Early Wireless TV

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Tiling Video on Ancient TV

Back in 2002 my friend, Mark, and I were planning to build a website called Cable Nation. One night we had gotten together to take some pictures of tools and simulated cable issues, but the evening took an interesting twist.

Our job at Comcast (or was it AT&T at the time?) consisted of spending most days troubleshooting video problems. Many of those problems were the result of poor work either by a contractor or the customer. Our plan was to generate some pictures of common issues for bad video display and how to trouble shoot them. In addition, we wanted to show how to cut proper fittings, route cable, the tools you need to do the job correctly and provide a forum for people to ask questions. Unfortunately, the site was never put together.

This evening started out with some simple pictures of cable tools and trying to simulate bad fitting examples. Did you know it’s way harder to screw up a fitting on purpose than by accident?

Braid of shield wrapped around center conductor. A common fitting problem that leads to ingress and other picture problems.

Strand of shield wrapped around center conductor. A common fitting problem which leads to ingress and other picture problems.

It was rolling up on 11 p.m. when things started to get out of control. Being the couple of geeks that we are, Mark and I started trying some crazy things with our resources. We went from an idea of trying to teach people how to eliminate ingress and egress to trying to create as much of it as we possibly could.

We tied together four amps at first, but the video signal would cut out because the input levels were too high on the fourth amp, and it would shut down. The best we could do is three; each boosting the base signal 15 dBmV.

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Three 15dBmV amps in series

With 50 or so dBmV of signal running through the cable, we stripped it and exposed several inches of center conductor to use as a crude broadcast antenna.

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Cable laying on bag with 6 to 8 inches of center conductor exposed.

We then cut a second piece of cable, stripped it back 6 inches or so to create a receive antenna, and attached it to a television in the next room.

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Cable hooked to TV with 6 to 8 inches of center conductor exposed.

When we powered the amps and turned on the TV we got a picture. It was tiling and nasty, but it worked. To top it off, we’ve both spent time in houses where the video was in much worse condition and it didn’t have a twenty-two foot section of cable missing.

Twenty-two feet between broadcast and receive cables.

Twenty-two feet between broadcast and receive cables.

Yes, that night, our little setup was able to broadcast almost watchable television signal through a wall to a television roughly twenty feet from the signal origin.

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