A cunning plan to get HD content on upstairs television

Published on 16 August 2011

A few months back I blogged about how I was using a custom application on my Windows Phone 7 to control the wireless antenna in my ADSL router.  This was required because if the antenna was on while we were trying to watch Sky television upstairs via a wireless media sender, we would get interference on the screen upstairs.

I am happy to report that my custom Windows Phone 7 application can now be retired, as I now have a new, more complicated system.  Well, only slightly more complicated.  Bear with me while I try to explain it.

While we were getting the house decorated a couple months back I took the opportunity to run some Ethernet cable between a cupboard in our living room downstairs, upstairs to both the master bedroom, and the spare room (which is essentially the office).  I would have preferred that this Ethernet cable were CAT-6, however, the contractor that I hired only had CAT-5e (and it needed to be done that day as the decorator was then going to fill up the holes), more on this later.

I opted to have two individual Ethernet cables run between the cupboard and the master bedroom, and one between the cupboard and the office. (All of these cables are routed via the loft)

Now to explain, in the cupboard in the living room I have all the media devices that we use, this includes:

  • Sky+ HD box
  • PS3
  • Wii

The single cable is used to provide a wired connection between the PS3 and my Synology Server for streaming media down onto the downstairs TV.

The two cables running to the master bedroom were to be used to stream HD content from either the PS3 or the Sky+ HD box to the television upstairs.  The reason that I routed two cables was because originally I was going to use the Neet - HDMI Extender which required two dedicated cables to transmit the HD signal.

However, then I stumbled onto a similar device that claimed to be able to do the same job, but only use a single Ethernet cable!  This opened up the possibility of transmitting an HD signal from both the PS3 AND the Sky+ HD box, without the need to manually move cables around, or use some form of HD switching device.

I was intrigued!  My only concern was that I was using Cat-5e cable rather than Cat-6, and I was worried that I wouldn’t get as good a picture.  The decided that the only way to know for sure was to try it, and with that in mind I ordered the following kit.

Climax Digital 2 Way HDMI Splitter

I needed two of these.  This would be used to split the single signal from both the PS3 and the Sky+ HD box.  One would go directly into the TV downstairs, and the other would be routed via the HDMI Extender to the television upstairs.

HDMI Extender over Single Cat5e

I needed two of these.  This would be used to take the second signal from the HDMI Splitter and do the magic of encoding the HD signal in such a way that it could be transmitted over Ethernet cable.  This device has two components, a sender and a receiver.

HDMI to HDMI Gold Plated Connectors

I ended up buying a bunch of these.  You need one between the device and the splitter.  Two from the splitter, one to TV downstairs and one to the sender portion of the HDMI extender.  And one more between the receiver portion of the HDMI extender and TV upstairs.  Repeat for second device

10 Way 2 Metre surge Tower Extension Lead Socket

Given the number of extra devices that I was putting into the cupboard I required some extra sockets in order to power them.

Fisual Chunky Velcro Cable Ties - 10 Pack

In order to keep things tidy, well at least reasonable tidy, I used two packs of these to collect all the various cables together.

With all of the above in place and wired up, it was time for the moment of truth, was it all going to work...

The answer is yes!!

The picture and sound quality from both devices is exceptional.  I believe that you would be hard pushed to tell that either device was not directly plugged into the back of the upstairs TV.  In order to change between the Sky+ HD and the PS3 all that is required (on either TV) is to switch from one HDMI input to the other.

But, aha, the eagle eyed amongst you out there will still be wondering how I change the channel on the Sky+ HD box, or control the PS3 from upstairs.  Well, let me tell you...

Remote Control Extender

This rather fetching device is used to take the Infra-Red signal from the Sky+ Remote Control and transmit it downstairs to the actual device.  Initially, we had some issues with alignment of this device in order to ensure that it worked, but once set up, it works perfectly.

Sony Blu-Ray Disc Remote Control

This uses Bluetooth to communicate with the PS3, so no need to repeat the signal, assuming that it is still in range.  I actually already owned one of these devices but I purchased a second one under the believe that I could use both at the same time.  However, this turns out to NOT be the case!  You can only have one Bluetooth Remote connected to the PS3 at once.  As a result, I use this device upstairs to control the PS3, and downstairs I use the standard PS3 controller.

And that, as they say, is that!

You could argue that the system is a “bit” complicated, and it could have been solved in other ways.  For instance, we could have set up Sky Multi-Room to allow us to watch Sky+ HD upstairs, and another PS3 could have been purchased and put upstairs.  However, both of these solutions would have meant additional hardware in the upstairs bedroom, and given the layout of the television, this would have been hard to achieve.  The above solution means that I can fully control all HD content from both the upstairs and downstairs TV.



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