Frequently Asked Questions

For West Pond Smart Headend Products

How do I connect my PC HDMI port to the MX 400 for playing movies, using Zoom, etc?

You will need a PC, HDMI cables (2), an HDMI splitter, and a TV with HDMI input.

1. Check to see if the PC is sending sound and video via HDMI. Find a TV with an HDMI input. Connect the PC to that TV. Power on the TV. Change the display settings on the PC to “duplicate” the screen on the TV. Click on the audio icon in the task bar. Select the entry that closely resembles the TV. i.e. Samsung TV. In the example to the right we are selecting “Microsoft Digital Sound”. Once selected, slide the volume bar left and right to make a sound. If you don’t hear sound on the TV, this needs to be fixed before you can connect the PCs HDMI port to the MX-400.

2. Now that we know the PC can output HDMI sound and video, connect the PC via HDMI to the MX-400 capture port (S1 – S4). Remember which port number you connected to as this must be selected as the video source for the MX-400 encoder.

On the PC, click on the audio icon in the task bar to select “capture pro” or something similar. Use display settings to ensure your monitor is duplicating the display and has a resolution of either 1920×1080 or 1280×720. In the image to the right we selected Video Capture (1-1) because the HDMI port we are using is S1.

When connected correctly the status bar will reflect the captured resolution and audio format. See image to the right.

3. You now have a connection, but this may not be sufficient for all content. It may be necessary to insert an HDMI splitter to get some content to play. Please be sure that any content you feed into the MX-400, HDMI or other source, is properly licensed for displaying on your TV network. See https://westpond.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/West-Pond-EULA-PSH-Revised-Clean-040921.pdf for more information.

4. Final check. Create audio and video from the sources you anticipate using on the PC and ensure they all work on the TV. Adjust the sound on the PC to match the level of other channels.

How do I play YouTube videos?

The youtube URL needs to come from the “Share” icon. This URL is not always the same as the one in the browser navigation bar. If you have used a URL that is not properly formatted, you will see an error in the log similar to the following.

Jun 25 15:00:45 mx-400cc user.warn scheduler[1678]: <Encoder Channel Manager> [error] Video Service Playback: Invalid video url: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfqYcJlCtOU&t=229s”

Loading this URL into the browser, you will see that there is a “Share” button under the video. Click on that to get the correct URL. In this case it is https://youtu.be/xfqYcJlCtOU

If you see a black screen when playing the video, or you see a message that says embedding was not enabled for this video, contact the publisher and request that they allow embedding of the video. The publisher of the video or youtube channel must allow the video to be embedded in a web page. See youtube UI to the right. Note the check mark “Allow embedding”.
Youtube live feeds that are played on a youtube channel require special configuration. Look for a future FAQ entry for this.

How do I live stream from my phone to the private TV channel?

There are many ways to do this.  We will suggest one, if you have success with others, please let us know and we may include them in future releases of the FAQ.  To start, you need to install an application on your mobile device.  We use “Larix Broadcaster”.  Larix runs on Android and iOS.  Once installed, run the app and click on the “gear” to add a connection.  Click “connections” and “new connection” to add a connection.  See images to the right.  Give the connection a name, and a URL.  In this case we are using the SRT protocol, so the URL is srt://ipaddress of the mx:yourport.  In this example my MX-400 is at 10.2.1.44 and I have selected the port 4444.  So the URL is srt://10.2.1.44:4444.  Select “caller” and leave the rest for tweaking later. 

On you MX-400 you need to add the new source.  Navigate to Sources/Network and click on “New SRT source”.  You will be presented with a dialog box similar to below.  Give the connection a name, select “listener”, and use the same port as you did on the Larix app.  In this case 4444.  Configure the other parameters later.  Save the source and watch the bitrate for your new entry.  It should be non-zero within a few seconds.  If not, check to be sure that the App can reach the MX on the network.  Once the bits are flowing, you can select this as your channels AV source by editing the encoder configuration or scheduling an event.

How do I access the FlexStream management Web UI?

1. You can access the Web UI of any West Pond FlexStream product from any device that supports a modern browser.  i.e. Chrome, Firefox, Safari, but not Internet Explorer.  There are many ways to do this:

  • Open the file explorer application on a PC or similar device that is connected to the same local area network as the FlexStream device.  On the PC, select “network” to see printers and other devices on the local network.  (See image below).  Double click on the icon that matches the FlexStream model and serial number of the device you would like to manage.   i.e. mx-400ks-001395200d93.  This will open your web browser and navigate to the FlexStream web UI. (See Image)
  • Direct via known IP address.  Attach your computer, smart phone, or tablet to the same local area network to which the FlexStream device is connected.  Get the IP address of the FlexStream device from the front panel or IT support.  Browse to that IP address.
  • Use the serial number as the URL in your web browser.  For example, navigate to http://yourUnitsSerialNumber.local where yourUnitsSerialNumber is the serial number taken from the label on the MX-400.  On the unit shown above, navigate to http://001395200d93.local 
  • Create an account on FlexDM.net, add your FlexStream device to that account, and access the devices from anywhere using any connected device with a web browser.

2. Login “administrator” with password “admin”.

What version of software am I running?

  1. Browse to the FlexStream device web UI.
  2. At the bottom of the page is a footer with the model, serial number, and software version information.  In the example below the software version is 2.0.47.

How do I update the software on my FlexStream device?

Confirm you have the latest software by comparing the version number of currently running software (What version of software am I running?) with the software on the WPE support ftp site. ftp://ftp.westpond.com/releases/      login: support      password: flexstream

There is a folder for each FlexStream model.  Within the folder is a collection of software images and release notes.  Download the appropriate files and then use the FlexStream web UI System/Tools page to update the software.  If you are not comfortable with this process, contact WP technical support to update the software for you.

Note: Please check FlexDM for a simpler method for updating the software of your FlexStream device. 

How much media library storage is available on my FlexStream device?

To check on the available storage, navigate your browser to the “System/Info” page and check the “Storage” information to check on storage availability. 

How can I lock the encoder to a channel to keep it from switching?

Use the program mapping feature of the output page to set the Program Numbers statically.  They are probably on “auto”.  If so, they are set to 1, 2, and 3 at power on randomly.  Statically using 1, 2, 3… will make the channel number sticky from the TV’s perspective.    

Using the Virtual Channel number is also useful.  Cable insertions often require a specific Virtual channel number, but open private TV networks can set the Virtual Channel number to anything.  It can be major.minor, such as 16.1, or just a single number, like 2145.  Setting this will also help lock the encoder to the channel number.  

How do I set the RF modulator output power?

  • Browse to the IP address of the FlexStream unit.
  • Login with password “admin”
  • Navigate to output.
  • Click on the pencil (edit) for the RF 0 output.
  • Set the power level to the desired level and save.
  • Check the monitor to see that the output channel power level is close to that of the other cable TV channels. You will need to click on the magnifying glass to rescan the channel.

Note: If a power level of 7 or greater is required, you should consider inserting a cable TV line amp at the far end of the cable, just before the channel insertion point.

How do I fix a stuck or frozen URL signage player?

URL based signage systems are based upon HTML and java script. These are web based software programs that run continuously within the context of a Web Browser. As you might expect, not all systems and web browsers are alike. So it is a challenge to keep these systems running 24×7 – 52 weeks a year. The MX-400 has provisions catch and recover from this, but these solutions cannot recover automatically 100% of the time. Some errors are too tricky to catch.

Before looking for issues with the MX-400, we suggest you validate the HTML signage URL in a chrome browser window of a PC. To do this use the MX-400 webUI to navigate to Overview. On this screen we will locate the source of your HTML TV channel. Scroll down until you see a thumbnail image that represents the failing screen. It may take a minute to fill in all of the thumbnails. When you locate the source, remember the name and source. Usually this is Encoder 1 or 2 of the Video Encoder. See example above.

Now navigate to that source. In this case Sources>Video Encoder and identify the presentation being used with the encoder. In the example to the right the presentation is URLorVideo-2.9.

Select the elect the “</> Presentations” tab and click on the “configure presentation” icon for the appropriate presentation. The dialog to the right will show. The URL is highlighted. Copy this URL to a Chrome browser and validate that your presentation is working properly. 

If the presentation is not working properly in Chrome, check with the signage provider to rectify the problem. If the problem does not appear when viewing the page in chrome, there are two remedies to stuck HTML signage. Before fixing you need to validate that the HTML is stuck. To determine this, take a look at the Overview/Outputs page. If the thumbnail image is constantly gray or white, then the HTML is stuck. You can also use the CH^ or CHv buttons on the front panel to see the encoder source used for your TV channel.

How do I schedule input source changes and record them?

Once your system has been configured and all of your sources are actively available, you can schedule these sources to appear on your TV channel at any time using the Scheduler feature. To do this, navigate to the Schedule page on the MX-400 and click on the +Event icon for the appropriate channel.

A dialog will appear “Create new event”. Give the event a name that reflects the programming you wish to include in your channel. In this case we have a meeting each Monday at 10:30. We are going to broadcast it live and record it for future playback. We expect this meeting to reoccur for at least a year, so the start and end date reflect that. Set the time and check the day.
In this case our camera is on a feed from a second MX-400. Other systems have IP cameras, or use an HDMI input. Use the “Input Source” field to select the camera.

No presentation is needed and the duration in this case is 60 minutes.
Check the “Record Input” box if you wish to record these meetings. Use a recording name that is familiar. All recordings are stored in the media library and have a date code suffix. Navigate to Sources/Video Server – Content to see the files in the media library. See example below.

You can play the latest recording back using the Scheduler method “Play previously recorded content” with the “recording name” without any date code. You can choose to play a specific meeting using the method “play media content” and selecting the recording file by name (which includes a date code).

Once you have created the appropriate schedule entry, click “create”. The entry will appear on the schedule. See below. You can change or delete the schedule entry using the edit icon.

Weekly or daily scheduled events keep the last 6 recordings. If you wish to preserve a recording you can rename the file using the Sources/Video Server – Content page. Select the “edit content properties” icon of the you wish to preserve. You can also preserve the file by downloading the file to your computer.

How do I adjust the audio volume on a channel?

The volume of any video source can be amplified or attenuated using the encoder properties.  Navigate to the source/encoder page of the MX-400 WebUI and click on the edit encoder properties (pencil).  In the dialog box, as shown below, there is a field labelled “Gain”.  Use this to increase or decrease the volume.

How do I ensure the DVD subtitles are English?

The DVD player remembers the language it last used for subtitles. If an error occurred, or the remote was used to change these, it is possible to get in the wrong state. The DVD will remember 6 disks, so as long as you have played 6 other disks before returning to play this one, it should return to English the next time around. Alternatively, next time you play the video disk use the remote to cycle through the language list until you see English again.

How do I use an MP4 file as my slide show?

Many presentation tools such as Microsoft PowerPoint or Canva (http://www.canva.com) will export a slide show as an mp4 video.  These videos can be used as the slide show on your FlexStream TV channel.  The slide show can be interrupted with live video from other sources, such as an IP camera or HDMI source, using the scheduler.  Also, multiple MP4 files can be looped together as part of the play list.  For example, you can have a few seasonal slides that change rarely, a daily activities slide that changes daily, a slide that described the programming for this channel, and a general information slides that never change, all in one playlist. 

Start by collecting the slides you need on you PC.  Then open the FlexStream device web UI in your browser and navigate to Sources/Video Server and select the “Content” tab.  Upload the content you wish to use in your play list.  Give the files names that will help to identify them later.  i.e. Slides-General-001, Slides-Daily-April, Slides-Guide-Week34.  This is the page you will upload future mp4 files too as well.

Once your files have been uploaded to the media Library you can create a channel playlist. Select the “Channel” tab and click “Create Channel”. Enter a name and click save. The new channel will appear in the list. Click on the “Channel playlist” icon for your new channel. Use the playlist page to add and order the slide videos appropriately and click save.

See slide list:

Now configure your encoder to play the slide list. Navigate to Sources/Video Encoder. Click on the “Modify Channel Config” icon for the encoder that services your channel. Select the Template as None and the Video Source Input as the “Channel Playlist” you created in the prior step. Save. You slide show should not be your presentation.

One note. When you update the slides don’t forget that you will need to update the playlist.

How do I create additional TV channels without using one of the FlexStream encoders?

Video files can be transcoded into TS files that the video server can sequence (playlist) to create a TV compatible channel without feeding the encoder. Once the playlist is active, the source can be added to the FlexStream output by selecting this source in the program mapping. The steps to creating a channel from a video files are:

  • Transcode the video file(s) into TV compatible TS file(s)
    • Visit FlexDM.net to ensure the correct transcoding
  • Upload the file to the FlexStream device
  • Create Video Server streaming video channel playlist and assign your videos to it
  • Modify the multiplexor Output program map to include the Video Server channel

Step 1: Transcode

Transcoding is the most complicated step toward creating your own video server channel. We strongly encourage using the FlexDM service to ensure that the resulting file is both compatible and optimal for the chosen transport and receivers. Before transcoding select a resolution for your channel. FlexDM provides options. Higher resolutions and increased picture quality will increase the file size and use more storage. It will also consume more bandwidth if you Output is bandwidth limited. See the FlexStream Web UI Overview/Output page for Output bandwidth utilization. MPEG2 encoding is required for US cable systems. For most applications 480×720 or 720×1280 are adequate resolutions.

Step 2: Upload the media to the FlexStream device

Open the FlexStream Web UI and navigate to the Sources/Video Server page. Select the “Content” tab. Click on “Upload Content”. Complete the dialog box and click “upload”. When the upload is complete, the new file will appear in the “Content” table as shown below. Note the bitrate of the file. The maximum bitrate of any file in the Play List (see below) will determine the minimum amount of bandwidth reserved in the transport.

Step 3: Create Video Server Channel

Create the Video Server Source Channel by clicking on the “Create Channel” button in the “Channels” tab as shown above. Complete the form and click “Create”. A line for this new channel will appear in the “Channels” table.

Step 4: Add to Playlist

Click on the  icon on the Channel table entry for which you wish to create a Channel play list. (See image above) The playlist is an ordered list of video files. All of the files in a Play List must be compatible with the Output transport and TV receiver. It is also good practive to ensure the files are similar in bitrate. For example, do not mix MPEG2 and h.264 videos on the same Output unless you are sure the receiver can decode both. Additionally, try to use similarly encoded files in a given playlist. Don’t combine HD with SD as you may see spikes in bandwidth usage that cause oversubscriptions in the output.
Add files to the play list by selecting the file and clicking “+ Add to Playlist”. Then position the file in the play order using the up/down arrows. The same file may be added more than once. Click “Save” when done.

Step 5: Include Channel in Output

The last step is to include the new source channel in the output transport. Navigate to the Outputs tab and click on the icon for the output you wish to include the channel.

 

 

Before making changes, you may want to check the Overview Output page to make sure your transport has sufficient bandwidth to support the new channel. The Utilization and Bitrate fields show this. For example, a 38 Mb/s transport that is 50% utilized has 19 Mb/s unused and available for new programming content.

Back to the Outputs page. Select and then click on the icon for the Source you wish to include in the output. A dialog box will appear.

For most installations the default selection is the simplest. Experts may want to change some of the signaling. Signaling is used by the TV to display information about the channel you have selected. Perhaps the short Name of the channel (WXXX-DT) or the virtual channel number to display 19-2. Experts may want to override the defaults.

More information about this is available in the Outputs section of the main document.

Be sure to click OK and then click Save to save the changes to your Output.