Composite over cat5e


Active Member
I know this has been discussed a thousand times.. ( all right almost a thousand ).

I haven't seen a completely whole answer yet.

Does Composite over cat5e work well ?
Do you need boxes ( baluns ) for the best video ?

This is an extremely high waf project and I just can't afford not to have it right the first time. ( at least not if I want to keep my HA stuff ) ;).

Anyway, I have seen several different devices for composite over cat5, including just slapping some RCA jacks on the ends of cat5 cable.

The runs are probably 75 to 100 ft.
The Cat5e is already run.

Or should I just buy and run coax ? ( would be very difficult but possible ).

Anyone running A/V over cat5 ?

Steve, here are my humble pile-of-opinions:

Baluns are a good way to go for composite video. Decent baluns should match the impedance of the 75 ohm video to the 120 ohm twisted pair well enough that you won't see any difference.

For composite video, 75 to 100 feet is not very demanding on either coax or cat5.

Running composite video over cat5 without baluns causes the video to smear horizontally. The longer the cable, the further right the video smears.

I always prefer coax when it's available, simply because using baluns is more expensive.

The waf is more important than any of the other factors.
I'm just starting to set up security cameras and tried being lazy with the driveway cam. Very close to the spot where I mounted the camera was an unused phone junction box that happend to have CAT3 running to my office, so I ran the video and 12V DC over those lines (no baluns)--about a 60 foot run. The video quality is good, but does have a noticeable shadow, so I ordered the necessary supplies to run coax for that camera instead and for my remaining cameras.

I paid $70 for a 1000' pull box of RG6, you may find it for less if you shop around.
When I need to send composite video over cat-5 I usually use a device called a leapfrog. It is designed to send composite video plus stereo audio over a phone line and can share the wire with your phones without them interfereing with each other. Works good over any cat-3 or cat-5 pair. I got several off ebay so they ended up being cheap enough where I will use a set just to send audio or just to send camera video and not worry that it is overkill for simple applications.

Radio Shack also sold them under their own name. I think they just called them "audio/video senders.

Another bonus is they act as IR repeaters so if you want to feed your bedroom TV off your Family room DVD player for example, you can take the DVD remote with you and cotrol the player from the bedroom.

One thing I haven't tried yet is using more than one receiver with a single transmitter. (I'll have to look at the instructions and see if it mentions this possibility) If that works than you could send your camera video to several locations using just phone wire.
Sounds like a great device, I will have to do some research on that one, thanks for the tip!
Hmmm Audio/ Video senders sound like the ticket.

Buying RG6 is not an issue I have a lot left on a 1000ft roll that I have already. It's just really difficult getting to that part of the house and running the wires where I need. Then on top of getting the wires there it is the "wife's sacred room" I cannot just hack the walls or run wires without a major hassle. Otherwise I have to wait for her to go away for a couple of day's, do it and get it done cleanup/repair and hope she doesn't notice. ;)

Thanks for all the tips, I might just the A/V senders/recievers.....

Yeah, bought a set of the leapfrog wireless a while back - and as can be expected with anything in the 2.4G range - it's hit or miss. I need to look into the phone line version!
I am a little confused... Are their Leapfrog wired and wireless devices? Chakara mentioned 2.4g, and upstatemike mentioned CAT3

Just curious...

Are the wired Leapfrogs still in production? Or, can you only get them on the "used" market?

Does anyone remember the old wired VCR Rabbits? Video and audio over 2 small untwisted wires (like the old white single-ear earphones use). They transitioned to wireless and dropped the wired version (over 10 years ago).
I was talking about the wired version. They are probably only available on the used market. I got mine on ebay.

I have never heard anything good about the wireless units so you probably want to avoid those.
I searched ebay using the phrase "leapfrog LF-10S" and found that there is one for for sale now. Starting price is $9.99 but the shipping seems high at $17 and change.