Introduction: How to Run Composite Video and Network Data Through an Ethernet Cable

Picture of How to Run Composite Video and Network Data Through an Ethernet Cable

I needed to run Video and Audio to another part of my house. Problem was, I didn't have that much AV cable, nor the time and money to do a good installation. However I did have plenty of Cat 5 Ethernet Cable lying around. This is what I came up with, Cethernet (pronounced Seethernet) or Composite-Ethernet.

Warning This will not work with Gigabit networks, however if its for home use you probably don't need to worry.

(Bear with me this is my first instructible)

Other than video and audio you can adapt this to run a number of things. When used with a telephone line, it may be referred to as a 3 pair or 4 pair Voice/Data cable.

Now about the parts you'll need. You can of course throw something together by splicing wires, but i decided to go for a cleaner look. As you can see from the pictures below.

I used these items which can be purchased at your local Radioshack or parts store

(Note: this is just for one end of the cable)

1. Project box from Radioshack (Altoids tins work as well, its easy just to ground everything to the case)
2. 3 Phono Jacks (They come in packs of 4)
3. Ethernet Cable
4. Soldering Iron
5. Solder
6. RJ45 Crimp tool (optional)
7. RJ45 Jacks (optional)
8. Housing of some sort (I used a "Shack" project box on one end and metal mint tin on the other)

6 and 7 are only if your making the cable, you can also just cut a cable near the end and use that. It would probably be easier for most people. However this project is geared toward people who have a crimping tool, because I used one. I will do my best to describe what non-crimpers should do, I'll try to do one without crimping soon so I can get some pics.

Just letting you know you might have to improvise some on the box, but I have found that just wrapping it all in electrical tape will work. Just make sure the wires and Jacks are insulated.

Step 1: Cutting/Making the Cable

 For those without ethernet crimpers and jacks
Cut a slit in the shielding about 4 in. from the ethernet plug on the end of the cable. Then locate the brown, brown-white, blue and blue-white wires. Cut these wires and pull them out of the shielding through the hole you made. Make sure you snip enough wire for it to come out of the shielding.

For those with ethernet crimpers and jacks
Cut the shielding completely, without cutting the wires about 5 in. from the end of the cable. Pull off the shielding but don't throw it away. Next pull out the brown, brown-white, blue and  blue-white wires out of the main cable. Then slide the shielding back over the other 4 wires left--the oranges and greens.

Step 2: Readying the Box

For those without Ethernet crimpers and jacks
Drill 2 holes on the top lip of your box on the ends, so that if you laid the cable across the box in the holes, you could screw the lid on. Then drill 3 holes in the side of the box, big enough for the backs of the phono jacks to fit through but tight enough you can thread them through.

For those with Ethernet crimpers and jacks

Drill 2 holes in the short sides and 3 holes in the large side of the box, big enough for the backs of the phono jacks to fit through but tight enough you can thread them through.

Step 3: Joining Box and Cable

Picture of Joining Box and Cable

For those without Ethernet crimpers and jacks

Place the cable in the holes of the box, then pull out the four wires that you cut earlier. Then screw in the Phono jacks, in the 3 holes you drilled earlier. Screw on the nut that should have come with the phono jack, and make sure you put the little loop in between the nut and box on the thread. Next solder the Blue, Brown-White, and Brown wires to the positive posts on the phono plugs(see pics below). Then solder the Blue-White wire, to the little loop on the thread of the designated Video plug. Now solder patch wires to the Right and Left grounding rings from the Video grounding ring.

For those with Ethernet crimpers and jacks

To be frank the only diffrence is that you run your cable through the box, and pull out he 4 wires mentioned above (blue-white, Blue, Brown-White, Brown) before you solder them, but make sure you leave the other four running to the end of the cable.

My illustration is wrong in the fact that the Brown, Brown-White, Blue, and Blue-White wires are not crimped into the jack.

Step 4: Slap the Lid On

Picture of Slap the Lid On

For those without Ethernet crimpers and jacks
Just slap the lid on top your done with this end. Now wash, rinse, repeat, and you got yourself a Composite-Ethernet Cable.

For those with Ethernet crimpers and jacks
Slap on the lid and put the screws in. Now crimp the Orange-White, Orange, Green-White, and Green, wires in their normal places. Its a little tricky, but with a steady hand it can be done. Now just do this one more time and you have your Cethernet Cable.

I put the illustration back in to help you crimp.

Also for those who want a more modular installation, as grantaccess suggested, you can completely rule out the cable, and just place an RJ45 Jack in each end of the box, where the cable would be coming in and out. RJ45 Jacks aren't very cheap so it will cost a bit more, but for some uses, such as in permanent Ethernet wall installations ( again as grantaccess suggested) the cost is well worth it.

Also you could just use an RJ45 Jack in one end of the box, and run a pigtail out of the other end, thereby eliminating 2 patch cables.

I did this because I needed a solution, and I used the sources available to me. If anyone would like to improve, or modify this feel free, just don't violate any of the rules of this site. Personally I think it would be cool if someone built a repeater box with an Audio Amp maybe using an LM386, or a daul-op amp circuit. Like I said feel free to improve

Step 5: Extra- Using an Altoids Tin

Picture of Extra- Using an Altoids Tin

When using an Altoids tin, almost all the wiring is the same, except that a patch ground wire is not required due to the fact that the tin is metal(common sense). With this method, just make sure you don't set the tin on a metal surface, and if you do insulate it, with electrical tape or a mouse pad.

Step 6: My Experiences

I am using this to run a network cable and audio to my PS3 and sound system from my computer station(computer I listen to music on, and my router). I have no problems. My room has tons of Electromagnetic waves going around it, with Bluetooth, Wireless Network, and all other forms of EMI floating thorught the air, however I have little or no distortion in sound or video, when both video and audio are running. Now I wouldn't recommend running this cable more than 70 feet without an audio amplifier built in(which is possible to put it in a project box and run off a 9V or a wall outlet).

My instance is just one of many where the extra 4 cables have been used to carry other signals. Two other uses that I know of are Voice/Data, with 2 pair being network data, and 1 or 2 being phone lines, and the Power Over Ethernet, where in the extra 2 pairs 5 and 12 positive and negative are run.

For my suggestions of expansion refer to the bottom of step 4.


Lars ChristianW made it! (author)2017-04-25

This was a great idea, I knew someone other than me had thought of this. First I wanted to just make a regular connection, and just intersept the connection, but then it occured to me "What if the network used POE" then I just thought to completely remove the wires from the other connection and that worked perfectly. I also used some cat 5e wall plugs, so the wires could be changed.
All in all a great project and works better than I thought it would.

arbarbarb (author)2008-12-31

I'm intruiged. So is this simply a cable extender for a point to point connection? If you plug the Ethernet jack (connected to the video-out source) into a hub which connects to another hub, which you then connect the TV, will you get the signal on the TV? This could be useful for broadcasting the signal from my set top box over my network so I can just connect TV's in other rooms to watch the same show without having to use one of those horrible wireless extenders. And thinking further ahead, if you used it as a USB extender for a cheap webcam rather than an IPCam would it work? Great idea! Thanks.

Daddio2468 (author)arbarbarb2015-11-04

Did something very similar to this. The only difference is I only used audio/video and yes only used it as an extender. The big difference is instead of an ethernet switch in the middle, I used a coupler in the middle. I also installed a rj45 jack in each box and just used patch cables and existing cables in walls. Found each end of log run of cat5e in the wiring closet, connected them with a coupler, and had audio/video at the other end.

Daddio2468 (author)Daddio24682015-11-04

Update. Forgot about one thing. I used one of the other wires for a wired IR repeater. Don't forget, I do not use this for data connections, but I do still have the network cables in place in case I want to go back to using them as regular ethernet cables.

mixadj (author)arbarbarb2008-12-31

Whoops, did you mean a digital network hub, or a 1 port splitting into 4. You could split the signal but I don't know how much your signal would degrade. I mainly use these cables for audio, so if I split it I just attach an amp to the end. I don't know much about video.

eban26 (author)mixadj2010-11-03

I just tried your "How to run composite video and network data through ethernet cable" to be able to receive TV in kitchen, unfortunately I do not have ethernet wiring in the kitchen but do access the internet on my laptop via Netgear Powerline AV+ 200 connection to a modem in an upstairs office.

Unfortunately it didn't work for TV but OK for data transmission. Any known reason or ideas please??

mixadj (author)arbarbarb2008-12-31

No, this will will not work with a hub, it might even damage it. As for USB, you could run 5V+, D+, D-, and GND through those 4 extra connections, however USB has a set run length(I don't know off the top of my head, Wiki it). If you had an on site power source of a regulated 5V you could run 2 devices, but I don't know what kind of interference that would have.

presidentof69 (author)mixadj2009-07-23

Just for reference, USBs cable length is 15 ft without a repeater/powered hub.

ismael.thebest.7 (author)2014-07-29

hi! is it possible to use a network switch to multiply the video source ? or is it possible to send the signal through a WIFI access point ?

ismael.thebest.7 (author)2014-07-29

hi! is it possible to use a network switch to multiply the video source ? or is it possible to send the signal through a WIFI access point ? (author)2012-06-17

I see a few overlooked details and major misconception! First, THIS WILL NOT STREAM AUDIO OR VIDEO OVER LAN! All this does is allow you to send LAN signals side by side with audio video signals! robhybrid is absolutely correct. Commercial cables do give each signal its own pair for one main reason: Unbalanced signals do not propagate well over long distances and generally limits signals(of any kind) to 10 Meters or less. To combat this commercial cables use what is called a balun transformer to convert the unbalanced signal of the A/V equipment to a balanced signal suitable for twisted pair.  Otherwise your signals are very susceptible to interference.  Now that being said, will this work, absolutely!  Will it work well, maybe!  It depends on your environment, and your idea of 'working well'. If all you do on the connected machine is light web browsing, you may never realize there is a problem.  But if you do any streaming or gaming, you will likely encounter problems.  IF you were to check the ethernet cable with a certification meter(very expensive) you will undoubtedly see a dramatic decrease in speed capabilities and an increase in interference and error rates, although many peoples normal browsing habits would not reveal any issues. Also sending an unbalanced signal side by side with a balanced signal(ethernet) would definitely cause interference in your ethernet portion of the cable, but may also likely go unnoticed by the average home user.  This is a very common practice in the home integration field, that I just happen to know a bit about, so I thought I would offer my advice to help clear some things up. Hope this helps.

masonboi13 (author)2011-08-05

Does anyone know if you can plug your xbox/ps3 video and audio phonos into this and view the video on your pc via the connected ethernet?

xagop (author)2011-02-09

WHat kind of work is this? nonsense. less in details.

xdrone (author)xagop2011-04-09

Man, it is all wrong, there is not way for the hub, switch or router to make sense of the signal coming in, let alone the voltages to run a signal. Composite video is only 2 V max DC. Ethernet data is at 5 VDC square wave. There is nothing similar between the 2 signals and no circuit to convert the composite video+audio to digital signal and envelope it with a header for the Ethernet device for direction.
It is very complicated to create a device for such an instructable title. Thinking about the design alone gives me a nose bleed.

Rhamkota (author)xdrone2011-07-07

The Ethernet data is only run through a few wires, that leaves some that are being unused. That is why it works.

xdrone (author)2011-04-09

This is as bad as designing a 220V mains outlet with male plug rather a socket.

Walendas (author)2010-11-26

Instead of ethernet cables, can you use telephone cables?

E_MAN (author)Walendas2011-01-25

you could.... but the whole point of this is to run both the network capability and the audio/video signal. I would work on the phone cable, but you would only be able to run the audio/video. it would also be possible to run just one channel of sound over a telephone cable with the telephone line. there might be some interference thought..... have fun!

E_MAN (author)E_MAN2011-01-25

No problem. I just used a similar hack to run two network connections over one cat5e cable. Works great!

Walendas (author)E_MAN2011-01-25

Thanks! Great explanation!

computergeek321 (author)2010-10-28

what dose this do

terrapinlogo (author)2009-01-30

would this setup work with my laptop and tv in my room and a pc and tv with dvd player out in the living area? would it transmitt the audio and video through the network hub or not?

matbh (author)terrapinlogo2009-03-25

throught a hub?????????????????? i´m not sure about that!

jongscx (author)matbh2009-08-21

actually,in the strictest sense, since the hub in this picture would be acting just as a splitter, it should work... Unfortunately, if you're using something beefier than a hub, say a switch, or even a router... you may be out of luck, as the other cables would be in use...

Kasm279 (author)jongscx2010-07-14

I've never owned a hub, too young for that. All I've got is a router and a switch >.>

Groxx (author)terrapinlogo2009-09-23

I doubt it, but I would be extremely interested in the results if anyone tries it. If it's just a splitter + generic amp, then sure. But if there's any kind of data cleaning (ie, noise removal), which any decent digital amp should do, it'd probably destroy your A/V quality. If you / anyone does try and succeed, though, please leave a comment and include which hub you use, as that may matter :)

Groxx (author)Groxx2009-09-23

Oh, and as mixadj notes below, it may damage your router if you try. Again, I'd doubt it as the power is so low, but I'll also claim zero responsibility if it does ;)

ranger_steve (author)2009-07-18

just a thought but would this work with a wireless router so that it could be wireless??

jongscx (author)ranger_steve2009-08-21 What you're doing here is using the ethernet cat5/cat5e cable for a purpose different than what the router is expecting. As such, the signals, voltages, etc. would not work well, and at the least, won't be read correctly by the router... At the most, it would fry your router or/and your video source from the conflicting voltages on the wires...

mmould03 (author)jongscx2010-07-02

But on the otherhand, wouldn't it be possible to get some strong IR transmitters or some other form of signal-broadcasting components to just send the pure signal out without alteration and build a receiver for the other side? Say run from a/v source in the livingroom through the diningroom and into the kitchen where it splits to view on the TV on the counter and then runs (after the split) to the transmitter you've built which beams it out the back window to the receiver hooked to your setup on the back patio? Could this work? I'm getting a little excited here... at the very least, cat5 is very easy to run and there is quite some potential in this as there are 8 wires, 4 twisted pair... that's 4 audio devices, or two A/V devices and an additional audio. I'm SOOOO playing over the weekend... will report back if I figure out anything spiffy.

ranger_steve (author)jongscx2009-09-04

oh, ok thanks for the explanation.

tech_sponge61 (author)2010-06-19

So i could use ethernet cable and splice it to some AV cables and connect my laptop to my TV?? and since i wouldn't need to connect to a network I would only use 2 pairs/4 wires to run audio and video? this would be cool to do and I have all the parts so i wouldn't have to buy anything!

snaremj (author)2010-05-24

I don't know if anyone still looks at this but im thinking about doing this for my living room. But keeping it on its own network. What was the video quality like on ths project?...

Pondering It All (author)2010-03-28

Interesting thing:  If you want to run composite video more than 250 feet, you can't use a normal coaxial video cable.  The signal is too degraded so you lose all of the image detail.
For up to 1000 feet or so, the solution is to use a video balun on each end of a twisted pair.  Shielded twisted pair would be nice, but unshielded (UTP such as CAT5) works okay too.  The source-side balun converts the single-ended 75 Ohm composite video into differential 100 Ohm, (that matches the CAT5 impedance).  The far balun converts it back to 75 Ohm single-ended.  This also avoids noise picked up in a long coaxial cable outer shield, and isolates the two sides to prevent ground loops.

redpillftw (author)2008-12-10

This is a good concept but I spot a few problems here. This is basically just putting end on a cat5 cable. If you go a fairly long length using this method you will have a degradation of signal quality, naturally. Also, there is a delay in cat 5 between the different twisted pairs. This is why is would be much better to use a BALUN box. Muxlab makes a nice one and it has internal circuitry that compensates for delays and signal loss without need of any external power!!!! I think you can run component video about 1000 feet using a balun with out any signal loss. Baluns are great I use them all the time in my work. Nevertheless, This instructable is pretty cool and I think I am going to use this to connect my dvd player to a projector I have mounted in my living room.

mixadj (author)redpillftw2008-12-13

For small home wiring that requires short cable runs, you should have little or no signal loss. Well, noticeably at least. An audio aficionado or HD enthusiast might say differently.

Colonel88 (author)mixadj2008-12-21

just dont stick that in a modem port.

Yerboogieman (author)Colonel882009-12-14

Yeah, it won't fit.

redstarsrbija (author)redpillftw2008-12-18

ya I was thinking of doing this exact thing for a while now but with component since component cables are so bloody expensive. Then I realized the signal strength would really suck.... lol i wonder if you can amplify video signals with an old tube amplifier....

Yerboogieman (author)2009-12-14

Imagine if you had RJ45 built into your house...

Blackice504 (author)2009-09-25

there is one other problem with this you will only get Half Duplex Network so your connection ( INTERNAL ) would be half speed of a Full Duplexing Network. so for people that just need a Connection with internet maybe share some files and a printer fine. High speed downloading + remote desktop on the download machine would be a nightmare ( already a nightmare for the windows OS as it limits its connections in sp2. but thats another story. but all in all a good idea. personaly i would run my video and audio in one network cable and make the video RGB (component) and Digital Audio ( 1 RCA ) + 5.1 or 7.1 Digital Audio. (makre sure your sound card can do that) or you would just get Stereo.

0utbreak (author)2009-09-23

it looks cool but cant it make noice(parazite) if the sound and the video (-) negatives attached together..??

f47m1k3 (author)2009-09-17

The idea of using a repeater would be a novel idea. However, since youre using UTP, using an amplifier (repeaters are for digital signals) might not be a good idea unless you upgraded the setup to STP. You might pick up some EMI from AC wiring if you're not careful of where you run it and you would just end up amplifying the noise along with the signal. However, that aside, I do like this instructable. Great idea for reducing the cables running from room to room especially considering that 50' of cat5 is cheaper than 50' of RCA.

macpower (author)2009-07-19

I was on a job where we specked out a room to be wired with A/V and S-Video. When we came in monday morning, they had run cat-5 AND put down a raised floor. Any chance of rerunning the cabling would've been too much time down. We ran out to our local electronics/camera store and bought a ton of rca jacks. We crimped them onto the cat-5 and kept on going with the job. Worked like a dream. That showroom is still going strong off the corner of 5th avenue and 43rd st. in NYC. Best out-of-the-box 3 hours of my life. The union workers that were doing all the other construction were amazed at our ingenuity and promised that they would talk about that one for years.

coolsciencetech (author)2009-04-11

ok here is a question. Once you have completed the project do you just lay the wire down from your pc to your ps3 or whatever you want to hook it up to? Also could you run it through the wired network in most houses while on the internet?

mixadj (author)coolsciencetech2009-04-14

Yes, I have it running around the perimeter of the room. DO NOT plug into a router!!!. unless you have the individual wires with A/V running out from the jack before it reaches your router/hub/ethernet device

un0 (author)mixadj2009-05-09

why can't i plug into my router?

grue (author)un02009-07-18

because if you do, it will get fried

joearkay (author)2009-04-03

could you still use your telephone/wierd network at the same time?

mbach04 (author)2009-03-30

Why not just use a video balun? You'll get much less signal loss, and you have two spare pairs when your done. Just a thought.

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