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

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Introduction: 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

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

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

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.

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104 Comments

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.

6 replies

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.

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.

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.

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??

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.

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

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 ?

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 ?

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.

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?

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

2 replies

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.

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

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

Instead of ethernet cables, can you use telephone cables?

3 replies

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!

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

Thanks! Great explanation!