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Vive Second Room With Third Base Station

September 2, 2016 | vive vr
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Overview

You can extend your Vive to a second room with a third base station. You may want to do this to have a seated play area in one room for seated apps or development and a roomscale area in a different room. This describes how to get and setup the third base station and how it works.

A technological marvel in a small box.

Get Third Base Station

HTC sells additional base stations through the Vive accessory store.

The base station package contains the base station and power adapter. It does not contain a mounting bracket like those that come with the Vive itself. You must figure out your own mounting solution or use a basic tripod.

All that's in the box is the base station itself...
...plus the power adapter.

Basic Set Up

Turn off your other base stations. Set up the third base station in your second room. Turn it on and set its channel to A. Bring the Vive in and start SteamVR. If you do not receive an automatic prompt for room setup, start room setup through SteamVR. Choose the Standing/Seated configuration and follow the instructions.

As of SteamVR version 1469551863 (July 26 build), this may be all you need to do. You may be able to turn on your other base stations and take the Vive to the other room. After some amount of time while the headset shows gray, it may acquire the other base stations and put you back into your roomscale play area, and vice versa.

However, in testing, the transition wasn't always smooth. Transitioning to the roomscale area once placed the floor above my head. Therefore, you may find it better to decide which room you want to use the Vive in and place the Vive in that room before starting SteamVR.

How It Works

SteamVR considers your initial play area one "universe" of any number of potential universes. When you configure a play area, it records information gathered from the room setup in a configuration for that universe. It adds this universe configuration to a file named C:/Program Files (x86)/Steam/config/chaperone_info.vrchap. SteamVR writes this file as a text file in a basic data format (JSON) you can read.

Each universe configuration includes information about the the base stations in that universe's play area including serial numbers as well as the room setup calibration. When the Vive headset starts, it does not know where it is, even roughly. It must acquire base stations. If the base stations it acquires match base stations it saw before, it can figure out what universe it is in and use the room setup calibration information recorded in the configuration file.

Given the configuration file, practical considerations aside, it may be possible to add more than just a second room. It seems likely you could add a second base station to additional rooms since each universe has its own set of base stations. I did not test these scenarios.

Early reports suggested you needed to merge configuration files by hand. This no longer seems the case.

Practical Considerations

Cabling quickly becomes an issue because the second room must be close enough to the first room for the Vive cable to reach. However, for those people who have a roomscale area far away from their desk, this may still work if you bring the Vive and link box back to your desk and use it with the third base station and alternative USB/HDMI cables there.

You must prevent the base stations in one room from interfering with the base stations in another room. If all the base stations don't have line of sight into the other room, this may work without issue. Turning off the base stations you aren't using also works.

Walking between two active areas sounds better than it is because the blank out interval is about 10-15 seconds. For this reason as well, you may want to think ahead and put the Vive in the room you will be using it in before starting SteamVR.

One base station tracks very well when you are facing it or it is to your side, but has obvious limitations if you turn your back to it or occlude your headset or controllers behind monitors on your desk.