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Area 49

This guide provides information on how to use technology within Area 49, as well as guides for digital technologies and physical projects. Area 49 is available for use by all current students, faculty, and staff.

Virtual Reality, Alienware PC, & LCD Display

The Alienware PC runs the virtual reality headset, and in-headset display can be projected onto the LCD screen.

The Alienware computer is in the corner tower. Turn on the Alienware computer and the curved Samsung monitor. 

Follow the steps in the Touch Panel instructions for lighting and sound and to turn on the LCD screen.

Ensure that the LCD screen is set to the PC input. You may need to use the Samsung remote to change the TV's input if the TV comes up with "Samsung Hotel." 

Running the HTC Vive Cosmos

Setting up the headset

  1. Open Steam on the Alienware computer.
  2. Check to see how the headset will connect.
    1. If it is currently tethered (attached with the cord), open the Vive Console app.
    2. If it is current not tethered (not attached with the cord):
      1. Attach the battery pack to a belt loop or the headset strap. Do not turn on the headset yet.
      2. On the Alienware computer, search for the Vive Wireless app and open it.
  3. Once the app opens, you should see that Vive Console or Vive Wireless is ready in a small, dark grey pop-up.
  4. If the headset does not turn on automatically, use the button on the left to turn it on. The indicator light should change from red to green. (Press the button once. The indicator light may take up to 20 seconds to change.)
  5. You are now ready to open Steam applications and use the VR headset.
  6. Once you are finished:
    1. Hang up headset and controllers.
    2. Plug in controllers.
    3. Unplug the headset’s USB cable from the battery pack.
    4. Plug the battery pack in at its charging station on the top shelf. Log out of your accounts. (It is not necessary to log out of Area 49’s Steam account).

Casting VR content to the LCD screen

  1. On the Visualization Lab’s touch panel:
    1. Choose “Alienware” as the computer input.
    2. Choose “Send audio to room.” You should see “Alienware” as the audio source at the bottom right.
  2. The LCD screen should turn on, but if it does not, turn it on using the physical button on the bottom right of the tv. Do not turn it off when you are finished.
  3. When you are finished:
    1. On the Visualization Lab’s touch panel:
    2. Choose “Power.”
    3. Choose “Power off.”
    4. Leave LCD screen on.

Changing to a wired setup

If the battery is depleted or if it was not left plugged in, plug in the battery pack to set it to charge, then change the headset to a wired setup, as indicated below.

  1. Find the HDMI cable hanging from the ceiling. Plug this cable into the headset. (Note: the HDMI port is hard to find. Look at the lens face of the headset. Gently pull back the face shield at the top left to reveal the HDMI port. If the face shield comes off, gently pop it back into place.
  2. Before turning on the headset, go to the Alienware computer, search for the Vive Console app and open it. Add it to your taskbar if it is not already pinned. Once the app opens, you should see that Vive Console is ready in a small, dark grey pop-up.
  3. On the computer, go to the bottom right and click on the speaker. Change the audio settings to “Speakers/Headphones (Realtek Audio).”
  4. Turn on the headset and continue following the instructions indicated in the Wireless setup.

In the VR headset

To access the HTC vive:

  • Run Steam from the Alienware Samsung screen.
  • Ask someone at the Tech Desk to log into the program, or log into your own account.
  • If it appears that Steam does not come up, click the small arrow at the bottom right corner of the screen and click the Steam icon, then "Library." This should bring up the Steam window.
  • Choose a game from the VR section. If you cannot find it there, click "Library" and check the other types of programs. Not all download into the same area.
  • To end a game, close out the current game's window.

When using the HTC Vive:

  • Make sure all equipment items are solid green. If they aren’t, press the power button on the greyed-out item and place it in the play area.
  • Put the goggles on eyes-first, then pull down the head strap.
  • Use the knob on the back of the strap to adjust the headset.
  • Make sure the cord is behind you.
  • The screen will automatically display a cinema view of the player’s game. To change this to a 2-lens view, make sure “Display Mirror” is on in the Steam program.

General controls

  • Selecting: Point the remote to the object and move toward the item.
  • Trigger: Used to pick up items
  • Boundaries: A blue or red grid inside the headset indicates the physical boundaries of your play space. Use the controller to move or back away from the grid.
  • Moving: Hold the round button and move the remote until the pointer turns green. Let go of the button when you have placed the pointer at your desired spot.

360° Video Playback

Option 1: 

Virtual Desktop for VR YouTube

  • Open Virtual Desktop. Navigate to the Video section. Get the URL from YouTube. Download paste the link in Virtual Desktop. This might not work, but this step may need to happen for the next step to work or you might need to give the system time to sit with the video after it says that it’s downloaded to get realy to play it. It’s unclear as to what happens.

  • If the video does not play from the first step, use the search box at the top right to search for video. It may start playing the video automatically and minimize virtual desktop.

  • You may be able to use the controllers in the headset to play the video. If not, play the video from the computer and then get into the headset.

Option 2: 

To play a 360° video file in the VR headset, the video will need to be saved to the H: drive (which will display as your username) of the Alienware computer or on a flash drive plugged into the Alienware computer. Videos can not be streamed from online sources. Follow these steps to access your 360° video:

  • Open Steam using the desktop shortcut. If you are not automatically logged into the Atkins Steam account, see the Area 49 Desk. 
  • Click Library in the top menu >  Software > DeoVR Video Player > Launch in VR. 
  • Put the headset on. 
  • If you see tiles for videos to watch, click the Folder icon at the bottom of the viewable area.
  • On the left, select Local, H: drive (or C: drive if using a flash drive), then navigate to your file. Click on your file to open it.
  • If your video does not open in 360°, pull the trigger on the controller to pull up the video menu. You will see options for a flat display and180° or 360° views. Click 360°.

Notes:

  • Although this program can access YouTube, it does not appear to have 360° playback functionality. You may still view a 360° video in the flat player, but it may not allow you to move the view around, such as might happen with a mouse on a desktop version of the video. For best results, view only downloaded videos that come from your H: drive.
  • If you are unable to see your controller, and it appears that your headset is controlling the cursor, press the top menu button on your controller (above the giant thumb button). This should switch selection to the controller.

Vivecraft on VisLab  HTC Vive:

  • Follow Vive instructions on LibGuide (Open Steam > click Vive Console or Vive Wireless > ensure headset turns on)
  • Open Minecraft Launcher
  • Select “Installations” at the top.
  • Vivecraft should be an option. Click “Play.”
  • Vivecraft should open on headset and in a window on the PC.

Troubleshooting

If you are having difficulties with technology in the room, refer to the solutions below. If you are not comfortable performing these actions, or if you require additional assistance, reach out to the Technology Support Desk or Beth Caruso (rm. 227). For support after hours, contact the AISLE Team at 704-687-5500, option 3. Tell them that you are in the Atkins Visualization Lab.


Headset not connecting with computer

  • Make sure all physical connections are good.
  • Make sure you are using the correct app.
    • Vive Wireless = wireless setup
    • Vive Console = wired setup

Choppy Headset Visuals:

  • In Steam, go to Settings > Video > Render Resolution > Choose “Auto”

Audio

If no sound comes through the speakers or the HTC Vive headphones, try these options:

On the Visualization Lab’s touch panel:

  • Choose “Send audio to room.” You should see “Alienware” as the audio source at the bottom right.
  • Turn up the volume.

On the computer:

  • Go to the bottom right and click on the speaker. Change the audio settings to “Speakers/Headphones (Realtek Audio)” or to “Speakers (VIVE Cosmos Multimedia Audio).”

On Steam

  • Go to “Settings.” If given the option, choose the wired or wireless setup (whichever you are using).
If that didn't work, try this:
  • Find the small Steam window that shows the status of the headset. Click the top bar that says "Steam VR."
  • In the Dropdown menu, select "Settings."
  • Choose "Audio."
  • In the panel on the right, choose the following:
    • When SteamVR is active:
      • Set playback device to: Do not change device
      • Set Record device to: Do not change device
      • Mirror audio to device: HTC-VIVE (2-NVIDIA High Definition Audio)
    • When SteamVR is exited:
      • Set Playback device to: Speakers / Headphones (Realetk Audio)
      • Set Record device to: Do not change device
      • Enable Gain reduction on VIVE HDMI Audio: Check the box
  • If neither step worked, ask for additional assistance.

If the VR headset cannot be found

  • Right click on the desktop and select "Task Manager."
  • Click the “Processes” tab.
  • Close anything that has a Steam or VR symbol.
  • Reload Steam.
  • If this doesn’t work, ask for additional assistance.

If VR headset light is red

  • Restart the computer
  • Open Steam again and load a game
  • The game will show on the screen, but you will only see white through the headset
  • Click the small Steam pop-up and a dropdown menu should appear
  • Under “Devices,” choose “Reboot headset”
  • Once the headset is rebooted, then the light should turn green.
  • If this doesn’t work, ask for additional assistance.

Small Monitor and LCD Wall Mounted Display

Samsung Monitor and LCD Screen Displays Reversed

If you cannot move your mouse from one display to the next, it is likely that the displays have been reversed. Follow these steps to correct it.

  • Right click on the desktop and select “Display Settings.”
  • Under “Display,” you will see two rectangles that represent the screen displays. “1” is the Samsung display and “2” is the projector screen.
  • Drag the rectangles so they match the display you want and click “Apply.”
  • Make sure to align the rectangles at the top, not the bottom, so your mouse can move smoothly from one screen to the next.
  • If this doesn’t work, ask for additional assistance.