40' HDMI cable failing in cold weather? - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 2 Old 01-03-2010, 08:32 PM - Thread Starter
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I installed my system in September of this year. My display is a Samsung 7000 Series LED. In my AV closet I have a Denon AVR-790. Connected to it are a DirecTV HR22-100 (HDMI), a Samsung BD-P1400 (HDMI), an XBOX 360 (Component) and a Wii (Component). I have a Panamax M5100-PM providing power. The receiver is connected to the LED via a single 40' HDMI Ram Electronics, Elite Series HDMI cable (25 awg). For a variety of reasons, the 40' run had to be done along the outside of the house in 1.5 gray electrical/PVC type conduit. The conduit is fastened to the siding (above ground), its joints are properly sealed and in the three places where a 90 degree turn is made, joints with access panels were added. These access panels are tightly sealed. Aside from changes in temperature, the cables inside the conduit are never directly exposed to the elements. This setup has worked flawlessly for the last four months.

The last two days have been the coldest since they system was installed (highs in the 30's, lows in the 20's) at it seems this change in temperature is causing issues. After a particularly cold night, I woke to find that only my DirecTV signal was being properly sent to the TV. When switching to any other component the display would remain black. In addition, the Denon GUI would not display on any input.

At first I assumed the problem was with my receiver. However I eliminated it as the culprit by connecting the system to another TV using an extra 6' HDMI cable. Everything worked flawlessly. Next I was concerned that my TV was not displaying certain resolutions properly. I eliminated this by moving my receiver next to the TV and connecting directly to it with the 6' HDMI. Again, everything worked flawlessly. This seemed to suggest that the problem lie in the 40' run.

For most of the first day the symptoms persisted, but as the temperature rose to around 45 degrees, the symptoms disappeared. The system seemed to work into the night even as temperatures once again dropped. Unfortunately when I woke up this morning they reappeared. They did not resolve themselves today as it has remained in the 30's all day. Had the signal never resolved itself I would suspect the cable itself had gone bad, but the fact that the problem improved as temperatures rose suggest weather plays a part.

Obviously I'm drawing a conclusion that the problem lie in the 40' run and is exacerbated by cold weather, but I was unaware that such a run would be so negatively impacted by relatively mild temperature dips. It seems very unusual that the same cable that won't carry any other signal can continue to flawlessly carry my DirecTV signal regardless of temperature.

Any thoughts on what could be going on here or better yet, how to resolve it? I have contacted Ram Electronics for their input but am awaiting their response. I have also ordered an HDMI signal booster but am awaiting its arrival. My assumption here is that the non-DirecTV signals are not strong enough to make the 40' journey in cold weather but this is WAG. If it's not a matter of signal strength could it be that the weather is impacting the structure of the cable? It would seem if that were the case the signal would be all or nothing. Would lower AWG cables help mitigate the impact of weather?

Any suggestions or insight would be greatly appreciated.

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post #2 of 2 Old 01-03-2010, 09:44 PM
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If it’s not a matter of signal strength could it be that the weather is impacting the structure of the cable? It would seem if that were the case the signal would be “all or nothing”.

Well, it is in a loose sense all or nothing. But I'll bet you the direct-tv receiver is outputting 1080i, while BD sources are 1080p. Big difference in signal bandwidth, makes sense that one starts to fail while the other does not.

Interesting problem, I have not seen this come up with HDMI. Most concerns with data cabling in difficult environments that I'm familiar with have almost everything to do with connectorization issues, exposure to chemicals, UV, high flex requirements, etc.

REally high temperatures can obviously compromise the insulation of the cable, and very cold environments make the cable brittle and very prone to breakage, including of the inner conductor.

My guess, though only vaguely so, is that the cold/hot change has either affected the pair spacing, impacting bandwidth, or with cold/hot cycling and stress on the conductors that there may be tiny cracks in a conductor or something. I'm not really aware of HDMI cables specifically designed for these kinds of environments. I do know that category cables exist with designs for very difficult environments, you might want to talk to Kurt at Blue-Jeans about the capabilities of their cabling, from Belden, because I know that Belden sells a variety of industrial data-cabling products. Might be worth a try. Though this is a new problem that's for sure! I would look at replacing the cable though, and see what happens in the future with weather changes.
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