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The problem is not with your TV - The Stylish Musings of Stevie Z [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Stevie Z

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The problem is not with your TV [Aug. 11th, 2010|09:39 pm]
Stevie Z
My bosses have charged me with a mission.

The club has 2 main levels- the big club upstairs where they have the club nights and big special events, and the downstairs karaoke lounge which also has 6 private karaoke suites.

In the karaoke club, there are 5 monitors in the main lounge with a system set up for karaoke, or we can play DVDs, PS3, or show direct TV.

The private rooms have their own separate systems that are currently only set up for karaoke (either English or Korean) and a few of the rooms are set up for separate PS3 systems.

Now, my bosses want this. They want the ability to run the direct TV to the individual rooms and asked me to do this.

This is more difficult than it sounds, if you can believe it. But damn, I think I pulled it off.

This will probably melt your brain. I know it melted mine.

We have a coax video feed to our DTV HD receiver. From there, it outputs via an RCA cable to what we call 'the matrix'- it's an 8 input/8 output video router, so we can send any of the 8 input signals to any of the 8 outputs. Now, the ins and outs are RCA and most assuredly NOT HI-DEF. To achieve the routing from the matrix to the 5 46" hi-def TVs, we have to run an RCA out from the matrix into a converter that switches to a CAT5 (think standard computer cable) cable, which runs to near the TV, goes back to through another converter that switches it back to an RCA, and we run the RCA into the TV.

Are you still with me? And again, what ends up @ these shiny beautiful TVs is NOT HI-DEF. Oh hells no.

Now, this is where it gets complicated. The systems for the rooms are an entirely different universe in that it runs entirely separate from the main lounge system and is located in a different area. These systems were set up strictly for karaoke for both English and Korean, both of which are independent systems serviced by different subcontractors. Both of these systems are output to a 4 channel in/1 channel out splitter, with audio in its own little world. So the karaoke occupies 2 of the 4 inputs. In 3 of the rooms, there are also PS3s, which occupy channel 3.

What I needed to do was make a run from the main lounge DTV system to the closet and then distribute the signal to each of the 6 rooms. This was to be done like the TV runs in the main lounge- an RCA out from the matrix, run through a converter box to ethernet, and on the back end, box it back from ethernet to RCA, run the RCA into a 1 in/6 out splitter, and then run each of those outs to inputs on each of the 4 channel splitters to the room.

Easy-peasy, right? Ah, I fucking wish.

I hooked everything up, trying it out on a 19" monitor, testing every connection along the way. I took a direct out from the DTV and it worked. I took the out from the matrix, still a-o-tay. Then a big test- I used a short ethernet cable and went through the box out and box in, back to RCA, into the monitor and fuck me I'm a poodle*, it worked. Beautiful.

But as Wolf said in Pulp Fiction, let's not start sucking each others' dicks just yet.

I brought the monitor across the room and hooked up the ethernet cable that was already run from the matrix to the closet. Plugged in my RCA into the monitor and I got nuttin'. WTF? Checked all my connections and nuttin' still. Brought the monitor back across and hooked it back up with the shortie cable and it worked. Ok, bad cable.

But I've been having this problem with a few other ethernet runs in this place. This can't just be coincidence. So I looked at the cable that worked and saw that it was marked as an "ethernet crossover cable". WTF? So I googled it and saw that in this crossover cable, it's wired different than a standard CAT5. Ok, so what I needed was a crossover adapter so I trotted the 5 blocks to my friendly computer store and got a crossover adapter and made my way back to the club. Feeling that the mutual dick-suck was right around the corner, I hooked everything up, inserted the shiny new ethernet crossover adapter into the mix, made the final connection to the monitor and.........

Well, it wasn't nuttin' but it was pretty fucking close. The picture was jumbled all to hell. So much for the dick sucking. Dammit....... I went upstairs to the Sekkrit Tek Closet and found a 25' ethernet cable. Came back downstairs and subbed in that cable, took the crossover out of the mix, and...... :: w00t w00t :: we can haz videoz!!!!!

So the problem was with the CAT5. Some nimrod wired the connector incorrectly. I consulted The Oracle aka Google for the proper way to make a CAT5 connector, which isn't difficult except the wires are so fucking tiny and it's damn near impossible to distinguish between the white cable sheath with blue hash marks and the white cable sheath with green hash marks. I mean, could you use any more similar colors? Goddamn. I could barely see it and apparently, the person who made these cables couldn't see them either. After an hour of interruptions and of trial and error, I finally made a cable that worked. I plugged it in and there was video and the Gawds smiled down upon me.

So I disconnected the monitor and plugged the RCA into the Room 1 distro box and went into Room 1, turned on the TV, and there it was- video.

I wept.

But the quality was..... well, well....... In order to properly describe it, I must borrow from the lexicon of my Production Manager from my last Moscow Circus tour, Mr. Joseph Sharp, an occasionally cantankerous gentleman from Tennessee. (But I did teach that old dawg a little something- when we were at the hardware store picking up some rigging, he was agonizing whether to buy a heavy-duty piece of gear or save a few bucks for our Russian masters and buy one, well, not so heavy duty. I just smiled and asked him how much a dead Russian costs. Joe saw my point and spent the extra rubles. But I digress.)

Anywho, Mr. Sharp's artistic eye would occasionally find offense with something and he would describe it as "looking like hammered shit."

A charming expression and although I'm not quite sure what hammered shit looks like, I am guessing it does not look good. In fact, I'm pretty sure it doesn't.

So yeah, the picture looked like hammered shit. But it was a picture and the alternative- running hi def- would be A> expensive as all fuck and B> well outside Yours Truly's technical capabilities at this time.

But my boss did not ask for art. He asked for signal and there it was. So I summoned him downstairs and he looked at it and crinkled his nose. Maybe hammered shit smells and my sense of smell is shot- I dunno.

But then, inspiration struck. We were looking at a hi-def channel using (remember my earlier point) NOT HI-DEF connectors. So just for giggles and shits, I switched from a hi-def channel to a NOT HI-DEF channel (some religious crackpot- mercifully, the audio wasn't hooked in) and lo and behold, the pic was..... much less like hammered shit and more like a regular lo-def picture. No Max Headroom jittering, all the colors fine.....

My boss smiled, clapped me on the shoulder, and told me to get all the rooms hooked up, helluva job Steve we've wanted this for years, and off he went.

Yay for me. "We can build upon this!"


* I've used the expression "fuck me, I'm a poodle" many times over the years and you may have wondered a> WTF it means and B> is it my expression. B> I copped the expression from the play "Bobby Gould in Hell", a little show I was in about 15 years ago. It was one of the lines from the devil, who was expressing extreme exasperation with a situation and it just struck me as funny. The other funny line was from the devil's stenographer, who had the line "He said he wanted to shove a toaster up her ass."

Funny? Maybe no. Ok. Hiroki go now.