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Long Firewire run for iChat?

401 Views 8 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  kktx
I have just had a dedicated theater room in construction wired for sound, and was considering running a Firewire cable from the front of the room to the AV rack on the side of the room to connect to a media center MacMini for potential iChats. I thought it would be extremely cool to do iChats (e.g., with grandparents for my kids) on a 110" front projection setup.

I'm wondering if anyone has experience with long firewire runs for this purpose--I have already purchased a 15' cable (which works connected to my powerbook) but will need to go longer. I'd appreciate any feedback with those who have attempted longer runs--thanks in advance.

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I wonder if you can just control iChat on the Mac mini wirelessly (via Airport/Airport Express) using the Remote Desktop function built-in to the OS X Sharing Prefs from a PowerBook configured with a compatible Remote Desktop client controller?
Sorry--perhaps the point was unclear. I'd like to put an iSight in the front of a dedicated HT room connected to the Mini that will be in the AV rack. For this I'll need a long cable run, and I've read that I may have problems with a run greater than 15'. Cables are available up to 10m in length, but I'm just not sure if this will work. I could purchase the cable and check it out, but would love to hear if anyone has personal experience with a long cable run.

We currently use the laptop all the time for iChats. To do this in the theater room, we'd have a wireless keyboard but with a relatively inconspicuous camera in the front of the room.
Oh...I see that the distance between your AV rack with the mini and the iSight camera position is the issue.

...I just connected a good quality, 14'6' FireWire cable to the iSight on a PowerBook G4.

It appears to work and I was able to connect to the Apple iChat (AIM) test account (appleu3test03). However, I have no buddy currently online to do a real test chat...

By the way, Lighting will be an issue. If you can't add a soft, portrait light to the room, I recommend you try iGlasses with the iSight. This software can be found at Version Tracker. It allows you to set up and save lighting settings for each room you encounter and establish custom values for brightness, hue, saturation, temperature and white balance, as well as gain, focus and shutter settings, among others...It doesn't make up for poor lighting, but it does extend the capabilities of the iSight...
How long a run are you talking about? They make firewire cables with repeaters in them or something like this may work, http://www.usbfirewire.com/Parts/rr-fw-cat5.html which will repeat the firewire over Cat5. It limits bandwidth to 100Mbps but for an iSight it should work OK. Or you could simply daisy chain a few hubs together like this one firewire hub giving you 15 feet per jump.

-Jerry C.

That Cat 5 FireWire repeater is interesting. Doesn't anyone yet make a Cat 6/Gigabit version?
iGlasses is great. No one who uses iChat should be without it!

I'd prefer not to have to use repeaters/hubs if possible. After all, I'd like the run to be concealed in a wall, and it just increases the hassle factor and the likelihood that something goes wrong later. My electrician has already come and gone, as well. 15' is just a bit too short. I'm thinking that 20' will be sufficient, but I haven't found a cable in that length (I have a 15' cable now and I see them in a 10 meter length).
I don't know of any Cat6 versions of the repeaters but they do make optical ones that can do FW800 which look pretty cool. They ain't cheap at almost $800 but up to 1000m extensions are pretty extreme ;)

Why not just use a tripod with the isight then? Just put it on a tripod and set it up when you are going to use it. That way you don't need to run the wire behind anything. I know most iSights sit there idle 99% of the time so this may work for you. A really long firewire cable may or may not work but in all likelihood will be flakey.

-Jerry C.
Thanks for all the advice. In the end (creative placement behind studs) I got my 15' cable to extend from my audio rack on the side of the room that's under construction to the front right corner where I mount an iSight. The idea will be that the person we're chatting with will have a view (looking back from the screen) of the room where we're sitting. They will be visible on our front projection system. I hooked up the iSight to my PBG4 and had no problems with signal over that length. As discussed above, iGlasses is a can't live without utility for those who iChat under varying conditions. At one point the camera was hanging upside down and I clicked a box in iGlasses to invert the image--way cool! Now I just need to hope the drywall guys don't nick the cable...

Turned out to be an extremely cheap approach--no hubs, repeaters, and less than $20 of cable. I can't wait to see how this looks when the theater is done.
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