HDMI doubts

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I got many e-mails from people who want to use A13-OLinuXino as home multimedia center and intend to port different media players on it. All they ask can Olimex add HDMI to this board???

I did a little research and actually there are cheap HDMI transceivers which could take the LCD-RGB signals and convert them to HDMI.

One of these ICs is SIL9022A for instance, it seems perfect and we could easily build HDMI shield with it which to connects to the GPIO connector where the LCD signals are present and to make easy connection with HDMI TVs and other appliances.

Silicon Image, the company which produce SIL9022A is very skinny on datasheet and info for this IC though.

I did request info about it and this is what I got as reply:

To provide you with the requested data it is essential to get more detailed information regarding your project.
The whole documentation is under NDA. Please find attached the NDA-Request. Please fill out very carefully.
The most important information are those of the project. After receiving the filled NDA-Request will we forward it to the manufacturer who will generate the data and the agreement.
For using the requested ICs is it binding to be a HDMI licensee. This licensing is related to a yearly fee of 10.000US$ for HDMI-Membership.
The procedure will be directly executed by the HDMI organization. Further information can be found by the help of the following links: http://www.hdmi.org/

So if we have to build the HDMI shield we will have to pay $10 000 yearly fee to may buy the chips 😎

For A10 processor which have build-in HDMI I guess this licensee is paid by the SoC vendor i.e. Allwinner, as there is no requirement to have HDMI membership in order to buy these processors and make something with them.

So we may drop the idea for HDMI output for A13 and leave the HDMI output for the next A10-OLinuXino which we will develop after we finish with A13 😉

EDIT-18.05.2012:

After posting this article I did some more search for HDMI transcievers, TDA9981 seems to be similar to SIL9022A and about same price (well a little bit up) but the datasheet is free to download, so I upload on OLinuXino  GitHub repostory and we are about to make one prototype and test if it works correctly, then prepare the A13-HDMI-SHIELD.

I’m still puzzled why Silicone Image have this weird policy to not allow development with their IC if you first do not pay HDMI organization membership, this stops all small volume projects for sure, but it’t their choice, fortunately for us there are also Analog Devices, NXP and many others who offer similar solutions.

EDIT 21.05.2012:

I’m just looking CH7009B datasheets http://www.chrontel.com/products/7009.htm
it have both DVI and analog RGB video, so will be possible to implement both HDMI without sound (as DVI and HDMI encoding is same) + VGA with one single chip

This may be the best approach as DVI have no royalties, and we will be able to make resolutions 1980x1080p via DVI and 1024x768p by VGA

Can Open Source desing be COPYRIGHT?

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I admit I confused these two not long time ago, and because I guess many others may be also confused and mix these things I will try to explain what I learned about it.

I still do remember August 2011, there were few months since we launched our Open Source Hardware design Pinguino and I got e-mail from customer of ours in Australia who pointed me to some Australian blogger who also does some online electronics talk show on his web site.

So this guy IIRC his name was Dave was commenting our Pinguino design, well actually it was hard to tell he was commenting, as he was yelling around 10 minutes and as English is not my native language I was able to catch just some words like: “shame” , “olimex”, “open source”, “copyright?!?”.

What Dave was very annoyed was the fact that we put COPYRIGHT(C) text on our board silkscreen next to OSHW logo and according to him this is mutually exclusively i.e. Open Source Hardware Design can’t have COPYRIGHT message at all.

Well I will admit I was not open source nor licensee expert so I was confused for a while too.

SO I told our developers to put “DESIGNED BY” instead of “COPYRIGHT” to our new projects which we release under Open Source Hardware Licensee. There were not so many Open Source Hardware designs to take as reference anyway and on Arduino Board (which is still most popular Open Source Hardware design)  was written “Designed in Italy” so I assumed this is the correct way to do it.

Recently we finish STM32-H407 board and I got in touch with Garry Bulmer, we start discussing these issues and he explained to me what is the connection with Copyright and Open Source, which I accept as it have quite logic in it.

Garry said: When you design or develop something as an AUTHOR you have the COPYRIGHT on this, PERIOD.

Then you as COPYRIGHT owner can LICENSEE this product of yours under whatever LICENSEE you want i.e. GPL, BSD, CC-BY etc.

You CAN’T LICENSEE something under any terms IF you are not the author who have the COPYRIGHT.

Thinking logically this is perfectly true.

That you create something which you release under Open Source Licensee do not waive your COPYRIGHT as AUTHOR of the project. So it’s perfectly OK you as Author and Copyright holder to put on your products the COPYRIGHT text even if you licensee it under Open Source Licensee.

If you want your product to be closed source you can write “COPYRIGHT(C) 2012 by YOURNAME Ltd, All rights reserved” this means you have the rights for this product and one want to licensee it have to contact you and to negotiate the licensee terms under which you will licensee the product to him.

If you want to create Open source project and licensee it under Creative Commons Share-Alike Licensee you can put on your board: “COPYRIGHT(C) 2012 by YOURNAME Ltd, released under CC-SA-3.0 Open source licensee” and this will be enough.

In both cases the COPYRIGHT text identify you as the AUTHOR and COPYRIGHT holder of this design, but this is not in conflict with the fact that in second case you Licensee your work under open source licensee terms.

NOTICE: I’m not lawer and this is just my point of view, your comments are welcome!