Alpha and Betabrite Programming Keyboards

Infrared Keyboard
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Call 1-800-223-4636 to order a new or replacement Alpha or Betabrite remote control programming keyboard for your Alpha, Betabrite, Alpha Premiere, Alpha Director, or Alpha Solar LED electronic sign.

Most Alpha and Betabrite displays are shipped with a remote control keyboard. Several versions of the programming keyboard have been shipped with Alpha and Betabrite LED electronic displays over the years. Many sign models use the same keyboards. Alpha and Betabrite signs can only be programmed with the style of keyboard they were designed to be used with.

The keyboard is used to program text, graphics, message sequences, and message schedules. On some signs, the remote control keyboard can perform utility functions, such as clearing memory, setting a sign's serial address, and setting a sign's time and date.

The following functions can be performed by the keyboard on many Alpha and Betabrite models:

  • turn the Alpha or Betabrite display on and off
  • turn off and on the programming keys beep feature
  • program messages with text, graphics, and animations
  • run messages
  • delete specific messages
  • insert display modes, special effects and features, special symbols, and international characters into messages
  • compose dot graphic files and incorporate them into messages
  • set the message file run sequence
  • set the start and stop times and dates for each message file
  • set the time, day and date
  • clear display memory
  • password protect the messages
  • change the address of the Alpha display
  • run the built-in diagnostic tests
  • sets the speaker volume on Alpha Premiere models

Alpha Cable Remote Keyboard

The Alpha Cable Remote Keyboard is used on the Alpha 210, 221, 430, 440, 460, 480, 710, 715, and 790i displays. The Alpha Cable Remote Keyboard has a 12-foot long, 14-conductor ribbon cable that attaches to the sign.

An optional infrared receiver add-on feature was offered at one time for Alpha signs that used the Alpha Cable Remote Keyboard to allow them to use an Alpha Infrared Remote Keyboard. If the infrared receiver feature is present, you will find it plugged into the round DIN connector on the left end of the sign.

You may download the instruction manual for the Alpha Cable Remote Keyboard. Find the manual for your sign below under Manuals.

If you have an older Alpha sign without a keyboard and without the infrared receiver feature, you can also program your sign with a computer and messaging software. See Programming Alpha Signs With Software below.

Older Alpha signs that used the Alpha Cable Remote Keyboard provide outstanding performance with or without the keyboard. Many of the earliest Alpha signs are still operating flawlessly today after more than twenty years of operation. Alpha signs have very bright, easy-to-read LEDs, and your Alpha sign should continue to serve you well for years to come, unless you lose the power supply, or the sign fails.

The power supplies and some of the repair components for older Alpha signs are no longer available, but if your sign needs repair, please contact us, and we'll let you know if we can fix your sign.

Alpha Infrared Remote Keyboard

This 54-key keyboard is used to program the Betabrite 1026 and 1040 models, the Betabrite Director, the Alpha 215, 220, 320, 330, 420, 4000 Series, 7000 Series, Solar Series, Director Series, and older Alpha signs with the infrared receiver add-on feature. The Alpha Infrared Remote Keyboard communicates by infrared signal to the Alpha sign. The optimal distance for using the infrared keyboard is from 10 to 30 feet away from the Alpha or Betabrite display.

The programming manual for this keyboard is available in both English and Spanish versions. You may download the manual by clicking on one of the Manuals links provided below.

Betabrite 1036 Infrared Remote Keyboard

This keyboard is used to program the Betabrite 1036 models. It is also used to invoke certain features in the Alpha Premiere 9000 Series. The Betabrite 1036 Infrared Remote Keyboard communicates by infrared signal to the Betabrite or Alpha Premiere display.

The programming manual is available in English, Spanish, and Portuguese. You may download the manual by clicking on one of the Manuals links below.

Programming Alpha Signs With Software

It is actually easier to program with software than it is to program with a keyboard. There are several reasons we say this:

  • With software, you are using your computer screen as the editor. You can see the entire message at once. With the Alpha keyboard, you can only see the number of characters that will fit on the display. If you have a 13-character display, that is the most characters you can see at once. If you have a message with a few hundred or even a few thousand characters, you can imagine how tedious it is to navigate to correct a misspelled word or to insert a word or sentence somewhere in the middle of the message.
  • With the keyboard, you or someone else can accidentally wipe out hours of your work by pressing the wrong key, and the message is irretrievable. If you have been composing a message for a long time, you can get tired and make mistakes. If you are inserting a few characters or words in the middle of your message, and you don't press APPEND before you press RUN, you lose all of the characters after the cursor. This could be catastrophic if you don't have the message written down somewhere. With messaging software, however, all of your messages are stored on your computer. If someone accidentally wipes one of them out, you can easily send it to the sign again.
  • With messaging software, you can compose messages as fast as you can type. With the Alpha keyboard, you have to press one key at a time and watch the sign to make sure the character appears on the sign. The longer the message is, the longer it takes for the message to move in sign memory as you type. On the computer there is no delay.
  • With messaging software you can cut and paste text into your message. You can't do that with the Alpha keyboard.
  • There are some features that you can't invoke with the keyboard, such as the Counter feature. You can invoke them with software.

These are just a few of the reasons to consider using messaging software instead of the Alpha keyboard. With signs that use the Alpha Cable Remote Keyboard, You can use AlphaNet software and RS485 connectivity items to program your Alpha sign by computer.

Again, using AlphaNet software to program your sign is a much better programming solution than using either the cable or infrared remote keyboards. Editing messages on a computer screen is MUCH easier than editing messages on the screen of the sign and in sign memory.

Older Alpha sign models can use either RS485 connectivity items or Ethernet connectivity items. Current Alpha sign models can use RS232, RS485 or Ethernet connectivity items. Click here for additional information.

Modified Firmware

Some Alpha signs have modified firmware, so they can be used in special applications, such as News Ticker, Stock Ticker, Sports Ticker, or Lottery displays, or as ACD readerboards for specific phone systems. Alpha signs with modified firmware often will not work with an Alpha programming keyboard or with Alpha software.

If you would like to know if the firmware on your sign is modified or out of date, click here to display a list of the current firmware version for each Alpha sign model. You may order a firmware replacement chip by calling 1-800-223-4636.

Using the Infrared Feature on your Computer

From time-to-time we are asked if it is possible to program the infrared feature on today's computers to enable the computer to operate as a replacement infrared remote keyboard.

Mike Peters at Adaptive Micro Systems provided this insight into the subject:

"The Alpha Infrared Remote Control Keyboards use what is called bi-phase encoding, and I do not believe that you would be able to programmatically tell your IR port on your computer to do that. It is currently doing what is called IRDA, which is the industry standard for IR. Windows® accesses the IR port using a device driver for IRDA. You would have to write a bi-phase encoding device driver to accomplish what you are wanting to do. This is no simple task. Our software department has one under it's belt, and we farmed out the original coding to a software place that specializes in device drivers. Also, the IR output of an Alpha keyboard is specially designed to transmit anywhere from 10 to 50 ft. IRDA ports on laptop computers can transmit 2 to 3 feet tops, not really condusive to laptop-sign communication."

That said, I recently spoke to someone who had trained his Universal Remote to program an infrared Alpha sign. So as technology advances, we are seeing developments that overcome previous limitations, such as those described by Mike Peters.


Manuals with Infrared Remote Keyboard Instructions

Manuals with Cable Remote Keyboard Instructions

Ordering Info

  • For prices, please call Alpha-American Programmable Signs at (800) 223-4636 or use our Request Form.
  • 7.75% California Sales Tax is added to sales of items delivered in California, unless other arrangements are made.
  • Shipping charges are added to each order.
  • Submit orders by fax, mail, e-mail or telephone.
  • Various terms are available.

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