Dysmey Post > Projects & Stuff > Cable Conduit Project

Cable Conduit Project


Since the beginning of 2009, I have been planning on extending my wired local network down to my living room.

In my living room I have a computer named Nabiki. It runs Windows XP, and is hooked up to my digitial television set, using it as a monitor and sound system. As of August 2009 Nabiki has been connected to my local network through a wireless network card. This allows Nabiki to access the Internet through the wireless router upstairs.

But as a long-term solution this is unacceptable. There is a constant threat of compulsory logging of wireless network use even by private wireless networks like mine. (And no, I am not taking chances with our capricious justice system.) However, if I extend a CAT5 network cable to my living room, I can hook up Nabiki directly into my network, letting me remove its wireless card and turning off the wireless component of my router. Then I will not have to keep any logs, except for my own use.

That was the plan. But at first I had wanted to do the wiring under the house. That was impossible given how inaccessible the crawlspace is. That left cabling outside the house, which at the time I decided was not practicable.

Then I ran my new lawn mower over a patch of grass next to the west side of the house near the chimney … where the telephone cable to my living room happened to be sitting. I did not discover until days later that I had cut the cable with my mower.

Now I have an excuse to rewire the telephone cables, and while I am at it, why don't I rewiring the network and television cables as well? I threw in a television cable because I dropped my cable service, and the indoor antenna I brought to replace it is not working as advertised. I will have to use an outdoor antenna, mounted on top of the house next to the roof.


Cable Wiring Project Diagram
Conduit Project
General Diagram

The first thing I wanted in the rewiring was that the cables would be sheathed in some kind of conduit, in order to protect the cables from the weather and from further haking of the wires by my lawn mower.

Another consideration is that I must somewhat get conduit behind the decorative chimney, as the television cables and severed phone line were run. The conduit must also run directly to where the phone outlets are in the living room and in the upper room (the remodelled attic where my main box and network equipment are).

I had planning originally to run television cables to both rooms, too. But I thought, Why would I want a television cable in the upper room when I had removed the original cable after I moved in? So I dropped the idea. It is another reason I decided on this, which I will explain further on.

At first I consider Carflex® flexible conduit, and even bought a segment of such conduit to try out. But the conduit comes in hundred-foot rolls that tend to become scarce during the summer, when I need it. I also had second thoughts about using flexible tubing for what I have in mind.

At least the segment did not go to waste, as I used to to prove that it is possible to run conduit behind the chimney.

I decided on more rigid conduit, with its elbow bends and T-boxes, all accessible from side panels, which makes running cables easier. But the T-boxes are not big enough for a cable splitter, which is why I dropped the idea of running cable into the upper room. Only the living room will have cable.

I drew a diagram of how the telephone, network and television cable would be wired.

Then I bought a 10-foot length of rigid conduit. I could not get the tube around the chimney. It looks like the flexible conduit will have to stay, and be used as part of the conduit system, if I can find adapters to hook segments of rigit conduit to it.


Over the course of my vacation I purchased the following items from various Lowe's shops.

qty. name price each
2 access pull elbow 2.28
2 T conduit box 2.52
1 PVC cement, ½ pint 4.38
3 conduit, 10 feet 1.11
1 conduit clamps, 25/bag 3.64
4 90° Bell end elbow 0.58
3 box adapter 0.48

I also bought cabling for the telephone, computer network and television, along with the tools for splicing connectors on them. I bought outlet brackets, faceplates, and installation for the data outlets in the living and upper rooms. I bought drill bits to bore into the wall behind the outlets, so that I install conduit through the walls. I estimate that I have spent $150-$200 at Lowe's and Fry's, of which only $30-$40 was spent on conduit.

project work

saturday 8 august 2009

First I drew an outline of an outlet around the hole on the living wall through which the old TV cable came through. Then I chipped away the wainscoting with a wood chisel. Then I chiseled out the plaster inside the template hole. I found an unwelcome surprise of a stud blocking half the hole. That is what I get for being overly trusting of the remodellers who redone the house five years ago.

There was enough space for me to insert through the gap into the wall a two-tooth wood bit with extension on the electric drill I borrowed from my folks. But the wood and shingles proved to be tough, and hard on the drill. At this point I stopped drilling; I fitted an outlet bracket by whittling the back of it to make it fit in front of the stud; and I closed the outlet with a padded metal cover.

sunday 9 august 2009

phase one

Wiring Project State 9 August 2009
State of the conduit project
on 9 august 2009.

In the morning I worked on installing an outlet in the upper room. Locating the studs in the west wall made selecting a spot for a new outlet easier. After drawing the template, I found the plaster soft enough for an Exacto® knife to cut through it. That made installing the outlet bracket a breeze. But drilling a hole to the outside will be more difficult, as there is insulation beyond the plaster.

I had bought a flex connector and removed its ends. Those I screwed into either side of the flexible conduit behind the chimney. At its south end I found that I needed only six inches of conduit, which I sawn off one of the ten-foot lengths, before I attached a T box. The T box is just about at the position where the vertical conduit needs to be.

Next I opened the outlet in the living room and finished drilling the hole to the outside. Then I sawn off a 6-inch segment of conduit and inserted it through the hole. To that I attached an access elbow. I found that using just one 90° elbow attached to the north end of the flexible conduit, I would need a two-foot segment of conduit to finish the conduit path from the living room outlet to the T box on the other side of the chimney.

The conduit pieces were glued together with PVC cement, making sure that both ends of a joint are coated (the conduit part to one inch from the end), joined, and left be for at least an hour. The open holes in the T box were closed with duct tape to keep dew and insects out.

sunday 16 august 2009

Wiring Project State 15 August 2009
State of the conduit project
on 15 august 2009.

Early last week I found was a ¾" PVC weatherhead, and I had to order a ½"-to-¾" adapter to make it fit on the conduit. The store where I found them was Kirby Risk on Walnut Street south of Muncie's downtown. I placed the order on Tuesday and picked them up on Wednesday morning.

phase two

On the evening before yesterday I drilled a hole into the outlet space in the upper room. I tried the three-prong drill bit, but it got itself entangled in the installation. The spiral tip did not help matters when it got stuck in the wood beyond. I had to switch to the two-prong bit to complete the boring to the outside.

I did not know what to expect where the hole would be. It turned out to be further from the window, and closer to where the telephone wire comes out of the wall, then I thought.

Anyway, I measured a straight horizontal line from the hole to where it would intersect with vertical conduit from the ground. I had pre-picked a place, but the location of the T-conduit near the ground was an inch or two closer to the chimney than I had hoped, so I was forced to position the vertical conduit closer to the electric meter than I would have liked.

The rest of the process involved installing conduit and solvent-welding the conduit, elbow joints and T joints together. I put a temporary cap on the T joint where the conduit to the weatherhead would be. Finally I fixed the conduit to the wall with brackets and wood screws.

Yesterday I assembled the uppermost conduit and the weatherhead. It looked like a scepter. I pushed the television cable through the conduit and out one of the three holes in the weatherhead. (The other holes were sealed shut with duct tape.) I set that aside.

I also looked for someplace that would sell and install antennas. But one place in Marion was not open on weekends. Another place in Gas City turned out to be a private contractor. In the end I had to order an antenna (a Winegard SS-2000) from Amazon.

phase three

I sent the entire afternoon and most of the evening completing the conduit project.

First, I ran coax cable down the vertical conduit so that I could set up the uppermost conduit with its weatherhead. Then I completed the part around the telephone network interface. After that I ran cables. This was more difficult that I had envisioned because I was foolish enough to believe that ½" conduit was enough. I really worked the fish cable this afternoon.

It got worse when I found that I could not run three cables at once down the conduit to the living room. I had to run the cables one at a time. Even then I had to try a half dozen times, and buy some cable lubricant from Lowes, because I got that cable through.

By that time the sun was low in the sky. So I finished reconnecting the two new telephone cables to the interface. I did not do it too well, because I get no signal from the downstairs outlet I finished up this evening.

The conduit is complete; the cabling has been run; and yet I have much to do. I have no telephone signal, and I am sure I botched the connection job in the network interface. I will have to call my local phone company to send someone to fix it.

Also, I will need to test the network cable to see if I can connect my Nabiki box in the living room to the Internet without a wireless connection.

monday 17 august 2009

I called Frontier to have our local technician (Mike Fitzgerald) come over and check the network box to see whether I screwed up or not. I did. He said he fixed it, but there is no signal coming out of the phone outlet.

However, I did succeed in setting up a connection on my network between my upper-room server and my Nabiki box in the living room. This allowed me to turn off the wireless from the router and from Nabiki. In time I can replace the wireless network card in Nabiki with a wired one. My network is now truely secure.

This leaves the cable, and I will not know whether that works until I have an antenna set up.

Meanwhile, I completed the upper room outlet with a part from Menards. I also got a one-inch-deep outlet box to make more room for the wires within. I will do nothing more until I work with Mike to restore telephone connectivity, even if it means re-running new cable for the phone (and paying for his labor).

tuesday 18 august 2009

Completed Conduit on 18 August 2009
Photo of completed conduit
on 18 august 2009.

The completed conduit system, as shown in this photo taken this evening,

  1. enters the living room at this elbow joint,
  2. passes behind the chimney as a Carflex® segment,
  3. emerges into a T box,
  4. winds its way to the telephone network box,
  5. as it also runs up the side of the house,
  6. to another T box,
  7. from which it enters the upper room at this elbow joint,
  8. and reaches near the top to end with a weatherhead.

All the systems needs now is (a) an antenna and (b) a functional telephone connection. I have been talking with the repair folks at Frontier, and will talk to them again tomorrow morning. I want to be there when the repair folks show up to fix the connection, and have taken my last two vacation days of my school's fiscal year (ending 30 August) to get this done.

saturday 22 august 2009

A technician from the telephone company came in the morning on the past Thursday and fixed the telephone connections behind both outlets. I got a functional telephone/DSL connection now.

I tried to install the antenna on the past Friday. But a combination of a thin and shaky and unadjustable ladder, a very windy day, and no head for heights on my part meant that I could only secure the conduit leading up to the weatherhead. I visited a local antenna shop in Marion (near Wal-Mart), and was told that the owner will call when he returns on Munday. So I wait. But all the parts are there: The antenna, the cabling, even the ground wire.

I wanted to work on my Nabiki box in the living room, now that it is wired into my local network. But Nabiki itself bit the dust as its hard drive failed. It will have to be replaced. Fortunately, hard disks are cheap. I will need a separate network card (preferably one in the Intel Pro series) because the in-board network card is iffy. It looks like a trip to Fry's.

sunday 23 august 2009

I drove to Fry's for a hard drive and network card for Nabiki. It has been awhile since I bought a hard disk. The common models are one and two terabytes in capacity. I did not want that big a disk on Nabiki, which I regard as a side computer. I got a 500 gigabyte Hitachi. I also got a USRobotics network card. I know that buying a network card is not the same as buying a modem (which USRobotics is better known for), but I went with it anyway.

With the new hard disk comes a reinstallation of Windows XP. I had service pack 2. I needed service pack 3, and I thought it would take a long time to load, even over a wired connection. It did not take that long, it turns out. All Windows updates and hardware drivers have now been installed.

I have hung the Winegard antenna from my living room wall. The shortness of the cable (it was meant to be used with the outlet) meant that I could hang it only from the wall facing east. Nonetheless, I could get the channels I usually watch: 23 (MyNet), 49 (PBS) and sometimes 6 (ABC). Once the antenna is in its proper place, I am sure it will grab more channels.

New Antenna Erected on 26 August 2009
Photo of new antenna
on 26 august 2009.

wednesday 26 august 2009

On this past Monday I met the owner of the local antenna shop in Marion. It turns out that he lives in Fairmount, and took the time to visit to talk to me. I found that, even though the shop is called Randy's TV, the guy's name is Byron.

Anyway, he gave me the bad news: The Winegard SS-2000 was unsuitable as an antenna for where I live and what I wanted. Others in this area, including the local American Legion, had him install similar antennae — and rued the day they bought them. In short, I bought a better roof-mounted antenna, boxed up the SS-2000 and shipped it back to Amazon.

Two days later, I drove home from work to find an impressive VHF/UHF antenna on my roof behind the chimney hooked up to the cable coming out of the weatherhead. I called Bryon, who came over and hooked up the same kind of powered spliters that the SS-2000 had. with the antenna setup complete, the channel scan revealed 23 channels, listed further down.

The antenna and its labor costs as much as the rest of the conduit project. But the antenna will pay for itself in six months of cable TV bills, so I am not too unhappy.

With the completion of the antenna the conduit project is now, on 26 august 2009, complete.

appendix: available TV channels

(Updated 25 December 2009)

Table of Receivable TV Channels

Ch# Call Letters City Network
6-2  6 News
8-2  LWS Weather
13-2  Skytrac Weather
13-3  NBC Universal Sports
20-2  V-me (Spanish)
20-3  Create
29-2  ThisTV
40-2  LeSEA
47-a  MTV tr3s (Spanish)
49-2  Create
49-3  Local Weather/Ads
50-a  Skytrac Weather
51-1WIWUMarionIndiana Wesleyan TV
55-1WFFTFort WayneFox
57-aWSOTMarionSunnycrest Baptist TV


  • The main ex-VHF television stations in Indianapolis (WRTV, WISH, WTHR) provide subchannels for news (WRTV) or weather (WISH, WTHR). For some reason, WTHR's weather channel comes in on analog (ch. 50).
  • Universal Sports is an NBC subchannel for those sports, like bicycling and beach volleyball, that have more international appeal and that compete in the Olympics.
  • Create is a public television network that shows home improvement, arts and crafts, cooking, travel, and other do-it-yourself shows.
  • V-me (sounded out as 'bey-mey' or 'see me') is a Spanish-language network featuring primetime drama, music, sports, current affairs and Latin cinema, along with world-class kids, food, lifestyle and nature programming.
  • ThisTV shows mostly MGM and UA movies, with some old television series like The Outer Limits (1960's version).
  • LeSEA is a religious television network, the broadcast organ of the Lester Sumrall Evangelistic Association. Its Indianapolis affiliate has been around since the 1970's.
  • WDTI was once WTBU, the television station of Butler University, a liberal arts college on Indianapolis' north side. Now it is part of Daystar, a Pentecostal television network based in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas. Lately, I have not been able to receive it, hence its being greyed out.
  • There is an Indianapolis analog channel (ch. 47) showing tr3s, MTV's Spanish-language channel. For some reason, I can get the vision but often not the sound.
  • The last analog channel (ch. 57) belongs to the Sunnycrest Baptist Church, a hugh (for this area) church on the west side of Marion, Indiana. It is an affiliate of FamilyNet, an Atlanta-based family-themed network. It claims to be converting to digital real soon now.
  • I can get Fort Wayne's Fox affiliate, ch. 55, even though (a) the antenna is pointing away from Fort Wayne and (b) it does not come in too well.

Written on 26 August 2009; updated 29 December 2009.