It is not uncommon for an integrator to take on a project where new A/V components are to be installed using existing wiring and infrastructure. Often times the customer is upgrading to a modern A/V system in an environment where an older system was once installed. These situations can be challenging as the integrator might not know much about the existing infrastructure’s capabilities. In most cases where things like infrastructure are unknown, it is absolutely essential to test all existing cabling to ensure that the infrastructure is robust enough to meet the customer’s needs.
These projects are referred to as “retrofit” jobs. This means that the integrator is tasked with making the entire system work properly in an environment that may have existing wiring. Another example would be adding/replacing components in an existing system. Although there can be a lot of “unknowns” in retrofit installations, there are several ways to test not only wiring but any components that will remain in the system.
Follow this “pre-installation” guide to test any existing wiring or components that will not be replaced during the installation. This will help you spec out the correct components or wiring to meet the customer’s needs and expectations. For these tests you will need both the Murideo Fox and Hound HDMI test kit along with the MSTest Pro for testing HDBaseT cabling.
-Identify wiring type (HDBaseT, HDMI, etc) and look for any labeling.
-Document all cables and note the labels (if labeled)
-If the cables are not labeled it is recommended to test each one then label them. This will help the installation go as smoothly as possible
2) Identify each location where a display will go.
-Inspect wiring and look for any labeling
-Document all locations and the wiring type(s)
-If there are any displays that will remain in the system, test each one to ensure that it is capable of the system’s needs
-Re-terminate any cables that are currently terminated with RJ45EZ ends
-Use the HDBaseT Certification test for each cable. Document and save the test results
-Use the DC Resistance test for each cable. Document and save the test results
-If any cable fails, use the MSTest Pro to check the cable length. Be sure to document cable length so you can spec out the correct extender or HDBaseT matrix switch
-If any cable continues to fail after testing, visually inspect the cable(s) for physical damage. Also check to see if any cables have excessive length (for example – any excess cabling that is coiled up in the attic, crawlspace, drop ceiling, basement, etc)
4) Use the Fox & Hound kit to test bandwidth and functionality for any existing HDMI cable in the system.
-For a thorough test, run a cable test for every format from 18Gbps down to 1Gbps.
-Document test results for each cable, and plan on replacing any cable that fails or cannot pass the bandwidth required for the system.
5) Using the F&H analyzer, test all sources that will remain in the system
-Verify that the source works and performs to the system’s and customer’s needs.
-Plan on replacing any existing sources that are not capable of maximizing the system.
6) Using the F&H kit, test any repeater devices (extenders, switches, distribution amplifiers, AVRs, etc) that will remain in the system.
-Verify that each repeater is functional and will pass the required bandwidth for the system’s needs.
-Document the test results for each repeater device. Plan on replacing any repeater devices that are not capable of maximizing the performance of the system.
Ultimate goals after spec-ing out a retrofit system:
-Every HDBaseT cable is tested, labeled, and documented
-Every HDMI cable is tested, labeled, and documented
-Any sources that will remain in the system are tested, and you have determined if they need to be replaced
- Any repeaters that will remain in the system are tested, and you have determined if they need to be replaced
-Any displays that will remain in the system have been tested and you have determined if they need to be replaced
-Your installation team has enough information for the install to go as smoothly as possible. It is always better to find issues during the walkthrough and not during the installation