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DIY HDMI Matrix Switcher - Sanity Check


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#1 roussell

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 10:07 PM

True multi-way HDMI matrix switchers are crazy expensive so I've thought about the possibility of creating my own from a collection of HDMI splitters and switchers. My requirements are as follows:

5 sources to start, more later 8 max
9 HDTVs, possibly more later
RS-232 Serial control

So, what I've come up with is a combination of 5 Monoprice 1x16 8206 HDMI splitters, and 9 Monoprice 8x1 4067 HDMI switchers with rs-232 control, oh yeah and about 50 HDMI cables to interconnect the two. The "system" would have the capability to expand to 8 inputs and 16 outputs by adding the appropriate number of splitters, switchers and cables.

All total this would be about $1,700 - pretty expensive - but thousands less than a 'true' HDMI matrix switch. My question is - what are the odds of it working? On paper it seems like it would but I'd love to hear if anybody else has tried something like this and their results. Below is a Visio diagram of the spaghetti. BTW, all of the sources, splitters, switchers and interconnect cables would be contained safely in a rack with the cables being as short as possible. Long HDMI cables or HDMI extenders would carry the signal from each switcher to the TVs.

Terry

Attached File  DIY HDMI Matrix Switcher.png   64.83K   99 downloads

Edited by roussell, 04 May 2012 - 10:12 PM.


#2 JoshFerg

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Posted 05 May 2012 - 12:09 AM

Wow, I counted over 60 hdmi cables on your visio diagram.

I would be skeptical that it would work with a source requiring hdcp.

If you do go this route, make sure all your TVs the same resolution.

$1700 is still a big investment. Have you considered getting a true 4x4 matrix? It may be a little more expensive, but in the same ballpark...

#3 roussell

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Posted 05 May 2012 - 08:05 AM

Heeey, it's only 59 hdmi cables! :blink:

Yeah, I'm skeptical too, that why I wanted all of CT to see it... Both the splitters and the switcher are hdcp compliant, so assuming that the splitter can:
1. actually split the signal 16 ways (capacity of the splitter), and 2. devices on 'output' side of the splitter can be turned on & off without affecting the outer outputs then the splitter should be fine. Now for the switching side, as long as a correct signal goes into the inputs, and it correctly handshakes with the output when switched, then that should be fine. I'm working under the assumption that both of these devices would work fine by themselves, the big question is will they work together? I suppose I'll have to order at least 2 or 3 splitters and switches with cables to test. I'll probably need to throw in a couple of long HDMI output cables to test that part of the loop as well. This is for a new home we're building so I have a little time to test before I must commit to something.

Good point about the resolution, but yeah all the TVs currently exist and they're all 1080p.

How would I achieve 5in-9out with a 4x4 matrix? The only way I can see would involve multiple matrix switches and splitters so I think I'd end up in a similar boat. The mass of wires will be ugly, but assuming it works - they'll all be color-coded, labeled, and secured inside a 19" rack with the other AV and HA gear so I'm not too concerned about the quantity of signal paths, as long as it works.

BTW, to switch everything I plan on using an Arduino or similar to track state and tie into the 9 switch serial ports. Indigo (my HA environment) will then communicate with the Arduino to provide a user interface for the assembly.

Thanks for your input!
Terry

#4 Frederick C. Wilt

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Posted 06 May 2012 - 09:37 AM

Does monoprice have a matrix switch anywhere near this size?

To compare price I think you would have to stick with the same brand.

I will be most interested to see if this works - glad it's your money and not mine. :D

#5 roussell

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Posted 06 May 2012 - 10:28 AM

Monoprice has a couple of 4x4 Matrix switches, but that's all I could find. It would be cool if Monoprice would assemble this for me to see if it works before I bought it, but they probably have other things to do.... It's one of those things that looks like it should work - but quite another to drop $1,700 on it to see if it actually will work, I'm treading through dangerous WAF territory with this one. :blink: It irritates me that matrix switchers are SO expensive when inside at their core they're doing the same thing as my spaghetti matrix above... :angry2:

Terry

#6 Frederick C. Wilt

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Posted 06 May 2012 - 03:49 PM

I really have no idea if it would work BUT it would seem if the setup you have shown is, in essence, the functional equivalent of a matrix switch then a self-contained all-in-one matrix switch should be cheaper. Now Monoprice doesn't have one so we have no idea what they would charge. But the switches I see ARE much more expensive and perhaps they need to be to actually work as intended.

I understand the desire to spend no more then needed but this seems like a real gamble - if it doesn't work then you are out a chunk of change and STILL need to spring for the matrix switch. Unless there is a ready market on ebay, etc for the units from your "experiment".

Good luck!

#7 znelbok

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Posted 06 May 2012 - 07:41 PM

what about EDID (i think thats the right term), how is that covered?

What happens when the connected device is connected to a 720p TV and a 1080p Tv at the same time?

matrix switchers (from my understanding) handle this.

have a listen to this podcast for more info on HDMI Matrix swtitchers.

http://thedigitallif...nstallment-030/

Mick

#8 Work2Play

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Posted 07 May 2012 - 01:15 AM

Wow! That's a LOT of HDMI!!!

I don't have the info in front of me now, but there are a lot of great new products on the horizon right now - ones that let you add almost unlimited sources and unlimited endpoints, all switched like IP over standard Cat5 cables.

As mentioned above - the place where you're likely to suffer nightmares, and possibly divorce, are problems with EDID. Pro products have workarounds for this.

If I find the better info in the next few days for products, I'll suggest some - they may not be $1700, but they'll hopefully work!

BTW, does that $1700 include the cost of 59 HDMI cables? :blink:

#9 roussell

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Posted 07 May 2012 - 08:07 AM

All of the TVs are existing - and they're all 1080p so I don't think I'd have to be concerned with EDID. I've noticed that although ShinyBow 8x8 HDMI HDCP compliant matrix switches retail for about $3,400, the street price seems to be around $2k so that's an option. I'd have to split one of the outputs to feed two TVs simultaneously (MBR/Mbath) but that's not a big deal, so I may go that route.

@Work2Play - The $1700 has 50 3' monoprice HDMI cables included to get a ballpark number, but does not include the 9 'long' cables need to get from the spaghetti matrix to the TV's (I'd have to buy those with any solution so I left those out.)

I have noticed those distributed HD-over-IP products in the more recent Cepro magazines. One that comes to mind is "www.JustAddPower.com" which is a stupid name and reminds me of those "I hang TVs.com" commercials I see on the local morning news. The product seems decent though, and I like that it's distributed so I'll probably dig into that a little more.


The mad-scientist in me still wants to build the spaghetti matrix (i like that name too), but if I can source a reasonably priced true matrix switch, then I'll most liekly go that route. I don't mind paying x2 over what the spaghetti matrix would cost, but there's no way in h3!! I'm dropping 10-15K on a box to route Disney movies and Myth Busters through my house.

Since all of the TV's have IP control (they're all Samsung smartTVs) and 4 HDMI inputs each. I had also considered just putting an x-way splitter on the the output of each source (the top portion of the spaghetti matrix) and sending the signals through multiple HDMI cables to the TVs. However considering the price of splitters and long HDMI cables (or HDMI over Cat6 converters) what I'd probably to is buy 6 more Apple TVs (have and stick them behind the TVs with the DirecTV box. Doing that I just really be splitting the BluRay and maybe a PC or game console. So then the HDMI inputs on the back of each TV would be filled accordingly:

HDMI 1: Local DirecTV
HDMI 2: Local AppleTV2
HDMI 3: Remote Blu-Ray (from remote HDMI splitter)
HDMI 4: Remote something else

The only down side there is I still have to rent 8 DTV receivers (the 9th is a DTV DVR) so over time the extra rental cost would justify an extra HDMI run for remote, split and shared DTV receivers (we could get buy with 3 total, so a savings of 6 rentals).

BTW, the goal for this endeavor is to i) reduce DTV receiver rentals and ii)have only a TV at each location (at least only a TV visible, with the devices stuffed behind)

How far have people run good quality HDMI cables? I'm still waiting on a copy of the hose plans but I don't think the'll be a run over 50 feet. Is that doable? I was looking at the monoprice 22AWG 50 footers, but also noticed they go up to 100' - is that just asking for trouble?

Terry

Edited by roussell, 07 May 2012 - 08:15 AM.


#10 jautor

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Posted 14 May 2012 - 09:48 AM

I personally wouldn't recommend this - especially with long HDMI cable runs after all the pasta... I think you'll need HDMI extenders for those runs. Long cables after cheap splitters and cheap switches just sounds like a migraine in your future.

But take a step back, you've touched on it in your last post. You're spending a crap-load of money to distribute DirecTV, $99 AppleTV and <$75 Blu-ray content. Yes, D* boxes are $6/month, so 8 of them does add up. So maybe there's a middle ground.

While the 'local' sources may be the best solution for some areas, keeping them central does still have its advantages. Perhaps you can split up your arrangement to a pair of 4x4 switches, then either splitting the sources, or duplicating them for better scale. The only downside to this is that you can't "broadcast" the same image to all sets at the same time in perfect sync.

So maybe add another Apple TV, and then arrange them like this:

4x4 Matrix #1: DirecTV #1 (split), DirecTV #2, AppleTV #1, BD Player #1
4x4 Matrix #2: DirecTV #1 (split), DirecTV #3, AppleTV #2, BD Player #2

If you arrange the displays on each matrix so they're "grouped" together for likely sharing of sources / simultaneous viewing, you may never even notice the cheat...

Good luck!

Jeff

#11 wuench

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Posted 14 May 2012 - 10:03 AM

You need to be careful with those IP based solutions. HDMI requries a lot of dedicated bandwitdth, so those solutions have a lot of special requirements. It's not just pluggin them into your current network.

#12 mdesmarais

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Posted 15 May 2012 - 07:23 AM

Some guys I know started ZeeVee to solve this kind of problem- http://www.zeevee.com/products . Not sure about the costs, as I haven't been around it much since it morphed into a more commercial model, but to start off they were pretty reasonable.

Edited by mdesmarais, 15 May 2012 - 07:24 AM.


#13 Work2Play

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Posted 15 May 2012 - 10:01 AM

I've generally heard 50ft is about the max for HDMI without active repeaters. In fact, just talking to my neighbor - best buy sold him 2 25ft cables and a coupler for like $400, and they didn't work. He returned them and found a single 50ft for $40 and said it's been perfect.

and to Wuench's point, yes - video eats a ton of bandwidth; it generally is best to separate the networks to give them their own equipment.

JustAddPower was one I had looked at previously - decided to look into it more closely. What an interesting concept - I'd love to see it in action. Basically, each source requires its own VLAN on the network. When the source is transmitting, it's doing multicast transmission, basically flooding that VLAN with traffic. The receiver watches for this broadcast traffic on whatever VLAN it's attached to and displays what it sees. The way the video switching is handled is via some sort of interface with the switch that scripts changing a port's VLAN, changing what broadcasts it's seeing. This of course requires a compatible switch that can have a port's vlan changed quickly via some sort of script, typically via rs232.

#14 sic0048

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Posted 16 May 2012 - 09:26 AM

WOW!

My only suggestion would be to drop the HDMI requirement completely. You can easily broadcast HDTV and audio over component cables. There are switchers in the capacity you need and they are a fraction of the cost of a HDMI switcher. You could probably even buy a used switcher off EBay for very cheap. EDIT - here is a 16x16 RGBHV switcher with audio on EBay for $275. http://www.ebay.com/...c#ht_500wt_1202

It takes more cable to get the signals to the TVs (ie up to 5 component cables for each TV - 3 for video and 2 for audio), but you can also run those wires much further than HDMI without signal loss. With component video, you also don't have to worry about all the EDID and hand shaking that HDMI requires.

In other words, save yourself a lot of time, money, and stress and do this with component video instead of HDMI. The end results will be the same, but the process will be much easier.

Edited by sic0048, 16 May 2012 - 09:29 AM.


#15 roussell

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Posted 16 May 2012 - 06:34 PM

Thanks for the replies everyone - I've been covered up at work for the past few days so haven't had a chance to check in:

@Jauter
I like your idea of 2 4x4 Matrix switches, I may explore that further.

@wuench
I don't have a standard network by any stretch - I'm a former Cisco ccie and I've got a spare Catalyst 2960 that I'd dedicate to video distribution if I went the IP route. Although I'd most likely completely isolate this traffic on it's own net, I do already have vlans that separate HA related traffic, voip, normal traffic, etc. Good point to consider though.

@mdesmarais
Thanks for the link to the ZeeVee products - looking at 'em now.

@work2play
It looks like I'd only have 1 40-50 foot run, the rest would be in the 25-30 range. The HD over IP stuff is really interesting, I'd love to actually see it in action too.

@sic0048
I would LOVE to drop HDMI and go with component, however that would mean finding a solution to the HDMI-only output of the AppleTVs (don't recommend Sage, just sold it all) and giving up certain DirecTV and Blu Ray content that is only offered in 1080p and not available over component (yeah, I know that component CAN do 1080p, I also know it's not ALLOWED through DTV and BR - Thanks Hollywood...) Besides that the AppleTVs have a VERY high WAF.


The more I think about it, it may be more economical to simply velcro an AppleTV and DirecTV box to the back of each TV. I was consumed with eliminating monthly rentals where possible, but at $6/month/each for the DTV rentals it will take about 5 years + to offset the price of a centralized distribution system and who know what kind of coolness they'll have out then. I can always split & distribute the BluRay player, or just rip and store on iTunes and distribute via the ATVs like I do now with regular DVDs.

SO, as much as I'd like to build the spaghetti matrix, I think I'll drop it for now. I will prewire for multiple types of distributed video though - just in case.

Terry




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