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L.I.S. POP Indicator VFD Display

L.I.S. POP Indicator VFD Display

Supplied by VL System


VFD and LCD information displays are now widely available and popular. Prices are decreasing and product variations are increasing. Korean manufacturer, VL Systems, adapted their popular L.I.S. 2 Indicator to a more budget conscious consumer. Some features remain while others have been removed. The L.I.S. POP Indicator is available with either an LCD or VFD display and while both are identical in function one may be the better buy.

cu_lis_screen

The L.I.S. POP Indicator can be mounted in an empty drive bay and will constantly present various data about the PC to anyone who cares to sit and watch. Software allows the user to configure what information is displayed or choose from presets. The L.I.S. POP Indicator displays can show date, time, temperature, memory usage, hard drive usage, processor information, what song is currently playing and many more informational tidbits. An LCD or VFD display is eye candy to a geek.

The IT professional can also use the L.I.S. POP Indicator as a display to quickly assess critical information without having to plug in a monitor.

box

The L.I.S. POP Indicator is a scaled back version of the L.I.S. 2 Indicator. The POP version most notably has a front face cosmetic enhancement and lacks the fan control functions of the L.I.S. 2.

Specifications

Controller

  • Serial Interface
  • Supported LCD / VFD size : 20 x 2

Display Unit

  • V.F.D(Vacuum Fluorescent Display)
  • 5 x 8 Dot’s
  • HD44780 Compatible
  • Character type
  • 20 x 2 Size

CABLE

  • Serial cable(1ea)
  • Power cable(1ea)

Display Color

  • Blue

Metal Frame Color

  • Silver

INPUT VOLTAGE

  • DC 5V

Dimension

  • 149.30(W) * 42.50(H) * 8.00(D) mm

 

System Requirements

PC

  • IBM compatible PC

Serial port

  • Available Free 1 Serial port

5.25″ Bay

  • Free one slot

OS

  • Microsoft Windows 2000, XP, 2003

CPU

  • Pentium 2 above

Memory

  • 128MB above

HDD

  • More than 12MB free space

What’s in the box

box

The L.I.S. POP Indicator comes with a manual, installation CD, 40-inch serial connection and 12-inch molex power connection.

manual

install_cd

wires

The L.I.S. POP Indicator does connect to the PC through a serial port unlike the L.I.S. 2 Indicator which has a USB connection (internal and external).

The L.I.S. POP Indicator blends well with aluminum cases but may not match so well with plastic bezels.

ws_bay

It’s five main pieces: the frame, lens colors, power and data connection PCB and the VFD PCB.

parts

The VFD is 2 rows of 20 characters represented by 5 dots wide by 8 dots high.

ws_vfd

cu_vfd

Behind the face is the power and data connections.

back_panel

At the lower right is a smaller white port which is the serial data port. Left of that is the power connection. The blue square at the top with the screw in the center can adjust display brightness. VL Systems recommends leaving the brightness control alone because consumer adjustments could damage the unit. Best not have it if there’s a risk as some will be curious.

cu_connections

The L.I.S. POP Indicator is much simpler than the L.I.S. 2 Indicator pictured in the following image. Remember that the L.I.S. 2 supports USB data connection and a 4 fan controller while the POP version does not.

pcb_ws

Installation

The display mounts in an available 5.25″ bay which is second down from the top in the test unit in the following two images.

ws_comp_pre

The display requires the included screws to complete the installation.

lis_installed

The serial port connection is simple to connect though some may find routing the wire an inconvenience. Remember that the connection is made on the backplane of the motherboard OUTSIDE of the PC case. The L.I.S. 2 indicator has the advantage of using the motherboard’s internal USB headers (if available). Our solution would be to take the time to drill a hole near to the top of the back of the PC case to feed the wire through instead of through and open PCI slot as in the following images.

ws_wire_inside_pc

cu_wire_inside_pc

Software Installation

Click on the L.I.S. Indicator Series button to begin installation which automatically defaults to C:.

software_01

software_03

Note that the author did manually change the installation directory to d:.

software_04

software_05

The installation CD covers many of the VL System products thus the USB_Driver and ZephyrusCC folders are not needed for the L.I.S. POP Indicator.

software_02

Screen by Screen

The Multimedia Control Center software serves both the POP and L.I.S. 2 devices. Version 0.9.8.0 was installed for the following screen shots but version 1.0.2.0 was used for testing.

program_02

program_03

The BASIC SETUP screen shows what the software automatically detects and sets up. The software “should” find the proper product and model and the port it is on. Important to note that the RUN WHEN WINDOWS START should be ticked to enable the device on boot. Also the START ON TRAY should also be ticked to minimize the program to the taskbar. If it is not ticked then the program will continually open to the last screen accessed.

program_04

The AUTO USER menu is where information display sequences can be loaded and configured. The maximum any one entry can display for is 10 seconds before the next kicks in.

program_05

AFC (Automatic Fan Control) is disabled for the L.I.S. POP. It is only for the L.I.S. 2 Indicator.

program_06

Message Alarm is nothing more than a digital alarm clock with programmable messages.

program_07

The TIME AND DATE function has two configurations as seen in the following image but it is important to note that only the CHARACTER TYPE DISPLAY will count off seconds in real time. The CG TYPE DISPLAY shows only a CG image of the time it was loaded and the seconds will not count up.

program_08

REAL TIME CLOCK will show processor information.

program_09

screen_athlon

CPU/RAM has more processor information such as current load. The memory information is straight forward.

program_10

screen_memory

Motherboard Monitor can feed the L.I.S. POP (and 2) information to display.

program_11

WINAMP and WINDOWS MEDIA PLAYER can also be configured to feed information to the L.I.S. POP. A simple plug-in module must be installed in the player. A real-time graphic EQ is an option to the display in either program. If a USER SET configuration is chosen then the COLUMN LENGTH COUNT applies to the length of the first column only and spans both the upper and lower display rows.

program_12

program_13

The PC SOUND is a 2 row real time graphic EQ analyzer with gain and amplitude control.

program_14

The second to last menu item allows display of various information about the main OS.

program_15

screen_os_info

Lastly the L.I.S. POP can automatically check email but will always make a sound (if option is ticked) every time the program checks for mail regardless of new mail or not.

program_16

The easiest way to get to the software interface is to double click on the icon in the taskbar. If the software is initiated from the start menu then a SECOND instance of the Multimedia Control Center will open also placing a SECOND icon in the taskbar.

Right clicking on the icon in the taskbar will open a selection menu. Note that the M PLAY Control Center and L.I.S. Control Center selections would not function on the test system. Selecting any one of the other menu choices simply enables that particular function in constant mode but will not bring up the software program interface.

A cool graphic EQ analyzer…no wait a minute

Eye candy is eye candy and the real time graphic EQ analyzer is a good draw for the L.I.S. POP Indicator…that’s if it worked. Winamp or WMP require a plug-in. That plug-in will produce a display that should look like the following image for WMP10.

wmp_plug_in

Selecting the WINDOWS MEDIA PLAYER function only resulted in the L.I.S. POP displaying the following message which also tipped off another problem.

screen_wmp_oops

The Windows Media Player plug-in would not work in two separate systems. There was no song title, no media information and no EQ display. The PC SOUND menu was selected and it would work intermittently. It also had to be adjusted every time the program was restarted to display properly.

So one would figure that it must be PC SOUND that must be selected to see the graphic EQ display? Not quite. The following image shows the EQ in operation.

screen_graphic_eq

It certainly looks like the plug-in is working except that no media player device is open. There’s not a peep coming from the PC yet the analyzer display is merrily bouncing away. One other review of the L.I.S. POP Indicator noted that the analyzer would not not function when WMP was minimized.

Nevertheless Winamp performance was stellar and could be configured easily.

screen_winamp

Other minor annoyances were that the display was limited to 20 characters total. If more than 20 characters of information were needed the unit would not scroll the text. Windows Media Player information, if it were to function, could also not be added to the AUTO USER rotation.

Conclusions

lis_installed

The VL Systems L.I.S. POP indicator (LCD version) can be found for approximately 40% less than the L.I.S. 2 Indicator which has a plainer faceplate but the benefits of a fan controller and USB interface. The VFD version of the L.I.S. POP Indicator appears to be about 10% less expensive than the L.I.S. 2 Indicator. The L.I.S. POP Indicator (VFD version) isn’t as attractive a deal.

It is recommended that VL System print a proper English translation of their manual. It is, at present, full of grammatical and translation errors.

ms_bay

VL System has improved the software interface since our look at the L.I.S. 2 Indicator. The LCD version (not reviewed) of the L.I.S. POP Indicator is competitively priced but the VFD version is diminished by the L.I.S. 2 which is only a few dollars more.

Our thanks to VL Systems for their support of this and many other sites.

Highs

  • PC data display
  • Geek eye candy
  • Easy to install

Lows

  • VFD model is almost the same price as the more well-equipped LIS 2.

Scores Breakdown
Attribute Score Comments
Bonus items & software 8 Software interface has been improved since our last look at the L.I.S. 2.
Design & layout 9 Very simple to install
Documentation 6 Poor English translation.
Features & options 8.5 Many configurable settings.
Fine-tuning features 8.5 Many configurable settings.
Performance & stability 8 Windows Media Player plug-in did not function in test unit and other sites have reported anomalies. There were only 1 or 2 other minor quirks.
Presentation 8.5 Well packaged for shipping and red is always an eye-catching color on the shelf.
Price / value 7 8.5 for the LCD model due to its affordable price for a display but 6.5 for the VFD model since the more well-equipped LIS 2 is around $10 more.
Total score 63.5/80 79.4%

Comments

  1. Unregistered
    Unregistered I noticed that there was a blue acrylic looking piece that came with this...is that what makes the text blue?

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