Composite video through cat5


[mixadj] needed to run some video cable from one part of his house to another. He was lacking the proper amount of video cable, but had a bunch of cat5 laying around. so he built a converter to run his composite signal through the cat5. He states that he wouldn’t run it more than 70 feet without amplifying the audio somehow. Aside from that, the performance is supposedly decent.  This just adds to the multitude of other uses for that Ethernet cable. We’ve seen voice, data, composite video, VGA, and power. What else have you seen run over cat5?


  1. > What else have you seen run over cat5?

    My car ran over some cat5 that I left in the garage once.

  2. Oliver says:

    Ive found the twisted pairs in cat5 is perfect for LEDS. So I suppose its power running over cat5………….

  3. mark says:

    Thats a verry good idea, i have alot of cat 5 running around this room , and its alot easier to fit through holes in walls then the standard composite cables are , i mite look in to doing this one day .

  4. Sp`ange says:

    MIDI over CAT5 works well. Especially when building junction boxes.

  5. Corey says:

    It’s not a converter, it’s just an adaper… Cat 5 has 8 conducters, composite cables have 2 each (for a total of 6)… so it’s common sense that you could run a simple low-power analog signal through the cat-5. It would be much more impressive if you could build a converter to run the composite signals through a LAN.

  6. GoatTuber says:

    After one of the screws from my last pair of glasses kept coming out, the frame’s threads eventually wore down to the point where it wouldn’t hold anymore. I used some of the copper wire from a spare length of cat5 to hold it together, and it lasted for months. Actually it’s still holding up just fine, but I cracked the opposite lens in half so I was forced to get a new pair.

  7. Nick Jensen says:

    I had recently finished running cat5e throughout the house with 2 drops in each of 2 bedrooms, 1 closet and the living room to a patch panel in the kitchen where my wireless ap lives. I wanted to also run the two rear speakers through the walls and attic in the living room. As it turns out, I just made a custom wiretwist job on a couple bits of ethernet cable and now it’s running through that.

  8. visionetiks says:

    My whole DIY home automation system (not finished yet) uses cat5 for the signals

    Signals in my arbitrary/propietary format (it’s sort of like a duplex DMX-512)

    cat5 is ideal for everything because it’s cheap (thanks to super-ultra-mass production), and can handle pretty much anything, information or power, balanced or unbalanced, duplex or one-way

  9. chriggy says:

    Not much innovation here. Running video over cat-5 has been around commercially for years.

  10. localroger says:

    It’s no big surprise that this works; the frequencies carried in 100 base T are far higher than video. It would be pretty simple to build a true converter, to convert the 1V p-p video voltage signal to a few mA analog current signal and back again at the other end, that would allow you to run video hundreds of feet easily. It would probably work better than the voltage signal through coax.

  11. Solenoidclock says:

    The Zip line at my local hooters is sends paper order slips over the same piece of Ethernet cable that they use for the wireless hotspot. It’s tied off at either end before plugging in. I knew most cables are designed to take a little abuse from pulling and such during installation, but before I saw that I had no idea how hardcore cat5 could really be.

  12. Ilial says:

    We run 1280×1024 VGA through a Cat5e cable using a custom converter board (shift registers and a counter) here at Berkeley engineering. Works like a charm, but the board requires an external supply.

  13. ilumos says:

    Ran composite video over cat5 for a 2000ft run across a music festival site, for displaying live audio/video in the VIP tents two years running now. First year just used baluns (balanced to unbalanced converters) which are passive. The video didn’t look too great but it worked just fine. This year just gone used some of Kramer’s powered sender units, which worked very well indeed.

    As said before, cat5’s super cheap so is used for a whole load of stuff. Shame the bend radius on it is so large, really easy to snap the solid core copper.

  14. visionetiks says:

    Oh, how could I forget the thing I use the most cat5 wire for!!!!!!

    Breadboard wire!

    Cut/buy 1 meter chunks of cat5, get the wires out of the rubber, cut in half, separate wires in half quantities (not totally necessary), cut again in half. Separate all the wires, and strip a little of them in each end

    And off you are. Lots of jumper wires for 80 cents!

  15. tiuk says:

    The touch-sensitive whiteboard at work (TeamBoard, I think it’s called) runs its USB connection over cat5.

  16. piku says:

    I run RS232 serial over Cat5 along with ethernet, down the same cable.

    I built two breakout boxes so I can use any run of cat5 that’s in my house. I now have a WYSE dumb terminal in my living room hooked up to my Linux server which lives upstairs. The two are linked using the same piece of ethernet cable that connects my server to my XBox in my front room.

    I wrote it up here

  17. luke says:

    how is this special? this is like saying that you can connect 2 wires together….

  18. Freetard says:

    Well, let’s see. You can get converters (as opposed to adapters, which are passive) to send almost anything over UTP (CAT5, 6, whatever): video of almost any flavour (HDMI, VGA, composite, component, DVI); KVM controls; CCTV (as mentioned before, using active baluns); and all manner of other control signals. Without any circuitry, you can send VGA, USB, telephone (PSTN), audio, power, composite video, PS2 (keyboard/mouse), and the list goes on. I have used CAT5 for doorbells, intercoms, burglar alarms, CCTV systems, telephones (digital and analogue), HVAC signals, thermostats, paging systems, distributed audio, home automation- I could probably go on forever! I’ve used it for every level of voltage and frequency it’s rated for in my jurisdiction, and probably some it’s not!

    Seriously, though, the only thing I don’t think I have run over CAT5 is my car. Christopher gets modded +5 for Awesome.

    PS: Only somewhat related, but you can run USB over PS2 extender cables. I have successfully run keyboards and mice over a single 50-foot PS2 extension cable with PS2-USB adapters on each end. Total cost is something like $8, and there’s no electronics involved. Get a keyboard with a USB hub in it- that helps! You can’t run a webcam (too much power loss), but I have put powered hubs at the end and used it that way.

  19. Travis L says:

    >what else have you seen run over cat5?

    I’ve run s-video and audio (I think I ran audio at least) through Cat5 when I didn’t have a cable hookup in my room.

  20. cde says:

    @ Solenoidclock: It could have been Cat6, reinforced ethernet cable.

  21. Pablo says:

    I’ve seen CAT5 as rope- a couple lengths of it across a room makes a serviceable laundry line.

  22. Scott says:

    The late Mark Hokestra extended his XP MCE with a pair of CAT 5 cables and an extra MCE remote and receiver.

  23. amk says:

    @pablo yup. clothes hangers attach very well to the cat5 stapled to the rafters in my basement.

  24. Bad Karma says:

    Component video and digital audio.

  25. MixaDJ says:

    Wow i just published this last night and it got added to the hackaday updates….

  26. SOOPERGOOMAN187 says:

    As a40 foot usb extension cable to find out who keeps smashing out the windows of my car.( well last summer anyways)

  27. hackman says:

    sigal will be lost with that design, need to build a balun – balanced to unbalanced adapter to match impediance!

  28. cde says:

    This post needs to be changed. The entire project is for running video+audio ALONGSIDE ethernet data. So you are using the four spare pairs of 100mb ethernet for A/V.

    Not just running A/V using ethernet cable.

  29. Grovenstien says:

    Cat 5 to BNC connector via a Optical Balun. Produces Hum free video over long distances of 100m it stops the earth drop associated with dry ground and the like!

  30. strider_mt2k says:

    Yes Cat 5 is really cool for lots and lots of stuff.

    yay cat 5!

  31. bnahill says:

    I have an old crt projector at home that takes DVD input over an svideo line (and preferably rgb for anything else). I didn’t have a long enough cable to make it around the room from the dvd player so I spliced cat-5 into an svideo cable. Works great. Additionally, I’ve used it to replace a set of 3 composite cables and I use the individual strands regularly as patches on circuit boards. It’s just cheap.

  32. markyb86 says:

    I have my printer hooked up over cat5, I just put USB connections on both ends. I had no where to put it in my room so its in the hall now via cat5.

  33. arthur92710 says:

    anyone have a link for a digital version?

  34. Obama says:

    I am barack obama and I approve this article

  35. buppie says:

    You can run Component video at HD resolutions, as well as HDMI over cat5.
    Its called a balun. :)
    Not new technology.

  36. EdOd says:

    Single strand can be used as a twist tie. Useful in bundling several cables together.

  37. mark says:

    im planing to do this for audio only , which means i can have each signals ground seperate.

  38. Will says:

    CAT5 does not make for a good tow rope.

  39. Mark Carlson says:

    PCI express over CAT6 cable. It was on the national semiconductor Analog By Design show. They used de-emphasis and pre-emphasis to take PCIe to 100ft IIRC.

    I think it was this show:
    “Designing Long-Reach Applications with DVI, HDMI, and PCI Express Cable Standards”

  40. Cat5 will NOT hold a fire wire signal. I had tried – just thought i would share.

  41. Dave says:

    I was so broke in college that when my belt broke I used a patch cord to hold up my jeans.

  42. Jen says:

    Or… you could just get a long enough s-video cable. has one today for free that’s 25ft long. I think you just have to pay 5 bucks for shipping.

  43. Bobmonkey07 says:

    so does this mean i can run one cat5 from the basement to my room, with the greens and oranges going to the router, and the blues and browns going through a balun to the cable?

  44. Herb says:

    I ran cat-5 up my arse to see what color my poop was that was sticking to my colon walls.

  45. Martin says:

    The inputs of the Cat 5/6 to serial video converter, C5SV012, are through a single shielded RJ45 socket, and two BNC outputs are provided for each

  46. Great idea here…though I’m not very technical, so I don’t know if I could do it :)

  47. dave says:

    GREAT IDEA!!…but what happens if you plug it into your wireless router? Does it broadcast the composite signal through your home? Thanks.

  48. MIKE says:

    In an emergency i used it as trouser belt.Funnily it holds quite tight ,reliable and very cheap.

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