DIY Cables - example and question

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by jimstark, Mar 27, 2001.

  1. jimstark

    jimstark Auditioning

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    Just thought I'd share my DIY cable experience...
    I simply cannot afford high-end cables...not if I want to keep buying new gear! So I was buying the best I could afford, usually Monster. On a whim, after seeing someone else's DIY cable post, I started making my own out of some connectors I had laying around and some RG6 cable. I popped them on my TiVo. The audio seemed remarkably improved. It made the audio coming out of my cable box sound like pure crap!
    I then made a set and put them on my digital cable box, and lo and behold...much, much better.
    I used:
    Quad-Shielded RG6 cable bought in bulk at Radio Shack
    Acoustic Research connectors (http://www.accessories4less.com/advscripts/detailpg.asp?sModnum=HT-411-1PR&sPrice=5.49
    I love these. They're a little stiff, but I like the difference they've made in my cable, TiVo and VCR audio.
    My question is, after tearing apart a lower-end digital coax cable I had, I couldn't find anything substantially different than in regular RG6. There was a copper core, a foam dielectric, shielding, a layer of braided copper, more shielding and a outer cover. The connector looked exactly like an RCA connector. Is there a difference? Why am I paying 40-80 bucks for a single digital coax cable, when two RCA cables from the same company (again, Monster), of the same gauge cable and what looks like the same connectors, costs less all the way up and down their line of products?
    Enlighten me. I'm bored, and I have a soldering iron. Give me something to do that looks like I'm trying to save money on this hobby! High SAF on DIY projects around here. [​IMG]
    ------------------
    -stark-
    my gear: The Kenefick Home Theater
    my movies: http://www.dvdtracker.com/~jimkenefick
     
  2. Hank Frankenberg

    Hank Frankenberg Cinematographer

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    High SAF with D-I-Y? So, everything you build gets management approval, while outright purchases are scrutinized? Well, well, if you're handy with woodworking tools like you are with the soldering iron, you can have a HT sound that will surpass anything commercial for far less than half the price. I'm talking building your own speakers. Start with a subwoofer if you're new to this. Amaze management and friends with the bang-for-the-buck performance of your sub. Then, you can tackle surrounds, then front L,R and C. You might stretch this into acquiring a table saw, router, etc,etc - after all they will last forever and can be used to make other items around the house (work with me on this). I love a good plan!
    p.s..I just looked at your web site - very nice. I noticed your comment about a new entertainment center. Sounds like a D-I-Y project in the works - maybe some tool acquisition is in order.
     
  3. Brian Bunge

    Brian Bunge Producer

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    Jim,
    Why are you paying 40-80 bucks for a digital cable? I think the word you're looking for is--naive! But you've seen the light and won't make that mistake again. That's what really matters! And you can snicker at your friends who spend their whole paychecks on cables!
    I agree with Hank! I have a router, a table saw, and I think a biscuit joiner is next! Why? All of this so that I can build speakers! I may build some end tables or a coffee table too. That way I'm contributing to the decor of the house. [​IMG]
    Basically you say, "If I can have this, you can have that!"
    It's all about compromise!
    Brian
     
  4. Scott_G

    Scott_G Second Unit

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    I did something similar.
    All of my gear is in the back of my room and the TV is up front.
    I needed two runs of component for my DVD and HDTV tuner and each run needed to be about 40 feet. I bought some good RG6 from Belden - about $.20 a foot - and put my own connectors on. Figure I've got less than $100 for both sets. I moved the HDTV converter and used some decent ($50) 6 foot cables to test. I couldn't tell the difference.
    That RG6 is stiff but with two runs, I don't have to move anything around.
     
  5. Phil A

    Phil A Producer

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    Many of the more common mass marketed entry level high end type products have inexpensive components that allow it to move up through the retail chain at a $40 price point. This includes the store mark-up so they can eat and pay their bills (salaries, rent, heat, etc.) , the manufacturer mark-up so they can eat and pay their bills. If you have time and reasonable tools it is not that difficult to make things that are better than these products. Belden 8281F (F for flexible) will not yield terrible results and can be had for under 50 cents a foot so that a 3 foot pair will likely cost around $2 for the raw wire plus connectors.
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  6. MarcS

    MarcS Stunt Coordinator

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  7. Dan M~

    Dan M~ Second Unit

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    STARK:
    Can you explain the technique you used to solder the connectors onto the coax? I assume (warning!) that the center conductoer was copper and soldered to the center pin of the connector, and the braided shield went to the outer part of the connector. How did you gather the braid to solder, did it give you problems? Is there a second (or third) shield in the cable? What did you do to ground that?
    Sorry for so many questions...
    -Dan
     
  8. jimstark

    jimstark Auditioning

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    re: the tools - Oh, I've laid that groundwork. [​IMG] "Honey, if I'm goung to build an entertainment center that looks good at all, I'm going to need at least a small table saw and a router with a table."
    Tee-hee.
    Dan:
    Yup, the center was copper, and since it laid in the post of the connector , I simply filled up the little well in the connector's center post (I used rosin-core silver-bearing solder). As for the braid, I peeled both layers back, and snipped half the innermost layer. My reasoning, and I may be insane, since I don;t knwo what I'm doing really, was that the inner shielding was coated with some pink stuff that looked fairly non-conductive.
    I snipped the inner layer in half, wound it in with the two layers of braiding and the outer shielding, and carefully tried to fill in as many gaps as I could with solder, just trying to make sure I'd get a good connection.
    The AR connectors have a fairly large grip on the lower post, so I slid my whole mess in, crimped it *really* well, and then laid some solder in around where I could, being careful not to let in run.
    My first try resulted in me soldering the whole mess into a big lump. I was a lot more careful after that. [​IMG]
    TOTALLY different question: has anyone ever thought of using conductive jelly for anything? maybe swabbing the insides of connectors before securing them? Maybe using it on braided wire that won;t really take solder? I'm just wondering if this has ever come up...
    ------------------
    -stark-
    my gear: The Kenefick Home Theater
    my movies: http://www.dvdtracker.com/~jimkenefick
     
  9. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    jimstark,
    Thanks for sharing your experience with us. Those cables look great, I'm sure they sound great, too!
    ------------------
    Philip Hamm
    AIM: PhilBiker
     
  10. Tony_Z

    Tony_Z Auditioning

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    I too, want to get started making my cables for my new HT system. Fortunately I have had all of you guys to learn from and I definately don't want to waste all of that money on cables that I can make myself.
    From reading everywhere here, it seems that I should get Belden's 1694-A for my component video cables. I went to Belden's site and they say that it's only double shielded instead of the Quad shield that everyone here seems to be talking about. Am I confused? I really need to start the ordering process of the equipment that I need but I still am not sure what to get [​IMG]
    I guess as far as the connector goes, I should go with the canare rcap-c53 right?
    For right now, my main focus is on making my own COMPONENT VIDEO CABLES. If I can use this same cable for the other things like my digital coax cable and my sub cable, please let me know this. It is so hard to get all of the facts straight!!
    Thanx a million!
     
  11. MarcS

    MarcS Stunt Coordinator

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    jimstark said:
    "TOTALLY different question: has anyone ever thought of using conductive jelly for anything? maybe swabbing the insides of connectors before securing them? Maybe using it on braided wire that won;t really take solder? I'm just wondering if this has ever come up..."
    Yep, something close anyway, it's Caig products (Pro Gold). There's a cleaner and "contact enhancer"...
    http://www.caig.com/c-pg100.htm
    I've followed the DIY cable discussions at the Asylum for many months now... it seems the consensus is this:
    For Analog interconnects use Belden 89259
    For Digital/Video interconnects use Belden 1506A (although 89259 works almost as well)
    Compared to "plain old" RG6 coax, 89259 isn't much more expensive, given the quality--and especially not that expensive when compared to commercial cables of equal quality that may sell in the $100+ range for a 3' pair...
    But, it can be tough to get 89259 in lengths less than 100' spools. OTOH, it's "only" about $1+ per foot--I think the 1506A is cheaper.
    Don't scrimp on the RCA connectors either...
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