After my first two days of CEDIA Boot Camp course in Indianapolis this week, I’ve become so knowledgeable about the ins and outs of terminating “coax cable” that you can now officially refer to me as “Mr. RG6.”
Just think, only two days ago I couldn’t have told you what RG6 was… or RJ45, 16/4, or 16/2 for that matter. Coax? Sure! Cat-6 cable? No problem! But that other wire and cable lingo used to sail right over my head. Now, with two-thirds of CEDIA’s version of installer basic training under my belt, I can confidently identify, pre-wire, label, and terminate cable of all kinds, with the best of them.
After a half day of classroom instruction led by CEDIA’s directors of technical training, Jeff Gardner and Jeremy Evans, on Monday, my class of 22 guys of various backgrounds from around the country were introduced to the “lab” environment at CEDIA’s headquarters. In this warehouse-like space, 11 “mini-rooms” were framed out with 2x4s, plywood, and a little sheetrock. These mock-up rooms offered us students the chance to simulate the experience of pre-wiring a house and installing volume controls, security contact-closures, wall jacks, and in-wall speakers both in open-wall and retrofit applications.
As some of my readers may recall, I’ve already had some experience pulling wires, hanging speakers and a projection screen, mounting a projector, and racking gear in my own home theater. What I had not experienced before is the termination of RG6 and RJ45 cables. Separating out the color on the mini wires within the RJ45 cable was tough at first, but then very satisfying when I did it right. But what really got me clicking was the difficult process of attaching compression connectors to the very awkwardly designed quad-shield cable. While this sort of cable is not very common on most AV installs, it’s what the Boot Camp lab has in stock and what we used for our “high-altitude training” version of cable termination. After a solid half hour of peeling back multiple layers of foil and braded aluminum, my thumb and index finger are raw and ready for a rest. It's not something I'd love to do for a living, but I think I earned a little street cred in the process.
Boot Camp has given me the opportunity to use all kinds of new (to me) tools like crimpers, compression tools, and test equipment. It also allowed me to reacquaint myself with a drywall saw as my teammate, Billy, and I installed the retrofit brackets for two in-wall Niles speakers and an in-wall volume control knob. The project looks great so far and there’s more fun ahead for us on Wednesday as we actually install the hardware and test.
The really cool part, though, is that we get to take our own pair of speakers and volume control home with us after we’re done tomorrow. Next up is figuring out the best place for me to apply my new skills installing my new gear. I can't wait to start cutting holes and fishing cables in my house again.