DIY cat6 cable installation advice please

Discussion in 'Home Cinema Building DIY' started by virgesmith, Jan 14, 2008.

  1. virgesmith

    virgesmith
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    Hi,

    I'm looking to install some cat6 cabling around the house primarily for media streaming and want it to be reasonably futureproof, but want to avoid ripping up walls/floors etc if possible. At the moment I stream media wirelessly to my PS3, Helios X3000 and squeezeboxes, and this works quite well but get the odd outage with video so ideally would prefer a wired 100M (and eventually gigabit) solution.

    The previous owner put in a homebrew Sky multiroom - Sky box in garage, splitter, and 4 coax cables going to different rooms. The cables go into plastic pipes (approx 1" diam) in the garage, and come out of similar pipes behind faceplates in each room. I'm assuming the pipes go all the way from garage to room with no gaps or breaks, but this is pure guesswork. I want to keep the existing coax cables for Freeview, and was hoping to thread cat6 down the same pipes...

    So this weekend I got some cable draw tape and shoved it down a good way, but nothing coming out at the garage end, and it wouldnt seem to go any futher, so wondering whether it had gone the wrong way somehow, I started pulling back the draw tape... then it got stuck, and wont budge either forwards or backwards. In frustration I gave it a good old yank - crunching noise from under the floorboards, draw tape still jammed. Eventually I gave up. At least I havent damaged the coax :)

    Now wondering...
    1) was I trying something impossible, or is it possible if you - unlike me - know what you're doing? Will I ever be able to rescue the jammed draw tape without ripping up the floor?
    2) given I'm at best only going to get 1 cable to each room as the pipe isnt big enough for more, and thus require switches to the multiple devices at each end, is this network layout going to be so suboptimal I'm wasting my time?

    So to take this forward, the options are:
    1) get some fantastic advice from the guys on this forum and try again next weekend
    2) get a professional installer in to sort out the mess I made and do what I had planned properly.
    3) get a professional installer in and do a proper job, ripping up walls/floors and putting lots of cables to each room and put up with the disruption and expense.
    4) back to the drawing board and come up with a different solution.
    5) forget about the whole thing.

    Anyone recommend an installer in the E14 area? All advice hugely appreciated

    Many thanks for listening
    virgesmith
     
  2. JayBird

    JayBird
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  3. phil-uk

    phil-uk
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    Have you thought about leaving the sky setup as is and take a new approach for the LAN cabling?

    Would it not be easier to put your proposed LAN switch in the attic and run your Cat5e or Cat6 cables from the attic and drop down into each room, which is very easy to do. From the attic you just need a small hole through the ceiling plasterboard and your in, drop down close to the walls so you can add trunking to make it look nicer, or try and conceal it behind a cupboard or even in a built in cupboard, etc.

    Also consider Homeplugs as an option (Ethernet over your electric circuits), 200Mbps available these days which will happily stream your video\audio.

    Edit: LOL - looks like Jaybird beat me to the Homeplug idea!
     
  4. virgesmith

    virgesmith
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    Thanks guys,

    I'm a bit short of sockets and I gather you can't use the adapters in e.g. surge protected 4-way strips, but will see what sockets I've available, it would be a good interim solution.

    As for the attic, unfortunately the rooms where I really need the network aren't on the top floor.

    Still intrigued to know if my original approach is dead in the water (as I suspect) or not...and if anyone can recommend an installer...

    Thanks again,
    virgesmith
     
  5. peevo

    peevo
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    You wont be able to fish a cable down the conduit with the coax still in place however what would need to be done would be to tape the draw wire onto the end of the coax, pull out then attach the cat6 and the coax back onto your draw wire and pull back through again. Risky because it may not go through the joint boxes/bends.
    Best calling a spark/cabling company for this type of work if you are not confident.
     
  6. virgesmith

    virgesmith
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    Thanks Peevo

    Yeah I didn't have the confidence to pull out the exisiting cable in case I couldnt get it back in again, reckon a pro would do this first off.

    The missus came up with a great idea which was putting a small metal ring round the existing cable and attaching the end of the fish tape to the ring so ensuring the fish tape takes the same route. Alas by then I'd already botched it...
     
  7. phil-uk

    phil-uk
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    Just a note on the homeplugs, they will work on a 4-gang plug extension as I have mine on one, cant remember if its also a surge protector though.

    On your conduit pipe issue, maybe you can blow the draw ribbon through using compressed air (if available to you) it may or may not work, just an idea.
     
  8. podhead

    podhead
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    I work for a big comms company and Im always pulling cables in threw all manner of ducts tubes ports ect- theres no real science to it just a bit of common sense required, 2 rules that basically ring true most times,
    1= as already said, dont attempt pulling another cable threw a duct when theres already one in it, genrally allways becomes snared, and you end up damageing either the new or the old.
    2= you really need to know the line of route, ie- bends joins gaps ect.

    for all you know you could have a huge gap under a floor somewhere that has an opposed angle and youll never pull threw that.

    my advise would be to get the crow bar out and spend a weekend lifting a few boards. youll be supprised at how few boards you will have to lift to get the job done.
    I got my 4 wall mounted speakers fitted in each corner of my living room fed the speaker cable up threw the ceiling in each corner went upstairs lifted a few boards and fed all cables back down a cavity next to the fireplace to the amp in an evening.
    once you get started crack on and youll find your problem in no time, the fact you have 1" conduit already run you really do have a easy task ahead.
     
  9. virgesmith

    virgesmith
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    ah ok - I read the online manual for the netgear ones and it said at best it'll reduce the bandwidth massively if you plug them into an extension lead - but i'm going to give it a go anyway with the (netgear) HDX101s...reviews on amazon are interesting. most think great, but a good few getting **** all bandwidth...guess it depends on your wiring.

    re: the compressed air, interesting suggestion but elf n safety (aka wife) wont countenance such a suggestion :)
     
  10. Barty Crouch

    Barty Crouch
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    Just to add something to podhead's comments about lifting floor boards, in that if someone has already put in conduit then most of the hard work has already been done the tongue and grooves will have been split and the boards may well be screwed down and not nailed.
    As said it may surprise you how few boards you possibly need to take up.
     
  11. virgesmith

    virgesmith
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    Thanks Podhead and Barty - The boards in these houses are reknowned for their creakiness - I dont think they're the normal plank types, big sheets of cr4ppy ply/chipboard i think. and I'm certain these ones have been screwed down as theyre slightly less creaky than the neighbours. TBH this is pushing my tiny DIY envelope way too much. I think powerline ethernet as interim solution, followed by a visit from someone infinitely more qualified than me...but who do I call? If I google for cat5 installers they're all commercial, will your average sparks have experience of network cabling?

    virge
     
  12. putbinoot

    putbinoot
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    You normally have boxes in conduit runs to make it easy to install the cables in the first place. First about your stuck tape, what you can try is holding the tape one hand in front of the other 30cm apart then and move your hands in a circular motion out of sync with each other so you create a wave effect on the tape then gently pull back as the end may jump of what it is caught on, try a couple of turns one way then the other. You may get lucky and it will come free. Is your garage the integral type where the garage floor is below the house floor level, you could check under the stairs to see if there is a hatch cut to allow you to get under the floor, this may let you see the conduit runs or allow you to, if you can see a route to each room from under the floor to drop cables down through the floor in each room and hook onto them using http://www.screwfix.com/prods/89981/Electrical/Electricians-Tools/Cable-Access/Cable-Rod-Tool-Box-Kit;jsessionid=4HL3UPKNVU4ECCSTHZPCFFI then pull the cables back to where you are and then feed them to the garage.
     
  13. suniil

    suniil
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    powerline ethernet is a failed solution for me, same if you have video streaming / future-proofing plans. Gigabit networking can be done if you are semi-skilled, but lifting floor boards etc may make life tougher. You may get some tips from my DIY thread, though not sure :)

     
  14. virgesmith

    virgesmith
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    Suniil

    Seen your project on the other thread - well impressive! Alas I'm more into the quick and dirty (and cheap) approach.

    What was your issue with powerline ethernet? Were you using the newest 200M (supposedly) one? The netgear adapters are pricey and I'll need a switch too so I dont want to fork out nearly 200 quid if its a non-starter.

    Cheers,
    virge
     
  15. homer timpson

    homer timpson
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    For anyone short of sockets, these are available at Screwfix - reasonably easy to install for us amateurs - and make the addition of extra sockets achievable quickly.

    1 to 3 Converter

    1 to 4 Converter

    May not be what you're looking for?

    Homer
     
  16. virgesmith

    virgesmith
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    Hi again,

    After reading the responses here and a bit of thought I realised my failed attempt at pulling a cat6 cable through the exisiting conduit for the TV is probably a blessing in disguise. One network outlet in each room really wont work that well.

    So the only option is to go the whole hog - patch panel in garage, all phone wiring replaced with cat6 and multiple network outlets in each room... big and expensive bit of work but will get round to it sometime... and will get the professionals to do it.

    Decided against the homeplug option since it seems like a bit of a lottery whether you get the speeds they advertise.

    So for an interim solution I used the 30m of cat6 I had to run two cables along outside of walls from the study to the lounge, connecting PS3 and Helios x3000 to the network. It's ugly, but it works, and it's easily removed.

    Would post photos - as an example of how not to do it - but too embarassing

    Once again, can anybody recommend installers in/near E14?

    Many thanks,
    virge
     

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