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September 21, 2008 1:24 PM   Subscribe

Please help me connect my macbook to a Dell 3200 MP projector. Should be easy, right? It's not working.

I'm trying to connect my macbook to this Dell 3200MP projector for a presentation...tomorrow. All I want to do is have my coworkers watch a photo-slideshow.

FYI: I'm not extremely computer savvy, but I'm not stupid, either.

What's happening with the projector is that the mac recognizes that it's hooked up to an external display. (System profiler shows the projector as being connected.) The Dell, however, does nothing but keep "looking for signal."

I'm using a VGA/Mini DVI adapter, as the projector has a VGA. The mac connected successfully to the monitor of the guy I borrowed the adapter from (without any problem whatsoever), so I know it can work.

So far I have:

1) Turned on the projector first and then the macbook, with everything already hooked up.
2) Turned on "mirroring" in my display preferences. This was supposed to be the key, according to the troubleshooting documents I've looked at, but it didn't do anything.

Possibly important or else red herrings:
a) I'm connected via a VGA/Mini DVI dongle thingy. The projector-side connection says "M1 Signal in."
b) The projector cable that plugs into the monitor also has a USB connection, which I understand is for the remote. I don't need that.
c) I have no idea what any of the other cables on the projector do, but I don't need sound. The other plugs say "VGA out" "Video" "Audio in" and "S-video"
d) The projector works for the colleague I borrowed it from. But he has a PC laptop.

So....can you help a sister out?
posted by Stewriffic to Computers & Internet (20 answers total)
 
If mirroring shows up...it means it 'sees' the projector.

Choose "Gather displays" This will bring the projector's display settings onto your MB screen.

Choose a lower resolution like 1024x768 (and try about 60hz).

Probably the projector is trying to mirror your display which a has higher value than the projector.
posted by filmgeek at 1:31 PM on September 21, 2008


A long shot, but try matching the laptop out screen resolution to the native resolution of the projector, and set the refresh to 60Hz.
posted by DarkForest at 1:35 PM on September 21, 2008


When I select mirroring on, the display automatically goes to 1024x768 and 60hz. This makes my laptop screen look bizarre.

When I then clicked on "Gather windows" from the display preferences, it did nothing.
posted by Stewriffic at 1:35 PM on September 21, 2008


The only difference now between the screen resolutions is that the laptop's screen is stretched. The laptop and the projector are otherwise the same: 1024x768 and 60hz. with millions of colors.
posted by Stewriffic at 1:36 PM on September 21, 2008


Some [older?] projectors don't always auto-select their input signal. Could this one be currently set for s-video rather than auto or vga? You said that the projector works with another laptop and the laptop drives an external monitor. Is it easy to verify that those things are still working right now?
posted by DarkForest at 1:41 PM on September 21, 2008


How do I manually select VGA? The guy who uses the projector uses the VGA, I'm pretty sure.

Oh great. I did something with the menu of the projector that turned the image upside down. Crap.
posted by Stewriffic at 1:43 PM on September 21, 2008


turned the image upside down

That could be the ceiling mount setting.
posted by DarkForest at 1:46 PM on September 21, 2008


Yeah. It's now right side up. I panicked a little bit.

OK--No, it's not easy to verify that the projector works with another computer or that the macbook works with another monitor. I only have the one computer here and the one projector.
posted by Stewriffic at 1:48 PM on September 21, 2008


Manual

The Source button should select the various sources. There will probably be some on-screen indication as you cycle through the source settings.
posted by DarkForest at 1:54 PM on September 21, 2008


I just found the manual. Hilarious--I hadn't thought to look from the Dell side.

Does the fact that there's no macbook listed under "compatibility modes" on this page mean it won't work with my computer?

(Looking for the source button)
posted by Stewriffic at 1:57 PM on September 21, 2008


no macbook listed under "compatibility modes" on this page mean it won't work with my computer?

I doubt it, if the laptop will drive a standard vga monitor.
posted by DarkForest at 1:59 PM on September 21, 2008


I identified the source button. Pushing it does nothing.

Looking more at the manual, I tried to change the "signal type" from the onscreen menu. It's not lit up as an option to change.

(BTW, thank you)
posted by Stewriffic at 2:03 PM on September 21, 2008


also, using the remote to press source doesn't do anything either.
posted by Stewriffic at 2:07 PM on September 21, 2008


No problem (I used to work for a projector company).

I identified the source button. Pushing it does nothing.

Isn't there even any on-screen message telling you which source you've switched to?

I see the projector came with a VGA to M1-A cable. Are you using the cable that came with the projector? Does the laptop properly identify the projector (as the name of the external monitor)? It should probably be able to identify it by name. As you are switching sources, be sure to leave it on a source long enough for it to identify the signal and sync up (maybe up to 30 seconds).

I'd question the converter plug you're using, unless it's been used for this before. I don't know if mini-dvi is the same as or compatible with m1-a.
posted by DarkForest at 2:24 PM on September 21, 2008


Isn't there even any on-screen message telling you which source you've switched to?
Nope.

Are you using the cable that came with the projector?
I assume so. It looks just like the picture in the manual.

Does the laptop properly identify the projector (as the name of the external monitor)

This is what my system profiler says about the projector/display:
DELL3200MP:
Resolution: 1024 x 768 @ 60 Hz
Depth: 32-bit Color
Core Image: Hardware Accelerated
Main Display: Yes
Mirror: On
Mirror Status: Master Mirror
Online: Yes
Quartz Extreme: Supported
Rotation: Supported

As you are switching sources, be sure to leave it on a source long enough for it to identify the signal and sync up (maybe up to 30 seconds).

Well, i'm not convinced it's switching sources. But when I hit the "source" button (and it doesn't say what source it's switching to), I waited ~1 minute just now. Nothing, still.
posted by Stewriffic at 2:32 PM on September 21, 2008


You might try the r-sync (resync) button (you've probably already tried that). I'd also try turning off the projector, leave it off for a minute and then turning it back on again, leaving the cables connected as they are, in case the projector's hung trying to sync. I've seen that happen. You might also try switching sources when the computer is not connected. It bothers me that there's no on-screen indication of switching sources. That makes me think the projector might be hung. You could try hooking up a DVD player or VCR if you have the right cables to see if those work with the projector. After that, I'm stumped, I'm afraid... If I think of anything else I'll let you know.
posted by DarkForest at 2:45 PM on September 21, 2008


Pull the cable and check it and the sockets for broken pins. (I had one of these happen once and it took weeks of faffing about trying to get the thing working before anyone noticed the broken pin.)

Establish that the MacBook can drive another VGA monitor. If this is the case, it means that chances are, the projector is the problem. Fiddle with the signal source selector. Open the menu and check what attributes of the incoming signal you can change.

Establish that the projector now actually works, by plugging another laptop into it. (It worked for your colleague last time, but may have developed a fault between then and now.)

This sort of problem often occurs because either or both machines are half-smart: too smart to mindlessly just work, too dumb to resolve the problem causing them to not work. If there's a VGA to HDMI adapter around, and the projector has a HDMI input, try that. If you have a Mini-DVI to HDMI adapter, try that.

If all else fails, borrow a Windows laptop or small Windows desktop, convert the presentation to a format the Windows machine will display (PPT, or paged PDF is ideal), and do your presentation with that. This gives you the luxury of not having to sort it out right now.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 2:51 PM on September 21, 2008


There are no broken pins.
I can drive another VGA monitor with this adapter.
Checking the source doesn't seem to work (see replies above).
I don't have another laptop or other computer to plug in.
There isn't an HDMI input.

I'm going to create the "presentation" (I've decided it's not fancy enough to be an actual presentation) on the fly--my coworkers will be handing me cameras, I'll download them onto my computer, and we'll show them to everyone.

I live far from my office or I'd go check things out there. I'll be in a retreat all day--this activity will be the culmination of the day--so this has to be resolved tonight, if at all.

I will try to call my colleague to see when it last worked.
posted by Stewriffic at 3:06 PM on September 21, 2008


BTW, if you see a 'mirror display' button - it 'sees' the projector. Have you tried a lesser value - 800x600?

The other inputs on the projector -
VGA out - is to plug a mointor AFTER the projector (so if you were on a PC with no splitter/2nd jack on the computer - Computer>projector (VGA), VGA out to a VGA mointor).

S-Video and video are both for a 'video' signal. You might want to try plugging in your DVD player @ home (with an RCA cable
) to the projector.

Right now, I think something is wrong with your projector or your cable. This will test the projector (and then after that I think the cable is bad.)
posted by filmgeek at 4:33 PM on September 21, 2008


I found a PDF for another projector that uses the same cable configuration that I'm using here (Page 3).

So it seems to me that there's not a compatibility issue between mini dvi to VGA to M1 A, as DarkForest posited as a last ditch attempt.

Oh, and r-sync didn't do anything either.
posted by Stewriffic at 4:44 PM on September 21, 2008


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