Connecting HTPC to multiple televisions

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Joined: 19 Aug 2009
Connecting HTPC to multiple televisions

Hello everyone.

I have the following query and would be very grateful for some advice.

I am currently building an HTPC with an Asus M3N78-EM motheboard and a Hauppage Nova T-500 card for freeview and a Hauppage Nova HDS2 for viewing freesat.

The HTPC will be wired up to my LCD TV in the living room via HDMI.

I have three other televisions in my house - one using regular analogue (TV1), one with a freesat box attached (TV2) and one with a freeview box attached (TV3).

My question: Is it possible to wire all three televisions so that I can either 1. watch on each television what ever is playing from the HTPC and 2. On(TV2) choose to use the freesat box and get the full range of channels (so using the freesat signal that is passing through the HTPC) and 3. On (TV3) choose to use the freeview box and get the full range of channels (so using the freeview signal that has passed through my HTPC)?

My guess would be that there might be a distribution amp that combines the various signals coming out of the and sends them all to each TV via single wire, but I have no idea if such a thing exists.

Hope this is clear.

Many thanks.

A

Mike Garcen's picture
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Joined: 1 Oct 2006

right, the big question i didn't see answered is, will you ever be trying to power mutliple TV's with the HTPC at the same time?

Or are you only needing the HTPC on 1 tv at a given time?

Mike Garcen (shadymg) MissingRemote Editor-in-Chief Windows Entertainment and Connected Home MVP (formerly Media Center MVP) Twitter @mikegarcen MissingRemote on Facebook

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Joined: 19 Aug 2009

Good point - will have to power mutiple TVs.  ;D

For example, someone could be watching a recording in the living room, but I could be watching say a freesat channel on TV2.

Mike Garcen's picture
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Joined: 1 Oct 2006

but the freesat box runs on it's own, right? i think i'm following, and yeah, you're probably going to need an A/V distribution switcher and go component video instead of HDMI, since i think any affordable switcher will be that. Then you can just switch in the zone you need to the source you need.

I've never worked with one, so that's about the extent of my knowledge, but pretty sure it can be done. Hopefully somebody knows what you'd actually need to buy...

what's your budget btw?

Mike Garcen (shadymg) MissingRemote Editor-in-Chief Windows Entertainment and Connected Home MVP (formerly Media Center MVP) Twitter @mikegarcen MissingRemote on Facebook

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Joined: 19 Aug 2009

Budget wise, difficult to say.  I would really like to set this up if possible, I would say £600 tops at the moment - but as always with these things, things can quickly escalate.

I think I am beginning to see what is needed.

If I take this as an example - diagrams definitely help with this

http://www.crutchfield.com/S-tBv5cJjD2Lk/Learn/learningcenter/home/multi...

If I had my HTPC connected in place of the four boxes in the diagram, would I then be able to send the satellite signal, the freeview signal and the signal from the computer to each of the two zones?

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Joined: 19 Aug 2009

Video distribution is definitely the way to go. In larger homes this is used almost exclusively because you may have 10 TVs, but it makes no sense to buy 10 Sat boxes, 10 Blu-ray players, etc.

The idea is simple, locate all your gear in one central location, run the Audio and Video inputs into a matrix switcher(Drunk then run AV Cables or Cat5 Baluns to each of your rooms/TVs.

Running the wires is not an option for some difficult retrofits but if you are able to, you should. Matrix switchers are not cheap but the convenience and long term savings make it worthwhile.
In the scenario above you no longer need 10 Sat boxed and 10 DVD players, you only need 1 or 2, depending on how many people are in the house. It is common for installers to have a "His DVR" and "Her DVR" rather than a Living Room DVR, Bedroom DVR, Kitchen DVR, Theater DVR etc.

This allows any source to be accessed on any TV in the house, which also allows you to start a Blu-ray in the living room, pause it then finish in the bedroom.

THis ideal setup does require some additional considerations.

Obviously the need to run Component YPbPr + Audio to each room from your central location, or use some of the HD over Cat5 converters out there.

You then need the matrix switcher itself. They usually come in 4x4 or 8x8 configurations meaning the first number representing the number of source devices, the second number representing the number of outputs or tvs you can connect to. Some models switch Component Video only, some Video and Digital Audio, some Video and Analog Audio, some Video and Digital and Analog Audio. Then there are HDMI switchers which are still expensive and somewhat less reliable.

With all source devices and switching in one location you need a way to remotely control the source device as well as the switcher, this means an advanced remote that is wifi or RF as well as corresponding base station with IR/RS-232 emitters to attach to each source device. Universal remote has RF base stations, Harmony had one at one point and there are endless solutions at the higher end of the spectrum.

It sounds like a lot but is really the pinnacle of multi-room AV once you have everything. You literally can add another source or another display or swap a component easily, you remove the rat's nest of wires behind each TV and move all the gear out of the room and into a  rack where it can be neatly wired, cooled with fans and ventilation and running on a UPS and power conditioner.

eBay is your friend here should you decide to go the HD Component route. I picked up an Extron 3200 on ebay, made an offer of $500 and they took it. This switches 8x8 of Component video at 1080i + digital audio. Extron is one of the best you can get and this model once sold for many thousands of dollars.

For something that takes less space and is a great bargain, you can buy this new for $475 it will switch HD component video only, to switch audio you would need to buy a 2nd unit.
http://www.hdtvsupply.com/8x8covimasww.html

THe HDMI switchers are expensive as hell right now but they all pretty much have Cat5 outputs and baluns. The most affordable of the bunch come from Atlona.com
here is a 4x4 HDMI over Cat5 switcher, includes the main unit, 4 converters for each room location, AND also carries IR so you can use your existing IR universal remotes. This unit can be bought new for $2000
http://www.atlona.com/Atlona-4x4-HDMI-Matrix-Switcher-over-Cat5-Cat6-p-1...

They have a nice diagram on the site to help explain.

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Joined: 19 Aug 2009

Thanks for that - I am starting to see what I am going to need here.  Slight change of tact - one problem seem to be that I am mixing digital with analogue.

Is there any way that that I can pass the freeview and freesat analogue signals into the computer, where the TV Tuners can do there stuff, but then pass the analogue signals back out for distribution to other freeview or freesat boxes?

I am not sure if this is even possible - what do you think?

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