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post #91 of 106 Old 04-19-2012, 09:10 PM
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What great progress! Nice job on the color-coding.

The LV cables near the front of the boxes makes me nervous about the drywallers rotozipping your cables.

Will the spray foam cause trouble for the backless LV add-on rings?

Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense. -Buddha

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post #92 of 106 Old 04-20-2012, 06:28 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Neurorad View Post

The LV cables near the front of the boxes makes me nervous about the drywallers rotozipping your cables.

These pictures are from February, drywall and texture is done (waiting on the cabinet guy to finish before they can start paint). I was really nervous about that as well but my builder assured me that it wouldnt be a problem. I havent seen any damage to any of my cabling post-drywall.

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Will the spray foam cause trouble for the backless LV add-on rings?

Thats another picture we didnt take. After all the cabling runs were complete we went around to all the boxes that would get foamed and taped the backs of the boxes closed with duct tape. I had originally wanted to use backboxxes, but finding them in small quantities was impossible. Plus, the manufacturer said he didnt think the boxes would stand up to the foam expansion anyway. We wound up with a few boxes getting some foam penetration but my builder used open cell, so its pretty easy to carve out.
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post #93 of 106 Old 04-20-2012, 06:57 AM - Thread Starter
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So a few more pictures I forgot to post last night.



This is a speaker drop. I used this product and was happy with the majority of locations I used it. It gives the drywall guys something to cut around so you can find your drop and allows you to go in after the fact and cut whatever hole you need, you arent tied to a specific speaker mud ring. The piece is designed to push away from the hole to make your cut and then break away so you can pull the wire out the hole. There are pictures on the product link that explains this process better.



This is an exterior TV drop. We finished the house in stucco and the exterior drops were a bit of a pain. You had to face the boxes out an extra 3/4 of an inch, so we had to do some blocking to get these things set at the right depth and square. Here you can see the LV conduit, I ran them intentionally long and cut them after the foam was done. You can actually see the black duct tape thats covering the back of this box to seal it prior to foam.



This is one of the chases in the attic space. I used non-conductive D-rings to keep things organized and to maintain some spacing away from the romex running all over. Ill try to get a picture of the decked attic space to show how I was able to keep things tucked to the sides and maintain substantial space up there for storage. Those D-rings were also great to "lubricate" the cable pulling. I put them at every turn so the cables were rubbing the D-ring, not any wood and it worked out great.



After the pre-wire was done we pulled all of it into the attic space. This is the conduit plate I built that we will feed the cabling back through after the interior is painted. That space between the studs the conduit is coming through was the area I cut out to pull. After the pull was done I built a plate to cover that hole and hold the conduit. That is 4 inch conduit and I glued a coupler to the tops of each to keep them from falling thorugh the hole. Simple and solid. I know those look long now but after drywall there is only about 4 inches of excess.
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post #94 of 106 Old 04-20-2012, 08:20 AM
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Great work. Love the color coding you did on the wiring job.
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post #95 of 106 Old 04-20-2012, 09:08 AM - Thread Starter
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This is the final floorplan. The structured cabling closet was a work in progress up until the end and isnt 100% accurate on this plan as far as size goes, but the location is accurate. The closet is in the media room which is opposite the front door (bottom centerish of the picture). The bottom right of the media room is the structured cabling closet. The final dimensions wound up being 3 feet deep and 4 feet wide with a 24/70 opening for the rack (again, not ideal for a stationary media rack). I do like where this wound up because it was very close the center of the house. I didnt have any super long runs, and the two most important runs (media room and living room) were sharing a wall with the closet which makes things easy down the road.

And just for clarity, the closet has a twin on the opposite side of the media room. This frames the space and gave us media storage in the same room. Both closets have hidden doors on each side; media room and living room. For the media storage closet its great because you dont have to walk all the way around and into the media room to find a DVD. For the structured cabling closet it allows me access to the back of the rack without having to pull it out. The living room side hides the doors behind shallow curio cabinets that are hidden doors. The media room hidden doors are still a work in progress (cabinet guy! )


On to lessons learned. To recap some background info this is a single story, sealed envelope home. Sealed envelope means there is a continuous insulated barrier from the ground to the top of the roof. Any exterior spaces that arent climate controlled (garage, patio roofing, etc) have an interior wall built in the attic space to provide a seal that is insulated with foam. Lastly, the ceiling space isnt insulated, the bottom of the roof is. My attic space will stay within 8 degrees of my internal house temperature. The downside to all of that is once is your prewire has to be nailed. Anything you can possibly think of has to be accounted for because you do NOT want to penetrate that foam later. That was the rationale behind putting in the amount of wire and conduit that I did.

Step one was the plan. I pulled the floor plan into Visio and plotted out my cable runs to get measurements, which included full floor to ceiling heights. This was done for each type of cable and drop; TV, phone/ethernet, Nuvo, Nuvo speaker, and 5:1 speaker. This gave me my bulk cable needs, I added a healthy 15% to cover any gotchas. I also used this to figure out the ancillary stuff I would need, LV gang boxes, speaker mud rings, LV conduit, etc. D-rings and other items for cable routing and securing were just swags. I splurged on a Dymo heat shrink label maker, but its something I can make use of at work too.

I did lots of research on where to buy all of this stuff. I was dissapointed in the electrical supply places locally, and even as far away as Austin. Prices were high, and selection was weak. I wanted unique colors for each cable to expedite the wiring process (I refused to be the person holding up my own house!). Cat-6 wound up being impossible to find at any decent price and in any colors besides grey and blue. I purchased the RG-6 locally, but all other cabling (cat-6 in 6 colors, 16/4, and 14/2) came from monoprice. I went through an assortment of places to buy the rest of my gang boxes, mud rings, etc. The only local purchases in that department was the LV snap on single gang boxes, Home Depot carried them and I saved shipping. The goal was to have everything on hand and inventoried prior to the electricians finishing.


This is where things go off the rails a bit. All of this planning was done before they had even broken ground on the house. As the framing started I realized that the plans didnt show things that were going to cause problems. As stated before this is a single story house with some pretty big open areas. Those open areas required the use of laminated beams. Super strong, but also a super problem for a carefully built plan for routing cables. You cant punch any holes in them, and the attic decking goes right up to them. With time I could have reworked my plan and found my cable lengths again. Unfortunately I didnt have time, I was saddled with business trips before and after my window for prewire. I had roughly two weeks (and one weekend) to complete this project, I had zero room for shortages to come in without incurring massive shipping costs (overnighting a 40 pound spool of cable costs way more than the spool). Without any options I doubled my entire cable estimate and placed the order. I achieved platinum status on Monoprice on one order.

Armed with an obscene amount of wiring I was ready when the electricians were finishing up their install. I paid close attention when Mike (head electrician) started his rough-in. He walked around with the electrical plan and a magic marker and marked the studs for each box, switch, light, can, etc. When his guys came in behind him the first thing they did was mount all the boxes and drill their routing holes before even looking at any wire. Smart way to work, so I copied it. Thats why you can see the word snap in some of the previous pictures. I was able to do this in the evenings after the electricians left for the day and get my plan laid in before they had even finished. I punched 1" holes for the bulk of my runs, with double holes at the video drops (MISTAKE). I had to alter some box locations due to access and marked them on my printout to keep things in synch.

Speaking of my printout, it was a vital part of the process from planning to pulling cable. Each room had an identifier, and each drop had a further identifier to keep things organized. No room had more than one video zone so that was pretty straight forward. Eth/Phone drops ranged from 1-4 to a room so they each got marked on the printout with the corrected location and a number. Sub drops were another that had multiples in a room, they got numbers as well. Speaker drops (5:1) got marked by location (FL, FR, C, RL, RR) facing the TV drop. This allowed us to create a system to label the drops quickly and without confusion. When I finish out the house the printout is going to get redrawn in Visio with all the final labels and added into a sleeve on the rack. Zero questions for anyone working on the system.

So now Im ready to pull wire. With a big long single story house our attic is pretty big, and my builder wanted to give us as much usable storage space as possible so he decked the hell out of it. Great for us long term, but a pita to route cables. As stated before, there are laminated beams all over the place, and the decking butts right up to the beams. This forced me to make some harder cable routes than I had anticipated on paper, especially since the HVAC rough in was complete. They had followed my builder's guidance and routed all their ducting around the edges of the house to keep the attic space uncluttered. Again, great for us long term but another hurdle to prewire around. The bulk of my runs ran directly under their ducting along the outer edges of the house.

My wife stayed with the pull boxes and ensured the cables kept flowing (pull boxes love to snag). I pulled the longest runs first and worked back from there on each side of the house. This gave me a master chase first that I would spider the remaining runs off of as I worked. I popped in a couple of 3" D-rings at my cabling closet and got to pulling. As I got to a turn I would pop in another D-ring. This slowed down the initial pull but after that the follow on pulls got faster and faster because of the network of rings in place. As I completed each run I would pull 18-24" of excess out of the box, and my wife would pull the cables to the floor in the closet and back up to a mark we made on a stud. She would cut the cables, add a heat shrink label to the bundle, then roll it and zip tie it as a bundle so we knew what went together. We worked each pull type seperately, eth/phone first (always the longest runs), then Nuvo, then video. This two person system worked out great and we were able to pull all the wire in the above pics in 2 days (Nuvo speaker runs from the plates were handled later).

I hit my original cable estimates almost exactly (with the 15% margin added) and wound up with quite a lot of excess that Ill find a use for or sell on craigslist. More importantly we completed this in our alloted time and didnt impact the build schedule at all. We spent the remainder of that week's evenings completing the Nuvo speaker runs and taping boxes that would get foamed, securing cables to studs so they wouldnt get pulled with the foam, etc. Im sure theres plenty Im forgetting, but if you have questions Ill do my best to answer them.

For the TL; DR crowd.

- research your LV goals to death on AVS, cocoon, etc
- make a plan
- revise your plan based on the realities the construction gives you
- planning and organization (color coordination, order of work, etc) up front can expedite things immensely


EDIT:

And there is a ripe market for LV stuff that works with spray foam. Im amazed that there arent more products out there for this type of insulation. Such a pain to have to tape all those boxes and lose all that space!
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post #96 of 106 Old 05-21-2012, 11:03 AM - Thread Starter
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So we finally got over the cabinet hurdle and things are progressing inside, paint should be finished this week and floors will be done by the first of June. That means its almost time to finish out all the wiring I did. Im looking for recs on tools and connectors from people that have done this for a while. I have access to decent tools, but Im willing to invest in something better if it will save me time and effort long term. Even if youre hesitant to rec a specific vendor at least provide me some companies and products to avoid.

Specifically Im looking for coax tools (strippers, compression crimpers), coax connectors (compression indoor and outdoor), general wire jacket strippers (to split 16/4 open to get to the pairs), and punchdown tools for all my category wire. Im used to using plain-jane category connectors but Ive seen new stuff like the open front RJ-45s out there. Seems like a real time saver, its cat-6+ rated, but requires a special tool to crimp. There will be a lot of category terminating in this house, so any help to expedite that, and more importantly save my fingertips from becoming raw wiggling those wires is a bonus.

Im buying this adjustable hole-saw for doing my speaker punchouts (11 audio zones). I think doing drywall is a no-brainer, but how is it on wood? I have 2 patios I will need to cut some speakers in, is it going to tear up the bits on 2 inch paneling? I thought worst case I could get an initial bite that could score me a good guide to use a jigsaw on.

Secondary recs on keystone jacks for cat-6, coax, etc are helpful as well. Im doing the patch panel method for my phone distribution, but Im on the fence about doing a patch panel for my cat-6 versus plugging directly into a 24 port switch. The big reason for that is my rack wont be fixed in place.

Lastly Im holding off on buying a RG-6 distribution amp because Im assuming that DirectTV/TW will want to use their own. If thats not true Ill be looking for recs on that as well, I have 9 video zones.
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post #97 of 106 Old 05-21-2012, 02:12 PM
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I doubt that the hole saw will do well with wood. Your idea of using it to scribe a line may work, but why not use a compass and pencil to draw a circle then use the jigsaw?

Mike Kobb
(Formerly "ReplayMike". These opinions are mine alone, and in no way reflect the opinions of employers past or present!)
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post #98 of 106 Old 05-21-2012, 06:48 PM
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http://www.remotecentral.com/cgi-bin...keywords=25753

Tips on the hole saw

Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense. -Buddha

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post #99 of 106 Old 05-21-2012, 08:00 PM
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I suggest you put a category cable patch panel at the top rear of the rack, for LAN.

Nuvo keypad category cables, terminated with male connectors, plug into the Nuvo keypad distribution hub. Don't patch those.

I don't suggest patching speaker cables. I patched mine with DIN mount terminal blocks, back of the rack, and it was more hassle and expense than it was worth. How often do you change those? Never.

I have 2 large bundles coming down from the ceiling to my rack, one for keypads, the other for speakers. Leave a lot of slack in each bundle, and hide the extra.

Connect the speakers cables to the back of the amp directly, IMO.

Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense. -Buddha

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post #100 of 106 Old 05-22-2012, 11:06 AM
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Awesome Chris! We are building a house right now too, close in July...

I didn't go to NEAR the extent you did though

I didn't read the whole thread in great detail, but did you ever get your surveillance figured out? I have some decent experience with this. Well, I've setup multiple systems that turned out great at least.

IP cams have come way down in price. CCTV is like VHS if you ask my opinion. IP is the way to go for sure.

That said, one single Cat6 or 5e cable to each cam location should have been sufficient. You probably already took care of this?

Awesome house.
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post #101 of 106 Old 05-22-2012, 04:25 PM - Thread Starter
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Awesome Chris! We are building a house right now too, close in July...

I didn't go to NEAR the extent you did though

I didn't read the whole thread in great detail, but did you ever get your surveillance figured out? I have some decent experience with this. Well, I've setup multiple systems that turned out great at least.

IP cams have come way down in price. CCTV is like VHS if you ask my opinion. IP is the way to go for sure.

That said, one single Cat6 or 5e cable to each cam location should have been sufficient. You probably already took care of this?

Awesome house.


Thanks! We did wind up prewiring 8 camera locations for digital cams (category wiring). The thinking was we could use baluns even if we decided to go with analog cams. Not sure when we will get around to hooking those up, we have lots of other things to occupy us first.
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post #102 of 106 Old 05-22-2012, 04:51 PM - Thread Starter
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I doubt that the hole saw will do well with wood. Your idea of using it to scribe a line may work, but why not use a compass and pencil to draw a circle then use the jigsaw?

I might have to, my wife loves the way that stained paneling looks and would beat me if I chewed it up.

Neuro, thanks for the link. Seems like a great time saver in both work and clean up. The tip about running it reverse to score a line and cut the paper is smart.
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post #103 of 106 Old 05-23-2012, 09:20 AM
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Thanks! We did wind up prewiring 8 camera locations for digital cams (category wiring). The thinking was we could use baluns even if we decided to go with analog cams. Not sure when we will get around to hooking those up, we have lots of other things to occupy us first.

Putting analog cams on your house would be like putting wooden wagon wheels on a Ferrari

With the modern IP cams and the PoE/PowerInjector they are coming standard with these days, one Cat cable takes care of everything. Even with a slightly higher cam price, you still will be money ahead by avoiding all the extra hardware, bauluns, and headache that comes with analog. Not to mention the end result quality.

I run (9) dual-lens, Megapixel Mobotix cams at work (that's 18 feeds), and (4) residential quality cams at my old house. All remotely accessible, and both systems save up to 3 weeks of continuous (24/7) recordings that I could push out to probably 6 months+ if I kept recordings to events only.

My wifes lust for fancy engineered hardwood, granite, stucco etc put a damper on my grand plan for low voltage in the new house I still got the necessities in there though, so I'm happy. Love building new houses!
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post #104 of 106 Old 06-13-2012, 02:05 PM - Thread Starter
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http://www.remotecentral.com/cgi-bin...keywords=25753


Tips on the hole saw

So the tips were great, as was this hole saw. What wasnt great was the fact that the drywall guys moved quite a few of my speaker drops. mad.gif

400

The most common problem was them snapping the rings off and then rescrewing the shortened plate back to the stud, which threw things off about an inch and a half. The bigger problem was them moving the entire plate wherever they wanted, which threw measurements off by a number of inches. This caused me to cut a few holes by hand (need the center of the hole to have material for the hole saw to bite into and guide) and have one hole that required a drywall patch because it was so far off. I did 9 speaker pairs in about 7-8 hours. If they drops were all unaltered you could probably shave 3-4 hours off that time. If I could do it again I would have put these in and the top of the wood and noted the measurements on paper so I could find them later. This would have allowed me to use my hole saw on every cut and avoided any drywall patching after the fact. Hindsight, 20/20, yada yada. smile.gif Regardless, I highly suggest anyone cutting a bunch of speakers in to look at that product!. I also installed my structured cable closet venting. Its a 2 fan unit with a temp sensor, kicks in at 80 degrees, and ramps up to full speed at 100 degrees. I think I may rig up an arduino board to monitor temps in there for a while to see what kind of temps Im getting over time. If that thing is cycling constantly I may have to cut in another set of fans or find a stronger solution.

I have 2 patio speaker pairs to put in tonight and then Im doing wall plates and cable closet terminations. We have the painters coming through for their touchups next week so Im going to hold off on dropping the cables down into the cable closet until they are done.

I dont have any in progress pictures because we are flying to get this thing done by the end of the month.
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post #105 of 106 Old 06-13-2012, 02:37 PM
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The most common problem was them snapping the rings off and then rescrewing the shortened plate back to the stud, which threw things off about an inch and a half. The bigger problem was them moving the entire plate wherever they wanted, which threw measurements off by a number of inches. This caused me to cut a few holes by hand (need the center of the hole to have material for the hole saw to bite into and guide) and have one hole that required a drywall patch because it was so far off. I did 9 speaker pairs in about 7-8 hours. If they drops were all unaltered you could probably shave 3-4 hours off that time. If I could do it again I would have put these in and the top of the wood and noted the measurements on paper so I could find them later. This would have allowed me to use my hole saw on every cut and avoided any drywall patching after the fact. Hindsight, 20/20, yada yada. smile.gif

Yep, 100% agree. My advice to folks has been if you're not going to use pre-install speaker brackets (because you aren't going to install speakers immediately, or haven't chosen the product), is to just secure the wire out of the way and document the hell out of the location... For exactly the reasons you ran into. Putting speaker wire in exposed boxes right next to the joist is exactly where you don't want it...

Jeff

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post #106 of 106 Old 10-17-2013, 05:45 PM
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Hows everything coming?

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