Modular Bench Tools

Getting pretty desperate for post topics here, but here’s a good tip if you’ve got a few tools that are seldom used, but still need to be workbench-mounted. Rather that mounting the tools directly to your workbench, attach them to a piece of plywood – then fix that to the workbench using g-clamps when you need to. It’s simple (much like this blog is getting), but effective.

Mitre Block
Bench Grinder

Running Cable

Ok, so I bought a 500m drum of CAT6a cable, and I worked out where to run it. Well, if you’re in the same situation then this week’s tip is to not just turn the drum on its side and uncoil it as you need more cable – as you uncoil the cable you’ll be putting a twists in it as you go. Please do yourself a favour – get (or make, as I did) a holder so that the cable drum can rotate as you need more┬ácable.

Do NOT feed cable in this way!
Always allow the drum to rotate when feeding cable – you know it makes sense.

Protecting exterior cables

Ok, so the VM cable now ran up the exterior of the house to the loft. Being designed for (among other things) RF signals from antennas, the cable *should* cope with being mounted outside. I’m shortly, however, going to run a whole bunch of CAT6a networking cables via the same route which may not be so tolerant. The cables needed a cover to protect them (also, externally mounted exposed cables look horribly untidy).

There are products available specifically for this job, but they look a bit too “industrial” and I found them inexplicably difficult to source. The answer?: pipe covers. We had a new gas boiler installed when we moved in which had to be installed in such a way that we ended up with a couple of ugly copper pipes running up the exterior of the house. It turned out that there were covers available for the particular sort of pipe-clips the gas engineer used, and it didn’t take me long to realise that I could use the same types of clips and covers for the cabling.

Talon pipe clips and covers
Talon pipe clips and covers

The clips and covers I used are made by a company called Talon, and can be sourced from JTM Plumbing. Screwfix also stock a limited selection of their products.

Coaxial cable on house exterior
Coaxial cable on house exterior

Moving Cable Modem

In the desparation to write something, anything, every month for the blog it’s easy to forget that the post really needs to contain at least one piece of useful information. This month, then, I shall provide the answer to the question “Can I run a longer cable from my Virgin Media wall-box to my Superhub (Modem/Router)?”.

TL;DR answer: Yes.

I wanted to have the central point of my home network in the loft of the new house, but the wall-box installed by the Virgin Media engineer was put into the corner of the living room. It was installed one the day we moved in, and in all the chaos it was just easier to have it put in the place the engineer found easiest (even if it was the worst possible position). I asked him if there was a limit on how long the cable can be from the box to the SuperHub. His response: “Nah, not really”. I thought I’d give it a go myself.

Virgin Media wall outlet
Virgin Media wall outlet

Virgin Media used RG6 (75ohm) cable, but I bought a 100m drum of Webro WF100 (slightly better, but still 75ohm) – way more than I needed for the job, but I can use it for TV signal distribution (when I get round to it).

Threading cable through any building can be a filthy awkward job, and this was no exception. Once in place, however, terminating the cable with compression-fit F-connectors was simple enough. After connecting up at both ends and applying power the SuperHub eventually locked-on to its signal. A quick look at the SuperHub’s admin interface confirmed that it was truly working.

Superhub 2ac (running in modem mode) mounted in rack
Superhub 2ac (running in modem mode) mounted in rack

So, “Yes”, it is possible to replace the 1m provided with a 15-20m cable.