Thursday, March 29, 2012

Ethernet & cable wiring

As part of our living room remodel, the TV and computer switched sides. Unfortunately, there was no cable outlet by the new TV position, and no phone jack near the new computer position (we still use DSL). Instead of having wires crisscrossing the new laminate flooring, we wanted to try our hand at laying some wire.
First, the coaxial cable (for antenna/satellite/cable). We actually just use an antenna mounted in our attic, which is hooked up to one of the many coaxial lines running through the crawlspace to various rooms. Both cable and satellite have been used by previous owners, so redundant lines abound, only a subset connected. I needed to run one of those lines from the antenna, through a splitter, and to the TV. 
Here's the wall, right under where the TV was mounted. The power outlet is mounted to a wall stud, so the coaxial cable connector could go on the other side of the stud.

The living room wall is shared by the storage area, which has exposed wall studs. This made the job tremendously easier, because I could get right at the stud. From the back side, you can see the electrical box connected to one side of the stud.

So, the cable wall box just needed to go on the other side.

Because I could access the back of the wall, I used a new work box that mounts to the stud with two long nails. I tried to line it up as carefully as possible with the outlet box, but I should have been even more careful (as you will see).

I got to use my Rotozip for the first time in years, with the drywall bit. Following the Rotozip instructions for cutting holes in drywall for boxes, I first plunged the bit at an angle, inside the box boundaries.

I then worked my way to one edge of the box (the bit won't really cut the box). I then pulled the bit out just enough to get over the edge of the box, then pressed it against the outside of the new box while I cut all the way round.

Unfortunately, my "careful eyeballing" from the backside didn't quite line up the two holes. Lesson learned.

Anyway, coaxial cable was run up from the crawlspace, into the storage area via a hole I drilled in a beam, then through the new box. I then installed a new screw-on connector, following these instructions.

First, the outer plastic insulation needed to be cut off (not damaging the braiding or the inner sheath). I folded back both the braiding and sheath, then cut away enough of the inner plastic to reveal the signal wire.

 I screwed the connector onto the cable, and done!

I connected the newly-run cable to a coaxial faceplate (basically a female-female coaxial connector inserted into a plastic cover), then screwed it on.

From up close, ground level, you can notice that they're not in line, but it's not obvious from far away, and you can barely notice when they're covered by an entertainment center.

Feeling cocksure, I embarked on solving our internet problem. My solution was, instead of running new telephone wire to hook up the DSL modem by the computer, why not run ethernet cable from the phone line to the computer? Here's the phone jack, exposed. I just needed to drill a second hole from the crawl space, up through a support beam, right under the phone jack. I could see where the phone wires were running, so was confident I knew where I was.

D'oh! I done goofed. This is the flooring on the other side of the wall, in our dining room. I over-estimated the thickness of the wall, and which beams under the house were under the living room vs. the dining room.

Now, if you look in ANY home improvement book, the first step is to drill a pilot hole, near the wall (where it will be covered by trim), so you can stick a coat hanger or some other marker down so you know where you are with certainty. Apparently, it's a really good idea. Well done, professionals! You know what you are doing, and I am a doofus. (I had to replace some planks of laminate flooring; it's good to keep the extras around).

Since my first hole had missed ever-so-slightly, I needed to drill another hole (preferably between the walls, not through another floor). This time, I used a pilot hole to see where to go, and made a nice, neat hole up from the crawl space. I already had the trim off in the dining room, I could cut into the drywall covered by the base molding to give myself more access to the inter-wall space.

I used fish tape (long metal tape with a hook on the end, wrapped in that blue plastic circle) to pull the ethernet cable up from the crawlspace.

As it turns out, a support beam runs along the bottom 8" of our living room floor along this wall, so drilling a new hole all the way up to the telephone box was basically impossible. Instead, I made a hole underneath to run the ethernet cable, which will then be covered by a faceplate mounted directly to the wooden beam.

Here's the ethernet cable, under the phone jack. I tied it to a pair of pliers so it doesn't slip back down the hole after all my hard work!

I was much more careful running the ethernet cable up the other side, making good use of the drywall portion covered by base molding. You can see I made a fairly large hole to give myself workspace, and drilled a pilot hole right at the edge of the wall. You can also see a teensy bit of the ethernet cable peeking through, running up to the cable box.

I pulled up the ethernet cable with the fish tape using a two-step process: first bringing it up through my hacked-up hole (above), then up to the wall box.

After all the cable was run, the trim needed to be put back (AGAIN!), so out comes the pneumatic nailer, my bestest friend. Note goggles and gloves, both good ideas.



Sarni said...

Impressed, yet again! Good job Joe. Learnin' as we go is a good thing :)

Cabling Toronto said...
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Luke20 said...
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