How To Integrate CCTV Into A TV System
If you have a CCTV system at your property and a TV system(most do). You may find it beneficial and advantageous to combine the two together so that you can view your cameras on all your TV’s. This will enable you, when you hear a knock at the door or a ring at the doorbell to quickly change the TV channel and see your cameras. This could help you avoid any unwelcome sales agent or the mother in law or it could allow you to check the noise in your garden without having to get up. This is very helpful if you have a TV in your bedroom and it’s late.
TV Modulators – Turn Your CCTV Into A TV Channel
You may or may not be aware of modulators. If you’re not it is essentially the ability to turn an AV connection into a TV channel which can be tuned into your TV. There are quite a few different types on the market which do all sorts of different things but the two we are going to focus on in this article are analogue and HD modulators.
When connecting CCTV into a TV aerial system, you will first need to connect the aerial cable into the modulator first before you connect you any TV’s or distribution equipment like TV distribution amplifiers. This is easy where the amplifier or TV aerial splitter are installed beside one and another but where they are in different locations an extra cable will need to be installed between them for this to work properly. For example, it is common to install a CCTV DVR/ NVR by a TV in a lounge for a monitor and a distribution amplifier in a loft. The aerial cable should go to the lounge first, in and out of the modulator picking up the CCTV on route and combining with the aerial signal and then return back to the distribution amplifier to feed your TV’s.
When installing modulators it's likely that you will need to install F connectors onto the connecting coaxial cable.
Analogue Modulator – Turn CCTV Into An Analogue TV Channel
Before I begin on the analogue description or “analog” in the USA. You may be asking why would I want an analogue connection? The answer is simply price, sure the picture won’t be as good but the cost difference between an analogue modulator and a digital modulator is often a couple hundred pounds so you may find that analogue would be suitable for you simply because of this. It’s important to make sure that your TV has an analogue tuner inside of it first, more and more new TV’s do not.
An analogue modulator will enable you to create an analogue TV channel from an AV source, usually a SCART or phono/ RCA connection which are both also analogue. Depending on what connections are available on the back of your CCTV DVR or NVR will depend how you connect to the modulator. Most new CCTV recorders have a HDMI, Video out and often RCA (red, white, yellow) video out connections. But you may also have other types of connection.
You have a few options here. You can use a phono lead with a BNC adapter at the CCTV recorder end of the cable and the modulator connect the phono cable into the yellow input. Or you could use a BNC cable with a phono adapter the modulator side. The yellow phono connection is the video in, the red and white are for stereo sound so most likely you won’t be needing them but if you have microphones with your CCTV cameras so you can hear sound you will want to connect them also. Once connected you will need to set the CCTV to a UHF channel or frequency to output. This again depends on the model. I describe getting this part right in more detail in selecting the right UHF channel for your modulator.
If your modulator has a SCART input and your CCTV equipment also does, then a SCART lead could be used instead. If you have SCART on your modulator but only phono’s at the DVR/NVR then the same process as described above can be followed with the addition of a phono to SCART adapter.
Once connected you can connect the aerial in and the aerial out into the modulator. The aerial in is the cable that comes from the aerial and the aerial out is the cable that goes to your TV or onto your distribution amplifier/ splitter to feed extra TV’s around your property.
Once connected, tune the TV on the ANALOGUE side of the TV and this will store the TV channel. All different TV’s behave differently but if you have an aerial connection in your system also then it’s likely that you will need to switch between analogue (ATV) and digital (DTV) on your TV when switching between live TV and your CCTV system.
Digital Modulators – Create A Digital TV Channel For Your CCTV
Digital TV modulators are far better than analogue ones, the downside still being that these cost a far amount more. A digital TV modulator will create a digital multiplex from your CCTV equipment which can be tuned into your TV. Before you buy one please make sure that all of your TV’s are digital compatible TV’s. All TV’s in the UK labelled for Freeview or DVB will be digital. If your TV’s are not you may be better buying an analogue modulator or otherwise you will need a Freeview digital TV decoder. There is a further complication described in the DVB T/ DVB-T2 selection below.
Nearly all (I’m sure all but don’t want to fully commit)will have a HDMI output connection. You connect the HDMI output on the CCTV recorder to the HDMI input on the HD modulator with a HDMI cable. You would then connect the aerial in and out cables, sometimes labelled RF in and out or“loop” following the process already described. Again, this may involve installing a second cable between your distribution equipment and the CCTV recording equipment.
Once you have it connected you will need to set the ‘LCN’ number on the modulator and the UHF output channel/ frequency. LCN stands for Logical Channel Number is will be the channel that your CCTV appears on your TV and in the electronic TV guide. You will need to make sure that this doesn’t clash with any existing TV aerial channel number so don’t go setting it to channel 1 for obvious reasons. You can also usually name the multiplex created by the modulator so you could call it ‘CCTV’ or whatever you want. Obviously, you won’t be getting the 7-day guide on this channel however, that would be predicting the future.
You do run into the obvious situation where the HDMI cable that now feeds the modulator now can’t connect to your existing TV or monitor. You have a couple of options here, you could purchase a modulator with a ‘HDMI Loop’ which allows a HDMI connection back out again, or you could install a HDMI 2-way splitter/ amplifier with separate cables for the modulator and TV/monitor from the CCTV recorder. Or if your TV is digital you could just connect the aerial and tune it into a channel instead, like would be the case on all the other TV’s.
DVB-T & DVB-T2 Modulators
To complicate things further you can current buy a couple different types of digital modulator. The difference between the two is the compression technique, DVB-T2 is a more efficient technique capable of carrying more data which is why it’s primarily used for Freeview HD in this country. If you have modern ‘Freeview HD’ TV’s this will be fine to purchase a DVB-T2 model but if you have only have Freeview TV’s then you will want a DVB-T model.
A quick way to check is just to see whether you currently receive the HD services through your TV aerial, some of these are BBC1 HD, BBC2HD, ITV HD, Channel 4 HD and Channel 5 HD on Freeview numbers 101-105. You will need to check this on all the TV’s you intend to connect to your CCTV system.
Worthwhile Mention – Loftboxes
You may find that a Loftbox will be perfect for your requirements. I personally never use them, but I know electricians love them.You could instead of installing a distribution amplifier for all of your TV’s, install a Loftbox instead. A Loftbox has multiple inputs so you can easily connect a TV aerial, FM, DAB and CCTV to all of your points. You will still need to install a modulator before the CCTV input of the Loftbox but you may find that it’s a simple neat addition for all of your connections.
Connecting CCTV Into A Communal IRS System
You may get involved in a system where you need to integrate the CCTV system into the communal TV system so that all the residents can seethe communal CCTV cameras like for entrances, doorways etc. I have a system that I look after where the elderly residents have a Chapel Cam, so where they can’t make it to church, they can still see it on their TV’s. If you’re going to do this personally, I wouldn’t mess about with an analogue modulator it would probably not be worth the effort and you’re likely to get some comebacks with people struggling to use it on their TV. I would instead use a DVB-T modulator.
The modulator for the CCTV needs to be installed at the headend of the system. This is where the TV, Radio and satellite antennas all connect and where the main launch amplifiers are installed. You will need to combine the modulated CCTV signal in at this stage. This can be a little bit complicated,but some launch amplifiers make this easy for you with multiple separate inputs not dissimilar to that described with the Loftbox. If you are in any doubt here, I wouldn’t play around with the system as you could leave everyone without any TV and care also needs to be taken to input the CCTV signal at the correct strength and on the correct frequency.
Picking The Right RF Channel For Your CCTV
When setting up a modulator for your CCTV it’s important to select an RF channel that is not used by TV transmitters in your area, mobile phone masts and other wireless systems, other AV equipment RF out connections or too close to either of these. I can’t tell you the best channel that this will before you, but I can give you some advice to find the best channel.
Check the frequencies and UHF channels of nearby TV transmitters and avoid these as well UHF channels next to it. You need to not only avoid the frequencies from the transmitter that your aerial is aligned to but also others in your locality, avoid any UHF channels 50 and above where possible as these are likely to all be used by telecommunications at a later date and could cause interference which would create TV pixilation and loss of picture on a digital signal and lining/ snowing on an analogue picture. If you need some info on TV transmitters in your area, I recommend the UK Free TV site.
If all else fails, pick a channel, 38 is usually free. Set your modulator to that. Tune your TV in and if it works and gives a good picture. Stick with that, if it doesn’t try another. You are likely to find a good one, but you may be in an area where there are lots of transmitters near you and you can’t find one. In this case you may need to “clean up” some spectrum with a filter before the aerial signal enters the modulator. But that’s another blog for another day.
Controlling Your CCTV In Your TV System
If you want to be able to control your CCTV so you can playback recordings and so on from any room in your house. This will be a little bit trickier as most CCTV systems are controlled with a mouse or accessed remotely through the internet via mobile phones, tablets and PC’s. There are lots of control systems with are common with Home Automation systems which would be a whole other blog by itself. I’m not going to go into these, but you could of course with most systems just access the CCTV through a mobile phone app. If you however just wanted to do it on the TV. Hikvision the manufacturer of CCTV systems we install can be controlled with a remote control. Of course, this needs an Infra-red remote eye system like the Sky playback systems of old. This involves installing a remote eye at each TV where you wanted to control the CCTV and an Infra-red emitter in front of the CCTV recording equipment. The infra-red commands could then be sent down the connecting coaxial cable to the DVR/ NVR.
Questions? Please Ask In The Blog Comments Section Below
If you have any questions, please feel free to post them in the blog comments section below. Please do not take it personally but I do not consult over the phone for free with people and do not answer the general help type e-mails. I honestly don’t have the time and if I did, I would never getaway from the phone or off the computer. As I’m still an active installer I already have to be climbing through someone’s loft or over someone’s roof, never-mind business meetings and paperwork. If you have any questions I would be delighted to help where I can so, please POST YOUR QUESTIONS IN THE BLOG COMMENT SECTION and I will get back to you ASAP. It also means that everyone reading the blog gets the benefit of the question asked and the answer given. Again, Please DO NOT CALL OUR TELEPHONE LINES, these are reserved for customers only.
Thanks and until next time,
TV Aerial/ Antenna & Sat Filters - All You Need To Know
If you're suffering with TV interference & need a TV aerial/ sat filter. Read this for all you need to know, inc filter types/ brands.
A Guide To HDMI Distribution Equipment
Read this article for all you need to know about different HDMI equipment & how to send full-HD/ 4k/ UHD signals around your house.
What Cables Should I Install In My New House?
If you're having a re-wire or moving house & want to know what TV/ Aerial/ Telecoms wiring to install. Read this for all you need to know.