Nov 212013

Yet another post about HDMIPi? I hear you groan. Well, yes. I’m afraid so. But this may well be one of the last before the HDMIPi Kickstarter campaign ends at the end of November. If you read it, you’ll find out why. (Executive summary: going to Hong Kong and China next week).

If you haven’t yet heard of HDMIPi, it’s a 9″ Affordable HDMI screen Kickstarter project I’ve set up as a joint venture with Cyntech.

The rest of this post is pretty much swiped from this update page (which I wrote, so it’s my material).

HDMIPi Mega Update

This is called “Mega Update” for two reasons…

  • It’s a lengthy update
  • We’ve added a new top level reward called HDMIPi Mega (more on that in a minute)

Unlocked Stretch Goals

We’re delighted to have been able to unlock three case colour stretch goals in the last week; White (£165k), Raspberry Pink (£175k) and Blue (£185k) as well. Black is next (£195k) and then Toxic Yellow (£200k).

We’re now getting within sight of the finishing line, with nine and a bit days to go. We’d really like to be able to blow through our £200,000 stretch goal and bring you the onboard 5.2V USB “Pi Power” port, as well as all the extra case colour options along the way.

So please keep telling people about HDMIPi on Twitter, Facebook, web sites, forums etc. is a good URL to promote because it’s short and easy to remember. Thank you for spreading the word. :) I’ve also set up @HDMIPi as a Twitter account specifically for HDMIPi.

Audit Suppliers Trip to HK/China

Dave and I are going to Hong Kong and China next week to visit our HDMIPi suppliers and potential suppliers. Sadly we’ll be away for the close of the KickStarter campaign (it’ll be 0700 Sunday morning 1st December Hong Kong time, 11pm 30th November UK time).

We should still have internet access while we’re away, but updates and my usual lightning-fast replies to your comments and messages may be a bit delayed. I also gather that Twitter, Google and YouTube are blocked in China, but… we’ll see ;)

This is a new thing for me, but Dave’s been through this process several times. It should help to ensure that we have a good supply chain and help to avoid problems and delays in bringing you your HDMIPi.

New Reward Level – HDMIPi Mega

We’ve added a new top level reward, HDMIPi Mega (£160). It’s the same as the deluxe package, but with the following additions…

Quite a few people have already upgraded, leaving some gaps in the lower rewards, which you may be able to snap up, if you’re sharp-eyed and quick-fingered.

Touchy Subject

We’ve had a good look at both capacitive and resistive touch. We have mixed news for all you touch lovers out there…

Capacitive Touch

Capacitive touch (like on your smartphone or iPad) would…

  • greatly increase the cost of HDMIPi,
  • massively increase its complexity,
  • delay its release,
  • change its character completely away from being an affordable Hi-Def HDMI screen for the Raspberry Pi.

We don’t rule it out as a potential future project, but capacitive touch is not going to happen in this iteration of HDMIPi. But keep reading…

Resistive Touch

Resistive touch is still under investigation and looks hopeful. We have samples of a resistive touch overlay that works just like a touchpad in Windows/Linux x86. We’re pressing the manufacturers to provide ARM6 Linux drivers that will unlock its full functionality for the Raspberry Pi. We’re planning to visit them next week, if we can.

If we can get the drivers sorted out (and I see no good reason why we couldn’t) we could make this available as a bolt-on extra.

It’s not quite as good as capacitive, but it might meet some people’s need for touch.

Time may have beaten us though

We may have a chance to fully work this through before the end of the KickStarter campaign, but it’s ‘touch and go’. So this will possibly have to be a bolt-on extra outside of the campaign.

If enough people want it, and if we can get the drivers for ARM6 Pi, we will do it.

We’ve listened to you and we’ve done our best to bring you touch, instead of just kicking the whole idea into touch. We hope you think it’s a nice touch, even though it’s been a bit of a touchy subject for some people. ;) (Sorry about the puns, I couldn’t help myself).

How to Add a Power Supply to Your Pledge

A popular request from the HDMIPi early bird (£65) and HDMIPi standard (£75)backers is “How can I add a power supply to my pledge?” (Higher level rewards already include a PSU).

You can do this by simply increasing your pledge by £5 and we will add a PSU (no need to let us know). The PSU will be UK/US/European according to your shipping address.

Photo of Cyntech’s UK Warehouse

Last week I popped over to Cyntech to sort out visa forms for our trip. I took the opportunity to snap a quick couple of phone shots of the Cyntech warehouse. Some of you were asking how we were going to cope with the demand. This is just the part of the warehouse that I could get in shot. There’s plenty of space. We’re not operating out of my garage, which is good because it’s already full. :)

Dave, PIHUB, Theresa and the Cyntech UK Warehouse
Dave, PIHUB, Theresa and the Cyntech UK Warehouse

Some Recent HDMIPi Videos

Alex has been busy making videos of the HDMIPi prototypes doing various things.

Using Sonic Pi to play “the Flight of the Bumblebee” on the Raspberry Pi

Using HDMIPi with Nikon D90 DSLR

Using HDMIPi as a second screen on a Dell laptop

Using HDMIPi with a smartphone and MHL adaptor

That’s the end of the Mega update. We don’t know when the next update will be. We’ll try and do at least one while we’re away, if connectivity is good. We’ll be in touch ;)

Alex and Dave

  24 Responses to “HDMIPi Update – The Mega Bundle and the China Trip”

  1. Interesting project – who makes the software so as to tether the camera to the Pi? And how were you changing the camera settings, by what input method I mean?

    • Well James Hughes wrote the really clever low level stuff (raspivid), but I wrote the Python GPIO interface bit. It’s on my GitHub at

      • Alex, I think Jack may have been asking about your DSLR camera, rather than the Pi Camera or RasPiCamcorder? ;-)
        If that is the case, then the answer is that there’s no Pi involved, Alex is just using the HDMIPi screen as an external HDMI display for his DSLR, and I assume he’s continuing to control the camera settings using the physical buttons on the camera.

        Hopefully I’ve not just grabbed the wrong end of the stick!

        • If that is the case, it’s quite simply a HDMI to mini-HDMI lead between the camera and the HDMI controller board. And the rest is as Andrew says.

  2. Excellent to see things progressing well.
    The resistive touch seems like a sensible option. Worth reminding people that to make proper use of capacitive touch the OS needs to be designed for it. Resistive touch would add a massive amount of usability over not having anything, and capacitive touch would add far less over a resistive touch.

    • Thanks Tim. When we got bombarded with requests for touch, we had no idea if it could even be done with this screen, but we took a look. It seems like a lot of the people asking for it don’t really know much about what’s involved, but think it would be cool (and it would). I didn’t know either, but it’s a lot more involved than people might think.

      Really, for a capacitive touch product, it needs to be designed with that in mind from the outset. It can be retrofitted, but it’s VERY expensive. Even resistive isn’t cheap, but it can be done. We’ll release more news about that when we have it :).

  3. Hi,

    Can you tell me if your camcorder project can work with an iPhone or am iPad ?


  4. Amazing! Very good work.

  5. I’d love to know about power consumption and the possibilities of having the screen in a yacht cockpit… does an HDMIPI stay cool well enough to work in Mediterranean sunshine, can one build a waterproof (preferably airtight) cover, perhaps mounting the buttons inside the cockpit and the screen outside, and what is screen readability like in strong daylight? The possibility of using a mini ITX or a laptop (with the ‘normal’ screen switched as they draw far too much power) as a basis for a low power navigation computer with an HDMIPI would be wonderful – tis what all yachties have been waiting for. Even better if the Navigatrix OS gets compiled to work on the Pi. Am I jumping ahead too much or have you had the possibility to field test the screens yet?

    • All of that is possible I think. If you don’t use the official case, the driver board can be placed wherever you want. You could mount it to the underside of your dashboard and make holes for the buttons. I’m not sure about the brightness issue. Heat should be OK. Shortly, HDMIPi will be tested in Lebanon. It’s quite hot there.

      As regards the mini ITX. As long as it has an HDMI out (1.4 or lower) you should be able to use it.

      • …or he could solder on a VGA connector to the unpopulated holes and use that? (assuming that that’s still an option the OSD menu supports?)

        • Thanks for your kind and fast replies. In my view a VGA output would be important as most yachties use old laptops aboard – taking along 2 or 3 of them on ocean crossings to allow for them getting damp/wet and failing – often (but not always) where one has to place them near the companionway or cockpit where they get splashed with salt water: A waterpoof HDMIPI screen would of course negate this need. Older laptops don’t have HDMI connectors though. And a big downside of their use has been screen power consumption, meaning that they can’t be left on for long periods, displaying charts and hazards at a glance in bad weather on crossings where one can’t easily get to the chart table, especially when sailing short or single handed. And also for gathering statistics when racing. The AIS (Automatic Identification System) that warns of the approach and heading of other ships is becoming more and more affordable (and can even be built into an old VHF radio almost for free oneself now) and they are being fitted to ever more boats (a major contribution to safety, effective communication and location) and it would be a great help to be able to see new ‘targets’ as soon as they come within range. Could a VGA kit with instructions be yet an option? A VGA-out would allow use with older equipment and have practical applications for tens of thousands of people.

          • Are you implying that the HDMIPi screen has lower power consumption than a laptop screen? I’ve obviously not done any tests, but I can’t really see how / why that would be the case? :-/

          • Most laptop screens don’t work unless you power all the rest of the laptop too. I imagine that uses a lot more than 5 Watts.

          • But if the “rest of the laptop” is powered off too, there’s then nothing for the HDMIPi screen to display? ;-)
            Perhaps we’re all talking at cross-purposes…

        • BTW I’m not only thinking of boat usage but also of the number of sports people, racing teams and outdoors people who can benefit from having a screen on their ‘old’ laptop which they can ‘hang up on the outside of the caravan’.

        • Yep it is supported in the firmware and OSD menu as well as there being pads for a VGA connector on the board.

  6. From what I read, a laptop’s screen is on most models by far the biggest area of consumption of power. Statistically, an average laptop uses 60W (usually 14″ -ish screen, in fairness) (source: internet research, various websites). The laptop itself uses little, even less when one uses solid state drives. (Again from internet research:) When taking a laptop screen (from a broken laptop for example) to make a slimline ‘monitor’ it is common to need a 4A supply (at 12v or 16v, mostly the latter) ergo 48-64W which is what got me all excited when I first saw the HDMIPI. I think many yachties (etc) are happy enough with the smaller screen so long as enough detail can be seen in the image. Indeed many purpose-built chart-navigators use 9″ and less. There seems to be no easy way of converting ‘car GPS’ screens into usable VGA/monitor screens as each make is unique and the architecture isn’t open source. There is only one small 12v screen available cheaply that I have found, a chinese one, and whilst I haven’t seen one myself, reviews say it’s not one with satisfactory resolution even for most text. Next step up is HD monitors which are very expensive and often drink power. I’m hoping the HDMIPI will be the magic median. Another reason for people wanting to use their ‘old’ (read:existing) laptops often with no HDMI output, just VGA, is that Windows 8 seems to be suffering a lack of drivers for existing equipment, even down to things as basic as GPS dongles, and I know people who have bought expensive new laptops for their precious boat navigation and management only to go back to their old laptops because of these issues and because they know it’s all set-up and reliable (no one wants uncertainty at sea or during test-days). I understand your reasoning for not fitting VGA ex-works but I think it would be comforting were you to sell a ready made ‘bolt-on’ to save customers time and uncertainties in ordering and I suspect it would be a best-seller?

    • It’s an interesting market to consider Julian. Certainly it’s not hard to get hold of a VGA connector, but the HDMIPi case design precludes installing it. We may consider supplying one if there’s enough demand for it. But you’ll have to appreciate, our primary market is the Pi, secondary is thought to be camera users, neither of which have much use for VGA.

      I must be honest though. Much as I like the idea of selling lots of screens to yacht owners, using it in such a ‘mission critical’ system makes me a little uneasy as it’s untested in a marine environment.

  7. On the HDMI site you are talking about a 10 inch display coming soon, but i never heard about it anymore and can’t find nothing about it. Is it stil coming or do you leave it to Adafruit?

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