Looking for a great portable screen to go with all these new micro (pico) projectors like the ones from 3M? Da-lite has released a new screen system which was specifically designed to be used with these types of projectors. The screen comes with it own case and expands to a 30″ diagonal HDTV format, but can be expanded to a 4:3 format as well. In the closed position, the screen case is only 19″ long and weighs 5 pound.
Distributing HDMI signals in a retrofit situation is often a difficult task since the only real cost effective option is to run cat5e/cat6 to a location and use a Cat5e HDMI Extender. That solution requires you to fish new cables (some cases 2 cat5e runs) as most homes do not have Cat5e cables in locations where you need a display. Vanco has announced a new HDMI extender that uses a single coaxial cable (this is your typical CATV cable). That’s right! It allows both HDMI Audio/Video signals to be transmitted using one coaxial cable. The transmission range for 1080p resolution is up to 328 ft (100m) over RG-6 coaxial cable (dual and quad-shielded) and up to 164 ft (50m) over RG-59 Coaxial Cable. The transmitter and receiver units can connect to two flat panel displays and up to 45 receiver units can be cascaded from one transmitter to connect to additional flat panel displays. This product is a custom installers dream device and a must for any retrofit project that requires HDMI distribution when only Coax cable is available.
For more information and to locate your nearest distributor please visit Vanco’s website.
While it was possible to use an Arduino duemilanove (Atmel 328 chipset) for this project (See Part 1), I was really limited due to the 2K of RAM. It was fun trying to optimize code to get things to run in that amount of memory, however, it caused me to not be able to expand on functionality and features. I have upgraded the project to an Arduino MEGA (Atmel 1280 chipset). This platform gives me up to 8K of RAM — which should be more than enough memory (famous last words).
A lot of people have asked me to explain what exactly I’m doing with the Arduino. It’s pretty simple. First, I’m using a RS232 shield (not shown) to capture RS232 commands from the Russound Controller. When a key is pressed on the Russound keypads I read the RS232 data and either ignore or react to the events. Currently, I’m looking for +, -, Next, Previous, Play/Pause, Menu events. I plan on using the Menu button to offer deeper content browsing menus (need to sniff the RS232 or wait for Russound to publish protocol). The + & – buttons will allow to scroll playlists and the rest of the transport buttons are self explanatory.
// Example RNET Next Track Event: F0 0 7D 7 0 0 7F 5 2 1 0 2 1 0 E 0 0 1 7 0 1 2A F7
Since the Sonos is a uPnP based system there is no IR or way to traditionally control it. Everything needs to be done via HTTP calls. I’m using an Ethernet Shield to translate the RS232 events to uPnP messages. The biggest challenge has been parsing the huge amounts of VERY VERBOSE SOAP-based notification messages. I parse the data real time, looking for strings that I want to store (things like playstate and metadata).
To make matters worse, Sonos is URL encoding XML data inside of an XML structure. So writing a simple XML parser is not possible. You have to look for things like &lt; for a less-than bracket (<). There were times I wanted to scrap the whole project because of this due to the limited RAM and string utilities — it really makes things a lot harder to deal with.
// Example of nested URL encoded XML: <Event xmlns="urn:schemas-upnp-org:metadata-1- 0/AVT/" xmlns:r="urn:schemas-rinconnetworks-com:metadata-10/"> <InstanceID val="0"><TransportState val="PLAYING"/ ...
When I get a notification message, I package it up into the RNET protocol and send it back into the Russound controller, which gets displayed on the keypads and automation systems that use that data (like Myro:Home which is connected to a HAI OmniPro II). Since uPnP uses a subscription model, I also need to keep subscription expiration timing so I can renew the subscription. It’s basically a client (outgoing to the Sonos to send subscription requests) and a server (to receive incoming notification events from Sonos). Then I have to deal with all the HTTP issues, like if it fails to renew or I have connection issues, I have to clean up and start the connection process all over again.
This project is now code complete and any new features will be made in a future revision. I plan on creating a custom PCB — any interest?
If you have any questions or comments feel free to post them in the comments section below!
Here’s a sneak peak at my latest project — the RNET to Sonos Bridge. All coded using an Arduino and Ethernet Shield. What this little device allows you to do is control a Sonos device using any Russound whole house audio system that supports RNET sources. It allows next, previous, play, pause and I’m working on playlist access and support. Current track metadata gets sent to these keypads as a multi-field message.
I’m pretty much code complete but I’m running into a few memory issues… The Arduino only has <2K of available RAM that I can work with. I have an Arduino Mega (which offers 8K) on order to see if that solves things. I think I can still optimize my code to make it work with the 328.
I’ll post more when I get it 100% stable.
Update: Got it working! With about 500bytes left of RAM on the 328 chipset… this was a fun little project. Below is a video:
Also running on E6 Color Keypads:
Russound has been my go to whole house audio solution for many years. They offer solutions at many different price points and options. They also integrate nicely with home automation systems like (Crestron, HAI, AMX, and Control4). Recently, MAVROMEDIA became an Authorized Russound Sphere dealer and have just installed the latest E-Series system with the new KLK-E6 color click wheel keypads. I’m throughly impressed — it’s like having an iPod in every room! The E6 keypads bring a full color display that makes it easier to read across the room.
The main E-Series controller is a very beefy unit coming in at 4u high and is packed with options from doorbell chimes to paging to the ability to expand the system to 48 zones. It also supports up to 12 sources which can be dedicated to specific rooms. For example, you have an iBridge dock (iPod dock) in a bedroom. You can reserve and display that iPod as a source for just that room.
If you are in the market for a whole house audio system that “brings an iPod to every room” then check out the Russound Sphere series!
I was flipping through next months (March 2010) Home Theater Magazine and saw the two-page spread on this projector by Wolf Cinema. Just by looking at it you know this it isn’t just any kind of projector, no, this projector does constant-height projection from 1.85:1 all the way to 2.7:1 (gives you “true widescreen”). The projector uses a high brightness Xenon lamp which allows it to project onto screens 15′ wide. All this comes at a hefty price too — starting at $65,000 and go up to $135,000.