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A/V Extender Master Unit (KIT90S)


I have a single "transmitter" and three "receivers" that work very well. The default source is a DSTV decoder, which (as noted in the assembly instructions) needs for some reason to be passed through a DVD/VCR unit in order to (presumably) match impedances or something, but as one almost always wants a DVD player with or near the Tv, and the decoder, that is not a problem. If you want to use some other default source, then this problem goes away.

Assembly of the kits is actually quite easy, except you need to be very careful as some of the solder connections are very close and at one stage I had to get the solder-sucker out to tidy up a small mess of solder. One of the receiver kits was short of one resistor which had to be replaced from my assorted pots of spares. Apart from that, I had absolutely no problem with the PCB assembly.

The "attractive white wall mounted enclosure" is actually a UK-standard mains back-box - there is a single mounting point on the PCB that is expected to go over the earth connection in the back of the back box, so that the earth clamping screw fixes the PCB. That's a neat idea (when you have worked out what you are supposed to do!) that works well. But, the box is made from a rather brittle plastic that does not drill well. I got away with it, but you REALLY have to take it easy with the drill, and if I build any more of these I will look for a project box of appropriate size, made from a softer plastic. Also, where the kit expects you to fit the RCA sockets to the front face of the enclosure (which is actually just a standard UK back-box "blanking plate") I would far rather fit them to the lower face or "bottom", so that the AV plugs and cables hang from the under side of the box and do not protrude so far from the wall. It all depends whether you are going to fit these boxes in a workshop over a bench (no problem?) or behind a chest of drawers in a bedroom (you will probably need 100mm clearance between the wall surface and the chest). A further problem is that the latest kits are of a different design, so that the earth terminal is in the wrong corner. At this point I switched to a standard RSA back box and blanking plate ... I mentioned this to the shop manager so this problem might have been sorted out.

You probably want to know about the maximum length of CAT5 cable, and the routing options. My source (and therefore the AV extension amplifier) are in a basement, and the CAT5 cables are ALL routed through 20mm electrical conduit, side-by-side with mains feeds and other (computer) network cables. Absolutely NO problems - the received quality is excellent. The first take-off (receiver) is about 16 metres (of cable and conduit) away from the source; the second is a further 19 metres away, and the third and final (that I am listening to as I type this) is a further 34 metres - so the longest run is almost exactly 50 metres (including one dry-twisted join in the cable, as it happens). According to all the information available to me, there is no way that a wireless distribution system would get that far, including four or five walls (two external thickness) and some steel work. I have also tried to run the standard AV signals on co-ax over similar distances, with terrible results - doon't even try!

Three notes:

1 There is an adjustable potentiometer on the receiver PCBs but no explanation as to what it is - it turns out to be an adjustment for amplitude of the video signal, which you will almost certainly want to optimise before you get the quality you are looking for.

2 At first test, there was mains hum but this was because the source was turned too low and the distribution amplifier was working at maximum - make sure that you your DSTV decoder (or whatever) is delivering a strong signal. I leave my decoder turned to maximum volume.

3 I did not get a power source for the system - I see that the product details do not make it clear that it needs a separate 12v AC source but, quaintly, the kit instructions show you how to assemble one from parts supplied! - so I dug out an old 12v power source from my spare stuff, and it works fine. It occurs to me that, because each transmitter and receiver board includes its own bridge rectifier and smoothing capacitor, you could probably feed this system 12v DC (without worrying about polarity) and it should work fine! You might find a well regulated 12v DC power source would remove any residual hum if that turns out to be a problem for you.

4 The Yebo shop staff who know the system indicated they have actually increased the value of the smoothing capacity on some occasions to eliminate hum, but I did not find that necessary.

This is a simple, unsophisticated system, that does not cost a fortune and works very well. If you like to be in control of these things, and you have the opportunity to string CAT5 cables around your house (we have built a new house so that was not a problem!) then I would recommmend this kit without any hesitation. Just be prepared to work around the minor problems with the enclosures.
Date Added: 28/02/2010 by Andy Bytheway
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