The Custom Integrator Show Installment 022 is live.   We continue our series on HDMI and start into HDMI Extenders.  However, we do get distracted quite a bit at the beginning catching up on other aspects of the industry.  I also apologize for the extreme delay in getting these out.  We recorded this installment a while ago, but I have been tied up with “end of year business” for several projects, which is a good thing.  The next one will be late, also, but then I hope to start getting back on track.


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I guess the first piece of news is that I did get a new article published in the December 2009 issues of Residential Systems Magazine.  It is a quick summary of several of the purchasing criteria one should use when selecting Ethernet switches.  We covered most of them back in Installments 00E and 00F.  I do not get into too much technical detail like how the per-port buffering might affect latency or some of the other aspects like support for the QoS tags, but you can check it out at


We also talk about some of the network bandwidth requirements for high-def streams.  Michael Braithwaite from NetStreams published the following chart as a reference recently and I thought it summarized the situation pretty well.


The required bandwidth denoted in the above table includes approximately 50 Mbps for supporting traffic, such as audio, status, thumbnails, etc.  Obviously, different compression schemes affect this, but it does illustrate why we continuously harp on the need for a high speed and robust network infrastructure with Ethernet switches that can support sustained streaming of UDP traffic like this.

Another point I tend to focus on a little too much sometimes is the storage required for all of this content.  As regular listeners of our Podcast, I am sure you have realized by now that we always must consider putting in media content servers that support multiple terabytes of storage that is expandable as more is needed.  Another interesting graph was produced by The Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) recently as part of one of their webinars on the 2K and 4K standards.


I think it is self explanatory.  As we move into higher resolutions (1080p is so passé already) with more color depth, higher frame rates, and 3-D information in the streams, the bandwidth and storage requirements grow almost logarithmically.  Once again, this definitely is not the first time you have heard this from us.

The last line (the small print) on the new Xbox 360 Dashboard setup screen has an interesting statement that substantiates what we have been saying in our HDMI series we are doing right now.  It may not have kicked in yet, but they are trying to prepare us for what appears to be inevitable – you are going to need an HDCP-compliant HDMI connection to view 1080p streamed content on your Xbox 360.  As we say, component video just ain’t gonna cut it anymore.  Use HDMI.  Period.  It works well if implemented well using the proper equipment and installation techniques.  That is the whole point of this series of Podcasts covering HDMI.  Also notice the minimum requirement of 4 Mb/s downstream on the Internet connection.  It is up to us, as integrators, to see that this is a minimum level of service in place for our clients.


One last thing we touch upon in the Podcast is the Comcast Video Wall at the Comcast Center in Philadelphia, PA USA (not too far from me).  It is awesome if you ever are in town.  Here are just a few of the statistics on it.

  • The largest four-millimeter LED screen in the world
  • 83.3 feet wide by 25.4 feet high
  • 6,771 individual BARCO NX-4 LED modules
  • 10 million pixels of photorealistic clarity
  • Five times the resolution of high-definition television
  • 30% greater resolution than IMAX
  • Each LED module provides a 4000:1 contrast ratio and the ability to reproduce 281 trillion colors

 There also is a lot of information available at  I think it is worth checking out, especially if you do any level of commercial A/V installations.


We do actually get around to starting our discussions on HDMI Extenders.  We mostly talk about the more common Category-based HDMI Extenders, but it is important to note that other solutions are available, too.



   •400 Meters

   •1080p/24, 1080i/60


   •Separate DDC

   •500 Feet


     –DVIGear – ActiveConnect Technology from Gennum chipset manufacturer

     –4 Coax channels with separate power adapters

     –5 Channels for optional power

     –100 Meters



Most of the meat is covered in Installment 023, but here are some of the basics I recommend.  As always, we dive in deeper in the Podcast itself.


•Always use dual CAT-6 cables for any of the current Category-based Extender solutions

•Better performance through CAT-6

     –At 200 feet, the Mask Margin for the Cat’s Eye pattern is better than 14%

•Honeywell CURxE Light Technology (as an example product) is an I2C repeater

•One of the primary goals is to minimize any DDC corruption

     –Normal HDMI implementations use 4.7 K pull up resistors on the 5 V line to allow for a sink of about 1 mA worth of current

     –The good Extender designs drive the DDC lines to about 10 mA using 470 ohm resistors instead

     –They then use clamping gates at the receiver end to drop the DDC levels back to HDMI specs

•Automatic EQ

     –Keeps the rise times under 260 nS no matter what length

     –Allows for rate of change based on cable lengths

     –Poorer implementations extend it to about 1000 nS – which is very bad JuJu (as Jeff Boccaccio would say)


Status LEDs are great diagnostic aids when first bringing up your HDMI Extender solutions.  One thing we always recommend to integrators having trouble with HDMI is to put an Extender solution in-line to see if it resolves the problem.  The good ones regenerate the DDC signals, which eliminates a bunch of variables.  For the Honeywell (and other) products, the status LEDs tell you a lot about the HDMI connection itself.

•One on transmitter – Hot Plug Detect

     –Indicates overall voltage and handshaking

•Three LEDs on the receiver

     –Power Supply indicator

     –Data – Yellow

     –Clock – Blue

•LEDs flash during initial connection

•Stop then start again in about 2 seconds

•Show the HDCP “wiggle” status

•What if no picture or flashing, I2C lines are “wiggling” every two seconds?? – Remember our discussions on how HDCP handshaking works.  These tie directly into that sequence of events.


Once again, the power side of HDMI is critical, especially for the active electronics in the Extenders.


•Look for a wall wart for supplying power at the receiver end

•Run an extra pair of minimum 22 gauge and use Extenders with the ability to power receiver side using that extra pair from the source power supply

•Good designs do not use normal PoE lines because they are used as extra grounds

•Very important – Straight through CAT-6 wiring (although some products recommend differently, but I am not sure why)

Keep an eye out for some new products around March of 2010.  They should alter the HDMI Extender landscape drastically – and you need to have the appropriate wires into place to take advantage of the new technologies.

As mentioned, we dive in deep into Extenders in the next Installment, so please stay tuned.



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