Ask The Expert: Long Distance Runaround
Q. I'm in the process of building a new home and will be putting a home theater in my basement. I want to be able to watch the movie that's playing in the home theater on a TV in my upstairs living room. I recently read the "Tech Zone" article about using Cat5 cable to send video and audio to other rooms (Ask the Expert: HDTV Over Cat5 Cables, May). It seems like a good idea, but I'm not sure how to get it done. Any advice? Eddie Dubbs Laporte, IN
A. Bruce Garipay, Owner, Electronics Concierge (firstname.lastname@example.org), Puerto Vallarta, Mexico says: The first thing I would suggest to anyone building a new home is that the wiring can be done only once, so do it right. If you follow the Electronic Industries Association (EIA) standard, TIA-570A Level 2, you'll provide yourself the flexibility to implement current and future technologies and increase your home value when it's time to sell. Basically, the standard calls for two coax and two Cat5e cables in each room, all terminating back into a central distribution panel.
As for your question, yes, you can transmit audio and video signals over Cat5 cabling very effectively these days. Gefen (gefen.com), for one, has several extender products that can transmit composite to HDMI signal types over Cat5 cabling. AudioControl (audiocontrol.com) is another manufacturer that offers similar solutions for this project. You select the audio and video formats you intend to send and then determine the number of Cat5 cables needed for signal transmission. Once you have the audio/video signal to the second room, you'll need to consider how you will control your source equipment located in your basement. Depending on distance and the type of construction your home has, you could use either an RF remote control or an IR repeater system to control the source equipment from the living room. An RF signal can be limited in its effectiveness by distance and by certain materials found in construction, whereas the repeater approach requires additional cabling but adds reliability to the system.