HDMI 8x1 switch with auto cycle - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 15 Old 05-03-2013, 02:49 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi All,
Looking for help on setting up a system at work. We presently have 8 flat panel LCD displays that will be driven by a Key Digital 1x8 distribution amplifier. They were all to get the same display from a desktop computer. We want to now send up to eight different HDMI inputs to this single input on the distribution amp. So now all 8 would preferably cycle to a different computer every few seconds, all of them still showing the same image. Is there a device out there that cycles through 8 inputs and sends them out a single HDMI port without someone having to press any buttons?

Thanks in advance,
Matt
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post #2 of 15 Old 05-03-2013, 04:33 PM
 
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What is your budget?

I suspect something in the digital signage world might do this. I also suspect it will be easier to replace your distribution amp with a matrix switch but that would also depend upon the budget.
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post #3 of 15 Old 05-03-2013, 10:57 PM - Thread Starter
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My budget is very big, because they want it to work well. What do you suggest? Keep in mind, the 8 different inputs are of data that is changing. Can digital signage do that? Sometimes it will show call center calls and their time on the phone, then switch to pie charts for the week, then switch to machine uptime, ect.
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post #4 of 15 Old 05-04-2013, 06:50 AM
 
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That makes it easier. I was thinking about it some more this morning and I suspect a better answer is in the security field. The one thing against that is I'm not sure how much of the security infrastructure has moved to HDMI and HD. Last time I looked, it was mostly cheap cameras and composite video ports. But, I'll check this weekend (sometime).

One other idea that is a bit more out-of-the-box...If you got a standard 8x8 matrix switcher ($4K or so) which has an RS-232 port and then connected a small-Linux-type computer (or Windows even) to the RS-232 port, you could do exactly what you wanted. A very small amount of custom code would then cycle each input by issuing the appropriate RS-232 codes to the matrix switcher. You could even have a different part of the cycle going to different displays.

If completely COTS isn't available, that might be a good solution. The biggest cost would be the matrix switcher. The lowest reliability would probably be the small computer but those would be cheap (so you could have spares on-hand).
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post #5 of 15 Old 05-04-2013, 09:38 PM - Thread Starter
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This is what I was thinking, as well. I could write a small program the sends commands out the serial port. What is a good 8X8 switch?

One other idea that is a bit more out-of-the-box...If you got a standard 8x8 matrix switcher ($4K or so) which has an RS-232 port and then connected a small-Linux-type computer (or Windows even) to the RS-232 port, you could do exactly what you wanted. A very small amount of custom code would then cycle each input by issuing the appropriate RS-232 codes to the matrix switcher. You could even have a different part of the cycle going to different displaysys.

Thanks
Matt
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post #6 of 15 Old 05-06-2013, 08:16 AM
 
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Here's an example of one made for digital signage: http://www.digitalsignageconnection.com/muxlab-announces-versatile-multimedia-16-x-16-matrix-switch-443

I think you would still need the little Linux box for the timed switching but you might check with the manufacturer (Muxlab in Quebec) since this one seems very flexible. Muxlab has a good product sheet available but it doesn't say if it will do timed switching.

Joe can tell you if Octava currently has an 8x8 matrix switcher but that is certainly another brand I would look at.

Emergency ops centers need switching capabilities like you described so that may be another place to look for switcher (although I think they would use BNC connectors and not HDMI).
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post #7 of 15 Old 05-07-2013, 02:00 AM
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‘Can digital signage do that?’ – it might be worth looking at a front end for your system.

We have used Scala InfoChannel in the past on similar projects – you can fully integrate the signage with your call management system if required, http://scala.com/

You can distribute centralised sources using a Matrix or similar or install small ‘clients’ out at each Display!

If that approach is not what you require then you need to better define how you want to automate the source selection – you mention the requirement changing, how often and who decides what is the current priority?

Joe

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post #8 of 15 Old 05-09-2013, 06:26 AM
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Gefen Toolbox has an 8x8 HDMI matrix switcher ($2,499 MSRP) that will do what you want. It offers FST which I would consider very important in your setup. Be aware that HDMI switching is never 'instant', so there will be a flicker as things resync in your setup. This may cause you to want to make the time between switches longer.

I would typically throw a control system in place for it. A basic Crestron controller which doesn't draw a ton of power and has bulletproof reliability can be had for under a few hundred bucks on the used market and is designed for exactly this type of purpose. A bit more and it can offer you a control interface to adjust things. If you are comfortable with programming, you can certainly invest the time into developing your own solution, but a Crestron programmer should be able to have something like this up, running, and fully tested in under a day on-site.

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post #9 of 15 Old 05-09-2013, 08:25 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AV_Integrated View Post

Gefen Toolbox has an 8x8 HDMI matrix switcher ($2,499 MSRP) that will do what you want. It offers FST which I would consider very important in your setup. Be aware that HDMI switching is never 'instant', so there will be a flicker as things resync in your setup. This may cause you to want to make the time between switches longer.

I would typically throw a control system in place for it. A basic Crestron controller which doesn't draw a ton of power and has bulletproof reliability can be had for under a few hundred bucks on the used market and is designed for exactly this type of purpose. A bit more and it can offer you a control interface to adjust things. If you are comfortable with programming, you can certainly invest the time into developing your own solution, but a Crestron programmer should be able to have something like this up, running, and fully tested in under a day on-site.

I didn't know either of these could automatically cycle through 8 inputs?? In other words the OP wanted the inputs to automatically go 1, 2, 3...7,8,1,2,3...etc at a set time interval. Are you sure that either of what you mentioned can do this??
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post #10 of 15 Old 05-09-2013, 11:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alk3997 View Post

I didn't know either of these could automatically cycle through 8 inputs?? In other words the OP wanted the inputs to automatically go 1, 2, 3...7,8,1,2,3...etc at a set time interval. Are you sure that either of what you mentioned can do this??

Sorry, with the 'high' budget listed, I was recommending a external controller to go along with the matrix switch so that the switching would be handled by the external controller. I don't think any product does this natively that I've seen, and if it does, it may be far less expensive to have the matrix switcher and the control system in place. You can pick up a used Crestron controller for just a few hundred bucks and have someone program it in a day, so the total for everything may be about $4,000 or so.

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post #11 of 15 Old 05-09-2013, 07:48 PM
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Interesting discussion.

The original post said something about switching every few seconds. Regardless of what controls the switching, it might be a good idea to make sure the requirement and equipment capabilities are well understood. HDMI switching and handshake sometimes takes longer than a few seconds.

Good luck.
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post #12 of 15 Old 05-10-2013, 07:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tomandjudy View Post

Interesting discussion.

The original post said something about switching every few seconds. Regardless of what controls the switching, it might be a good idea to make sure the requirement and equipment capabilities are well understood. HDMI switching and handshake sometimes takes longer than a few seconds.

Good luck.
That most definitely is the case, which means that the original poster needs to be looking for a switcher which supports fast switching technology (FST) which is why I recommended the Gefen model.

I am about to put in a request for a demo unit but I have no hands-on tested how fast it switches yet, so it is not fair for me to say it is 'fast', but certainly a 'fast' HDMI switcher will still take 2-3 seconds to switch.

Most HDMI switchers that do not have FST tend to take 15-30 seconds or more to properly authenticate HDCP, during which time the screen goes blank or often flashes.

Higher end product from Extron and Crestron both have integrated and fully tested HDCP, but will cost a fair bit more than the Gefen solution I proposed above.

Guess I better send in that request for a demo unit so I'm not just talking out my butt on things.

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post #13 of 15 Old 05-10-2013, 12:31 PM
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‘a 'fast' HDMI switcher will still take 2-3 seconds to switch.’ – it ought to be near instantaneous, esp. as the OP was taking about PC’s and most likely he will not be having to deal with HDCP.

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post #14 of 15 Old 05-10-2013, 04:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Fernand View Post

‘a 'fast' HDMI switcher will still take 2-3 seconds to switch.’ – it ought to be near instantaneous, esp. as the OP was taking about PC’s and most likely he will not be having to deal with HDCP.

Joe
HDMI is never instantaneous due to EDID. Even the latest switchers from Extron and Crestron can take a half second to over a second to switch and those are going to be $5,000 models. If resolution is set to match the displays exactly through EDID then it will improve switching times. As well, it depends heavily on the monitor in use as it will still see a input change occur. Unfortunately, HDMI switchers, even with pre-authentication still have a bit of a delay. The only exception to this would be to get a video wall processor with 8 inputs which I haven't priced out, but I would expect to be in the $40,000+ arena... or more. That would certainly provide 100% seamless switching.

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post #15 of 15 Old 05-13-2013, 08:38 AM
 
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Nothing is instantaneous in the digital world. Even component video has a measure of switching delay as the sync signal is realigned and recognized. The key is to reduce the delay as much as possible. Feeding a valid, unchanging EDID to all sources would do that. I think that is what some of the computer programs that alter the EDID attempt to do. So, you can get the delay down for a fairly cheap price but no one is going to be able to offer instantaneous switching. However, getting the delay down to where it isn't bothersome with a switch every xx seconds, I believe would be do-able.

I certainly would rather use a component video switching solution in this case, but the OP didn't ask for that. The OP asked specifically for HDMI.
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