10/100BaseT… Gigabit Ethernet… 802.11b/g/n… IPv6… HDBaseT…. For some folks in AV, just hearing IT terminology requires a dosage increase in the antacid du jour. The good news is that HDBaseT, while sounding like something borrowed from the world of networking, is actually an easy to implement AV technology.
Many of us are familiar with pulling cables from multiple sources to an output device, along with the potential challenges that can arise. A basic projector installation may require pulling nine or more cables and then labor for terminations; one for control, one for HDMI, five for RGBHV, and perhaps a couple for audio. Nine terminations at roughly fifteen minutes each, equates to over two man-hours of just terminations on a single projector. HDBaseT can reduce materials cost and installation time by reducing the total number of cables and field terminations to a single Cat5e/6 cable with RJ45 connectors – all without the need to know anything about networking, switches, IP addresses, or other reflux inducing technology.
HDBaseT can carry all of the following signal types simultaneously:
- Uncompressed full HD digital video – It is HDMI 1.4 compliant and HDCP approved
- Uncompressed Audio
- Control signals – However, it is not compatible with CEC
- 100BaseT Ethernet – with future support of Gigabit Ethernet
- Power – 100 watts maximum
Implementing HDBaseT is not much different from other AV signals. This is a point-to-point technology. On the projector or display, just select HDBaseT as input in the same manner as selecting any of the other conventional inputs. There are no IP configurations or other network related settings to fiddle with. Cable runs up to 100M are supported, along with up to eight hops (or 800M). It is important to use solid wire with a shielded cable as signal dropouts have been reported with UTP (unshielded twisted pair). Cables listed as STP, FTP (Foiled Twisted Pair) or ScTP (Screened Twisted Pair) are acceptable. The same common sense that applies with other signal types applies with HDBaseT – such as avoid running parallel to power cables.
Digital Link is a Panasonic brand specific feature set added on top of HDBaseT that provides two-way communication with Panasonic projectors. This includes the ability to control other devices from the projector’s remote. Many manufactures are now building HDBaseT outputs into their control devices and signal extenders. Signals feeding these systems are output as HDBaseT. AMX and Kramer are two such manufacturers. This allows you to run short cables to a device mounted in a rack near the sources. Then run a single cable from the rack to the display device – potentially replacing 15-20 lbs of various signal-carrying cables running through conduit.
Many manufactures are now building HDBaseT outputs into their control devices and signal extenders. Signals feeding these systems are output as HDBaseT. AMX and Kramer are two such manufacturers. This allows you to run short cables to a device mounted in a rack near the sources. Then run a single cable from the rack to the display device – potentially replacing 15-20 lbs of various signal-carrying cables running through conduit.
If the projector does not have a Digital Link or HDBaseT input, third-party HDBaseT receivers can be installed at the projector or display end. The example shown in Figure 3 is a Kramer TP-582R. The HDBaseT/Digital Link signal is sent from the interface shown above, and connected to the line input on the receiver. HDMI and RS-232 cables are then connected to the projector or display.
In summary, a single Cat5e/Cat6 cable with RJ45 connector…
- Simplifies and reduces cabling and termination costs
- Eliminates the need for long and expensive pre-fab HDMI cables
- Reduces potential points of failure
- Provides reliable, extended cable runs
While reducing installation cost may help win more business, you may also choose to keep some of the savings and potentially increase profits.