An Administrators Guide Overview




The Elements of an XVI-SB system

The Headset Box - Hbox

The Alva Braille Display

The Mouse

Electrial Interconnetions



Software Configuration

Fault Finding


This document is intended for the use of personnel with the responsibility of administrating BEAM XVI-SB (speech and braille) XVI-S (speech only) and XVI-SM (speech and magnification) terminals. These terminals provide access to a Unix X-Windows environment for the visually impaired and blind. The basis of access is a braille display and/or speech synthesizer. This document is not a comprehensive manual regarding the use of the terminals (for this information refer to the user guides) rather an overview of the installation, management and explanations on how to solve the most common of problems.

The Elements of an XVI-SB system

The following diagram identifies the component parts situated in a typical installations. The headphone box 'HBox' is optional and the braille/speech unit might be replaced by a speech only unit.

An XVI-SB installation

An XVI-S or XVI-SM installation

The Headset Box - Hbox

Users of the terminal are often involved in telephone support roles. In such roles a problem arises, that of having to hear both the terminal and the person on the other end of the telephone. The headphone box is an elegant solution to this problem, speech from the terminal in combined with that from the telephone and both presented on the usual telephone headset. While the user hears both the synthesized computer and customer on the telephone, the customer only hears the voice of the user.

While the HBox only allows a single user to wear a telephone headset it supports two further ways for others to hear the speech and telephone conversations. Firstly the HBox has an internal speaker unit, this speaker may be switched on and off by the use of single switch located on the front of the unit. Alternatively a second user may connect an optional headset into the front jack socket. This second method is useful under training situations in a 'noisy' office.

The volume of both telephone and terminal speech can be independently controlled from the terminal. The following keystrokes may be used.
Increase Telephone Volume Right Hand Control + [
Decrease Telephone Right Hand Control + ]
Increase Synthesized voice Right Hand Control + L
Decrease Synthesized voice Right Hand Control + Q

An additional a special 'Speaker' key 'Right Hand Control + =' increases the volume significantly when listening to the internal HBox speaker.


No speech or telephone will be heard until the terminal is switched on and booted. Booting takes some 50 seconds from the pressing of the power button.

The Alva Braille Display

The Alva 440 Delphi unit is a forty character braille display with integral speech synthesizer. A power switch is located at the rear. To install the unit three cables are connected to the rear of the unit, the sound output , power and data cables. A power switch is located to the rear of the unit.

The Alva contains an internal battery which is charged via the DC input socket. This battery will only power the unit for a short time, the DC power should be attached at all times.

Reseting the Alva - The Alva unit, as supplied, is factory configured to use a serial interface. While it is unlikely that this configuration be 'lost' it is possible to reset the configuration by the following procedure. Switch on the Alva, depress the hidden reset switch located in the hole on the underside of the unit. Then, press simultaneously the left three front panel rubber buttons followed by the lower third 'blip', button located on the top of the unit above the third braille cell. Switch of the unit and then on.

The Dolphin Apollo

The dolphin Apollo speech synthersizer in a small stand alone unit that contains the electronics to convert ASCII text into speech. The only external control is a volume knob which adjusts the level of the inbuild speaker and the drive level to 3.5 jack socket located on the top of the unit. In XVI-S, XVI-SM installations the volume control should be set to maximum, the jack socket is connected to the HBox and the RS232 port to the serial port at the rear of the XVI base unit. Note that when a jack plug is inserted into the socket the internal speaker is disabled.

The Mouse

A three button mouse is supplied with the terminal. Its unlikely to be used by a non-sighted user. To keep the mouse out of the way during normal operation a self adhesive mouse holder is supplied. Typically this holder is attached to the side of the monitor. The mouse itself must be configured to operate in PC mode, this is performed by setting the switch on the underside of the mouse to the 'PC' position. A sighted user may use the mouse in the normal manner.

When using the mouse on a terminal configured for speech the jumping or 'warping' of the mouse cursor will occur. i.e The cursor will move of its own accord. This is normal and used to show a sighted user the current 'object' as seen by a non-sighted user. Because of this behaviour the mouse should be operated slowly.


A terminal configured for speech and magnification has this 'move cursor'

option switched off.

Electrical Interconnections


The majority of the interconnections are made to the rear of the units. The diagram below show the appropriate connections.


The majority of the interconnections are made to the rear of the units. The diagram below show the appropriate connections.

Software Configuration

While there are many options and features that can be configured for an XVI unit we will cover here only the most basic (And hence simple) aspects. Firstly it should be realized that the XVI-SB base unit can actually be used in four differing ways.

XVI-SB Speech and braille output using Alva Delphi 440

XVI-S Speech only using the Dolphin Apollo II

XVI-SM Speech and magnification using the Dolphin Apollo II

XVI Magnification only

While the configuration is usually factory set, it is not unknown for base units to become mixed up during use in the field. We have therefore provided an easy way to re-configure a machine.

Terminal configuration ....

During the bootup sequence, white on back text scrolls up the terminal screen, an observant viewer will notice the odd pause and some message on the lower line of text to press CR (Carriage Return) or some such to continue. One such message says press `e' followed by CR to enter configuration. At this prompt press the `e' key followed by the CR (enter key) located on the alpha section of the keyboard

When the configuration dialog appears use the mouse to select the menu item config from the menu bar. Select 'Load default configuration ' from the list of options ( and with reference to the list above XVI-SB/S etc) select the appropriate configuration.

From the menu bar config, select the Reboot item from the pop-up menu.

(You might have to perform this reboot action twice).

Fault Finding

No picture on the display

No sound (telephone or synthersiser)in the telephone headset.

No Synth voice

No sound from the telephone

The relative volume of the synth and telephone cannot be adjusted

Sound of the Sea in the Earpiece.

Software exibiting Strange symtoms

Mouse does not Work

No picture on the display

Check that both base unit and monitor are power on.

Ensure that screen blanking saver is not on by pressing a key on the keyboard.

Check cable connections of video cable to the rear of the monitor and base unit.

Certain early monitors had a switch on the monitor used to select between different connectors, ensure that the DSUB connector is selected.

No sound (telephone or synthesizer ) in the telephone headset.

Ensure that the terminal is powered on and booted, and that the Alva is switched on.


The Alva MUST be powered on prior to the base unit

Check the connection of the four cables to the HBox.

1) HBox -> Alva 3.5mm-3.5mm Jack cable

2) HBox -> Base Unit (sound card) 5Pin Din -> 3x3.5mm Jacks

Ensure the appropriate connections are made to the rear of the base unit

3) HBox -> Telephone headset connection (RJ11 style Jack-Jack)

4) HBox -> Headset (RJ11 Style)

Check the volume levels for both synth and telephone. These levels can be determined by invoking the XVI-SB configuration dialog ( Right Hand Control Key + F2 ). The telephone volume should be set to around 80 and the synth volume 6.

No Synth voice.

Log out of the system. Switch off at the base unit, check that the Alva/Dolpin unit is switched on then reboot the terminal.

When the login screen appears the synth should say "Welcome to the BEAM ....etc". Additionally when a key is pressed on the keyboard the synth should normally speak the keypress (This is an option and may actually be turned off). Log into the system in the usual manner.

Check the speak on keys option is ON via the XVI-SB configuration dialog (Invoked using Right Control Key + F2) and check that the synth volume is set to 8.

If no speech is heard. Disconnect the grey 3.5mm Jack cable connected from Alva/Dolphin to HBox at the Alva/Dolphin End. Test for speech with a keypress, the sound should come from the internal speaker inside the Alva/Dolphin unit.

IF (no sound)

check the data cable that connect the Alva/Dolphin and the Base unit.

If the cable appears OK then switch off the Alva.

Switch the Alva on again on switch on the Alva should say Alva 440 (A robotic voice).

If the Alva does not speak check that the power supply is connected to the Alva and that the Transformer unit is plugged into a mains socket and on.

All these thing being correct then it would appear that the Alva is faulty and should be replaced


Reconnect the lead between the Alva/Dolphin and the HBox.

Check all the cables between the HBox and Base unit.

Switch the front panel switch on the front of the HBox to the left, this turns on the internal speaker.

IF (sound is heard on keypress)

Replace the telephone headset unit


Contact the hardware maintenance, the HBox/leads or Base unit may be faulty.

No sound from the telephone

Check that the volume is appropriate, use Right Hand Control + F2 to pop up the configuration dialog. Ensure that the volume is greater than 60.

Check the connections to the HBox.

If the above have been tried and the sound has not returned, disconnect the HBox to telephone cable and check that the telephone works as expected.

The relative volume of the synth and telephone cannot be adjusted

Check that the correct colour cables are connected into the base unit on the cable between HBox and base.

Sound of the Sea in the Earpiece .

The telephone volume is too high. Invoke the XVI-SB configuration dialog (Right Control + F2) and set the telephone volume level to a lower number.

Software exhibiting Strange symptoms

There two likely reasons for the symptoms. Firstly that the configuration has been inadvertently changed. Try reverting to the default configuration by pressing the keys Right Control + D. The second reason is a bit more tricky to check. Login as a user with maintenance privileges, enter the maintenance system and check that the terminal type of the terminal is set to BEAM_SB.

Mouse does not Work

The button on the underside of the mouse MUST be set to indicate PC.

Check the cable to the base unit.

Mouse is Jerky

IF (speech or braille only - NO magnification terminal)

A user option, 'move mouse cursor' actually warps the mouse cursor. This is normal behaviour.


Extract and clean the mouse ball.

Contact Details

Northavon Business Centre
Dean Road
BS37 5NH
Telephone 01454 324512
Fax 01454 313172