Once this KickStarter campaign finishes, you'll be able to find the latest information about HDMIPi here...
You'd think that, with the massive growth in tablet computing, it should be an easy matter to...
- get hold of a small high-definition (HD) screen
- connect it to an HDMI driver board
- hook that up to your Raspberry Pi (or other HDMI device).
Sadly, it's not quite that simple at all, or we'd all have done it already.
The Raspberry Pi can display full HD (1920x1080). You can buy a full-size monitor at that resolution, but that's not what we're about. We're looking for something small and portable. That's where it gets a bit tricky.
There are very few small, portable, HDMI screens available on the market. Most of the ones out there have 800x480 or 800x600 pixels. These are largely aimed at professional photographers and videographers (with a price tag to match!)
Some sellers are a little bit sneaky, making you think their screens are HD because they have HDMI connections. HDMI is the High-Definition Multimedia Interface, not the screen itself. They scale down the resolution to fit the number of pixels. And most of these screens sell for way over £100 ($150). I think that's giving too little and taking too much.
I want a screen that's both HD and HDMI. I want to HD MI Pi. But I can't do it on my own.
I'm partnering with Dave Mellor from Cyntech in this 50:50 joint venture. I'll tell you more about Dave and Cyntech in a minute. Let me first tell you a bit more about HDMIPi...
Originally we wanted to bring you a Full HD (1920x1080) screen, but sadly they are very expensive.
After many rounds of enquiries, Dave has managed to source a 9 inch 1280x800 screen. That's exactly the same screen resolution as the original Nexus 7 tablet, but with a 9" screen. This is slightly better resolution than the 720p HD footage on BBC iPlayer.
The First Prototype
We managed to persuade some very skilful guys to prepare a prototype interface using a standard controller board and hand soldering wires to a 51-way ribbon cable.
We originally wanted two of these, but they begged us not to make them do another since the first one was so hard to do!
This controller board is twice the size of a Raspberry Pi because it contains all sorts of stuff we don't want, like VGA.
For HDMIPi, we're updating an existing HDMI controller board design. It will be much smaller (less than half this one) and easier to connect, using standard ribbon connectors (like in your laptop). We have a prototype of this.
A new 40 pin version of our chosen screen was released, which lets us use this much smaller controller board.
But we still need to customise it to exclude the unnecessary, bulky parts. Dave will be taking the lead on revising this board in preparation for manufacturing.
Volume is the key to pricing
To get these screens and modified HDMI controller boards for an acceptable price, we have to buy 1000 units or more.
So we thought we'd "ask the audience" if it's something you actually want before committing several tens of thousands to the project.
The goal is to raise enough funds to be able to...
- modify the HDMI driver board and design enclosures,
- order 1000 screens,
- order 1000 custom-made HDMI driver boards,
- order 1000 'PIBOWesque' enclosures.
This is the only way we will be able to drive down the price to the level we want it to be at.
People are asking for this
We're pretty sure there's a demand for this. We see regular comments in forums from people "looking for a small HDMI screen". Here's a recent one from the Raspberry Pi forums.
Here's one from October 29 on Google+
HDMIPi is designed specifically with the Raspberry Pi in mind. The plastic surround is still at the concept stage, but we are aiming to bring you the option to mount both Raspberry Pi and the HDMI controller board within it, and if possible, space for a battery. We envisage a 'PIBOWesque' picture-frame style surround.
We're partnering with Paul Beech from Pimoroni for this part of the project. Paul is the designer of the iconic Raspberry Pi logo and the Pibow case.
The Raspberry Pi logo is a registered trademark of the Raspberry Pi Foundation. It's shown here as an example of Paul's superb design work.
The Raspberry Pi Foundation has not endorsed the HDMIPi, but they have seen the first prototype in action last week when I visited. Actually Liz Upton tweeted a photo of it in its blue, home-made travel case...
Here are the prototype setups
You can clearly see how the prototype 1 HDMI board is twice the size of the Pi, but prototype 2 is very slightly bigger than a Pi. The screens are identical apart from the ribbon connector.
Nexus 7 Comparison
Here's a shot of the HDMIPi screen and a 2012 Nexus 7, which has the same 1280x800 screen resolution. Both are playing Big Buck Bunny, synchronised as closely as I could manage....
The Raspberry Pi GUI
HDMIPi displays the LXDE "windows-like" GUI really nicely too in 1280x800 mode.
Programming in Python
It also displays beautifully clear, readable text for programming.
Raspberry Pi Camera
Here's a photo of HDMIPi prototype being used with my RasPiCamcorder, shooting a close-up video of a Raspberry Pi.
And here's a close-up of just the screen during that shot. It's a bit "reflecty" in the top-left, but if I'd turned the lights off, the RasPiCamcorder wouldn't have worked. This gives you a feel for how beautifully sharp the HDMIPi High Definition screen really is.
What else can HDMIPi be used for?
Anything that can use an HDMI screen. For example...
- Digital SLR cameras (see this DSLR YouTube video)
- Video cameras
- Additional screen for laptop or other computer (see laptop YT video)
- Phone or tablet with MHL capability (see YT video with MHL adaptor)
- DVD or BluRay player
- X-Box or PlayStation
- Point-of-sales displays
What's in the kit?
HDMIPi will ship as an easy to assemble kit. This avoids the need for CE/FCC approvals, which helps keep the final cost down.
The HDMIPi kit will contain:
- 1280x800 LCD
- HDMI controller board, with ribbon cable to connect to LCD
- a Pibowesque plastic surround to keep it in
Once you receive your HDMIPi, you'll simply need to put the LCD in the surround, add and connect the HDMI controller board, add your Pi (optional) and start using it. The LCD will require a 12V supply (included in HDMIPi extra and deluxe rewards).
Timetable for development
It usually takes a couple of weeks after a campaign finishes for the KickStarter funds to come through.
Once they do, we will go ahead with:
- getting the modified HDMI controller board made
- design of the Pibowesque surround holding it all together
Then the LCD screens and modified HDMI controller boards will be ordered.
So a rough idea of the timetable is as follows...
KS campaign finish 30 November 2013
+2 weeks until the funding arrives ~ 16 December 2013
+4 weeks board re-engineering & surround design/development ~ 13 January 2014
+4 weeks screens, boards & surrounds to us ~ 10 February 2014
+2 weeks kitting and shipping ~ 24 February 2014
Where will HDMIPi be made?
The screen will be made in China
The surround will be designed and made in the UK by Pimoroni
The controller board design modifications will be done in the UK and production will be in China. But we would like to bring this manufacture to UK if at all possible.
More about us
Clear Instructions That Work First Time
There are a couple of tweaks that will make using a small, high resolution screen an excellent experience. Things like; forcing the right HDMI mode for 1280x800; enabling sound at this mode; changing console font sizes in LXDE and the login console. These are all easy to do, once you know how.
Full instructions to get the best out of your HDMIPi will be provided. This is an area where RasPi.TV excels - it's a big part of what we're all about.
I want to HD MI Pi. If you back this project, you can HD yours too.
At 200% funding we gave you a thank you present by committing to a zero pixel defect class A LCD.
At 300% funding (£165,000) we announced these stretch goals...
If we hit £200,000 funding, we will add a 5.2V USB source to the HDMI driver board so you can power your Pi or other USB device from it.
If we hit £210,000 funding (and stay above it), we will add a short USB-A to micro-USB noodle cable. This can be used to power the Pi from the HDMIPi board. (It's different from the one in the top rewards.)
We also announced some case colour options...
£165,000 unlocks White - UNLOCKED 15 November
£175,000 unlocks Raspberry Pink - UNLOCKED 18 November
£185,000 unlocks Blue - UNLOCKED 20 November
£195,000 unlocks Black - UNLOCKED 22 November
£200,000 unlocks Toxic Fluorescent Yellow (and onboard USB Pi Power.) - UNLOCKED 23 November
£210,000 unlocks a short USB-A to micro-USB noodle for all rewards which include the HDMIPi screen UNLOCKED 25 November
£240,000 unlocks a short HDMI to HDMI lead for all rewards which include the HDMIPi screen. UNLOCKED 29 November
Risks and challenges
Dave has 25 years' experience in the electronics industry in project management and supply chain management. He and Cyntech have been working with and visiting numerous manufacturers from all over the world and always look to mitigate supply chain risk based on a strict quality vs price consideration.
We've selected a fairly new screen model to minimise the chance of it going "end of life" within the next couple of years. Even if we face this prospect we can overcome any mechanical and electrical issues using existing technologies and processes.
Cost creep. Everything is being done to bring the cost down to make the HDMIPi a reasonable price. Cost creep is always a risk, but by working with our known, audited suppliers and by manufacturing as much of the finished product in house, we fully expect to be able to deliver as per our expectations.
Delay. Unforeseen events happen. But Dave and Cyntech have many years' experience in manufacturing and supply of electronics. This should help reduce the chances of delays and minimise the likelihood of unforeseen issues. We are not re-inventing the wheel here - just making it at a lower cost without the spinners.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)