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Monthly Archives: January 2019

  1. Keystone Jacks

    Keystone jacks are small inserts designed to snap into place on keystone wall plates, patch panels, and surface mount boxes. Equipment built for keystones will have small holes left in them instead of having jacks pre-built in. Keystone jacks snap into place in these holes, allowing users to customize what jacks are included however they see fit. Keystones are also easy to remove if anything ever needs to be repaired or replaced.

    A standard keystone wall plate, designed to accept four keystone jacks

    Punchdown vs. Coupler

    There are multiple types of keystone jacks available, primarily consisting of various types of voice, data, audio, and video connections. Additionally, keystones are available in both punchdown and coupler formats. Voice and data keystones can be either one of these while audio and video keystones are typically only available as couplers.

    The difference between the two types lies with how cables are connected to the back of the keystone jack. Punchdowns allow bare wires to be connected to the jack. Directly wiring into a jack is most commonly used for permanent installations. Couplers

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  2. Making & Mending - DIY Low Voltage Mounting Bracket

    Installing a wall plate onto drywall can be a real pain. Cutting a hole in the wall is easy, but getting the plate to stay tight and secure is another story. More often than not, users end up with a loose wall plate that feels like it will come off along with the cable any time something is unplugged. The issue lies with the wall plate not have something solid enough to rest against. Drywall may be too soft by itself, but a mounting bracket changes that.

    In the guide below, we will be using the single gang version of the bracket. The same steps can be applied to the dual gang version. A video guide is available at the bottom of the article.

    Step 1: Gathering the Supplies

    The main item to have will be the bracket and the wall plate that will go on top of it. For tools, users will need a pencil, a drywall saw, and a Phillips screwdriver.

    Step 2: Tracing the Outline

    Hold the bracket up to the where the wall plate will go. Make sure the bracket it straight and hold it steady. Take the pencil and trace the inside of the wall bracket.

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  3. TV Mounts

    TV mounts have become increasingly popular during the new era of the flat screen TV. Now that TVs are not giant, heavy boxes that require a dedicated TV stand, a simple mount can be used instead to save space and provide a sleeker look. There are just a few facts to know before selecting a TV mount to make sure you choose the best unit for your needs.

    TV mounts come in three varieties: fixed, tilting, and articulating. Fixed TV mounts are solid; the TV simply hangs in place and cannot be moved. Tilting TV mounts can tilt down a little, making them easier to see when hung up high and saving viewers from straining their necks. Articulating TV mounts are wall mounts with a swinging arm, allowing the mount to face different directions. Most articulating mounts can also tilt as well. Ceiling TV mounts can also have the option to swivel, which is a rough equivalent to the articulating wall mounts.

    Every TV mount is compatible with drywall and comes with the bolts, drywall anchors, and other equipment needed to secure the unit. If you need to install on a different surface, such as masonry, you will likely need to find a hardware store and picking up more heavy-duty equipment. Always make sure you have the right tools for the job when securing a new TV mount; no one wants their TV to come crashing down to the floor later.

    Ceiling TV Mounts

    Ceiling mounts are designed to hang from the ceiling and are most commonly used in professional settings such as waiting areas in doctor’s offices or banks. Larger ceiling mounts are longer, hanging down further from the ceiling to better accommodate the sizes of larger TVs. Many ceiling mounts are flat and immobile, but there a

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  4. Making & Mending - DIY Install - Swing Arm (Articulating) TV Wall Mounts

    The days of giant, boxy televisions that take three people to carry are long behind us. Modern TVs are flat, slim, and most importantly, lightweight. These newer, sleeker designs make it much easier to save space by using a TV wall mount over a traditional TV stand. Before installing a TV mount, there are a few basic details to be aware of.

    In this guide, we will be covering articulating (swing arm) TV mounts. Articulating wall mounts allow a TV to swing back and forth, making them best for areas where a TV needs to face different directions. For tilting and fixed mounts, see our other TV mount DIY install guide here.

    There are a few different ratings that apply to TV wall mounts. The first is the size of the television. Wall mounts will be rated for different screen sizes, so be sure to select a unit that will accommodate your television. Each wall mount will also have a weight limit. Smaller articulating wall mounts cannot handle as much weight as an equivalent fixed wall mount, so be sure to double-check the weight limit. Bigger units (wall mounts made for TVs 80” or larger) have higher weight limits and should not present any problems.

    The other major factor is the VESA pattern of the television. VESA patterns are the holes on the back to the TV used to attach the mount. There are different types of VESA patterns, measured in millimeters. For example, a 200x200 VESA pattern means the holes form a square that is 200 millimeters on each side. The VESA pattern should be listed in the TV instruction manual. Otherwise, a ruler or tape measure can be used to check. Be sure to select a wall mount with a maximum VESA pattern compatible with the TV. If a little wiggle room is needed, a

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  5. Cable Distance Limits - Audio/Video

    Every type of cable has a maximum distance. These distance limits can vary greatly from one type of cable to the next. Along with determining whether a cable will work, distance limits will also determine how well a cable works. Knowing the fundamentals behind cable distance limits is the first step in selecting the best cable for your needs.

    Cables will always have some sort of “maximum signal” rating, depending on the type of the cable. For ethernet cables, it will be the maximum upload/download speed. For HDMI, it will be the maximum resolution of the video. And so on and so forth for other cables. Any type of “maximum” rating should be taken with a grain of salt.

    Those ratings are the best possible rating the cable is capable of under theoretical, perfect conditions. For example, modern HDMI cables are all rated for 4k. But if the HDMI cable is running through a coupler, users will almost certainly not get 4k. Each time a signal passes through a connection, even just connecting a cable to something like a TV or computer, the signal quality degrades a little. Using devices like extenders and couplers will make the signal weaker; for example, coupling a 10’ cable to a 5’ cable will result in a weaker signal than just using a single 15’ cable.

    Another key factor for signal quality is the distance of the cable. The further a signal has to travel, the more it will degrade by the time it gets from Point A to Point B. Going back to our HDMI example, a 15’ cord will give a clearer image than a 50’ cable. It is possible to get around this issue using an extender/boo

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  6. Making & Mending - DIY Install - Fixed TV Wall Mounts

    The days of giant, boxy televisions that take three people to carry are long behind us. Modern TVs are flat, slim, and most importantly, lightweight. These newer, sleeker designs make it much easier to save space by using a TV wall mount over a traditional TV stand. Before installing a TV mount, there are a few basic details to be aware of.

    In this guide, we will be covering fixed and tilting TV mounts. Tilting wall mounts tilt down, making them the better choice for televisions mounted higher up, but aside from that they are the same as fixed mounts. For articulating (swing arm) mounts, see our other TV mount DIY install guide here.

    There are a few different ratings that apply to TV wall mounts. The first is the size of the television. Wall mounts will be rated for different screen sizes, so be sure to select a unit that will accommodate your television. Each wall mount will also have a weight limit. Most modern TVs are light enough that the weight is not an issue, but it never hurts to double-check.

    The other major factor is the VESA pattern of the television. VESA patterns are the holes on the back to the TV used to attach the mount. There are different types of VESA patterns, measured in millimeters. For example, a 200x200 VESA pattern means the holes form a square that is 200 millimeters on each side. The VESA pattern should be listed in the TV instruction manual. Otherwise, a ruler or tape measure can be used to check. Be sure to select a wall mount with a maximum VESA pattern compatible with the TV. If a little wiggle room is needed, a VESA adapter kit can be used.

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  7. West Penn Products From ShowMeCables

    West Penn Wire is a designer and manufacturer of low-voltage cables that falls under the Belden umbrella. Here at ShowMeCables, we carry a number of their multi-conductor options. Dozens of standard multi-conductor cables for audio/video are available as well as cables with more specific uses.

    Multi-Conductor Cable

    One of West Penn’s specialties is multi-conductor cables that can be used for a multitude of applications. For example, there are 2-conductor cables designed for basic at-home speakers as well as 4-conductor cables for multiple speaker sets. Some of these are even UV resistant and waterproof for outdoor equipment such as intercoms and poolside speakers.

    These cables come in various configurations. Shielded vs. unshielded, PVC vs. plenum, solid vs. stranded, and more. With almost 100 different cables available, there is something for almost any low-voltage situation. These options are available in both 500’ and 1000’ rolls.

    Fire Alarm Cable

    ShowMeCables also carries a number of West Penn’s conventional (analog) fire alarm cables. They are available in sizes ranging from 12 to 18 AWG and with 2 to 4 copper conductors. Most of these fire alarm cables are solid while there are also a few stranded options. Both shielded and unshielded cables are available as well. These cables are available in both 500’ and 1000’ rolls.

    Analog fire alarm cable is tried and t

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  8. Making & Mending - DIY Install - Wall Mount Brackets & Patch Panels

    While many data centers and other tech rooms use large racks and cabinets to hold equipment, sometimes a more compact solution is needed. A full-fledged rack or cabinet can be overkill for installing something as simple as a single patch panel. To save space and keep the installation easy, a bracket is often the best option.

    Installing a bracket is a fairly easy project once a good spot has been picked out for it. The bracket itself will come with the screws, washers, and wall anchors that will be needed. Beyond that, just a few simple tools will are used for an install.

    For this guide, we will be using a basic 1 RU (rack unit) wall mount bracket with a 6” depth and installing an ethernet patch panel. Rack units are the standard of measurement used for racks, cabinets, and brackets. For width, any rack, cabinet, or bracket should be 19” across. For length, the number of RUs determines the size with 1 RU equal to 1.75”. Patch panels, shelves, and other attachable pieces of equipment should be rated with a number of RUs so users know how much space will be needed.

    A video version of this guide can be found at the bottom of the article.

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  9. ShowMeCables Custom Cable Builder Guide

    Here at ShowMeCables, we carry thousands of different standard cables from ethernet to fiber to coax and more. While these stock options cover a multitude of different scenarios, sometimes users find themselves in a situation where a more specialized solution is required. Whether that means a cable in an unusual size or something with off-beat connectors, ShowMeCables likely has a solution for you.

    To get started with custom cables, click the button that says Shop Custom Cables in the blue bar going across our web page. This is visible on every page of our website and will land users on the Cable Builder itself, which opens with two different options for users in Step 1.

    Step 1: Select Cable Builder Tool

    For this first step, users will need to select one of two different buttons. The left button is labeled Design Custom Cables & Order Online. This button will lead to Step 2 and onwards, which is what the majority of this article covers. The cable builder viewable in Step 2 covers most common types of cables. If you are looking for a type of cable or connector not

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  10. Making & Mending - DIY DIN Cables

    The term “DIN” covers a variety of different connectors used for power, audio, data, video, and more. DIN stands for Deutsches Institut für Normung, the German national standards organization that developed DIN connectors. There is a bit of basic information to know about DIN connectors before working on assembling one.

    There are many different versions of DIN connectors. The name of each type comes from the number of pins the connector has (3-pin DIN, 4-pin DIN, etc.) Some of these pin numbers come in different configurations, with the pins arranged differently from one configuration to the next. For example, 8-pin DIN comes in 262° and 270° versions.

    DIN cable connector
3-pin, 4-pin, 5-pin, 6-pin, 7-pin, 8-pin
degree
180, 216, 240, 262, 270

    Note: This image does not display all available DINs, but these are the most common types.

    There are also Mini versions of some DIN connectors, but these are generally developed for specific uses and referred to by other names. For example, an S-video connection is actually a 4-pin Mini-DIN but is generally just called S-video.

    The other key detail about DIN connectors is that they do not have a standard configuration. Other types of cables have standard pinouts; the wires inside the main cable are connected from one side of the

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