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I need to hit up the Toolmongers for advice on working with RG6 CATV coaxial cable.  Firstly, if I need to splice two segments, how should I do it?  It needs to be weatherproof; are there specially rated connectors for outdoor use?

I want to get a starter tool set for crimping and/or using compression connectors on RG6. I don’t want to spend an arm and a leg, but on the other hand I’m tired of using the crappy twist-on F-Connectors. Any of you Toolmongers out there know where I can get a cool stripping/crimping kit online that’s good enough for occasional, non-pro use and will last beyond my first crimping job?

I found these online:

DataShark Cable TV “F” Compression Bundle Via Amazon [What’s this?]
F-TYPE 2Ghz VIDEO COUPLER F/F [Cables-to-go] 
Paladin SealTite Pro Compression Cable Kit Via Amazon [What’s this?]
Paladin Compression Crimp Bundle Via Amazon [What’s this?]

It seems to me that I can just pick up the first two and be done with it. Do you have experience with any of these?  Are the Paladin kits worth the extra dough?

Of course, we can’t forget the Harbor Freight option:

Coax Cable Tool Kit [Harbor Freight]

Your help on this in comments will be much appreciated.

 

13 Responses to Reader Question: Facts About Coax

  1. Benjamen Johnson says:

    I recommend this video for a general how to:
    http://revision3.com/systm/avcabling

    As far as a good source:
    http://www.monoprice.com/home/

    I’ve never used them, but I’ve heard good things about them.

    I personally have had decent luck with the crappy F-style screw on connectors. If you strip the cable right and take care to do a good job. If you do want crimp style, don’t scrimp (Hah), I’ve tried a few cheapies and they look like crap and come right off.

    I know they make weather tight coax boots for outdoor connections (I have one on my antenna), you just make up a connection like you would for inside then put the boot over the connection.

  2. James says:

    I used to be a cable guy, once upon a time. I see no reason that this much cheaper set wouldn’t do the job adequately:
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000934F3Q

    When doing an outdoor splice (using a barrel splice like you linked above) we would typically wrap the splice with a product that we referred to as t-tape. I can’t find that product online without getting lost in pages about foreskin restoration, but it was very similar to plumber’s putty. It may even be the same stuff in a different form factor.

  3. Evan N. says:

    Nice tip James about the outdoor connections. In my area in So Cal, cable guys don’t usually bother with it, but I bet it would prevent oxidation and consequent resistance in the connection.

    Beware the RG6 Quad Shield coax, and that you have to get the right ends for it. You can’t use regular RG-6 ends for quad shield. As for supplies, I get all my coax stuff from Radio Shack, including tools. All I’ve had for years are a very simple, non-ratcheting crimper and a stripper. Also, be sure to tighten all connections with a wrench (usually 7/16″), even those connected to the TV, as radio frequency signals are susceptible to ‘leaky’ connections and noise. All that shielding in the cable is there for a reason, don’t blow it with a loose connection!

  4. jc says:

    I’ve been stringing RG6/QS through my house the last week, and I prefer the Thomas & Betts Snap-N-Seal connectors (http://cgi.ebay.com/Snap-N-Seal-RG-6-Quad-Shield-Connectors-Bag-of-50-T-B_W0QQitemZ140088837230) I picked up on eBay for around $26 for 100, and this tool: http://cgi.ebay.com/Thomas-Betts-IT1000-SnapNSeal-Combination-Cable-Tool_W0QQitemZ360005722002

    It’s got a built-in stripper, it’s fast, and for low volume usage, not too fatiguing.

    For the outdoor splice, consider using two F connectors, a barrel, and heat shrink tubing with glue. Cut a piece that extends about 1 inch past the end of each connector. Crimp the connectors, slide on the heat shrink, attach the connectors to the barrel, position the heat shrink, and heat until the heat shrinks shrinks, and the glue bleeds out on the ends.

    We use a similar process for splicing connectors into the middle of cable runs feeding antennas on towers and the tops of buildings.

  5. Don says:

    A little heat shrink tubing covering the connection is always a good idea…

  6. Dan says:

    I’ve recently wired the house for data and satellite and Home Tech Solutions has been very helpful. They sell everything from CATV Tools to structured wiring. Their website is a little tricky to navigate but their prices are reasonable and they ship quickly. They also have several online tutorials which I found extremely helpful. I decided to use the Stirling compression connector system. They worked flawlessly for me.

    http://www.hometech.com/

  7. mark says:

    Compression connectors are the way to go. I have a picture somewhere of a 27″ hanging from a piece of RJ-6 after the piece of crap hinged mount busted at a school install.

    The pro’s use fittings (ends) made by Gilbert. At the consumer level, you are not likely to encounter quad shield cable, since it will be much higher priced.

    If you’re near a Fry’s, that’s usually the best value for the dollar. Pallidan, Greenlee, T&B, they’re all good. http://www.milesTek.com is another good source. Going lower end, http://www.pimfg.com is also a good supplier.

    For the underground splice, use an F-81 (barrel connector), and just squeeze in a dollop of silicone grease (not heat sink grease from a PC cooling patch or CPU kit) but a little inert grease. No water will get in.

    T-tape may be good for foreskin restoration, but just get a roll of 1″ wide electrical tape. We use these AMP direct burial splices: http://us.telecomosp.com/images/certiseal_aerial_coax_160.jpg

    You may also a Graybar electric supply in your area, most of them still have over the counter sales. For the box stores, I have also seen these at Lowes, but not at the ‘depot.

    Heat shrink is OK, but a lot of futzing around. Some ‘experts’ will say that the grease changes the impedance of the connection, but “F” connectors aren’t that good to begin with. In addition, you are not at a power level where heat buildup and grease deterioration is a problem.

    Prep your cable ends well, use a decent quality compression fittings, grease them up, tape them up, bury them and forget them.

    The other tip is if you’re going very far with your cable, RG-6 is lossy at UHF frequencies. Most of our real high end installs now require an RG-11 drop to have enough signal level. You didn’t say, but…

  8. frank says:

    I used this site for tips: http://www.swhowto.com/index.htm

    The crimper I used was an Ideal Uniseal Compression Tool
    http://cgi.ebay.com/IDEAL-30-603-OMNISEAL-F-Connector-Compression-Tool_W0QQitemZ360006794793QQihZ023QQcategoryZ303QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem#ebayphotohosting

    I think I picked up for about $30 or so, not to expensive and well built. It does not have a built in stripper though, I picked up a decent coax stripper at lowes for not too much.

  9. Mike Raynor says:

    For inxpensive electronic tools that are of professional quality or home owner qualty try Easy Street Electronics. They have a good selection of parts and tools comparable to the local Shack store.

    http://www.easystreetelectronics.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWCATS&Category=1650

    The Phillips Compresion Tool is less then $10! The Selectable depth stripper is also less then $10! I ue both of these tools professionally for years with very good results.

    This is a family run business and has quick shipping of orders. I have used them for the past 7 years with very good resuls. They will have F Style Connectors in compression, outdoor boots or standard crimp on. They also have all of the tools for Telphone, Cat 5, and Cell Phones.

    Have Fun!

  10. Casey says:

    the set from harbor freight will do you fine.

    i have been a directv tech for a couple years now, so i would say if you are putting wire in your walls, go ahead and run two coax per outlet and some cat5 while you are at it.

    be sure you are using 3ghz swept coax and everything else in line is swept to 3ghz as well. the barrels will have blue cores, not white or clear.

    stay away from crimp fittings and even cheap gilbert compression fittings, they suck. all we use anymore are made by PCT. they have o-rings inside the fittings, and do not require sealing and work great outdoors by my experience.

    WHEN you get Directv for HD channels you will be in good shape.

  11. Stephen Cooke says:

    Make sure you are running Plenum coax through your walls on under floor on in a drop ceiling. A lot state actually require a license for running low voltage cable, I had the building inspector in my basement to sign off on some electrical work and noted that the coax I was running wasn’t code, all my low voltage is now plenum based cable.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plenum_cable

  12. Nate Bezanson says:

    If you can’t find adhesive-lined heatshrink, and don’t feel like waiting for your order from http://cableorganizer.com/ to arrive, just glob some rubber cement around the cables behind the connectors before sliding the tube over the joint. The idea is to create a “gasket” at either end of the tube, so that water can’t sneak into the joint. Whether the non-lined heatshrink is as waterproof as the expensive stuff, I don’t know.

    Filling the connector with dielectric grease is a fine idea too, like Mark says. If there’s nowhere for water to go, it won’t go.

    You can also use the mastic product that James describes, it’s sold under the name Coax-Seal. Wrap the joint once with a *tight* layer of rubber or vinyl electrical tape (not PVC, it’s not stretchy enough), starting an inch before and extending until an inch after the connectors. Then wrap coaxseal around the joint, squeezing it down with your hands to remove air gaps and make it as homogeneous as you can. Extend the coaxseal half an inch beyond the first tape layer at either end. Then do an outer wrap with more tape, don’t pull so tight (the mastic will squeeze out if you do), and overlap it an inch past the previous layer.

  13. cconnector01 says:

    Great post!!! We got much more information from this post. Coax has both the advantages and disadvantages in its characters. Thanks for that. Some facts you given are unbelievable.

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