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Some installations require coordination with music and control signals. This is most often done using SMPTE timecode. The timecode will be recorded on one audio track. Then, at playback time, the timecode audio is read and decoded by a SMPTE timecode reader device.

Using SMPTE with LD2000

Pangolin systems cannot read SMPTE directly. This is because QM boards used with LD2000 do not have SMPTE reading circuits. Instead, you need SMPTE readers designed to connect to computers. These are common in the audio-visual and electronic music field. The SMPTE reader will connect to the computer's via a port (serial, USB) or internal card.
        You can use any SMPTE device that is physically capable of being connected to a Windows-compatible computer. We recommend Pangolin's Lasershow Timecode TC2000. Some other, non-Pangolin SMPTE devices are listed at the bottom of this page. If you already have a SMPTE controller or computer card, you may want to contact Pangolin to see if your device is supported.


Lasershow Timecode TC2000 SMPTE reader - Click for larger picture
If you want to synchronize to SMPTE timecode, the TC2000 is a reliable solution. It interfaces between the SMPTE source and your LD2000 computer system.

Lasershow Timecode TC2000 controller   $295

Pangolin's Lasershow Timecode TC2000 controller reads and writes SMPTE timecode, when used in conjunction with a Lasershow Designer 2000 host computer.

  • In reading mode, the TC2000 decodes incoming SMPTE timecode and passes it to Lasershow Designer 2000. Playback of your laser show is then locked to the incoming SMPTE timecode. If timecode stops, the laser show stops (alternatively, you can set the show to continue "freewheeling"). If timecode backs up and starts again, the laser show also backs up and starts again.
  • In writing mode, the TC2000 outputs a SMPTE-encoded audio signal. Typically, you would then record this on a tape deck or other recording device.

The TC2000 is very compact -- smaller than a paperback book. It measures just 4.38" x 3.25" x 1.25" (11 x 8.25 x 3.18 cm).

How the TC2000 works

There are four connectors on the TC2000:

  • The OUT jack on the front is for writing a SMPTE-encoded audio signal to a tape deck or other external recording device.
  • The IN jack on the front is for reading a SMPTE-encoded audio signal that is coming from another device.
  • Lasershow Timecode TC2000 controller (rear) - Click for larger pictureThe Power Input jack on the back takes a 9-12 volt AC or DC power. This is provided by an included "wall wart" transformer.
  • The Serial Port on the back is used to communicate with your Lasershow Designer 2000 host computer. The port is a female 9-pin RS-232 serial connector. Use an appropriate adapter cable to plug into the USB or serial port on your computer.

Software to control the TC2000 is built right into Pangolin's Lasershow Designer 2000 system. In the LD2000 program "Showtime", you can set playback to be controlled by SMPTE. You'll see the incoming SMPTE timecode, and the laser show will follow the timecode exactly.

Showtime's timecode "Playback settings" window

Pangolin laser shows can be synced internally (to a clock on the QM2000 board) or externally (to various devices running their own timecode). If you're using a TC2000, just click the second button -- your show will automatically be synced to incoming SMPTE timecode.

For SMPTE applications of Lasershow Designer 2000, we recommend the TC2000 as your best choice.


  Aquila SMPTE controller, from East Coast Control Systems
The Aquila controller reads and writes not only SMPTE, but also AVL and BCD timecodes. It was built for planetarium and multimedia use, so it has extra features such as eight switch closures.

Other SMPTE hardware

There are many SMPTE and SMPTE/MIDI devices available. As stated above, you can use any SMPTE device that is physically capable of being connected to a computer. The connections may be through ports such as serial or USB, or they may be internal, using a PCI slot.
        Here are a few sources. This list is not comprehensive, so you may want to research additional sources.

  • East Coast Control Systems sells the Aquila controller. This is available in a 19" rack mount housing, or in a 9" wide chassis. The cost is around $800 for the rack mount version, and $675 for the desktop chassis.

  • Midiman offers a number of MIDI and SMPTE/MIDI devices. They include the Portman, Winman and Syncman series. For SMPTE use, be sure the product's features include SMPTE reading and writing. Prices range from $179 to about $300.

  • Mark Of The Unicorn's products include MidiExpress and MicroExpress devices, which have SMPTE capabilities. Prices range from $165 to about $400.

  • Frontier Design Group has a PCI soundcard, the Dakota, which includes many advanced audio features plus SMPTE. The price is about $650. Note that the lower-cost WaveCenter/PCI card does NOT have SMPTE capabilities.


More information about SMPTE

Below are several links that we have found that provide additional information about SMPTE time code and it's use. If you have found an additional source of information, please contact Pangolin so we can add it to this list.

SMPTE Time Code Explained article from Peter Utz
SMPTE Time Code pdf file from the College of Fine Arts at the University of Arizona
SMPTE Time Code article from University of Texas at San Antonio
Drop versus Non-drop Time Code pdf file from Pam Malouf, A.C.E.

  This page last updated: Sunday, May 10, 2009 09:39 AM

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