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HDMI wiring outdoors

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
SUMMARY
I am an A/V integrator and am engineering an outdoor theater for one of my clients. One issues I am concerned with is the reliability of HDMI transmission in a long-distance, outdoor environment with possible marine-line conditions. The most recent thread about HDMI in 'Harsh environments' is from 2010 and doesn't mention the current HDBaseT standard.

http://www.avsforum.com/t/1275849/hdmi-distribution-in-hostile-marine-environment

THE ENVIRONMENT
Near the ocean, but not right on the water. I know how salt air seems to corrode literally anything it comes in contact with. I don't know how prevalent this will be where this house is located, but I am assuming the worst. The environment is mostly warm 75-100f degrees during the occupied season. It is somewhat humid, although it is elevated from the ocean so the humidity is less. Movies will only be watched at night.

EQUIPMENT LOCATIONS
This is set in stone and cannot be changed

A/V SWITCHING
Located inside building - climate/humidity controlled space

DISPLAY
Projector permanently installed in specialized outdoor enclosure. Wire run in conduit to this location. Sealed connection. Not sure if humidity controlled.

OUTDOOR COFFEE TABLE
This is the most concerning location. It is a semi-perminant table with a conduit run to underneath. It needs to be able to be disconnected and moved most likely (Although maybe not). We will have 2 HDMI sources located here. (1) A "cheapo" bluray player (2) HDMI Aux input for diverse array of local sources: Game systems, laptops, whatever. We are building the table, and don't know what it will be just yet. I can presume we will have some dead space to hide widgets, etc.

MY OBSERVATIONS / CONCERNS

DISTANCE OF THE JOB SITE FROM ME
It is not within our service area and I need a robust a solution as possible. I cannot make multiple trips testing and reinstalling. Money is no object to make this work perfect the first time.

USING NATIVE HDMI WIRES
  • Teeny tiny HDMI pins inside the connector corroding in the humidity and sea salt. Thus breaking the termination and making the wire useless.
  • No outdoor rated hdmi wire available? Outdoor conduit filling with water and saturating the HDMI wire, breaking it.
  • HDMI cable length restrictions. I AM DOUBTFUL I CAN KEEP THE DISTANCE LESS THAN 45ft. As a rule I keep all HDMI runs <45ft. I could potentially install a repeater mid way on the hdmi cable run if needed, however I am not thrilled about adding in additional equipment like this which add a failure point potential and make it difficult to troubleshoot.
  • Requires that no sensitive balun widgets be placed outside

USING BALUNS
  • equipment baking in the summer heat and failing.
  • Corroding internals with humidity.
  • Corrosion of external RG or CAT terminals.

FIBRE
  • No issues with EMI, surge
  • Uncertain with corrosion issues, seems much less likely than metal
  • Tough to terminate
  • Fragile wire
  • Requires sensitive baluns be placed outside
  • No standard for fibre HDMI transmission, concerned having once tried a rainbowfish pre made fibre solution with mixed compatibility results.

Basically there is no perfect solution, however I am interested in hearing what others have to say.

OTHER INFO

SOME IDEAS I HAVE TOSSED AROUND
Installing a climate enclosure inside the table and placing sensitive HDBaseT or RG-6 Baluns inside. RG-6 seems ideal for transmission wire because the wire and terminations are durable, it is easy to re-terminate, and *seems* less prone to corrosion, however I am not sure of the quality and reliability of this HDMI transmission method--I like that HDBaseT is a standard.

SIDE NOTE: LIGHTNING PROTECTION
This is a lower priority .Has anyone ever added some sort of signal surge suppression for outdoor HDMI locations? I prefer that all outdoor wiring have some sort of surge suppression to avoid serious damage to other connected components. Will an ethernet surge suppressor work with HDBaseT? How about a coax with HDMI over coax? I am guessing that HDMI does not have a surge suppressor.

At this point we are still in the wiring phase and I should be able to pull whatever I want within reason. Nevertheless, equipment affects the wiring.

Any input would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks

-Jon
post #2 of 5
Thread Starter 
Some things I have found:

EXTRON HDMI 201 HDBaseT Balun
http://www.extron.com/product/product.aspx?id=hdmi201txrx
This has an operating temp of 122 degrees and a storage temp of 155 degrees It also lists relative humidity at 90%. I like that it has no vent grille. I have actually held one of these in my hand and they don't feel as rugged as some of the competing baluns/extenders. Like most extron items it should be quality, but is expensive. ~$1000 for the pair

EXTRON HFX100 Fiber Extender
http://www.extron.com/product/product.aspx?id=hfx100&subtype=212&s=4
Same operating specs as above. ~$2400 for the pair. This is expensive. Unless I needed the very long distances that fiber provides, I am not sure of going this route--even if fiber physically isolates external devices.

A note about extron:
I remember having a conversation with an extron support rep about a year ago about why they were late to product an HDMI matrix when others were already doing so. Their response: There were significant quality/connectivity issues plaguing HDMI matrix products (key minding, etc) that the industry had not addressed. They didn't want to release a half-baked product. They were right, as several other manufacturers had released some matrix products that were FAR from bulletproof. I tend to trust their quality/judgement, although their products are expensive.

EXTRON DOESN'T HAVE HDMI OVER RG-6 PRODUCT
This is interesting. Very few other manufacturers have this as well. I have reservations about specifying a technology that doesn't appear to have widespread support.
post #3 of 5
For the environmental control of your equipment at the table I would choose a hidden Hoffman enclosure. They make an aluminum cast enclosure that should hold up against the salt air environment you are describing. (1)

Hoffman/Pentair/McLean also make a thermoelectric cooler (peltier cooler) that is DC powered (2) that will keep the box environmentally stable and should remove any humidity that you would worry about. The cooler also has an optional condensate trap that will eject the condensate outside of the box via gravity. (3) I believe that there is also a new temperature controller for the coolers that allow them to be used as coolers when it is hot and heaters when it is cool. (4) The whole design being to eliminate condensation inside the enclosure.

Since you are going to have AC powered equipment at the coffee table location, it shouldn't be a big deal to install an AC-DC rectifier to operate this cooler.

They also make an actual air conditioning unit that utilizes a compressor and refrigerant. I wouldn't want to install this because of possible maintenance. The peltier cooler just has a couple of fans and is passive.

If you supply some type of environmentally controlled atmosphere for the balun equipment, I would go with the Extron HFX100 Fiber Extenders since you stated money wasn't an object. Eliminating the possibility of lightning inductance on the copper you would use for a CAT6 extension will be worth it if you ever have a lightning event.

This sounds like a cool project. Maybe when you are finished you could follow up with some pictures of the design you choose.

(1) http://www.hoffmanonline.com/product_catalog/section_index.aspx?cat_1=34&cat_2=159990&SelectCatID=159990&CatID=159990#B78655

(2) http://www.hoffmanonline.com/product_catalog/product_detail.aspx?cat_1=34&cat_2=2383&cat_3=306829&catID=306829&itemID=306830

(3) http://www.hoffmanonline.com/product_catalog/product_detail.aspx?cat_1=34&cat_2=2383&cat_3=306829&catID=306829&itemID=353193

(4) http://www.hoffmanonline.com/product_catalog/product_detail.aspx?cat_1=34&cat_2=2383&cat_3=71298&catID=71298&itemID=324780
post #4 of 5
Thread Starter 
Thanks for this useful info. Pictures to come if we end up doing the installation. At this point we are Only hired to do the design.
post #5 of 5
Thread Starter 
Also, when I said money is no concern, I may have spoken slightly out of turn. We will have 3 additional outdoor locations utilizing some sort of hdmi extenders. Fiber starts to get real expensive at and additional $1500 per run over HDBaseT... and the distances aren't very long. I have been advised by the HDBaseT alliance, that a surge suppressor compatible with gigabit ethernet should work (in theory) for HDBaseT since HDBaseT conforms to the physical parameters of the gigabit standard.

Still, HDBaseT can be tricky and doesn't seem to always like in-line termination points and who knows about the effect of a surge suppressor in the mix. Also, there is zero inherent risk with fiber and lightning. There some inherent risk with HDBaseT and lightning, even with in-line suppression. Finally, we have copper lines running right along side the fiber to these same outside locations for data, audio, control, etc. I guess we could put those all over optical too... Cost aside, in that scenario I don't like the idea that we have many separate active devices converting all of our 'dangerous' copper connections to fiber for transport inside the main structure. I have a much higher level of confidence on placing surge protection on each of these non-hdmi devices.

Fiber is not a cheap option, save the rainbowfish preterminated HDMI cable, but those have noted compatibility issues, which I have personally experienced. Never again :-|
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