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MrPix

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Everything posted by MrPix

  1. It is a $7.12 part (qty: 100). While it does allow the removal of some HDMI protection, it increases base cost by at least $6. That said..... Yeah, it;s interesting. Question: how do you get the digital signals off the board and to the exterior of the case?
  2. If I may be so bold? The entire purpose of this item is to have a modern implementation of a vintage video IC, with a modern digital output format while remaining economical. HDMI licensing sucks. Big connectors on the PCB suck. A few posts back, someone showed mini HDMI connectors on flex PCBs to use FPC connectors which take up minimal space on the PCB. One elegant solution with a side spin would be to slightly alter the FPGA code to implement DVI instead of HDMI, and design or source a flex PCB FPC DVI connector. This would a) solve the problem, b) fit your technical requirements AND product goals, and C) (this is the big one) you could order thousands of the flex PCBs and offer this as a solution to those caught in the same trap as you. For extra points, you could make it compatible with DVI to HDMI converters. You'd solve your problem, and the same problem for lots of others, you'd make a little money from a much-needed side product that solves this problem for everyone who follows in your footsteps, and you'd have a nice little high volume low margin earner. IMHO.
  3. Not so. HDMI Licensing is assigned all the IP. They are basically the legal firm assigned to protect that legal "bucket" of IP that makes up the protocols, signals and encryption, connectors layer IP. It's common for standards-based IP buckets to be assembled by companies so they can control entire markets legally by offering FRAND licensing. EG: the reason there's no super-cheap plans for hobbyists like us is it wouldn't meet the F of FRAND (Fair, Reasonable And Non-Discriminatory). Any larger company could complain "well how come we're paying X when they only had to pay X/10?"
  4. Remember how the music industry went after music fans? And there choice was "give us $10,000 or we'll sue you and the legal costs alone will be 10x that!" Same deal.It doesn't matter how they win. Their definition of winning is you give them money but they don't really care how much extra it costs you. That is, I think, why the lowest fee is still so high. As soon as the minimum value of the IP you "stole" was $5,000 or $10,000, it's meaningful. In the case of my attorney friend who represented someone in one of these cases, they got around $12k out of court settlement, a signed consent decree and a maybe $5k legal bill. That is one of the cheapest outcomes he's said he's seen as an IP lawyer.
  5. I appreciate the clarification. I always understood there was a good deal of harmonization between US and EU/UK patent law (I'm a Brit) but there is apparently less than I thought. It's reassuring the patents will be expiring while the technology is still relevant. The requirement for HDMI to be ba kwards compatible really works for Matthew in this case. Instead of spending a year redesigning and testing the board, all he needs to do is wait a year!
  6. Patents last for 14 or 20 years. 14 year patents can be renewed 1 time for an additional 14 years. Please remember that patents are issued and enforced by multiple countries. In the US, the relevant patent was requested in 2009, granted in 2012, and expires in 2029 or 32, depending. In the EU it expires in 2026, and again in 2040 if renewed. Generally, design patents are 20 years and technology patents are 14 years. Too many variables and more exceptions than not, though. /I have patents.
  7. They paid the license fee.
  8. Great. We should just wait until 2026, when the key patents expire if not renewed for another 14 years!
  9. Unfortunately, as he and I both know, that won't work. Often there will be many almost identical but incompatible versions with the exact same model number. He hopes to sell this for at least 5 and quite probably 10 years or more. He probably doesn't want to do a lifetime buy, when he doesn't know what the market is.
  10. If you provide the cable that has the HDMI connector on it, you're the final integrator and the license fee is still due. If you provide an HDMI output to a ribbon cable, even provide the ribbon cable, but the end user buys a little FPC to HDMI board off Amazon/eBay, you're definitely in the clear. The problem with the USB-C to HDMI adapters is they are active cables. You would probably need to supply them to make sure they were compatible and worked perfectly with your gear. If end users bought them, it would introduce an element of chance you have no control over, but would get the blame for. Now, if you were to buy the simpler ribbon to HDMI connector and one was to accidentally fall into the box.... Oops... *laughs* The FPC size: components can be shifted, but you're still looking at 590 mils for the 15mm wide part. Your ability to host that comes down entirely to your willingness to invest time in redesigning your board - it could be a LOT more dense. What I'm unsure about is whether the FPC out solution has audio lines on it. It's a style of ribbon cable normally used on tablets/older phones/embedded LCDs. IHMO. YMMV. May contain traces of pre-first-coffee-of-the-day nonsense.
  11. This is not a solution, but it also is. If the adapter card is supplied with the MK18A it is a component, and if the component manufacturer isn't an HDMI licensee (because they're just making components) the final assembler still has to pay the HDMI license fee. However, if he just supplies the MK18A and ribbon cable, and the end user supplies their own FPC to HDMI adapter, he is in the clear and they're not making/selling anything so they are too. This works as a legal solution. As a technical solution, it may work if it can be fitted onto the PCB. That is not for me to decide. This also solves the same problem for *me*... and lets me proceed with a piece of hardware I worked on a couple of eyars ago but did not release for the same reason. Thank you!
  12. Just for clarification: this was also discussed on FB in a retro computing group, which is how I found out about it and why I joined here to reach out to Matthew. The person who PM'd me did so there, but isn't a member of that closed group, so I guess the person came from here and found me on FB. Let's keep it positive and help Matthew solve this little technical problem.
  13. Forgot to link: I found an open source VHDL displayport implementation that works and would give you a complete displayport with FPGA logic, IF you have the gates available... Can't beat free... https://github.com/hamsternz/FPGA_DisplayPort
  14. Hehe, well, yes and no. The chip has some configurability, and will work correctly if you give it an HDMI-type signal that inter-operates with the IC, but doesn't quite meet the specification on some technical ground. That means it is NOT HDMI, but a DVI/HDMI hybrid. Simply having levels out of spec, or lack of protection on the 'HDMI' side of the IC makes it not HDMI. If you don't have an HDMI-licensed socket, and you're using the same differential video signals that DVI and HDMI both use, that sounds really generic. I know you think $5.50 is expensive, but remove the costs of the components you no longer need, plus the avoided cost of licensing per part, and the part costs a minimal amount. All the alternatives (eg: TFP410) are going to be in the similar cost area. The switch I showed you yesterday is the cheapest option, and nicely does passive format conversion from HDMI to DP and you can just ignore the 2nd port by typing it to GND. All it leaves for you to solve is the DP signaling to negotiate the link. The main thing is you have demand for a device with a digital output, and this could get it done. This could be a short product cycle of a couple of hundred units, and then you could either continue if it's working for you, or do a mild redesign for mkIII if you find a better way. At least you don't have to revalidate your entire output stage that way. Also, could people please not PM me with complaints and insults for raising this issue. It's not my fault this has happened. I just alerted Matthew to the potential of risk because he has a right to know what he was getting into. If I knew and said nothing, I would have been partially to blame if they came after him. Even if it is only a one in 20 chance, I think any reasonable person here wouldn't take that risk with their home, retirement, etc. But at least they'd like to make an informed decision - which you can't do unless someone in the know gives you the information. I want Matthew to succeed, and not lose a great deal in the process. So please, stop blaming me. I'm not HDMI Licensing. If I was, I'd be better funded.
  15. More datasheety datasheet - other was just a product brief: https://media.digikey.com/pdf/Data%20Sheets/MegaChips%20PDFs/STDP2600_DS.pdf
  16. Here's an option that could get you back on track quickly: Remove the HDMI connector, protection IC and related circuitry, and replace them with a STDP2600 and mini DisplayPort connector. That keeps it to purely hardware changes. It would all fit without *huge* rework, and should operate with the direct output of the FPGA without any re-coding. Solves every problem you have, including audio, within the space and power envelope. Datasheet: https://www.st.com/resource/en/data_brief/DM00056673.pdf Octopart points to supplies of the part for $5.50 or so - more research could find reliable supplies for less. You could then buy bulk supplies of mini-displayport to HDMI/VGA/etc connectors very economically and then include buyer's choice with the unit for $10 or so, which also gets you a bit of margin on another item to help fund future work.
  17. The prime option seems to be to keep the same signaling and use the mini-displayport connector. That minimizes disruption to the design and reworking of the VHDL... I personally don't think just being hard to reach is a good option. I don't like the idea of having to look over my shoulder for the next several years, and those lawyers do have some exceptional abilities to find people. Apart from that, I like making good products and being able to be reached easily for sales and support - all part of providing good value of service.
  18. I've bought mini-USB connectors from BossConn that were of consistent quality, for use on a wifi dongle. Their SMD ones use a good quality high temperature plastic insert. The PTH ones can't handle reflow temperatures, but that's the natural order of things They're not fly by night. Been a consistent seller through Ali* for 3-4 years at least.
  19. I just did a bit of research. If you don't want to redo your FPGA code but are willing to slightly reshuffle your PCB, this IC is interesting. It's a cross-switch/converter that shifts HDMI to Displayport. It's quite economical too. https://store.ti.com/HD3SS215IRTQR.aspx?HQS=corp-tistore-null-storeinv-invf-store-octopart-wwe
  20. Also, it is hard to turn up lawsuits because they're almost always settled out of court with non-disclosure clauses.
  21. I'd personally prefer DVI-D, using a compact connector. This would allow DVI adaptors to HDMI, SDI, VGA, S-Video, etc etc.... The TFP410 is interesting there. Making the pins into the socket SMD instead of PTH you would free up enough room to use an AD724/AD725 for S-Video too. It's just a shame larger DPRAMs are so ridiculously expensive. They would simplify this a LOT. IMHO.
  22. Well, the desired outcome... Designer is now aware of the problem and may decide to either pay the fee, find a loophole or end-around, or hope to go below the radar. I think it is very sad that they don't have a "prototyping" or "hobbyist" level for a few hundred dollars or less, or a simple $1 per unit fee or something similar. I think it's an anti-competitive market control ploy by the larger signatories. What I really hate is that it is the smaller hardware developers like us that get dinged and have to do a bunch of extra work just to stear clear of legal tar-pits we just don't have the time, skills or inclination to deal with. :/
  23. It's probably too late for that. There's enough mentions of it with the keyword that they will find it, if they haven't already. They're very active. My contact from them happened about two months after I first mentioned publicly that I'd designed an HDMI part. When they contacted me, I had to get an attorney to write them and say, "it was just a proposed prototype that was never sold." They also dropped mention that I was an LLC with no assets, so while not lawsuit-proof I was very lawsuit resistant My attorney did warn me of how aggressive they were, and that his associates had seen someone lose their business for putting HDMI on a retro board. Their IP isn't in the name, but in the physical design of the connectors.
  24. I registered just to give a note of caution: HDMI is regulated by HDMI Licensing, LLC. They're kinda lame. And when I say kinda lame, what I mean is "you wish you'd picked a fight with the Russian mob instead." The license fee is $10,000 to per year, plus $0.15c per unit. They will go after your home, your car, everything you own. They seem to get great delight in going after hobbyists. They will utterly destroy your life if you release a product with an HDMI, mini HDMI or micro-HDMI connector on it. In my designs I use a non-HDMI connector, then supply a licensed HDMI cable that has been modified. DVI is HDMI minus DHCP, but the standard connector is too bulky. Good luck!
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