Tripp Lite B126 distribution cabling? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 08-23-2012, 12:24 PM - Thread Starter
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Long time member, but inactive for a couple of years. Finally getting to pull the trigger on our build, and planning out distribution. Unfortunately, I don't have unlimited budget for cabling, so I'm trying to be simple and flexible.

I'm currently planning on a mid-level HTD system for audio and IR pass-thru to 6 zones. For flexibility, I'm planning to loop the speaker wire through the keypad drop before going up to the speaker. Audio sources will be a CATV STB (for music stations), AM/FM receiver, XM radio, and PC, with room for two future inputs (one of which could be the basement HTS when we finish it --someday).

The source equipment will be homerun to the basement utility room. I plan to keep a good buffer (10-20') between the electrical panel and source equip.

For video, I'm thinking about pairing up rooms (there's only three of us, so having every room able to pick independently isn't worth the added cost). Right now I'm looking at a 4x2 HDMI matrix, with each output feeding a Tripp Lite B126-002 extender which will split it to two rooms over a single CAT6 each. I'm hoping to go with passive baluns on the receiver end to keep costs low. At the end of the day, I'll have four video zones (2 pairs of 2) that can select between the STB, the PC, and the two future inputs.

So, my question: In researching the B126-002, I find that Tripp Lite advocates a single solid-conductor end-to-end cable between the balun ends to prevent losses. Does anyone have experience with range or signal issues doing anything different?

Ideally, I'd like to keep a clean install with wall ports terminating the CAT6, and then use a patch cable to the receiver balun. But I'm worried about the whole setup not working if I do. Would I be better off planning to use pass-through keystones so I can remove it and feed the service loop of the cable through the wall at the places where I want to use the balun?

I'm also wondering about solid core vs. stranded. Is the solid core really necessary? I'm not sure how confident I am that the builder's electrical guys are savvy enough to run solid core without damaging it. Plus it's more expensive.

For what it's worth, the longest run is somewhere around 80', and I'm not a stickler for full 1080p.

Lastly, does anyone see any fatal flaws in the plan? It's not the slickest setup in the world, but I can do the whole thing for around $2k and it will blow away any of the neighbors. smile.gif
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post #2 of 12 Old 08-23-2012, 01:32 PM - Thread Starter
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K, so I just found the HDMI Extendeder Thread, which has some other options available to me, but I didn't see the Tripp Lite B126 HDMI's in there. Still, it provides some alternatives should there be strong feedback that what I have here won't work...
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post #3 of 12 Old 08-23-2012, 02:09 PM
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I think you're overcomplicating the setup for no savings... Look at the Monoprice 4x4 matrix with cat5e support built-in. Ganging zones together is not a good idea for video - you'd have to pick ahead of time which zones will always watch the same source. You might be able to figure this out to fit your usage model, but why bother when a 4x4 is only a few bucks more. And since you'll be in for $600 for the TrippLite extenders anyway, you're better off just buying a 4x4 matrix kit for less than that:

http://www.monoprice.com/products/product.asp?c_id=109&cp_id=10113&cs_id=1011310&p_id=8151&seq=1&format=2

You'll have to run 2 cat5e lines (or cat6) for this, but that's a trivial amount of wire. And always use solid-core in the walls, you don't want to attempt to punch down stranded wire.

Jeff

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post #4 of 12 Old 08-24-2012, 05:55 PM - Thread Starter
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Jeff,

Thanks for the reply.

The thought of sharing video doesn't bother me -- we do it now, and like I said, there's only 2 adults in our house (who have basically the same tastes), so we don't often have multiple TV's going at once anyway.

I was looking at the Tripp Lite system primarily because of the Single CAT6; our builder charges by the drop, and to maintain the flexibility to move this around to any media plate in the house would cost me somewhere around $400 (I have a lot of wall locations planned). In that context, the Monoprice isn't really cheaper (I'm estimating closer to $400 for the Tripp Lite setup, since the B126-002's can be had for around $120 on Amazon).

I do like the 4x4 option, though, so perhaps it's worth trying to negotiate down on the per-drop price.

Do you know if this has to be end-to-end, or can it connect through a wall plate?
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post #5 of 12 Old 08-24-2012, 08:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kaadaq View Post

The thought of sharing video doesn't bother me -- we do it now, and like I said, there's only 2 adults in our house (who have basically the same tastes), so we don't often have multiple TV's going at once anyway.

Understand - but I'd recommend wiring and planning for the flexibility in the future...
Quote:
I was looking at the Tripp Lite system primarily because of the Single CAT6; our builder charges by the drop, and to maintain the flexibility to move this around to any media plate in the house would cost me somewhere around $400 (I have a lot of wall locations planned). In that context, the Monoprice isn't really cheaper (I'm estimating closer to $400 for the Tripp Lite setup, since the B126-002's can be had for around $120 on Amazon).
I do like the 4x4 option, though, so perhaps it's worth trying to negotiate down on the per-drop price.
Do you know if this has to be end-to-end, or can it connect through a wall plate?

Wall plate should be fine, especially on the relatively short runs we have in most cases...

Talk to the builder about adding runs to the same locations - offer to supply the wire (a spool from Monoprice is like $75 shipped), for the whole job if necessary...

In the future you'll be able to do this with one cat5e and HDBaseT, but those setups are considerably more expensive currently than 2-cable solutions. Even if you paid full price for it, having "extra" category cable in the house is a good investment in futureproofing.

Jeff

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post #6 of 12 Old 08-26-2012, 04:40 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jautor View Post

Talk to the builder about adding runs to the same locations - offer to supply the wire (a spool from Monoprice is like $75 shipped), for the whole job if necessary...

That's a great suggestion. If I supply the material for the second run, I'd think they could pull it at the same time for virtually no labor (other than punchdown). We're meeting with them next week, so I'll propose it and see where we get!
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post #7 of 12 Old 08-27-2012, 11:19 AM
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Tripp Lite B126 equipment has no IR support at this time....some future products will, but probably not until 2013. Solid Conducor wire has less signal loss than stranded conductor wire.....anything pulled through wall will most likely be Solid anyway, so no reason to fret about what will be used, BUT, should be Cat6. Lastly, Tripp Lite recommends no breaks between Transmitters and Receivers.....the Digital signal is twitchy enough to begin with, but when converting to UTP wire, and running through patch panels, wall jacks, couplers ( anything that breaks the chain ), you are just asking for a lot of heartache. When AV signals are converted to run over UTP cable, SKEW kicks in, which is the signals arriving at the far end at different times. Tripp Lite extenders either have built in SKEW compensation, or, adjustment dials to correct the SKEW. Breaks in the line magnify the SKEW effect, rendering compensation controls useless.

John @ Tripp Lite
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post #8 of 12 Old 08-31-2012, 10:09 AM - Thread Starter
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Had a meeting with the builder today, and they are on board with me supplying cable and their electrician running and terminating at no extra cost. This will probably end up being pretty cost neutral to what I was originally planning, but a higher quality signal with true 4x4 switching. Thanks for the insight, Jeff!
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post #9 of 12 Old 08-31-2012, 11:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kaadaq View Post

Had a meeting with the builder today, and they are on board with me supplying cable and their electrician running and terminating at no extra cost. This will probably end up being pretty cost neutral to what I was originally planning, but a higher quality signal with true 4x4 switching. Thanks for the insight, Jeff!

Sweet! You got off easy with a great deal, then!

Getting additional cabling with the builders is always a roll of the dice. Since I was building custom, I had that conversation before even starting the design process. I supplied enough cable for all the extra runs I wanted to do (actually more, they used all my cable first), told them I'd do the terminations on the extras, and then I hesitated at their quote of $700 labor for the extra work. Now, I added like 50 runs... biggrin.gif But I did hand them a full punch list and wiring diagram, and labeled the locations in the house physically as well. The contractor's guys suggested to him, "we should do that for every job!" - "No." biggrin.gif

So, yeah, after seeing how much work they had to do (which I was planning to do with a friend over a weekend, but emergency issues prevented that), I realized I was silly to even questioning that cost. Two of us would have easily spent 2-3 days getting all that cable run.

Doing it over, I'd have them responsible for the terminations, just so that they'd be on the hook for any damaged cables (I haven't had any, whew!).

Glad it worked out!


Jeff

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post #10 of 12 Old 09-01-2012, 04:53 AM - Thread Starter
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Yeah, I was pretty pleased with their response. She even wrote in there that they will need to have a note about minimum bend radii for the cable installers. smile.gif

I suspect I will still need to meet with them to discuss terminations and the requirements for solid core cable, but as long as they test them end-to-end, I'll be tickled pink!
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post #11 of 12 Old 09-01-2012, 05:14 AM
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I suggest you specify a lot of cable 'slack' to make sure you have enough to reach the components at either end, if not terminating at the wall.

I don't think any HDMI over category cable solution should be disrupted, not just that Tripp Lite.

Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense. -Buddha

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post #12 of 12 Old 04-05-2013, 01:13 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm resurrecting this because we're now all settled into our new build, and I wanted to say "thanks" to everyone in multiple threads for all the help by doubling back to let you all know how it turned out. Here's our setup:

SOURCES(In basement on metal storage shelf):
Charter HD cable box
MiniX Neo X5 Android Media Player running XBMC
GPX AM/FM radio with CD (chosen primarily because it can be controlled via remote)
XM Onyx Receiver & Home dock
Existing PC Tower w/ local monitor & kb/mouse
Space for one future A+V (could hook up DVD player if I wanted)

SWITCHING/NETWORKING (also in basement on shelf):
HTD mid-range MCA-66 audio switch/12-channel amp
Monoprice 8151 4x4 HDMI video matrix or Cat6
TP-Link Gigabit Switch, connected to a Netgear gigabit router, connected to a Motorola surfboard modem with 30-Mb Charter internet connection
1TB Seagate BlackArmor NAS with attached 1TB backup drive (existing)

WIRING:
Each room has multiple media wall plates (min 2 per room), each consisting of:
->one RG6U coax (wanted QS, but didn't realize I didn't get it until it was too late)
->2 CAT6 STP, terminated (on both ends) with modular plug ends and plugged into Monoprice inline connector keystone jacks.
Each of the main rooms has blocking in wall, and power/media positioned in same bay (opposite studs) for future wall mounting.
Kitchen zone has an extra CAT6.
All floor level media boxes have smurf tube through the floor to aid in future runs.
Audio wallplate locations have CAT6 UTP and speaker wiring passing through the box up to the speaker (for future flexibility).
Audio zones have dual-voice (stereo) single speaker, as its mainly just for background music.

ZONES:
Using the HTD system, 5 upstairs zones, One with second stereo speaker & additional wallplate. Reserved one zone for future basement use.
Using the Monoprice system, I've currently got three HDTV's hooked up via CAT6 patch cables to the wall plate. Reserved one for future basement use.
Remote control is via Harmony 700's in video zones, Harmony 300i (existing) for audio-only zones.
Kitchen zone has a cheap-o powered USB hub connected to a Monoprice USB-over-CAT6 extender. KB/Mouse & Webcam plug into the hub and to PC.
In the den zone, I have a second USB extender with a Logitech unifying receiver in it, for powering a Logitech K40 kb/t-pad combo for PC.

Thoughts/Performance:
Overall I'm very pleased with the setup. The MCA-66 meets my needs for background music, even if it doesn't put out a ton of power to each zone. The Monoprice switch is solid -- even with using patch cables on both ends(!). It could be because of the quality of cable I used, or it could be because I used modular plugs & inline connectors instead of punchdowns; not sure, but it's exceeding what Monoprice told me to expect. We do get the video sync issue, but it's no hassle to cycle power on the box on the rare situation when it occurs. I also ended up with some extra slack, having left enough cable to plug directly in if I had to, but my network guy made a nice service loop for me at the head end, so it's pretty well hidden. I do love having the ability to control my PC from any video zone using the USB extenders -- they're only USB 1.1, but they were <$10 each and work fine for a keyboard/mouse and a webcam if you go through a powered hub. If I have to do any heavy file transfering, I use my laptop for better speed.

Three weeks in, I only have a few issues to address:
-- One of my speakers is missing a channel; more than likely just a loose wire.
-- I have some tweaking to do with the Harmony 700 remotes to get the source selection sequencing working. Right now it tries to power up the cable box first, and then set the input on the video switch, but the IR doesn't pass through until after the zone selection is made. Pretty sure I can get around that.
-- I underplanned one circuit for the source rack. Need to have another one installed...right now I'm running power over from a less convenient outlet on another circuit until I can get another run put in.
-- I don't get the best radio reception in my basement, but I have some cheap options for boosting that.
-- Lastly, I haven't had any luck getting video to work in XBMC on the MiniX; I knew this was a possibility when I bought it, so I'm not terribly upset, and there's still hope in that I haven't yet tried any custom builds or versions using libstagefright for video.

Mostly, though, I'm impressed with the amount of functionality I been able to achieve for my investment (roughly $3k, including the wire and network guy's time, but excluding builder's labor). I also feel pretty good about the level of "future-proofing" I've included, which gives me confidence I can enjoy it for a long while.

Thanks to everyone who kicked in ideas on the best way to pull this off!
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