show demos on the big screen while browsing our own stuff. When they approach us and we want to show things to them, we can attract even more people by sharing our main display to the big screen. I’m really looking forward to test this setup in the real world. :)

Update: One of my colleagues told me about the Intel Compute Stick. It really sounds interesting for a setup, where demos are played with highest quality directly from the stick, whereas sharing the screen of our developer machine could use some other mirror software. However, after reading some reviews, those sticks seem to perform not so well. Anyway, if the opportunity happens to be, I will test it :)