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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all,


Long time lurker, first time poster here with a question about a new home pre-wire.


I am about to move in to a new house that was pre-wired per my request. Basically it has RG-6 running to about 10 locations (all terminating in the attic) and a pre-wire for 4 speakers.


My problem is that I don't know which cable goes where. Is there something I can do to test each cable short of hooking up a video source (or audio in for the speakers) to each one and checking each room to see if thats where it goes.


I am picturing some (maybe fictional) device that I could hook up to the RG6 in some room and then check each cable in the attic to see if it matches. Does such a think exist? Any other suggestions for matching the cable ends?
 

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I ran into the same issue when I pre-wired my house with CAT5, and realized I didn't know which end went where. I solved this by first installing all of the CAT5 jacks in the various rooms (you would install coax jacks). Next, I made a short 6" CAT5 cable with a crimped-on end, and simply twisted all the wires together on the bare end. By doing this, I could plug this shorted "test cable" into any jack in the house, then check all the wires at the central location to see which ones measured continuity across its various wires.


If this isn't clear, please feel free to ask for clarification. Basically what I am suggesting is to install jacks at all your endpoints, then make a cable which can plug into these jacks to short the coax center conductor and ground together, which you can measure for at the other end.


- Chris
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I think I understand. Just use a voltmeter in the attic then to check for the continuity. I guess it will be even easier with the speaker wire as I already have the two wires running to each speaker. I hadn't considered the fact that RG6 actually has 2 wires in it.
 

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There is such a device that exists but it costs at least $75 for the bare bones model and on up for the good ones. It is called a tone generator. You have a piece on one end that has two leads with alligator clips that you connect to the wire and then you have a wand that you wave through your wires on the other end and when it rings, that is your wire. This is also handy for when your sheetrocker isn't careful and buries your wires so you can locate them without a dozen holes in the wall. But if you have a multimeter already, don't waste your money unless you like toys.
 

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Ideal MiniTracker Coaxial Cable Tester is $60 at Home Depot. Works like a charm.
 

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The cool thing about the mini tracker is that it comes with several ends which the tester can tell apart. That way you can put the ends on at a few jacks, take your tester to whatever clost or attic the cables terminate in and do them at the same time.
 

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If all you need is to identify each run of RG-6, a simple continuity meter or ohmmeter will suffice. Shouldn't cost more than $10 for a voltmeter that has this capability.


Short out one of the RG-6 outlets by sticking a piece of tinfoil so that it touches both the center conductor and the metal surround (which is connected to the shield). Go to the attic with your meter and try each cable in turn; touching the leads to the center conductor and the metal surround - the one where the meter indicates zero (or low) resistance will be the one with the tinfoil. Label it and repeat for each run.


Unsophisticated (and slower than the tracker because you can only do one at a time) but effective. Same idea will work for speaker cables.
 
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