Tuesday, April 26, 2011

4 HD sources 3 TVs

I just completed a complicated HDTV installation for a restaurant in NYC. While I do wiring jobs on a much larger scale than this, this was my first HDTV job on such a scale. Previous HDTV jobs that I have done have involved a single television with the components located within range of a standard store bought HDMI cable to reach from the component(s) to the television.

The project was to replace 3 wall mount televisions with the new televisions that the customer had already purchased. This in itself sounds fairly simple and straight forward, however things are not as easy as that.

Two of the existing wall mounts fit perfectly with the new televisions, but the 3rd television required replacing the mounting bracket.

All of the current TVs were fed with a composite video feed (analog Standard Definition), and all of the components were located in a rack in a back room. This required me to pull cable from the rack in the back room to each HDTV. I decided to purchase HDMI over CAT5 extenders to accomplish this. I ordered Sabrent HDMI-EXTC extenders, which require 2 - CAT5 runs per television.Unfortunately there was no drop ceilings, but there was several access hatches in the ceiling. I was able to utilize the existing access hatches to pull all of my cabling only requiring to cut out a single hole in the ceiling to pull all of the cabling, plus the small holes required to snake the wire down the walls behind the televisions.

Once all of the cabling was in place, and the TVs were mounted on the walls I had to connect all of the sources. There is 2 cable boxes, 1 DVD player and 1 Bluray player. To do the switching between the multiple sources and multiple monitors I purchased an Aten 4x4 HDMI matrix switch. This was the most expensive part of the project (aside from the televisions that the customer had already purchased). This allows switching of the 4 sources individually between the 3 HDTVs, so the monitors can all be watching whatever source that they want, either shared amongst multiple monitors, or each television viewing a different source at the same time.

Once all of the wiring, and hardware was installed I was having issues with the HDMI signal not working with any of the televisions. The HDMI over CAT5 converters that I purchased stated that they worked up to 200 feet for 1080i, but only around 60ft or so for 1080p. The longest run was 120ft (according to cable markings), the shortest run was less than 90ft. So I know that everything was within spec. for the job. Several attempts were made to contact the manufacturer unsuccessfully, and countless hours were spend researching what the troubles could be. Eventually I was provided with a simple solution over on AVSforum that I was skeptical about, but the deadline was fast approaching and my window to order replacement parts and have them overnighted was closed, so I crossed my fingers and took the hour and a half subway ride to the location to test out the advice that I was given on AVSforum. To my surprise it worked. The DVD and Bluray players factory default video output setting was AUTO - which was sending out 1080p over the line, but the HDMI extenders can not handle that spec at such distances, so all I needed to do was bring the DVD and Bluray player from the back room and connect them locally to a TV and change the output settings to 1080i. Much to my delight this resolved the only major set back of the entire job.

Two days after my first attempt to contact Sabrent, the manufacturer of the HDMI over CAT5 extenders, I am still waiting on a return phone call or email.

They already had an audio system in place, so I merely just had to connect the audio outputs of the source devices to the multi channel audio amplifiers that were in the closet.

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