Going the Distance for HD Video Overflow in Church

Early last year, our church decided to add a new high definition overflow system in our facility. We have a growing church body and during some special events we don’t have enough room in our main auditorium to fit everyone. The need was there and we hired a man to fulfill this problem.

Top: PT-571 Bottom: TP-551N

Without going into ridiculous detail, as was my first draft of this post, we have an HD camera running at 720p into a scaler and into a 1:8 HDMI hub. This goes into 5 HDMI-over-Cat5 transmitters to matching receivers at several of our HDTVs around the church for announcements and HD video from the church services.

The transmitter/receiver set we use is the Kramer TP-551N and 552N models. They run over 2 Cat5 cables up to 200 feet powered at both ends. Some volunteers and I helped install them to the TV in our lobby, our childcare room, coffeeshop, chapel, and at the back entrance. The one by the back entrance worked only for announcements using our older transmitters, and would not work with the HD overflow. I found that out with the help of another volunteer in the church who used a Cat5 tester and determined the length of the cables was over 300 feet and lost all of the signal strength trying to make it that far! We needed a solution.

I did some research and found that Kramer had a newer model of the transmitter/receivers, the PT-571 and 572. It only needs power at one end, runs over one Cat6 cable, and goes up to 330 feet! Perfect!

half of the 300 feet I needed to go

I spent my day Thursday running the new wire through the ceiling. The 2 Cat5s I was pulling the single Cat6 with kept getting stuck at different points which made my easy job just that much more difficult. but I did have an ingenious idea about the spool of cable I was running. I didn’t have a stand to put it through, so I sat it on a stool with a spinning seat and it unwound that way. It took about 2 hours to get the cable 300 feet from the back entrance to the soundbooth.

Spool on a stool
Terminating the Cat6 cable was a pain. I tried it a few weeks ago to be sure I could do it successfully. I used a 23 gauge STP Cat6, which is just a bit thicker than the regular Cat5e UTP I used originally. I had to get the 8 wires into a small block, stacking them so they would fit in a standard RJ-45 plug (like for an ethernet cable). It took 5 minutes for the first and 1 hour for the second.

When that was all done, I had my tester and gave it a whirl, ta-da! worked on the first try! But that only meant I had wired it correctly. I still needed to get the video signal out to the TV.

The PT-571 and 572 were next. The transmitter has the HDMI in and Cat6 out, and vice versa for the receiver. I discovered the receiver does not need to be powered which is a plus, but made me nervous that I lost something when I opened the box.

Ta-Da!

I put them both in and to my amazement it worked! Hallelujah! Now our TV toward the back had announcements and video feeds!

This serves a greater purpose than it might seem at first. Sometimes people come in late, or may not come into the auditorium at all, or may have to step out for a prolonged period of time. Rather than they only hear the Word preached, they can see the preacher and possibly understand more fully the message being presented. But, not just Sundays, but during the week, this back entrance in used often and the announcements shown in the lobby may never be seen by visitors who don’t go the extra 200 feet to see it. These TVs provide the ability to keep our visitors and church family members informed and educated every day of the week.

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