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Running wiring inside walls... - Tina Marie's Ramblings
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skywhisperer
skywhisperer
Running wiring inside walls...
I don't have a cable connection in the living room. The previous owners didn't have a TV there. Someone a long time ago ran coax down through the wall, but it's got some sort of odd connector on the end that no one can recognize. The wall I want the cable on is essentially an "external" wall (really a shared, structural wall), on the first floor of my two-story townhouse. I figure while I was at it, I'd get them to give me an Ethernet drop there as well.

I've been thinking about doing something about this for months, and the electrician finally came out today. He can't find the other end of the existing cable in the attic, and he doesn't think it's possible to run a new cable down that wall from the attic - he said there's too much structure there to drill through. They'll be glad to re-run the cable by dropping it down an interior wall, then cutting tons of holes in the sheetrock to get it to the place where the TV lives. $650, not counting the sheetrock repair. I don't watch enough TV for that to be worth even considering.

My next option: I can try to do it myself. It seems like if I measure carefully, I can find the stud the wire runs down and map it to the attic. Drill down from the attic, then drop the cable to get it to the second-story floor. Then cut the sheetrock on the second floor, and if I'm lucky, I'll find the existing hole that the existing cable runs through, and I can just drop it down there, or drill a new one. Either way, that gets me down to the first floor on that wall.

Alternately, I could drop the wire down to the second-story floor the same way I'd drop any wiring, then drill a hole in the floor, run the wire out of the wall, through the hole, then down the front side of the first-floor wall, inside one of those wire-hiding-plastic things. It would look bad, but I could probably make it less obvious with some creative painting.

Or I could just give up TV entirely and save myself $20 a month in cable bills.

Suggestions? Pitfalls I should watch out for? Better ideas?

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Comments
ptomblin_lj From: ptomblin_lj Date: January 11th, 2007 12:04 am (UTC) (Link)

The really geeky option:

Get a Slingbox. Use it to transmit the TV signal wirelessly from the cable box to the TV.
skywhisperer From: skywhisperer Date: January 11th, 2007 12:35 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: The really geeky option:

Interesting idea. Requires a PC at the TV, which I don't have now, but I'm sure there's a spare laptop sitting around somewhere.

That's very interesting. I've never even heard of them before...
acelightning From: acelightning Date: January 11th, 2007 12:52 am (UTC) (Link)
as for the Ethernet connection... give it up and make your home wireless. (the only reason i don't is because all the computers are in one room here.) drop the cable TV service, and just use the set to watch videos on...

skywhisperer From: skywhisperer Date: January 11th, 2007 11:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have wireless, but it's awfully slow for transmitting video. I wouldn't mess with it if I didn't need another line dropped in the same place, but if I'm going to run coax, it seems to make sense to put Ethernet there too.
acelightning From: acelightning Date: January 11th, 2007 11:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
and maybe the electrician either didn't really know much about tv cable, or just didn't want to bother mucking about in the attic. have you been up there to look?

skywhisperer From: skywhisperer Date: January 12th, 2007 12:54 am (UTC) (Link)
The electrician I called also does data cabling, and he spent a good bit of time in the attic with a signal generator to try to find it. I've also looked for the other end a few times myself.

Mike made an interesting point yesterday - the existing cabling was probably to a TV antenna. Maybe it didn't run up that wall after all - maybe it ran horizontally to exit to the outside, and maybe it was cut when the antennas came down. I know whatever it was, it was put in before the sheetrock went on, because I've seen the same type of outlet in the same place in other units, so it was probably original.
acelightning From: acelightning Date: January 12th, 2007 04:41 am (UTC) (Link)
try to look at the outside of the building where the cable could have come through to the outside - you might see a slight water stain or shadow where it used to be. that might give you an indication where to look on the inside.

sgillbee From: sgillbee Date: January 11th, 2007 03:44 am (UTC) (Link)
Check with the cable company. You can usually get them to install a new outlet for free. They have technicians who have done this in thousands of different places and they have seen it all.

One option (that they might go with) would be to run the wire out of the attic to the outside of the house (like down the front wall). This is not actually as ugly as you might think. Then punch it thru the front wall next to the door at floor level and run it along a baseboard (perhaps in one of those wire conduits like you said). Or take off a baseboard and hide it behind the baseboard if you're feeling really adventuresome.

Just a few thoughts.
skywhisperer From: skywhisperer Date: January 11th, 2007 11:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
*laugh* Oh, no. TVMax will not install any cable on any outside wall, or on the lower floor of a 2-story building. They were the first place I checked. They wanted $200 to make a simple drop from the attic down a second-floor interior wall.

It'll look really bad running down the front, no matter what I do.

We're in negotiations with a new cable provider, so I'm probably going to just table this until a decision is made the end of February. Maybe the new provider will be willing to drop the cable for me..
aladdin_sane From: aladdin_sane Date: January 12th, 2007 08:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
try doing the job yourself. If not, then maybe get someone in. You might regret not having a TV on hand.
alioth1 From: alioth1 Date: January 13th, 2007 10:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
I went for years without a TV, didn't regret it a bit. (That's not to say I didn't watch video - my computer has had a DVD drive since they came out).
alioth1 From: alioth1 Date: January 13th, 2007 10:26 pm (UTC) (Link)

Tone tester

I was going to suggest getting a tone tester like what telephone engineers use, but I note that in an earlier reply you said the electrician had also done that.

Possibly best to forget the old cable altogether, and figure out where you can run a new one. You should be able to get a stud finder from the hardware store to find out the optimal place to drop it without having to cut any holes in your interior walls. (Can you place the TV in such a place such you only need to run cable through stud walls rather than supporting walls?)

As for wireless and video, I've run MPEG-2 video through my 802.11g. The main problem isn't bandwidth, it's the dropouts. If the wireless LAN has to go through any walls at all, even stud walls, it tends to make it rather prone to dropouts. You don't notice them when browsing the web, but when your video stops for 10 seconds a few minutes in, it's bloody annoying. That's why my house is flood wired with Cat5, so I can plug my laptop in when I need a decent, dropout-free connection.
oshawapilot From: oshawapilot Date: January 16th, 2007 03:32 pm (UTC) (Link)

Go Slingbox!

I vote for the Slingbox as well - one for myself is high on my priority list now that I've got a new Macbook that will actually play video smoothly.

(My old iBook just couldn't cut it...)

The idea of having location free TV filled with all your own channels and streamed over IP right onto the laptop is just too tempting to not do.

I picture myself sitting out on my back deck this coming summer, cold beer in hand, watching anything TV show I want on the Macbook.

Even when I travel, as long as there's a net connection all my home TV channels are only a few clicks away.
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