Matrox 6 Screen's to make a TV wall
I built a TV wall for my church's youth group and had an extremely hard time trying to find information on how to do it. It was also very hard trying to figure out how to get everything to work after it was all hooked up. So this Instructable should help you get from start to finish.
Here's a brief overview of the steps you will need to take:
1. Make a plan ( how many screens, distance from computer, placement purpose of wall)
2. Source and price your components
3. Double check and make sure they all will work together
4. Triple Check
5. Purchase your components
6. Design and build your mounting bracket for the tv's
7. Run your wiring
8. Hang TV's
9. Connect the computer and adjust software outputs
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Step 1: Make a Plan & Gather Supplies
The most important part to building anything is to have a good plan to start with, and while most of the time I don't worry about having every little detail figured out ahead of time ( because most of the time it just works itself out) in this case its a really good idea to have it all planned out. I spent nearly $5,500 to build the entire wall (including a new computer to handle it) and that price could've easily gone up if I didn't have a full plan ahead of time and needed to re-order, or purchase extra items to get it to work correctly.
What you will need
For a computer there are many options, you can go windows or mac. I went mac but it turns out using 6 screens with the matrox trippleheads, it would've been easier to use windows because they have a multi GXM control software for windows and only a single for mac. For the mac you are going to need a computer with two thunderbolt outputs. I ordered a new 21.5" iMac. If you decide to use a 21.5" imac instead of the big one, MAKE SURE IT HAS 2 THUNDERBOLT PORTS!!!. Also you will want to have a good amount of ram because you're going to be using massive resolution images and video going out to 6 different video streams all at once. I went with 16gb and have had good results. If you would like to go portable i have also used my 15" macbook pro with this setup and it handles it almost better than the imac (15" i7 with 15gb of ram).
This is an expensive one. You're going to need a screen mapping software to tell the computer which screen is which, and where they are physically positioned. That way you can make one big image instead of 6 small ones. I used ProVideoPlayer because I'm already using pro-presenter in the room for my lyrics control. It's an expensive one though at $1000. You may not actually need this software though if you use a windows computer. Im not totally sure though because it depends on how the matrox software handles the outputs. if it detects the triplehead's as one output instead of 2 you may be able to run it without any further software. but the mac can not do this with 6 monitors, only 3.
Since we're trying to output to 6 different tv's but only have 2 thunderbolt outputs we need to get a matrox TripleHead2Go adapter. What this does is takes one extremely large image, over 6800 pixels wide, and splits it up into 3 different outputs. So it will take 2 of these tripplehead's to get our 6 screens hooked up.
Depending on how far away your source computer is you're going to need to convert to another kind of cable, hdmi won't cary that far. You can use an hdmi to cat5 converter, or what I chose to do was to cary the signal over to SDI so that you can run an HD signal the distance you need to. HDMI has a limitation of about 15 meters without a signal booster, and even with one you may end up with dropped frames and video that acts weird.
The converters I used where fairly cheap compared to other models I've used in the past like the Blackmagic units (which are absolutely amazing by the way). The brand is Excelvan, and it works very well for the price ($40 and $46). You need to convert from HDMI to SDI, and then from SDI back to HDMI
You will need 6 adapters to go from HDMI to SDI, and 6 to go from SDI to HDMI ( they are not the same adapter)
6 Short HDMI Cables
6 Long HDMI Cables
RG6 Quad Cable
Enough RG6 Quad Shield cable to run from the computer to each TV (took me nearly 1,000 feet)
Displayport to HDMI
The output on the Matrox TripleHead2Go is full sized display port, but we need to go to HDMI, so you will need 6 of these adapters. (make sure whatever you get its an active adapter, otherwise you'll have issues with the sdi conversion.
You're election of TV's will be a huge factor in the price of your complete build. I went with some 55" toshiba's mainly because i was constrained to $3000 that I could spend on TV's. You can definitely able to negotiate on the price for tv's when your buying 6 at once. I don't care what they say bout their price points, the store can work with you. I went to best buy and they told me that the price was set, and that was it. But after bringing the manager down and doing a little bit of negotiating I was able to have them drop nearly $1,000 off of the price. Go as big or little as you'd like but if you want quality make sure to get full 1080p TV's. I wouldn't suggest using 4k because your computer probably wont be able to handle that big of an output anyway.
Metal For TV mount (or a prebuilt mount)
If you build a custom TV mount like i did, go to your local metal supply or welding shop and order the metal you will need to build a mount. The metal for mine cost $230 to build.
Step 2: Build Your Frame
I wish I could be more specific and give you exact measurements and a fully drawn out CAD plan, but because theres so many variables even from just what kind of TV's you have to how many you have, there's just no way to do that.
Make a plan for the structure of your frame and weld/bolt it together. Hang the mounts in whatever way you'd like. I used all-thread, but chain or cable would work just as well if not better. Make sure to use large enough blocks if your hanging from the ceiling so that it distributes the weight evenly enough.
Step 3: Wiring
Here's the fun part, a crazy work around to get signal to so many screens from an iMac.
The Signal Chain:
2 x MiniDisplay port to TripleHead2Go
6 x Displayport to HDMI make sure it's an active adapter! (6 flat short hdmi cables)
6 HDMI to SDI adapters
6 RG6 Quad Shield Cables terminated with BNC plugs running from computer to TV's
If you don't know how to terminate a BNC cable with compression connectors heres' a good video how to. I'll make another Instructable later:)
6 SDI to HDMI adapters
6HDMI cables plugging into the TV's
When you plug the the units into the tv, the TrippleHead makes 1 long image for 3 tv's, so to simplify the software side of things, you are going to want to hook up each row of tv's to a different TripleHead. So TH #1 is connected to tv's 1, 2, and 3, TH #2 is hooked up to tv's 4, 5, and 6.
Step 4: The Software
One of the most frustrating parts of this entire build was getting the software to cooperate with me.
In your system preferences, go to displays > arrangement then arrange the displays so the top row of tv's is on top of the bottom row.
Open ProVideoPlayer. View Menu > Setup Wizard > select 2 screens > arrangement verticle > next > layer span
View Menu > layer editor > adjust outputs to the correct positon > click on the layers tab > stretch the target area layer across both screens. so that its putting an image over all screens as one.
Adjustment takes time and patience but you should be able to figure it out. If you have any questions leave a comment or send me a message and I'll see if i can help. Plus it would be great to be able to expand on some of the grey areas in this instructables.
Step 5: Finished
You should now have an operating 6 screen TV wall.
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