How to Distribute Sky & Sky Q around Your Home
There is no denying that Sky Q truly has revolutionised the aerial, satellite and home AV industries. When it works, it works great. Just a couple of cables that go to your main Sky Q box and all other TV’s are then served wirelessly from your main Sky Q box. This makes installation are much easier as it’s no longer necessary to trace cables all across your home to Sky boxes and TV’s. You can stop watching TV in your lounge and pick up exactly where you were in another room, perfect for when bedtime comes and you want to finish your programme in bed.
Two of the main issues that people has when migrating from standard Sky or Sky HD to Sky Q are:
1- The Sky playback system no longer works
With conventional Sky playback systems, you would have your main Sky HD box in your lounge and then from the back of the box, a coaxial cable would connect usually to an RF2 output or an i/0 link add on modulator on later models to an extra TV and you could control the Sky box in the second room with a magic eye. You could then tune your Sky channel into other TV’s with an analogue tuner and watch the same channel as was on in your lounge. This concept could then be further extended by integrating a TV aerial signal into the Sky box and then you could have Freeview and your Sky from the lounge to choose from, it could also be extended by installing a TV aerial amplifier between the Sky box and the TV in the second room where more cables could be installed to feed multiple TV’s in multiple rooms and remote eyes could be installed so that the Sky box could be controlled in all of the rooms if desired.
The problem with Sky Q and this type of TV system is that all of the connections required for this type of system are no longer of the Sky Q receiver. This blog will show you what to do when you wish to keep a Sky playback system with Sky Q.
2- Sky Multi-room boxes can no longer be used
With Sky multi-room you could have separate Sky boxes all completely independent to each other in as many rooms as you wished with the right set up for a small extra fee of only around £10 per month per extra box, which could actually work out very cost effective when you had two or more people under the one roof who both wanted their own Sky service.
As Sky Q typically uses a different LNB and is not compatible to a standard Sky service, often multi-room Sky boxes will no longer work. This blog will give you alternatives this scenario which may be perfectly acceptable. Otherwise, my next schedules blog on the 23/04/18 will show you how to keep both services running at the same time.
How To Watch Sky Q In Multiple Rooms & TV’s
Here are the following ways in which Sky Q can be distrusted around your home, which may be what you need with a centralised home distribution system, common with structured cabling and multi-room AV systems.
Distribute Sky Q Wirelessly
One of the biggest advantages of Sky Q is that extra TV’s can be fed wirelessly from the main Sky Q box and with a secondary Sky Q mini box. This means that there is no need to install extra cables to extra TV’s which can make for a neat installation. The same box if you have the adequate subscription with Sky can actually also boost your WIFI with the same mini box if you are having trouble with weak WIFI in parts of your property. You could run into a problem where a TV is installed on a wall in a bedroom and you have nowhere where the box can be fitted but often as these are relatively small can be fitted behind TV’s on walls.
As the Sky mini boxes are connected via mesh wireless network and not over conventional WIFI, which means that all mini boxes have to be within the wireless range of the main Sky Q box. This presents the obvious problem what do you do when the Sky Q mini box is too far away? This is very common in large homes or can’t for other reasons communicate to the main Sky Q box, which can be common even in small properties that use modern foil lined insulation which can block the wireless signals. In this situation you could have a very similar set up with wired data cables. (Point 2 in this blog)
You can have up to four Sky mini boxes at this moment in time, which happily serve you including your main Sky Q box up to five TV’s, but only two can be run concurrently. This also presents another problem where you want more TV’s that connected. Fear not, we have alternate solutions for you.
Distribute Sky Q Over Wired LAN
Where the wireless connection between Sky Q and Sky Q mini box fails, or you just don’t want it connected that way. The next most likely solution would be to distribute the Sky Q signals to extra TV’s would be over data cabling, usually Cat5e or Cat6. This is obviously great if you have wired network at your home, plug the mini boxes and Sky Q boxes to the network using the built in RJ45 connection and away you go. You won’t get the benefit the benefit of the WIFI boost which you can get when the system is set up wirelessly but you will get a good strong connection between boxes.
If you do not have data cable installed in the positions where you need the Sky Q and Sky Q mini-boxes fitted then you will need to install this, but there are solutions where data connections can be provided wirelessly, over the existing mains power cabling with power-line adapters or even over coaxial cabling if you already have this in place. You would still have the issue however of having to do more work to get the system up and running and you would still be limited to four Sky Q mini boxes.
Sky Q Over Coaxial Cabling With A HD Modulator
This is probably the easiest way out of trouble if you have an existing Sky playback system fed from an RF2 output or i/0 link and you wanted to keep things pretty much working as they were when migrating to Sky Q.
A HD-Modulator would be installed and then connected to the HDMI output of the Sky Q box. This would convert the HDMI signal into a digital multiplex which can be easily distributed over a TV aerial system, then can be tuned into any Freeview digital TV and appear as its own digital TV channel which can be set in the settings of the modulator itself. When combining with an aerial signal you need to be careful when setting the UHF channel output on the modulator to a channel which is not used by local transmitters in your area as this could cause poor reception.
Downsides to this type of system are that the modulators themselves are quite expensive, although they have fallen dramatically in recent years, good, reputable models will still set you back a few hundred pounds. You also have to be careful what type of TV’s you have. If you have normal Freeview TV’s without Freeview HD facility, confusing I know! Then you will need to purchase a DVB-T modulator. If you have Freeview HD TV’s then you can install a modulator that is either DVB-T (used for standard definition Freeview) or a DVB-T2 modulator which is used for Freeview HD. If you have a mix of TV’s, like most houses do a newer models with Freeview HD often go and become main TV’s in lounges and the older TV’s usually get relegated to another room then you should buy a DVB-T modulator.
A further complication with this type of set up is if you wanted 4K resolutions and not just HD, which Sky Q is capable of this. To do this you will need to keep the signal in its HDMI format and not convert it to a digital multiplex like the HD-Modulator does. Solutions to this include could include installing a HDMI switch before the modulator with one HDMI cable going to your 4K TV from the HDMI switch and another HDMI cable going to your HD-Modulator to serve the rest of your TV’s. HDMI is a bit of a complex beast to head your head around, but you could run into some EDID issues where a HDMI “handshake” cannot take place as it can’t decide what picture resolution to use.
A benefit to using this type of system however, over a traditional Sky playback system from an RF2 output is that the relayed Sky will now be a digital signal and far greater picture than the analogue system which the RF2 used to use. Many times I installed a HD-modulator just to improve on the analogue signal before the introduction of Sky Q and it also doesn’t mean having to mess about on some TV’s switching the TV from digital or Freeview to analogue.
Sky Q over HDMI
You can of course distribute your Sky Q to multiple rooms and TV’s over HDMI, this is after all the connection of choice and the way it was intended to be connected. Hence there being only a HDMI video output on the Sky Q boxes. This does get a little bit more complicated when you intend to relay HDMI signals to more than one TV.
This can be done with a HDMI amplifier/ splitter or a HDMI matrix switch. The HDMI splitter/ amplifier would have a HDMI input and multiple HDMI outputs in which HDMI cables can be fitted to as many TV’s. You will of course have the task of routing the HDMI cables from room to room which can be tricky owing to the connector size of the HDMI cable itself with around 25mm diameter holes being required. Assuming you have no problem routing the cables, you will also need to get your head around the EDID function in HDMI which determines which resolution the TV will display but you could potentially have 4K picture from the same Sky Q box on all of the TV’s in your property.
You may also have to have a separate system in place that would allow you to control the Sky box at each of the TV positions. Also, where you are fitting HDMI cables at around 15m of more in length I recommend spending a bit extra and getting a good quality cable and you may also need to fit a HDMI equaliser to re-clock the HDMI signal. For this reason, when sending HDMI signals around a property it is normally a better idea to use a HDMI to Cat5 system.
Sky Q over HDMI-Cat5/Cat6
Following on from the Sky Q over HDMI, a natural further extension of this would be to convert the HDMI signal so it can be distributed over Cat5 or Cat 6 cabling. This has many advantages including, the cables are far easier to route, most data cables can be routed through an 8mm diameter hole and the HDMI signal can be send over a far greater distance. HDMI baluns would be installed either end of the Cat5 cable which the HDMI cables for the TV and Sky Q will connect. There are many systems out there but I recommend getting good quality equipment if you wish to use this type of system, I recommend HDbaseT and HDbaseT Lite systems which send the distributed HDMI signal down a single data cable, other systems also exist where the HDMI is send down two data cables. I can also recommend manufacturers like Blustream, CYP and HD Any Wire for your HDMI distribution equipment, but there are also many other reputable manufacturers out there.
With the right equipment it is also possible to control your Sky Q box from any TV, all over one data cable with a remote eye and Infra-red emitter. You will also need to check the specifications of the equipment you buy if you intend to run this into sound systems.
HDMI over Coaxial Cabling
You could instead of converting your HDMI signals to cat5 cabling, use coaxial cabling to send your HDMI signals. This isn’t the same as section 3 where you would fit a digital modulator and then send that converted signal over the coaxial cabling. With this type of system, you are literally sending the HDMI itself over the coaxial network. The equipment is quite expensive for this task and you couldn’t run it into a traditional TV aerial amplifier like you could do a modulated Sky Q signal, but it is still an option. Personally, I would opt for the modulated system or a separate Cat5 network if you wanted to distribute the signal as HDMI. It can however be sent a fair distance, like 100m which could exactly what you’re looking for.
HDMI over LAN/ Network
This type of system isn’t the same as sending HDMI-Cat5e network using HDMI baluns. With this type of system, you are converting the HDMI signal over your LAN network which may already be in place and it can be transmitted via network switches etc, making it perfect for large systems like schools. HDMI itself can be quite bandwidth hungry so please consider the impact that this could have on your network if you choose to adopt this type of system.
That’s it for this blog, hopefully this has helped you with your Sky Q distribution system. If you have any questions as always, please LEAVE A COMMENT in the section below for the quickest response and I will be delighted to help you.
Sadly, I’m not available to discuss your systems over the phone so I can’ assist you that way, with the exception being if you’re in East Sussex, parts of West Sussex or south Kent would like us to come out and install Sky Q distribution system. In which case, please do feel free to give us a call to discuss your needs.
Home Entertainment & Connectivity Specialist
Aerial & Satellite Extraordinaire
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