HDMI connection over long distance

sly karma

Novice Member
Thanks for adding me to the forum. I am having challenges sending video to a remote monitor; the purpose is to provide a digital scoreboard for ski racing results. Currently we are using VGA over ethernet converters but picture quality is marginal.

Site conditions:
  • Timing facility is inside a heated building with grid connected 110V power; wifi and LAN connection to internet are available
  • Computer: ordinary Windows laptop with USB 2.0, VGA and HDMI ports
  • Monitor: Sunbrite Signature Series 43” 4K outdoor grade TV; inputs include HDMI, VGA, HDBaseT (onboard receiver)
  • Monitor is housed in an unheated enclosure that has full time 110V power and buried Cat 5e cable connection to timing room
  • The cat 5e cable surfaces in a shack approximately 50 m from the timing room; the shack has 110V power
  • Total distance from timing location to monitor is 70-80 m
  • There is clear line of sight from timing room window to monitor enclosure - possible wireless solution?
  • The timing software automatically configures the remote display output for 1080p monitors
  • Also required: signal for a second monitor in the timing room
Attached picture shows a typical display screen. The racer’s running time ticks over while they are on course and the leaderboard updates and scrolls through the field.

I'm looking for a solution that would give us a more legible display using the available infrastructure. Any help is much appreciated.
 

Attachments

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sly karma

Novice Member
Pic is from software producer's website, not my system, but it accurately shows background and font colours. I believe that pic used HDMI wireless extenders but do not know the distance between PC and monitor.

In our installation we are seeing shadowing, some echoing of data, and poor contrast. The yellow numerals fade out toward white.

The Startech VGA extender receiver unit has a gain adjustment which has some affect, but even what we judge to be "best picture" is hard to read unless within 2 metres from the screen. This is negating the concept of a leaderboard.

I realise i forgot to mention that we split off signal to run a small monitor in the timing room. This is necessary because it mirrors what is happening on the outdoor display. We use this monitor to position the leaderboard window exactly on the screen. Otherwise would need an operator watching and directing us by headset or radio. Deleting this monitor temporarily does yield some improvement in signal at the remote display. Wondering if this is a VGA problem - will moving to HDMI or HD BaseT better support the split signal?
 

EndlessWaves

Distinguished Member
Pic is from software producer's website, not my system, but it accurately shows background and font colours. I believe that pic used HDMI wireless extenders but do not know the distance between PC and monitor.

In our installation we are seeing shadowing, some echoing of data, and poor contrast. The yellow numerals fade out toward white.

That sounds like the effects of interference on an analogue signal so it's likely your current system is repurposing the cable for a VGA signal rather than running over ethernet.

Normal HDBaseT is one of the most popular standards to do the same thing with an HDMI signal. Running over ethernet so you can connect it to network equipment is generally called HDMI over IP (or VGA over IP I guess).

I don't know much about long distance analogue video signals. If it was something newer then dropping the bandwidth (resolution, refresh rate) would make it more tolerant of disruption - assuming your software and screen supports lower resolutions and refresh rates. Might be worth a try.


I don't have any experience of how VGA over Cat5e compares to HDBaseT but it's worth thinking about other solutions too.

If you treat the Cat5e cable as a network cable and connect it to the laptop directly and another computing device on the other end then that opens up more choices. It seems like you're only transmitting a very small amount of meaningful data - a few lines of text - so transmitting the entire uncompressed video signal is rather a brute force approach.

Do the software itself have any support for any network-based output? Streaming the results over the internet or similar.

If not then live streaming is popular these days, there's plenty of software that'll stream the screen of a windows computer.

It doesn't give you the flexibility to plug anything with an HDMI output into the timing hut end but it's potentially a cheaper solution and it's one you can test beforehand with a second laptop or similar.


p.s. HDMI and other digital video signals are constructed in such a way that there's not much margin between a perfect picture and no picture at all so if it works then the picture quality will be perfect, if it doesn't you'll get major glitching at best, and very likely just a black screen.
 

mole

Active Member
Use the hdmi output, DA that with a Extron hdmi da2 4k or similar then use some Extron hdmi 330 tx/rx units or similar to carry signal over cat5. Will cost but will be a robust solution.
 
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sly karma

Novice Member
If you treat the Cat5e cable as a network cable and connect it to the laptop directly and another computing device on the other end then that opens up more choices. It seems like you're only transmitting a very small amount of meaningful data - a few lines of text - so transmitting the entire uncompressed video signal is rather a brute force approach.

In past years the timing software had an optional utility package designed to operate exactly as you've described, but due to the need for an additional licence, almost no one used it. (Ski racing mandates two completely separate timing systems, so clubs and contractors are already paying for two licences at USD 450 for 6 months each. A third was too rich for pretty much everyone).

From reading the timing software update releases and speaking a little with its main designer, the intent is to provide super simple plug and play scoreboard, dragging the scoreboard window over to a second monitor connected by VGA or HDMI. They got it right - very simple with zero setup other than the drag and drop. Switching files between different genders and age groups doesn't affect anything, the scoreboard now shows data from the new file and the window stays where it was put. It's certainly how I like it, because on a busy race morning my focus is on getting start and finish pulses working so I'm not holding up all the athletes, coaches and volunteers standing out there in the cold.

Do the software itself have any support for any network-based output? Streaming the results over the internet or similar.

If not then live streaming is popular these days, there's plenty of software that'll stream the screen of a windows computer.

It doesn't give you the flexibility to plug anything with an HDMI output into the timing hut end but it's potentially a cheaper solution and it's one you can test beforehand with a second laptop or similar.


p.s. HDMI and other digital video signals are constructed in such a way that there's not much margin between a perfect picture and no picture at all so if it works then the picture quality will be perfect, if it doesn't you'll get major glitching at best, and very likely just a black screen.

The software has a live timing website that streams results in real time and it's included in the licence. It's used extensively, with race administrators posting start lists and communiques prior to the race and then official results and data analysis post-race. Racers, parents and coaches check results on www.live-timing.com. In the past we tried using a Chromecast device to cast the live timing page to our display, and it worked OK, but the site has lots of ads and outputs data in portrait view - optimised for mobile devices. The resulting image cast onto the modestly sized, landscape-oriented TV is too small to be effective (and we didn't build the enclosures big enough to be able to rotate the display. Doh!).

However it occurs to me now that with the new digital scoreboard option, maybe we can cast that screen to the outdoor display. I know Chromecast only mirrors Google apps like Chrome browser pages and Youtube, but a miracast device might do it. I'll give it a try this weekend when up at the ski hill.

Thanks for the responses so far, I really do appreciate them even though it might seem like I am knocking down a lot of the ideas.
 

EndlessWaves

Distinguished Member
I believe the google chrome browser will allow you to cast the contents of the Windows desktop.

I suggested the game/live streaming software because it's network agnostic so you could use the existing network cable, but if you've already got access to a wi-fi direct casting receiver (chromecast/miracast) then you could give that a try.

Web browsers do often offer features to reformat websites for better legibility such as reader mode and zoom but that sort of feature can often change without warning so while you could have a fiddle around with that it wouldn't be high up my list of desirable solutions.
 

Bigpants2k

Active Member
Why don't you put a pc or laptop locally to the monitor. Use Team Viewer to jump on and mess with it.
 

EndlessWaves

Distinguished Member
Why don't you put a pc or laptop locally to the monitor. Use Team Viewer to jump on and mess with it.
I'm guessing it's got the timing hardware connected to it, and that hardware operates over USB or some custom cable that's no easier to run over the distance.
 

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