Media wiring, penultimate chapter

On New Years Eve, I got a chance to work on a long stalled project—hooking up the cable wiring in our distributed media outlets. As you may recall, back in June and July I ran coax to outlets in the first and second floor bedrooms and connected them to a distribution block—really an oversized panel-mounted tee connector—in our structured wiring panel. That left the last step: connecting the distribution block to a live cable feed.

On Saturday, Lisa and I (with help from Esta) mostly finished this part of the job. What was required:

First: Reroute the existing cable hookup in the basement back behind the fake wall. This takes some explaining: Our basement is built with one finished room, which has drywall walls at a standoff (about six inches) from the actual foundation wall. This leaves a convenient space to run electrical cables back and forth to the service panel, since the panel is mounted in the false wall, as well as for other kinds of cabling projects. There is even a door in the false wall, which is for accessing the house water shutoff but which works well for fishing wire.

Back in 2004 when cable was installed in the basement, the installer drilled a hole through the left top of the window frame and dropped the cable directly into the room. I drilled a hole through the false wall on the upper right side of the window and pulled the cable across behind the blind hardware at the top of the window and through the hole into the access space.

Second: Fish coax cable from the media panel into the laundry room. This was straightforward, since there are lots of cables and ducts passing through openings in the wall between these two rooms that will be boxed in at some point in the future. With everything still open, I could just pass the cable by hand through the wall into the laundry room.

Third: Fish coax from the laundry room, inside the finished ceiling of the library, and down into the access space and connect it to the live feed. This was the nightmare. The last time I looked at the access space, it wasn’t too bad: just a few cables strung across. One of our electricians had even been thoughtful enough to leave a nylon string in place for pulling future cables through. Unfortunately, that was before the first floor ductwork and the bathroom renovations were completed. End result: it took about two hours to work my hand up and fish the coax across, without getting snagged on any live electrical wires or puncturing the insulated ducts, and then to retrieve the fish tape.

Oy. Finally, though, almost all the connections have been made. Still remaining: actually test the cable outlets in the two bedrooms; insert one more tee in the false wall; install an outlet on the wall in the library bedroom; and tack up the cables in the library and the utility room. I’m most nervous about the first item. Anything could have gone wrong with the coax going up to the bedrooms, including bad connector attachment (by me), drywall nails driven into the coax (also me), insulation damaged by the HVAC guys… etc. Well, we’ll see how it goes.