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Cabling upgrade/How to feed new projector
We're going to be ordering a new projector soon, and would also like to upgrade our cabling to feed the projector something better than composite video like we're doing now. The projector will be XGA and have DVI and VGA inputs, as well as the standard RGBHV via 5-BNC, and composite, S-Video, and component inputs. Distance from source equipment (in booth) to projector is probably around 75'.
Our current setup (see attached diagram) involves using a Vaddio ProductionVIEW as a switcher, with two PTZ cameras and a DVD player as inputs. The main output feeds a 1x4 composite video DA, which feeds the main projector (which is being replaced by the one we're ordering), an LCD TV in the lobby, a projector in the overflow room, and a DVD recorder. The only source shown on the main projector is the DVD player -- the two cameras are never shown there, only on the lobby TV and overflow projector; and occasionally we'll use the DVD recorder to record from the cameras, usually for weddings and other non-Sunday-morning events.
We still need to be able to feed the lobby TV, overflow projector, and DVD recorder with both camera and DVD sources, so none of that will change. But, since the Vaddio can't do anything better than S-Video, we'll need to figure something else out for the main projector. The only other output on the DVD player is component -- should we send that directly to the main projector, or run it through a scaler/switcher of some sort, and send it up via DVI and/or VGA? A fellow volunteer wants to just go direct component via a 75' cable, but I'm feeling like a Cat5 run with a pair of baluns (for VGA or DVI) might be the better way to go -- cheaper cabling, easier to run, and if we decide in the future we want to send a different signal over the Cat5 run, we just get a new pair of baluns for that signal format; no running additional cables.
Also: if we're using the component output of the DVD player to feed the main projector (either directly or through another piece of equipment), will the composite output remain active to continue feeding into the Vaddio, or will it be disabled? If disabled, we'll need some way to split the component signal and convert one branch to composite or S-Video to feed the Vaddio.
-- At some point in the future we plan to get an HD camera (and possibly upgrade to a WXGA projector, cascading the one we're buying now to another location), at which point we'll want to be able to send an HD signal up to the projector. Unsure of what format that signal would be in... analog component HD, VGA/DVI from a computer, something else? This would replace the DVD player source. If we end up getting some sort of scaler/switcher to convert component from the DVD player to VGA or DVI now, it would be nice if that piece of equipment could also be used for the HD source later on.
-- Along with the above, we'll need to still be able to feed the lobby TV and overflow room from the HD playback signal, probably down converted to SD.
What does CMN recommend? Be specific if possible (suggest brands/models of equipment)!
What is the DVD player? And would you possibly be considering that changing to a Blu-Ray player?
As far as future HD distribution, you may need to think in terms of the overall system. For example, what inputs do the Lobby TV, Overflow projector and DVD recorder handle? What format and signal type would you then have for the cameras? How long are the runs to those and what cabling paths are available to them? Are there places where you might have to deal with 16:9 images on 4:3 displays and/or 4:3 images on 16:9 displays and if so, how do you best address that?
The same sort of planning may relate to the wiring to the projector. Analog component video or RGBHV video over twisted pair may be well served by a single CAT5 or 'low skew' UTP cable but DVI or HDMI extenders may necessitate shielded CAT5e or CAT6 cable or even multiple cables. So if you installed an analog video over twisted pair system to the projector now then there is no guarantee that the cable best suited to that will also support future digital media signals such as DVI, HDMI, HDBaseT or AVB. However, standard CAT5/5e/6 cable is probably still going to be less expensive and easier to run than the comparable audio/video cables.
DVD player is a standard cheap-o Sony consumer-grade player from Wal-Mart; we bought a Denon professional rackmount DVD player a year or two ago, but it had problems playing DVDs created from our Sony DVDirect recorder, so it got taken out and the cheap Sony took its place. In the future, yes, I could see it being replaced (or augmented) with a Blu-Ray player -- but I'm not sure a Blu-Ray player will be the primary HD source. I would say it's more likely to be a computer of some sort.
The lobby LCD takes your standard analog inputs (composite, S-vid, component), plus VGA for sure. I'm not sure about DVI or HDMI. Overflow projectors also take analog and VGA, but no DVI or HDMI. DVD recorder takes only composite video and RF/coax. Run to the lobby LCD is probably 60 ft, and closer to 100 to the overflow projectors. No idea if there is conduit for those runs or just free-run cable.
The run to the main projector I was originally thinking was 75-100', but another volunteer says he thought it was closer to 40-45' the last time they pulled cable up there. So, video over twisted-pair may not be necessary, as we could likely get away with a 50' HDMI or DVI cable. There is also already an RG-59/6 coax run up there with F-to-RCA connectors on it that we use for composite, but it could probably be repurposed for SDI if we wanted to go that route (obviously we lose HDCP if we do that). That, though, would require hardware on either end to convert the source to SDI, and then back from SDI to something the projector will accept.
I thought a little more about the switcher/scaler idea, and realized that we really don't need a switcher for the projector; it only ever shows a single source at a time, and I don't see that changing. Thus, really all we need is the scaling part -- take SD NTSC video signals and scale them up to XGA resolution (or, in the future, WXGA). An added benefit would be if the scaler can take 16:9 input and output letterboxed 4:3 XGA.
A 50' HDMI or DVI cable may be really pushing the limits for length, although you're probably not running 1080p signals. Similar with the existing coax to the projector, it may or may not be appropriate for SDI use, that depends on the specific cable. And don't forget considerations such as if any cable needs to be rated for installation in walls or above ceilings or perhaps even for plenum use.
The reason I asked about the DVD and Blu-Ray is that the component outputs on DVD players are limited to 480p, so not HD. Even the 1080p upscaled HDMI outputs on some DVD players are scaled lower resolution images rather than actual 1080p content. If you move to Blu-Ray, with the newer players you can get 720p, 1080i or 1080p outputs, but not from the analog video outputs, which are limited to 480p and in a couple of years will disappear completely from Blu-Ray players (that's not an opinion, it is part of the Blu-Ray standards and something all manufacturers have agreed to follow). The point is that if you want to account for HD sources other than analog widescreen computer graphics sources then you pretty much have to look at a system that can address HDMI, DVI and/or HD-SDI.
So for your immediate needs, you could feed the component output of the DVD player to the main projector, but you'd basically be looking at the difference between a 480i signal scaled to 1024x768 and a 480p signal scaled to 1024x768, so not a huge difference.
As far as longer term plans, the challenge you seem to face is a common one of having sources and destinations that currently or in the planned future involve a variety of potential signals from composite or Y/C to VGA to HDMI/DVI/HD-SDI. Assuming the Lobby display is 16:9, you also likely have a mix of 4:3 and 16:9 destinations. So do you put in a switching and distribution system to support the future knowing that initially means having to upconvert some sources and downconvert at some destinations? Or do you pursue a switching and distribution system that requires less conversion now but may not directly support HD signals such as HDMI, DVI or HD-SDI? Or do you look at switching and distribution systems that can handle both the current and future needs but at a greater cost? There is no one right answer, it all depends on your needs, priorities, schedule, budget and so on.