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Thursday, 2 June 2011

How to make big holes in your walls and floors and rewire your home!

I’ve not been online much as late or posted anything, I’ve been very busy for the last two months renovating and decorating our house in England. As the house was totally empty I took the opportunity to completely start from scratch as far as infrastructure and cabling was concerned, when I lived there previously I had cable running under carpets and round skirting boards and even had a CAT5 string connecting downstairs to upstairs running outside of the house, all this was messy and generally drove me mad.

My aims were to have a fully wired computer network with multiple network points around the house, centralised in the cupboard under the stairs with a network patch panel, my Windows Home Server and gigabit switch / router would also live in here out of sight.

I wanted to properly wall mount 3 HDTVs one in the living room, one in the master bedroom and one in the children’s bedroom. I didn’t want to have cables hanging down or use surface mounted trunking at it just looks bad. I wanted to bury the cables into the walls and have proper A/V faceplates. This meant some serious remodelling with an axle grinder and a big hammer and chisel. Not work for the faint of heart when cutting 30mm or so in to block walls.

I am using DVBLink’s TVSource with my WHS but sometimes I have issues with it and I get no signal messages in Media Center, so I always planned to be able to by-pass Media Center altogether for Live TV and be able to just use the in-built tuners in the HDTVs. Initially I will only be using a Freeview aerial on the roof, I may add a Satellite dish later for FreeSat. So I needed to run new Coax cable from behind each of the wall mounted TV’s up in to the loft to connect to a distribution amp which will then connect to the aerial. I used 100 metres of high quality Belden Webro WF100 Coax cable.

Another goal was to wire for speakers and lots of them. 5.1 speakers in the living room, wall mounted stereo speakers in the kitchen above the units, these would also service the outside deck area in the back garden, a pair of ceiling speakers in the master bedroom and a single stereo ceiling speaker in the bathroom, the speaker cable, all 100 metres of it! has been installed under floors and in walls so you cannot see it, none of this running it round the skirting boards malarkey. I’ve used proper speaker connection wall plates with binding posts for easy connections to the amps using banana plugs.

Using these AV wall plates meant making my own audio and video cables for connections like Component and Composite and RCA audio type connections. For the audio cables buried in the walls and under some floors I used 50 metres of Kelsey UNI-1. For the video cable I used URM70 Coaxial Copper Braid Coaxial Cable. The wall plates needed to be soldered on the backs and phono connectors soldered on at the TV end. I also buried in one 1.4 HDMI cable with HDMI wall plate on each TV installation, the downstairs TV also has one TOSLINK optical cable plus wall plate for Digital Audio out from the back of the TV.

I’ve taken some photos of the work and will write a few more blog posts with more details of my setup and hardware I will be using and showing the progress of my project, which is not currently finished or fully tested but is nearing completion.

Before I started I mapped out my plans in Visio, I have pretty much stuck to these plans and not allot actually changed from the concept I had in my head apart from I decided to also wall mount the little Samsung TV in the kids bedroom as well and a few sockets moved locations etc.

Lounge / Kitchen Plan

Click for a larger image here.

Master Bedroom / Bathroom Plan

Click for a larger image here.

Photos of the Living Room – Initial channelling of the wall.

To be continued…


eddy said...

Nice project, Stuart! You should be fairly well future-proofed, at least for a while.

We did something similar in our house when we did major renovations about two years ago. It's worked out well, only thing I would have changed if I was doing it again are a couple more network points, especially at the back of the living room (there was supposed to dual points there, but somehow they got missed).

Have you wired up the CAT6 points yet? I was surprised by how fiddly they are, due to the limited bend radius available within the wall boxes etc.

Also, don't forget a high-mounted CAT6 point somewhere (over the stairs?) for a centrally mounted wifi access point, ideally Power-over-Ethernet.


Stuart Harrison said...

Hi Eddy

Ive been wiring computer networks for years so second nature to me. Good point about a network cable at the top of the stairs for a WIFI access point, I was just going to stick one in the cupboard under the stairs. However you can buy WIFI access points that look like smoke detectors one of those would be ideal over the stairs.

I might try and do this tomorrow as the carpets are being fitted on Monday and my route from the patch panel in the cupboard up to that stairs area would need to go under the stairs carpet.

Anonymous said...

Hi, what size trunking did you use and where did you get it from? Thanks.

CW-KID said...

I forget now. Made it quite deep 50mm deep by 100mm wide maybe. Screwfix should sell trunking.