Frequently asked questions about Spark digital video promotional vehicles.
- About the digital displays and components
- How bright are the screens? Can you see them in the daytime?
- What does "6mm or 4.8mm LED" mean? How is it different from 10mm or 16mm? Is a bigger or smaller number better?
- Can I play video, like TV or movies, on the screens.
- What is a video processor, and why do I need one?
- Where are the screens made?
- Is there a protective window covering the screens?
- Can I protect the screens from vandalism?
- About the Spark advertising content management system
- How does one deliver ad content to the screens?
- What is location-aware advertising, and why is it important?
- About vMod drop-in video modules
- How permanent is a vMod installation?
- About the Expo truck body
- What does the body weigh?
- How much useful cargo space is available inside the truck body?
- How is the body made?
- Where does the truck chassis come from? Can I use my own truck?
About the digital displays and components
How bright are the screens? Can you see them in the daytime? Back to QuestionsThe digital LED screens are as bright as most roadside digital billboards.
Brightness levels are often quoted in candelas per square meter or NITs (the terms are interchangeable). An ordinary TV has a brightness level of approximately 350 - 500 cd/m2. The outdoor screens used at your bank's ATM or the fast food drive through measure approximately 1500 cd/m2. The P6 LED displays used by Spark have a brightness level of 6500 cd/m2.
Take a good look at the photos and especially the video clips on this web site. You'll notice that almost all of the photos are taken on fully sunny days. This is intentional, to demonstrate the visibility of the Spark LED display systems.
What does "6mm or 4.8mm LED" mean? How is it different from 10mm or 16mm? Is a bigger or smaller number better? Back to QuestionsSmaller number means more detailed picture and higher resolution. The number simply refers to the distance or "pitch" between each pixel on the screen. If you see a reference to PH20, PH10, or PH6, the P stands for pitch and the number is the distance between any two pixels on the screen. H refers to an outdoor grade display. P6 usually means an indoor grade display, while PH6 means an outdoor display.
Roadside billboards and stadium screens often use 20mm LED technology because of the lengthy viewing distance between the display and the viewers. Viewed from the length of a football field, the 20mm or 16mm LED screens look like a big TV, but if you were to stand ten feet away you'd notice that each pixel is as large as your thumb. On a 20mm screen, pixels are separated from each other by almost an inch.
P10 used to be considered state of the art for outdoor LED displays, but recently 4.8mm technology has become an affordable option for the best looking outdoor LED display systems. Indoor grade systems have progressed to P3 and even P1.2 technology, but those systems are not suitable or bright enough for outdoor use yet.
Spark current truck body lineup uses only PH6, PH8, and PH4.8 outdoor LED technology. By request, PH10 is available in Spark vMod systems.
Can I play video, like TV or movies, on the screens. Back to QuestionsYes. Be sure to read our learning center article about this topic here. If you're looking for an answer about the technical ability of the displays to show video, that answer is also yes. However, LED screens are not like a regular TV and they require special components to show live video. That component is called a video processor, and it's included with all digital video truck bodies products from Spark (optional on vMod systems).
What is a video processor, and why do I need one? Back to QuestionsA video processor is a special component that scales and formats the video signal from a media player, satellite receiver, DVD player, computer, or video game console and converts it into a format that can be displayed on an LED screen. Better quality video processors include hardware and software that enhances image quality and also include multiple inputs so you can switch between several different video sources. If you want to show anything other than a slideshow, you'll want a video processor.
Where are the screens made? Back to QuestionsThe screens use components made in several places. The individual LEDs are made in Taiwan by Epistar. Then the LED modules are assembled into waterproof aluminum cabinets by our partner in China, where we buy them directly from the manufacturer. Completed screens are shipped via air freight to Spark for installation into promotional vehicle bodies.
Is there a protective window covering the screens? Back to QuestionsThere are two reasons why there is no clear window over the display screens. First, putting the screens behind a window would introduce glare and reflections on both sides of the glass. Anything that's placed in-between a digital display and viewers reduces image quality. Secondly, about ninety percent of the heat generated by an LED display is created by the individual LED pixels. With no window, we are able to let the heat dissipate off the front of the screen. If the display were behind a window, the interior of the truck body would become excessively hot.
Spark uses special LED display systems that are designed for outdoor use and are waterproof.
Can I protect the screens from vandalism? Back to QuestionsThe outdoor grade LED displays are similar to the displays you've seen at concerts and football stadiums, except much higher quality. They can withstand all weather conditions, but are no more impervious to vandalism than the rest of the vehicle. Nonetheless, over the last dozen years, we have received reports of only two customers' trucks experiencing any incidence of vandalism.
About the Spark advertising content management system
How does one deliver ad content to the screens? Back to QuestionsRegular (non moving video) ads are created in JPG format and are stored on a media player, which is a small box connected to the video processor, which in turn is connected to the LED screens.
The standard media player has a slot for an SD card and it's easy to add/delete the ad files on your personal computer, however, most Expo and vMod configurations include remote administration, which includes a live 3G/4G Internet connection and software that includes the ability to create custom playlists of ads which can be uploaded live to the truck while it is on the road.
What is location-aware advertising, and why is it important? Back to QuestionsSpark has engineered a GPS based advertising solution that allows you to define geo-zones on a map, and when the truck enters any one of the zones, it can automatically switch all of the advertising.
This has valuable implications for advertising sales. For example, if there are certain parts of your city where residents speak a different language, it's possible to create alternate language versions of your ads, and when the truck drives into that neighborhood, the ads will instantly change to the other language without any action by the driver.
Another example shows how to use the location aware feature to benefit a group of allied businesses. In your city, there may be a dozen different insurance agencies all operating under the same brand, each serving a unique part of the metro area. Since they all contribute a portion of their revenue into a cooperative advertising pool, the pool funds can only be spent on advertising the benefits everyone in the coop group. You could contract with the group for the entire metro area, and as the truck drives around, the appropriate ad for the agent in that part of town, where the truck is currently driving, will be displayed.
About vMod drop-in video modules
How permanent is a vMod installation? Back to QuestionsAlthough it's not something you'll want to do frequently, you can completely remove any of the vMod models with no permanent damage to the pickup truck. The outdoor LED displays have an average lifespan of 100,000 hours, and should outlast your pickup truck.
About the Expo truck body
What does the body weigh? Back to QuestionsAn Expo body replaces the standard pickup truck bed and without any of the digital displays weighs about the same as the original bed. Once the LED displays and other equipment are added, the truck will weigh approximately 900 pounds more than the truck's original curb weight.
How much useful cargo space is available inside the truck body? Back to QuestionsInside Spark digital video truck bodies you'll find only the power system and electronics for the displays. The rest of the interior space is available for any purpose.
How is the body made? Back to QuestionsSpark truck bodies are manufactured in two stages. First, the bodies are manufactured into a bundle of body components which includes all aluminum or fiberglass body parts, the roof system, the floor and walls. Then the body kits are delivered to one of our facilities where they are assembled and mounted on compatible truck chassis. This process assures that each body is identical quality and if replacement body parts are ever needed, we're able to assure a complete fit with the original parts.
Where does the truck chassis come from? Can I use my own truck? Back to QuestionsExpo and Expo XL are compatible with any full size half-ton pickup truck. Compatible pickups include: Ford F150, Chevrolet Silverado 1500, Ram 1500, GMC Sierra 1500, Toyota Tundra, Nissan Titan. Heavy duty models from any of the above brands (250, 350, 2500, 3500) are also compatible, but are considerable overkill and are much more expensive. Mid-size pickups such as Toyota Tacoma, Nissan Frontier, and Chevrolet Colorado will require at least a six foot bed and will require a suspension upgrade. Worldwide, compatible chassis include Toyota Hilux and Ford Transit (chassis cab). Customers may supply their own truck, new or used. Spark is pleased to provide new US-spec Ford F150 trucks for customers, and in that case, the entire transaction is completed through the authorized Ford dealer.
Spark’s Promo series is a one-piece fiberglass body, married to a Ford Transit commercial cutaway chassis.
Mondo is a separate body and cab design, and works well with Isuzu NPR diesel chassis.