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Preferred video distribution - Cat5 or Coax?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
Hey guys,

Bringing this post over from another thread as this section seems to be more relevant:
Quote:
I spent some time today researching video distribution, and it seems pretty straightforward. I read a few guides explaining how to do things with coax, and then I went and took a look at my own current setup. Only our theater (projector) has multiple inputs, and it looks like that's controlled by a video switching unit that the crestron unit controls with inputs from our remotes. As for "distribution", only our bedroom receives video from the kaleidescape (though audio is played throughout the home), and it looks like they didn't use coax.

Behind my TV is one of these units (that we actually had to replace not too long ago): http://www.keydigital.com/items.asp?ItemCode=KDGDCVSTB&Company=KEY

From what I gather, it pretty much just allows you to send video over Cat5. You send in audio/video through standard component cable, and it's sent via cat5 to the other end, where component cables are again used to plug back into the TV. Is this the preferred method these days? It would seem a bit limited since it's one source to one destination. If I wanted to have that kscape player able to send its video to the bedroom, living room or play room, I'd imagine it would be a different story, no?

So is it currently preferred to do cat5 to deliver video to different destinations in the house vs coax? I would imagine it would be more consistent, but I'm just a n00b biggrin.gif

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post #2 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Airkat View Post

So is it currently preferred to do cat5 to deliver video to different destinations in the house vs coax? I would imagine it would be more consistent, but I'm just a n00b biggrin.gif

Do you mean distribution of HDMI? Or CATV / satellite?

HDMI distribution from matrix switches or other distribution systems will be easier with cat5e / cat6 (and today, a pair of category cables can enable some cheaper solutions). But for "normal" distribution of signals from providers to set-top boxes (from CATV or satellite), a coax cable is necessary.

If you're asking about how to wire a home or remodel - the answer is both.

Jeff
post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jautor View Post

Do you mean distribution of HDMI? Or CATV / satellite?

HDMI distribution from matrix switches or other distribution systems will be easier with cat5e / cat6 (and today, a pair of category cables can enable some cheaper solutions). But for "normal" distribution of signals from providers to set-top boxes (from CATV or satellite), a coax cable is necessary.

If you're asking about how to wire a home or remodel - the answer is both.

Jeff

Hi Jeff, and thanks. To clarify, I'm looking to put all of our video sources in a rack (Tivo boxes, Kaleidescape, and perhaps cameras) then feed the video to 3 or 4 TVs in the home. We're at the prewire phase, so I'm just trying to figure out what works best.
post #4 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Airkat View Post

Hi Jeff, and thanks. To clarify, I'm looking to put all of our video sources in a rack (Tivo boxes, Kaleidescape, and perhaps cameras) then feed the video to 3 or 4 TVs in the home. We're at the prewire phase, so I'm just trying to figure out what works best.

At least 2 cat6, preferably 3 or more, to each display location, plus at least one RG6 (preferably 2) is my recommendation for pre-wiring. You don't want to commit to one method of distribution forever, so best to have the common forms of cabling available for the future. With your equipment list, you should be looking at the HDBaseT matrix switches from Atlona and others.

Jeff
post #5 of 14
As Jeff says once you are talking about distributing HD Video + Audio from a centralised ‘Hub’ to multiple Zones you are moving away from Coax (unless you are plugging Sources into the Coax in each Zone) and increasingly ‘standardising’ on CAT6.

If possible run the cables in or have empty conduit as part of your plans – with a draw wire for future updates.

Using CAT6 plus a central HDMI In/RJ45 Out Matrix can also deliver an IR return path to the Matrix, Sources and an AVR if you are not considering a stand-alone ‘control’ layer.

Joe
post #6 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thank you both. I'm looking into matrix switches now to see which would work best for our needs. We have a meeting with the electrician Friday so it's helpful to know which wiring I'll be asking him to run at the same time. Joe, you mentioned running conduit, would you recommend running conduit and 2 cat5 to each location to save up front and pull more later, or just run 3 of them now? Or both I suppose could be an option.
post #7 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Airkat View Post

Thank you both. I'm looking into matrix switches now to see which would work best for our needs. We have a meeting with the electrician Friday so it's helpful to know which wiring I'll be asking him to run at the same time. Joe, you mentioned running conduit, would you recommend running conduit and 2 cat5 to each location to save up front and pull more later, or just run 3 of them now? Or both I suppose could be an option.

3 now and conduit. Category wire is cheap. Save the conduit for the future stuff we can't predict.

Oh, and anyone bought into this hobby enough to have a K-scape should definitely run extra cat6... 'cause that's a good indication you'll probably find other toys to use that wire!
Edited by jautor - 2/26/13 at 4:39pm
post #8 of 14
Overwire now to avoid headaches in the future.

Wire all potential display locations, possible speaker locations, irrigation controller, and WAP locations.

If you're considering a pro control system, get that dealer involved with design now, before the pre wire. I'm partial to permanent in-wall and on-wall controls/tablets/keypads, that don't get lost/hidden. Both mounted and held-held controls are ideal.
post #9 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jautor View Post

3 now and conduit. Category wire is cheap. Save the conduit for the future stuff we can't predict.

Oh, and anyone bought into this hobby enough to have a K-scape should definitely run extra cat6... 'cause that's a good indication you'll probably find other toys to use that wire!

I seriously hope not! Honestly, the kscape is overkill. We would probably be fine with an Apple TV or similar, but nothing like that was around when we got the system.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Neurorad View Post

Overwire now to avoid headaches in the future.

Wire all potential display locations, possible speaker locations, irrigation controller, and WAP locations.

I mentioned irrigation to my wife, but she thought it was ridiculous because we're on well water. We may have to wire up anyway and see if she changes her tune smile.gif
Quote:
Originally Posted by Neurorad View Post

If you're considering a pro control system, get that dealer involved with design now, before the pre wire. I'm partial to permanent in-wall and on-wall controls/tablets/keypads, that don't get lost/hidden. Both mounted and held-held controls are ideal.

I am as well. I hope to have iPads on the wall (much cheaper than some of the other dedicated panels, and more flexible). Main issue with the iPads are that they're wireless, but I'm sure we can figure something out for that. Still not sure if we're going to go it (mostly) alone or get a dealer involved. Leaning heavily towards getting our own hands dirty though.

The electrician has done SOME automation prewire before, so I'm sure he'll have his own ideas, but should we prewire to a central location in each room and leave enough on the ends to pull to various locations in the rooms, or prewire to multiple spots in each room off the bat? Also, we were planning to simply use one of those Brother label makers to label all the wires... Is there some preferred "pro" method to do that instead? Considered colored tape, but there's only so many colors wink.gif
post #10 of 14
There are so many details to get 'right' that you could make a career out of it. And what do you know, they're called Custom Installers. wink.gif

If you want to put in a good deal of time and effort, you will have a decent system, but it will not rival a pro installed system.

Pull the cables to the exact spots, and take a crap ton of pictures, before the drywall goes up. Literally, take hundreds or thousands of pics, to make life easy down the road, when you need to cut the drywall to find that cable. Sort the pics into folders by room.

Drywall over all cables you don't plan to use in the immediate future.

Leave a few feet of cable slack at each end, behind the drywall. Leave lots of cable slack in the wiring closet.

Don't terminate your category cables that you're using (or may be using) for video distribution. Don't use keystone wall plates for those, use wall plate scoop plates aka pass through plates. Keep the number of connectors for those runs as low as possible.

Your in-wall or on-wall tablets/keypads may be powered locally, wired in-wall from a nearby outlet, or may get power from a category cable (or 18/2 cable) run to the tablet location from the wiring closet.

If you don't want to shell out the bucks for full-blown Crestron, find a local Elan or Control4 dealer to make sure you have all the cables you need. At a minimum, run your design by the Elan dealer, to make sure everything is there that he may need in 3 years, when your wife is about to leave you when she can't control the alarm from your iPad app.

If you don't try to do too much - keep it basic, avoid the scope creep - your wife will be happy with it.
Edited by Neurorad - 2/27/13 at 3:02am
post #11 of 14
Thread Starter 
It's not really the issue of shelling out the bucks. I have a crestron system now. Yes, it was expensive, especially after dealer markup, but the bigger issue is being locked in to said dealer now. I can't go anywhere else and get work done on my system, and if I want a minor change, I've gotta call them up and pay hundreds of dollars for them to come up here and do the work (they don't do remote). Coding it myself would free me from that and also add to a feeling of accomplishment.
post #12 of 14
I would just reiterate everyone's comments so far....

You should wire both RG-6 (for a direct cable, satellite, or OTA signal) and Cat5e/Cat6 wire (for network, and other signals like HDMI, etc via the use of baluns). Don't leave out the RG-6 because you are going to distribute signals via another method. You may have a desire to hook up a TV directly without using the other distribution method, or someone else may want to in the future.

Depending on the construction of the home, running conduit can be very helpful if you will not have access in the future (ie no crawlspace, basement, or attic access in a room). If you will have access via one of those methods, running conduit really isn't necessary unless you plan on changing access in the future (ie finishing off a basement, etc).

Don't run wires in conduit while you have the opportunity to run them outside of the conduit. So if you plan on putting in 3 Cat6, 2 RG-6, and conduit to a room, run the wires outside of the conduit and leave the conduit free and clear for future use.

Good luck!
post #13 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by sic0048 View Post

Don't run wires in conduit while you have the opportunity to run them outside of the conduit. So if you plan on putting in 3 Cat6, 2 RG-6, and conduit to a room, run the wires outside of the conduit and leave the conduit free and clear for future use.

Very good advice, thanks!
post #14 of 14
one huge benefit of the conduit is if a wire is bad or you need to replace a wire with a new wire that may come out in future or just pull something else you will be able to after the drywall is up. always run conduit if possible. just my opinion!
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