Wired up the den

Since the ceiling is out, I wired up the den for speakers.

Our TV is in one corner, and the couch is on the opposite side of the room. My wife never wanted to drape cables around a wall, so I figured that since the ceiling is out, it’s the perfect time to run speaker wires.

The whole job took me about 3 1/2 hours, not including patching wall holes.

Even though I only have a dinky 5.1 speaker system, I wanted to be wired for 7.1 channel surround sound setup just in case I luck across such a system some some day. That means I needed to run 4 pars of speaker wires between the walls. Add that to some category 5e network cables, and that would be a hassle!

Home Depot sells a single sprinkler system wire bundle with ten 18 gauge wires. An uncle in the audio business me that 18 gauge solid is plenty for unpowered speakers, so this 18/10 sprinkler wire is what I used!

Installation took a few steps.

A drywall cut for a junction box and to poke a hole through the fire block:

Cuts through the fire block:

3 cuts on the opposite wall:

Yes, 3 cuts. I made the first cut at the traditional fire block level because my stud sensor said something was there. Opening it up, I found nothing!

When I fished the wire from the top, I ran into something about 1 foot down. It turns out some 2x4s are stacked laterally at that point to support the wide opening to the left. Cutting above that, I found that I could slip the wires between an opening between the 2x4s.

Then about 1.5′ from the floor, I ran into something else! Cutting right above that point, I found a traditional fire block and had to cut through it.

Here’s my speaker cable handiwork:

Since the sprinkler cable had 10 wires (5 pairs), and since the speaker connector QuickPorts came in packages of 5, I went ahead and hooked up all five pairs.

On the suggestion of a neighbor, I ran two cat5e cables to the TV area. Supposedly the complexity of media center stuff would appreciate the availability of the two ports. And if I ever got a cable modem, I could head it back behind the TV and run its data to a router or switch in a hall closet.

Can you tell it has been 8 years since I last punched a RJ45 jack?

Don’t worry, I cleaned up the wires before installing it.

Here’s the connections behind the TV:

The other side of the room looks the same except for one less data port.

There wasn’t much noteworthy about the way I ran this through the ceiling except that I tried to distance the network cable from power wires:

My recollection is that fluorescent ballasts are the biggest signal killers, so this may not have made much a difference.

Since I was in the attic anyway, I took a long exposure picture:

I’ll never get this view any more unless, heaven forbid, the ceiling collapses again!

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