Using Reflection to Display iPad(s) via AirPlay and an AdHoc Network

Before I enter the discussion of HOW to do this (the plan is to also make a video), I wanted to answer two questions:

  • What do I need to use Reflection to Display iPad(s) via AirPlay and an AdHoc Network?
  • Why would I want to use Reflection to Display iPad(s) via AirPlay and an AdHoc Network?

So, what you need:

  • A Mac with Wi-Fi.  PCs can create AdHoc Networks, too, but it is a much more involved process.  MacBooks, Mac Mini, etc.
  • An appropriate Mac dongle from your Mac to your projector, tv, etc. (Probably VGA or HDMI)
  • An audio patch cable  Mini Stereo to Mini Stereo, or Mini Stereo to dual RCAs, depending on your audio input
  • A display (projector, projector to interactive white board, large LCD TV)
  • Reflection ($14.99)
  • An iPad 2 or newer (or multiple iPads)
  • An iPad Document Stand (such as the Justand, if you want to use the iPad as a Document Camera)
  • An an ethernet connection (if you want internet access while on your AdHoc network

Why would you want to use this setup?

  • You are a teacher with no wi-fi in your room, but would like to use iPad mirroring, and you have a MacBook.
  • You are a teacher in a school with wi-fi, but there may be limited bandwidth or too many users to allow you to effectively mirror audio and video.
  • Your district doesn’t want you to use wi-fi for mirroring, but you still want to–and they won’t let you bring in a router.
  • You are a teacher in a 1-to-1 iPad school, and you want the iPads of multiple students to appear on your screen at one time (an Apple TV only allows one connection at a time).  In fact, you purposely don’t want students to be able to bump each other (or you) off the projector.
  • You have have a widescreen projector, interactive white board, or TV, and you dislike the Apple TV mirroring circumstance that displays all presentations and apps in 4:3 format.  Reflection can let you use the entire screen, even though the iPad remains in 4:3 format on a widescreen.
  • You are a teacher who would use two iPads, perhaps one provided by the school and one that is personal (this would not be unheard of).  One would act as a document camera, the other would run a presentation (e.g. Keynote).
  • You are a presenter that presents in locations where the condition of wi-fi is known to be bad, expensive (Here in Minnesota, it is $3000 an day to get wi-fi at the convention center–no kidding), or just unknown, but you know you want to use your iPad to present wirelessly.

If you find yourself in any of these situations, this set-up may be for you.

Just a note: if you have no Apple TV or no MacBook, and you want to use wireless mirroring, the Apple TV is the less cost effective route.  The MacBook could be a $1000 solution to a $100 problem (But then again, you would have a MacBook).  And be aware that an Apple TV, as of August 2012, will not connect to an AdHoc Network.  So if you think you could use a MacBook to provide a network between an Apple TV and an iPad…nope, that WILL NOT work (emphasis intended).

There are two approaches to using a MacBook and Reflection.  One gives you Internet on the iPad, the other does not.  Let’s begin with how to use Reflection with an AdHoc Network without Internet on either device.

  1. Make sure your MacBook is connected to a projector or large LCD TV.
  2. Make sure your MacBook is connected to your audio.
  3. Set up an AdHoc Network.  This is ridiculously easy on the Mac.  Go to the Wi-Fi symbol at the top of your screen, and click it.  Select “Create Network…”  Then give your network a name, select a channel (you may want to check with the IT staff in your building, as you might want to chose a different channel than what your school broadcasts,: and then click “Create.”  You’ve now made an AdHoc network.  If you link to this network, you can communicate between your MacBook and other devices.

    Create AdHoc on MacBook Step 1: Go to wireless, then “Create Network”

    Create AdHoc on MacBook Step 2: Name Network, Choose “Create”

    Create AdHoc on MacBook Step 3: Note the new wireless icon. To disconnect later, choose “disconnect.”

    Be aware that you may need to recreate this AdHoc Network every day you want to mirror.  That’s okay…it takes about 5 seconds to create an AdHoc network.  If you need to keep kids out of the AdHoc Network, make a password (this takes more time).  And if you need to use your Mac to find an open channel, Mountain Lion now includes a wireless scanner (see  For example, there are a number of routers near my home; the AdHoc’s preference of Channel 11 seems to be a good one to work with.  Even hidden networks should show up with this service.  If you avoid broadcasting on the school’s (or convention center’s) wireless, things will just be better.

    A wireless scan with the new Mountain Lion utility. Try to choose a clear channel for your AdHoc network.

  4. Start Reflection
  5. Take your iPad, go to Settings, choose “Network,” and then select the AdHoc Network you created on your MacBook.
  6. Double Press the iPad’s Home Button, or swipe up with four fingers from the bottom of the iPad.  This brings up the quick switcher bar on the iPad.  Swipe the quick switcher bar to the right.  You should see your normal audio controls, plus the AirPlay symbol.  Select the AirPlay symbol, choose your AdHoc connection, and select “Mirror.”  The iPad should appear on your MacBook.

    Connecting the iPad to AdHoc Step 1: Settings, Wi-Fi, Choose the AdHoc Network

    Connecting the iPad to AdHoc Step 2: Double Press Home Button or swipe up from the bottom of the iPad to reveal the quick app switcher

    Connecting the iPad to AdHoc Step 3: Swipe the Quick App Switcher to the right to reveal the audio controls and AirPlay Symbol. The AirPlay symbol will only appear if there is an AirPlay receiver on the network. Did you start Reflection?

    Connecting the iPad to AdHoc Step 4: Press the AirPlay icon, choose the AdHoc Network.

    Connecting the iPad to AdHoc Step 5: Turn mirroring ON. This is also where you disconnect the iPad from mirrorin

  7. Repeat with a number of iPads.  I have found that with a widescreen image, two iPads work well, one in landscape, one in portrait.  From Reflection: “Reflection can handle multiple connections. The exact number will depend on the specs of your computer. More connections can slow a computer considerably because of the CPU power required for mirroring.”

    Two iPads mirrored via AirPlay to a MacBook with Reflection

    Three iPads mirrored via AirPlay to a MacBook with Reflection

  8. Want complete sickness?  If you are running Mountain Lion on a newer Mac (unfortunately, my new school MacBook is limited to Lion by our district, so I cannot demonstrate this), you could also send a MacBook screen via AirPlay to another MacBook running Reflection.
  9. If you have a MacBook and an iPad 2 (or newer), Reflection certainly seems (at least to me) to be a indispensable tool that can make up for a lot of technical shortcomings in a room.  Reflection gives you a fifteen-minute trial period (perhaps multiple sessions)–try it today!
  10. One final thought…if you are planning on using the iPad’s camera feature to project to Reflection as a Document Camera, turn the Auto-Lock feature OFF.  Otherwise your iPad will turn off while you are presenting, and you will have to reconnect the iPad to wireless mirroring.

Now, to mirror to Reflection with Internet, the steps are a little different.

  1. Make sure your MacBook is connected to a projector or large LCD TV.
  2. Make sure your MacBook is connected to your audio.
  3. Make sure your MacBook is connected to a live ethernet connection.
  4. Go to “System Preferences” and then “Sharing.”  Select “Internet Connection,” and when the MacBook asks you if you want to do that, say “yes.”

    Reflection with Internet to iPad Part 1: Go to System Preferences, and then “Sharing”

    Reflection with Internet to iPad Part 2: Choose “Internet Sharing.” All the basics should be already checked (sharing over ethernet to wi-fi).

    Reflection with Internet to iPad Part 3: Choose “Start”

    Reflection with Internet to iPad Part 4: You will note that the AdHoc symbol is different…it now shows that it is sharing Internet.  You can now attach an iPad to this MacBook-generated network, mirror to reflection, and have Internet access.  REMEMBER: you need the MacBook plugged into a live ethernet connection for this to work!

    5. If you find that you wanted to change the name of the Internet Connection, you can do that in the “System Preferences” “Sharing” area, on the lower right hand side.

    Reflection with Internet to iPad Part 5: Changing the Name of the Shared Internet Connection

    Reflection with Internet to iPad Part 6: We’ve seen this box before…with the creation of an AdHoc network. Now it applies to the name of the shared Internet connection.

    6. From this point, go back to the 4th step (starting Reflection) and follow the rest of the AdHoc guide to get iPads mirroring with AirPlay.

    I apologize for the length of this post, because it is actually very easy to set up AdHoc or Shared Internet networks with a MacBook…I just wanted to make sure the pictures supported the text.

    Just in case, I created a video as well.  I used QuickTime, Display Recorder App (no longer available), and iMovie on my MacBook to make the video.



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