Is there such thing as a coaxial cable tester?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Brian Perry, Feb 7, 2003.

  1. Brian Perry

    Brian Perry Cinematographer

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    The previous owner of my house ran cables from the basement to various rooms but did not label them. Is there a simple device (perhaps something from Radio Shack) that can be connected to each cable end that would tell me which line is which?
     
  2. PaulT

    PaulT Supporting Actor

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    Brian, disconnect them all and try a 9V battery on one end and a 9V pen light bulb or buzzer on the other end.

    You could always short out one at a time in the basement and meter the upstairs ones for continuity if you have a multimeter or access to one.
     
  3. Brian Perry

    Brian Perry Cinematographer

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  4. PaulT

    PaulT Supporting Actor

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    Brian - It doesn't matter which way you hook up the battery. One terminal to the center of the coax, the other to the outside metal screw part. RS will have a small bulb as well. The whole setup, battery, clips with wire and bulb should be under 10 bucks.

    Here's a 7.2V flashlight bulb which could work:
    http://www.radioshack.com/product.as...Fid=272%2D1164

    Alligator clips:
    http://www.radioshack.com/product.as...Fid=278%2D1156

    You could always use an ohm meter at a later stage, why not buy one now for 12 bucks. They will show you how to work it at the store:
    http://www.radioshack.com/product.as...%5Fid=22%2D218

    Or, go to an auto parts store and ask for a 'powered test light'. It looks like a pen with a wire and a clip coming out of it and has a battery inside. It will effectively do what the el cheapo battery/flashlight bulb/alligator clips does, but would be easier to work with. You should be able to get one for about 10 bucks.
     
  5. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

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    Another idea:

    The outer metal part of the "F connector" is connected to the shield for the coax. None of this should be touching the inner wire.

    Go to Radio Shack and get some cheap items:

    - 2 coax-cable barrel connector
    - A package of 2 Terminating resistors.
    - A short piece of CATV coax with the "F" connectors installed.
    - A cheap multimeter, preferably one that with a tone that indicates some type of short. (Ask the clerk).
    - A package of "Wire lables". Get the ones that look like a long strip of transparent tape with a white section to write on.

    Setup

    Take the barrel connector and tightly screw a terminating resistor onto the end.

    Take the short piece of CATV coax and cut the cable about .. 3 inches from the end. CAREFULLY strip away the outer jacket to expose the mesh about an inch back. Un-ravel the mesh and pull it to one side. Then twist the mesh together together to make a thick wire. About 1/4 inch back from the end, cut into the white-foam insulation. Cut around until you can pull off a barrel-shaped piece of white insulation to expose the center wire.

    Take the 2 leads from the cheap multimeter/short detector and tape 1 lead to the center conductor. Wrap it tightly with tape to hide all metal. Take the other lead from the multimeter and connect it to the wire-mesh. Also wrap tightly.

    Now your multimeter is connected to a short piece of CATV coax with a F connector on the end.

    Turn the multimeter on, and set it to make a sound if it detects a short. Take the little barrel connector and gently start to screw it onto the short coax attached to the multimeter. You should hear a sound.

    Time To Test

    Go to the end of EVERY coax cable in the house and dis-connect it. Just let it hang free. This would be a good time to put a wire-label on each wire. Use a simple A/B/C type of label, just make a note like:

    A - coax to the living room
    B - Coax to the study
    C - coax to the kitchen

    ..

    Go to the basement and un-screw every coax connector. Put the second barrel connector on the multimeter/cable contraption. (Use pliers to get a tight connection). Now connect every exposed wire to the multimeter one at a time to insure there is nothing connected at the other end.

    Go into the house and find the cable you labeled "A". Screw the little barrel connector/resistor contraption onto the end finger tight. Go to the basement and connect the end of each coax cable to the multimeter until you hear the tone. This cable is the other end of "A". Attach a label to the basement end to mark this coax as "A".

    Repeat this for each of the other ends.

    Big Hint #1: Put 2 labels on each coax. One about 3 inches from the end, another about 1 foot from the end.

    Big Hint #2: Examine the "F" connector on each cable to insure it is not loose/sloppy. Also examine the copper center conductor wire. It should be bright and shiny, not dull brown. Cut the coax an inch back and install new "F" connectors for anything that looks suspicious.

    Big Hint #3: Loose connectors are the number one cause of poor CATV signal quality and service calls. Tighten each "F" connector hand-tight, then 1/4 to 1/2 more with a wrench or pliers. If you love tools like I do, this is one of my favorites:


    [​IMG]

    This is the Ideal 305-46 F-connector tool. This thing sells for about $16 at Home Depot. The split-socket fits around coax and the other end has a female "F" connector which you use to shove new connectors onto the end of coax. This really saves the thumbs.

    Big Hint #4: If you buy some "F" connectors, get the ones with the built-in crimp ring. Not the one with the separate little ring you have to remember to slide onto the coax first.

    Hope this helps.
     
  6. Grant B

    Grant B Producer

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    Bob
    I picked up a Cable Pro RTC360 Compression Tool and that thing is incredible for crimping. About $80 but worth it
     
  7. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

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    Grant: Where did you get it and do you need to buy special connectors for it?

    There is a compression tool that is designed to work with special "F" connectors made from Cadnminum (sp?) and have a rubber "O" ring inside. It's designed for making splices/connections outdoors that will last for years.

    But it's designed to work only with that companies connectors, and they are a bit of over-kill for indoor use. (but if you want connectors that will survive a nuclear attack [​IMG] )

    I followed Chris White's site on How to make your own high-quality cables and bought some extra ratching crimp frames ($20). The RG6 hex dies are only about $6 so now I have ratching crimp tool for less than $30. I highly recommend this to anybody who tries to put together a "Home Theater Toolbox".

    PS: I just did a search on the Digicon Compression Radial Crimp tool. It looks really nice. Instead of a "Hex Crimp" it does a perfect round crimp. It's designed to work with it's own Digicon connectors ($0.69 ea) I think it works with the Permiseal connectors as well. And the SRP for the crimper is $170, but $104 internet price. You got a deal for $80. (I'm hitting eBay right now).
     
  8. Grant B

    Grant B Producer

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    Bob
    I have been installing systems for the Dish Network while I look for a real job.I believe it will work with any RG6 connector. The ones we get have the rubber(?) O ring that weather proofs it. I have a pretty massive system at home so to me bad connectors are a major pain. To get these off you have to cut them off. I have been working in the East Bay quite a bit; I could let you know if I am close to WC and you could check it out. The crimper was $85 and the connectors are $10 for 100...and much better than anything else I could find.
     
  9. Grant B

    Grant B Producer

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    Bob
    BTW I tried it on a RS connector I had laying around and it works fine with it.
    The only problem I have is when the cable is not as thick as the Quad RG 6. If I have to tap into an existing cable it is not the Nuke attack crimp.
     

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