fixing a cut external aerial cable

Discussion in 'Freeview & YouView' started by noisecrime, Sep 3, 2007.

  1. noisecrime

    noisecrime
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    HI,

    Few years ago i moved into a new house only to find the previous occupants had cut the external aerial cable. It was no longer long enough to get into the house so I had to find a way to extend it.

    I looked around a DIY store and came away with an (cheap) extender pack with two plastic sheathed coax plugs and one metal connector, which I duly wired up and got a pretty good signal from.

    Alas these were obvious for indoor use and although i wrapped them in electric tape it wasn't long before water got in, killing my old VCR, but probably fortunate nothing worse happened.

    I then added a Surface Mount Socket to the end of the cable in the house. It still had some water leaking into it, but the design appears to help prevent the water from travelling into the internal house cabling.

    Unfortunately over time the water in the original extender pack degraded the signal to the point where I had to remove it. I've never seen such a horrible sight with rust on the metal and black gunge everywhere.

    Anyway i've now upgraded my TV and other visual components so I want to get the join between the old cable and a new cable into the house done right. Originally I was looking at getting a new aerial installed since I was unable to get more than a handful of freeview channels, but the new TV with built in freeview amplifier has given me the full range of channels so i'm thinking perhaps I just need to find a waterproof solution for joining the external aerial cable to a new piece that enters the house.

    My problem is I can't seem to find anything that fits my needs ( I did originally look for external/weatherproof combiner in the shops but found nothing). Looking online i came across this '2 way TV Signal Splitter' (3/4 way down page) http://www.bitzshop.co.uk/acatalog/Amps___Splitters.html and wondering if this is what I need?

    Essentially then I have a cut external cable coming directly from my chimney mounted aerial. Its several meters short of getting into the ground floor so I need to join/extend it by some waterproof means.

    Can anyone give me any advice please, or perhaps i'm better off taking the hit and getting a new full aerial installed?
     
  2. Mrhappy37

    Mrhappy37
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    You need 2x Fplugs and a female F connector. When you have done the joint wrap it in amalgamating tape. This tape will provide a waterproof seal.
    Alternatively you could bring the length connected to the aerial into the loft, make a joint there to a new piece of coax and then re run this to where you need it.
    Hope this helps,
    Clyde
     
  3. Andy98765

    Andy98765
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    C.Wolf has a good suggestion, but you would be better off getting a new downlead fitted is quality cable.
     
  4. noisecrime

    noisecrime
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    thanks for the suggestions.

    Not heard of amalgamating tape, but might be something to look into, although i'm rather skeptical of using the same system I tried before just with different tape, I simply cannot afford to let water get into the cabling now.

    Replacing the aerial cable from the aerial is a good suggestion, but something I don't feel up to doing and have been quoted anything upto £60, for which I'd be more tempted to just get the whole thing replaced with a proper high gain aerial for £160. Since the existing aerial is not exactly great for receiving freeview in the first place, indeed without an amplified freeview reciever I only get a handful of channels and those arn't very good.

    The problem here is deciding whats the best route to take. Before the new TV I wasn't even sure I was able to get ITV, C4, C5 and many other freeview channels, so it felt like it might be an utter waste getting a new aerial in. I was quite tempted to go for sky at one point, but then having a working aerial as well would give me far more options.
     
  5. fernandez

    fernandez
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    I'm sorry but you've really answered your own question.
    You have fairly expensive equipment and connecting the aerial cable in it's current state is courting disaster.
    Get a decent aerial installed with new cable and you'll be able to use all the Freeview facilities on the TV and keep it, and the DVD recorder, safe from water damage.
    The cost of a decent installation is minimal compared to the cost of the equipment and the subsequent hassle if things go wrong
     
  6. noisecrime

    noisecrime
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    Yeah I know, but I wanted to double check before spending a fair amount of money that there wasn't a simpler and just as effective solution.

    I mean fitting a weatherproof box to join the two cables together would be simple for me to do, replacing the existing aerial cable would not, and if i was going that far then i guess getting a whole new aerial installed would be better.

    Its just somewhat annoying that such a simple DIY doesn't appear possible.
     
  7. aekostas

    aekostas
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    There is a simple DIY solution to the cut-cable problem, as mentioned by C.Wolf. There isn't a simple DIY solution to the inadequate aerial problem. :)
     
  8. fernandez

    fernandez
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    One of the points I was trying to make as joining the cable still leaves the problem
    "Since the existing aerial is not exactly great for receiving freeview in the first place, indeed without an amplified freeview reciever I only get a handful of channels and those aren't very good."

    My other point was that the cost of a decent aerial installation by a qualified fitter which should ensure reception of all Freeview channels available at the OP's address is only around 10% of the cost of the equipment it's being used with.

    And, I should add, with the imminent analogue switch-off unless Sky is installed a decent aerial will probably be a necessity
     
  9. Andy98765

    Andy98765
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    The no brainer is to get a new aerial and downlead and if necessary a masthead amp, get a 4 way and the rest of the house can benefit. So many people splash out on £1000 TV sets plus all the other gadgets and then do their utmost to cut corners on connectivity, I never understand the logic, I suppose with aerials and cables you do not sit back in an armchair and look at them all day. Look at it another way what is the point of having all that costly equipment if you have to put up with bad quality pictures.
     
  10. noisecrime

    noisecrime
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    Well what you say is true, in my case though I could not get a simple answer (not from this great forum i might add) as to whether I could receive freeview and what channels were available, even though I live in a large city. That has been going on for 3 years now and it was only getting the Tosh with its amplified receiver that actually showed what I could get. Before that i'd borrowed several freeview boxes and was never able to get half the channels.

    Now common sense might say that its due to the aerial and obviously the cut cable, but when you left with a large amount of doubt and none of the official sources or even an aerial installer could give you any gaurantees as to what you could receive, it makes stumping up £150 a bit of a risk.

    Even now, when it looks like i'll go for a whole new aerial installed (for peace of mind and a hopefully great recpetion) there is still some doubt in my mind as to whether it would actually be much better than i'm getting now. Just last night I had almost every channel drop off in signal strength or to nothing, even some of the BBC ones. This morning they are back on again. Perhaps a proper aerial would fix this, but it appears the only way i'd find out is by putting up the money and giving it a go.

    anyway thanks to all who replied.
     
  11. Andy98765

    Andy98765
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    Put your postcode into this site and see the results http://www.wolfbane.com/cgi-bin/tvd.exe? in my case it is 40miles from the transmitter and suggests Amplified extra hi-gain aerial, which is what I have and I get excellent reception.
     
  12. fernandez

    fernandez
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    Ask neighbours/friends/other people in the locality what their Freeview reception is like.

    There shouldn't be much of a risk if you use a qualified CAI installer as they have, after all, a reputation to uphold and depend to an extent on word-of mouth recommendations

    http://www.cai.org.uk/asp/installer.asp
     
  13. LV426

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    I'm afraid I have to point out a possible flaw in the logic here.

    You say that the existing aerial is not exactly great for receiving freeview and concern yourself about the cost of a new one; but you have preceded this with a tale of woe about the state of the RF downlead.

    Might I venture to suggest that you cannot evaluate how good or bad your aerial is, unless you first resolve any problems that may exist in the downlead?

    Anyhow - self-amalgamating tape is very different to regular electrical tape. As its name suggests, successive layers amalgamate themselves into a "solid" mass.

    If you want to try another, perhaps more robust DIY solution, then, why not get a weatherproof electrical connection box (about the size of a lightswitch and 25mm deep, say), wall mount it outside, bring the two cables in from the bottom and join them inside?

    Having said that, just get a new downlead, and, only if necessary, a new aerial.

    The reason you can't get a straight answer about reception is because there hardly ever are any straight answers. It is wholly dependent on precise location; even neighbours may have different experiences. The presence of other buildings, lie of land, trees, and sources of electrical noise can all have a dramatic effect.
     
  14. joegib

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    If you're bent on trying a repair first rather than replacing the whole cable you shouldn't dismiss C. Wolf's suggestion of using F connectors and self-amalgamating tape out of hand. What do you think professional installers use to waterproof F connectors attached to aerials/satellite dishes? Some may use rubber boots/shrouds but many prefer self-amalgamating tape. This shouldn't be confused with insulating tape which was never designed for exterior use. Another possibility is heatshrink tubing though this tends to be somewhat expensive and harder to obtain. This article describes some techniques:

    http://www.wppltd.demon.co.uk/WPP/Connectors__Cables___Tools/Wiring_Aids/wiring_aids.html
     
  15. noisecrime

    noisecrime
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    Wow, lots more replies

    Thanks thats a useful little site, never found anything like that before when searching about digital freeview. It says that Waltham (20 miles) and Sutton Coldfield (29 miles) are the nearest antennas and both need amplified extra gain aerials. Interestingly a nationwide aerial install firm that I called a few days ago claimed that Sutton was the nearest?

    Tried that, none of them were using the aerial or those that were weren't using freeview.

    As to reduced risk with using a qualified installer thats not really true or at least the impression they gave me. Not that it has any bearing on their capabilites but they would not offer any gaurantee that I would be able to receive more channels than i could at the time. I guess just covering themselves, but when they can't tell you what you are likely to receive, who can?

    You could, but as I mentioned in my first post i did resolve the downlead issue to the best of my abilities and components that I could find at the time. Granted joining up two cables may not be the best solution, but it did for a time give me unprecedented quality for the aerial signal, all traditional analogue channels where sharp and clean. Alas I was still only able to receive a handful of freeview channels (no ITV, C4, C5 or there offshoots) when tested in this state. It was only when I got the Toshiba with amplified receiver built in (and the downlead in a considerably worse state than before) that I discovered I could actually get more.

    Everything you say is true, but sadly unhelpful for someone who has had a poor experience with freeview in the past for making an informed choice and I guess thats what part of this thread has moved into. I find it very hard to simply throw money at something that I have no idea if any benefit will be gained it.

    Sure you can say, of course its going to be better but several times I checked the more official digital freeview sites (enter your postcode type of thing) only to be told that in my location i would not receive all channels, once I was told I couldn't even get freeview and all manor of conflicting information in between. So the more I looked into it the greater the uncertainity became and thats not good for spending money on ;)

    In fact I'm still wrestling with this issue now as I'd more or less dismissed trying another DIY on fixing the cables myself (based on this thread) , but whilst I can now receive almost every channel (i think) using my extremely poor aerial connection I now have, I'm none the wiser as to whether a whole new aerial will actually improve those channels which I can get but are unwatchable.


    Well I didn't dismiss it out of hand, I dismissed it as apart from the amalgamating tape thats exactly what I did first time and which utterly failed, no doubt due to using electrical tape (don't ask me why I'm not even sure I know now) However i'm not sure I want to take the risk of trying it again. Its very tempting but I feel the risk with my new equipment is now too great. I can't even be sure that water is not getting into the downlead from the aerial. Perhaps If I could replace the downlead myself I would give that a go, but its way out of my league in terms of getting onto and working on a roof.

    Anyway thanks again for the further replies. As I said i'm still tempted to try another DIY fix with the suggestions offered here, but I'm also thinking less risk to get a whole aerial installed professional and maybe with a proper aerial far better recepetion for all channels. Alas i'm useless at making discissions ;(
     
  16. fernandez

    fernandez
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    Just as matter of interest what is your postcode (just the first part)?
    Knowing that perhaps other members of this forum who live in the same area (hopefully there are some :)) may be able to give some pointers, even though each individual experience is different
     
  17. noisecrime

    noisecrime
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    LE2

    Although the second half of your reply made me chuckle, 'individual experience is different' since it encapsulates part of the problem - the unknown ;)

    I just rang a very local company from the CAI link posted here and they had a more competitive price of £125, thats assuming if they are CAI registered that they will do as good a job with same quality of materials/components as the previous £160 quotes i'd got. Granted its not a huge difference in cost, but every little saved will help.
     
  18. LV426

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    I think, as you can tell, I suspect, that there are so many uncertainties here, you should ask a CAI installer to fit you for Freeview (and ensure you test his work with a regular receiver).

    His local knowledge should mean he can tell you what he can achieve for you (and, perhaps, what he can't) - and you can then hold him to it.

    I'm convinced that the majority of Freeview reception issues arise in the aerial; yet it seems to be the one area that so many people seem to want to skimp on.
     
  19. Mrhappy37

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    Noisecrime,

    The aerial I would get would be an antiference XG16 wideband (£35) as ive just fitted one for a friend, who lives in a deadspot on the fringes of the reception area and he gets freeview almost faultlessly (occasionally gets a bit of digitising). The deadspot is due to being in a valley and even I was surprised to find he could get freeview there, what an aerial the XG16 is:clap:.

    He is also now using a splitter amp to feed 5 tv's in different rooms. This is also antiference from their pro range (£25). Also very important, he is using a good quality double screened coax with solid dielectric (£35/100m), so no water to electronics in the case of a cable break.
    I would suggest that this combination would pick up freeview on the moon:eek:.

    But at a cost of about £6 I would try the repair first if funds are tight. The amalgamating tape will not let any moisture penitrate. It is a professional solution and will work, however, if funds allow then go for the full installation then its done for ever, well the next 10 years at least.

    Kind Regards,

    Clyde.
     
  20. SamRadford

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    According to "Wolfbane" the postcode (example) LE2 3JU should get a signal of around 44dBuV/m. Most Freeview receivers need a minimum of 53dBuV so you need another 11dB (minimum) gain from the aerial system (assuming a loss of 2dB in the cable).

    Although a "high-gain wideband" aerial is suggested, you should take note of the fact that two of Waltham's channels are on 23 and 26 which are outside the really useful gain response of a wideband Yagi aerial. In addition, most of the analogue channels are at the peak gain point of a wideband Yagi - which is an undesirable combination if you want reliable Freeview reception. It gives you a low signal for the multiplexes on UHF channels 23 and 26 and a high analogue signal around UHF 55 which could swamp the Freeview tuner.

    For those reasons, I would recommend a (typically) 8dB log-periodic aerial with a low-noise masthead amplifier to give a few more dB. Rather than repeat the same old explanation for this choice, I'll simply point you to the comparison graph at the bottom of this page (again):
    http://www.satcure.com/tech/logperiodic.htm

    And bear in mind that "ordinary aerial cable" is really unsuitable for Freeview anyway - so replacing the entire cable is a no-brainer.
     
  21. SeanT

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    Re. the decent waterproof connection question asked originally, if you strip back both bits of cable until you have decent clean copper and no breaks in the often solid centre conductor anywhere nearby (ie. where the cable is folded it often gets broken), peel back the sheath quite well leaving more space on one side than you need to cover the centre join which follows, take a reasonably long amount off the centre insulator each side, add suitable lengths of heatshrink (of different sizes as appropriate) to both the outer cable long enough to cover the whole joint, and the centre insulator enough to cover the centre joint (you get the idea) and solder the two together over a reasonable length in the middle, then heatshrink, then twist back, wrap with more thin wire and solder the shield, heatshrink the whole joint, it'll be as if the cable never had a break in it - hope that makes some sense??
     

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