The goal when servicing a sign is to isolate symptoms, find, and correct causes. Easier said than done. Let’s break it down to TWO primary systems: Power and Data.
Power can affect data, but Data can’t affect power. This is helpful because improper primary systems are the cause of many problems. Before we go into detail about Power and Data, let’s go over the cabinet design in case it’s your first time servicing a ThinkSIGN.
Introduction to our Design
Primary Sign/Primary Cabinet Open
Example of how our signs are built
Back of sign with Junction Box and Line in
Modular Cabinet Design
ThinkSIGN’s design is unique. We designed modular cabinets to make our assembly faster and easier. We have primary cabinets and secondary cabinets. Primary cabinets house our controller, and Primary power Line In. Secondary cabinets house AC adapters, and power supplies. All cabinets have power supplies for modules and an independently controlled fan. This draws a bit more power but makes ThinkSIGN one of the coolest running EMC’s available.
Primary Cabinets are made in 1x3, 1x4, 1x5 module configurations, 2x3, 2x4, module configurations, 3x3, 3x4, module configurations
Secondary Cabinets are made in the same configurations but don’t house the controller, or primary power line in the hub.
ThinkSIGN provided and recommends you use the provided 4mm Allen t-handle. Each module has two set screws (top and bottom center) for you to use to loosen those screws. Use the 4mm Allen to loosen the cabinet door. Once all are loose, the hinged cabinet will open like an oven door. Lastly, ThinkSIGN has Primary and Secondary cabinets. The primary cabinet will house the controller. The Secondary cabinet will house a data hub in the primary cabinet of that face.
*ThinkSIGN DOES NOT RECOMMEND USING IMPACT TOOLS ON SET SCREWS****
All ThinkSIGN displays only run on 120V Single phase power. Each face should have its own circuit(s). If multiple circuits are required, primary cabinets will be added to the left of each face. Once AC power is brought into the primary cabinet(s) AC is distributed from right to left via the AC hubs. AC hubs feed power supplies. Power supplies change the AC to DC 5V output. DC 5V feeds our modules, controller, and data hubs. Lastly, the internal fans are fed 120V directly from either the main AC line in the hub or AC hubs.
AC connections to the primary sign are inside the junction box on the back of the primary cabinet.
120V 20A circuits.
Sufficient Amperage for each circuit.
Consider a volt drop and the wire size.
Confirm Line-Ground-Neutral for each ThinkSIGN circuit.
Wire nuts up inside the ThinkSIGN junction box.
4x7 Power Diagram
Back of Sign with 2 Junction Boxes
Lack of the proper primary is the single greatest cause of symptoms in ThinkSIGN units. Low voltage or amperage at the time of install and depending on how long a sign is run at low voltage or amperage can adversely affect the integrity of internal components.
4x7 Power Diagram
*NOTE: AC moves from right to left in each row*
Order of Operation of Diagnosis:
1. Check Voltage
-Voltage below 115V can cause multiple symptoms/issues.
2. Check Amperage
-Proper amperage should be confirmed. See shop drawing for details of each sign. (Shop drawings can be found on our website or you can get them from your salesperson and our tech support team.)
3. Does the wire gauge match the circuit size?
-Improper wiring size can cause problems with the delivery of amperage.
4. Are the wiring connections tight and wire nuts up?
-This ensures that no loose connections are the cause, as well the connections are dry.
5. Is the power supply(s) outputting 5 volts?
-Internal components can not operate correctly without 5V +/- 0.2V. Controller, Data Hubs, and Modules.
Data is content sent from the controlling computer to the sign and distributed to the LEDs. There are many bridges to cross and potential points of failure to consider. Much like the search for a power issue, let’s begin at the source, and work our way to the LEDs. Content begins with the Smart LED Manager Software. It’s free and can be downloaded from our website. You need the signs matrix to begin and create a project. Projects are made of slides, and slides are made from several inputs like pictures, text, videos, etc. Projects are “synched” to the sign controller by a few different methods. ThinkSIGN has tracked our service calls, and 80% of technical support calls have been related to communication.
**Important note - The sign controller is located in the lowest right cabinet of the Primary Face. The Data Hub is located in the cabinet directly above the controller. The Data Hub sends the data to the first module in every row. In the secondary face, the Data Hub will be in the lowest right cabinet. A single Data Hub can supply 8 rows of cabinets.
A few things that should be known:
The maximum distance between a Primary and Secondary cabinet is 40’
The maximum distance between POE to Sending radio is 25’
4x7 Data Diagram
*Note: Data Moves from Left to Right*
Here are the possible problems:
Direct Ethernet Connection: A CAT5 cable directly from the PC to the sign’s controller. Not to exceed 300’
Possible problems to check: Chewed wires/Visible Damage. Loose connection on either end. Bad connection. There are 8 cables in an ethernet cable that are terminated and used. Any of those that are not seated properly, can cause issues. Always carry tested CAT5 cables to test and replace while in the field. RJ-45 ethernet ports (universal name of CAT5 receptacle) soders have been seen to break and cause problems. Consider this if your installation is showing content symptoms. This is why you should NOT accept a poorly handled or damaged display from the shipping company.
Direct Fiber Connection: A fiber optic cable running a span up to 1000’ between controlling computer and sign. Our controllers accept CAT5//6 cables. So in fiber installation, you will see a Fiber to Ethernet converter on both ends. ThinkSIGN uses ST connectors unless otherwise specified.
Possible problems to check: Broken connection at the converter. Once installed and tested, problems are rare, and typically are because the converters have been moved, dropped, or damaged. There are testers to prove a connection is good.
Wireless Bridge Connection: The best/quickest way to check if they are working is: Use a command prompt and ping both radios, confirm cabling is correct, and check the lights on the back of each radio.
Wireless access points are great for spanning parking lots, longer distance depends or environment), but have limitations and can experience problems from time to time. They typically can communicate with one another up to 1500’.
There is a sender to be plugged into the controlling computer with a CAT5 cable, and powered by a 110v outlet via a POE cable. Find and confirm the POE adapter is powered and the CAT5 cable is going to the controlling PC. The POE cable plugs into the sender. That CAT5 cable can be plugged into the PC or into the ethernet to USB adapter provided by TS.
Possible problems to check: If Ethernet to USB cable is used, simply unplug and replug back into the USB port. Some USB ports “time-out” by default and it could be that your user simply hasn’t used that connection in some time.
1. Check that Sender has all lights on and is sending.
2. Ping the links. You can use a command prompt on the computer to check the entire line of data from PC to controller.
3. Type CMD into a search section of the toolbar. You’ll see this and type in ping 192.168.1.139. That is the address of the sender.
4. If Request timed out. The PC and sender are not properly connected. See setting IP address of the adapter.
5. If Results are shown in milliseconds your PC and Sender are communicating properly. Continue to ping the receiver and then Controller to test the whole chain.
6. If no lights are seen on Sender, is POE connected? Does it have a line of sight? Try moving the sender (no more than 30’ from the POE adapter) to a better location for the signal to reach the receiver.
7. There is a receiver to be plugged into the POE adapter installed next to or on the controller in the sign. That POE adapter is powered by the sign's primary, and the CAT5 cable is plugged into the controller.
8. The receiver should have lights to prove power and signal. If not, open the sign and check connections/cables.
9. Ping the receiver with the address pictured in the image below.
10. Request timed out. The receiver and sender are not properly connected. See setting IP address of the adapter.
11. If Results are shown in MS the connection is good, and you can proceed to ping the sing controller address to check the connection between receiver and controller.
12. Often because wireless connections are not used frequently enough the sender and receiver can simply lose their “handshake”. Power cycle the sign, and the sender, and try to sync with the sign again.
13. Did you know that some data doesn’t arrive correctly via wireless communication? It’s as if a few pages of the book fall out along the way. This can cause the symptom to show with a particular slide or content. You can clear the sign's content and send the project again to check. You can clear all content here:
4G Wireless Solution: This is the easiest installation, but make sure that coverage in your area is sufficient. ThinkSIGN uses Verizon wireless M2M service. The 4G router is installed in the Primary cabinet of the primary face. It receives power from the sign’s AC. ThinkSIGN provides an external antenna to be installed on the outside of the display. That antenna should be plugged into the primary port of the 4G router.
If you enter the correct IP address given and can not connect to the sign here are some quick checks:
Are the 4G router lights on? Ensure that power, service, and signal are all lit. Low voltage can cause a poor connection.
Call our support team to ensure there is not an outage. They can check the router internally.
Helpful Hint: When calling ThinkSIGN Technical Support it is helpful to them if you
have your sign's order number, sign's matrix, and shop drawing, if possible.
Support Contact Info: