Analog Sunset

We should all be aware that the days of using analog outputs of Blu-ray players to get around the HDMI HDCP protection is coming to an end.

Any new Blu-Ray player announced after January 1st 2011 will only output HD video via HDMI — players that started shipping last year can still be sold until the end of this year though. If you just love component video, you might think you’ll be able to get a player today and continue to enjoy it for years to come, but that may not work out either. The studios also have an Image Constraint Token (ICT) which when set on a title will tell every and all Blu-ray players to down convert analog output to 540p. The only reprieve is that if it is set on a title, it must be marked on the box, and of course it can’t be retroactively set (any title you own now will continue to play exactly the same way it does on your existing players)

Via Engadget

Extron has a White Paper that explains all of this in more detail.  I’ll post a link to that when I can.


MaximumPC (January 2011) has an article on a new connection standard, HDBaseT.  It’s a single Ethernet cable that can provide HDMI, power, and data 100 meters.  It’s interesting to see how they knock down the data rate of HDMI from 10.2Gb/s to around 8 by skipping the error correction process which they say accounts for almost 3Gb/s of bandwidth. 

“… [pulse-amplitude modulation] functions in the same basic manner as in gigabit and 10-gigabit Ethernet and uses the same cables, HDBaseT follows a proprietary modulation scheme.  Only the physical cables are used, not the underlying Ethernet packet structure.  Even HDBaseT’s 100Mb/s Ethernet gets encoded in this way, although an HDBaseT port can revert to plain Ethernet, skipping HDMI and other features if you accidentally (or deliberately) plug into a traditional Ethernet network.  HDBaseT uses its own physical switches, too.”

Something to be aware of, the article says the standard was designed to span 100 meters because that’s what Ethernet’s established limits are, you can cascade 5 active switches to get 500 meter, BUT (big BUT) “Content providers also get a say in your distance; an optional setting could keep you to 100 meters total so you don’t broadcast Blu-ray movies to the neighbors.  [The Alliance] says hardware could activate the restriction based on a DRM flag embedded in the content.”

So when the time comes and we start implementing this stuff don’t assume you can cascade switches.  DRM comes into play here and can limit us to 100 meters (or less?) if the content provider wants.

Great Videos – No Fuss looks like a great site. The company I work for used it for one of their presentations. If you look at all the examples you’ll see that it makes videos that have a modern feel, get your point across, and can be used for a variety of different applications. I can’t wait to get some time to put some photos on there and see what it can do. Maybe I’ll have Apartment 3 Media buy a subscription so we can get the added benefit of the songs and no branding.

Android SDK

I’m installing the Google Android SDK as I type. I can’t wait to dive in and see what I can come up with. I know I have a lot of ideas on my plate. LISA & automation system integration are among the top of the programs I want to work on; but first, “Hello World!”

Legos are the greatest…

LEGO is the greatest engineering platform.  I have two projects in mind utilizing these wonderful toys.  One of them is a CD/DVD duplicator arm.  I want to create a device that does not rely on software to drive the arm mechanism creating a platform/software independent mechanism for delivering blank disks from a spindle to the CD/DVD drive and then pulling off the spent media.  This mechanism can also be used for bulk ripping of my DVD collection.  The action of the CD drawer opening will trigger the arm to pull the disk out of the drive, drop it on the spent media spindle, and then grab a fresh disk and put it in the drive.  The arm will then trigger the button to close the disk drive.

The LEGO interlocking bricks come in handy for this task because they have adapter plates for servos, switches, and gears that can attach to standard LEGO bricks..  All the pieces are made to fit together and if you need something special, you can drill or melt a piece to do a custom job.