Adding Extra Cable Outlets
Several years ago we traveled to Lisbon, Portugal, where we were amazed to find that nearly every home had a TV antenna. The skyline was dotted with masts of horizontal and vertical aluminum tubing… some low, some high, some crooked… a forest of man-made metal trees, They were everywhere. When we made this trip to the Mediterranean, we had already enjoyed cable in our own community for nearly two decades, and we had forgotten how ugly a hoard of antennas could be. Lisbon in the ’90s looked exactly like a typical ’60s American community. In fact, after seeing all the antennas, we were thankful that cable had come along when it did.
If you have television set, there is an excellent chance that you have cable provided by a great cable tv provider. And if you have cable there is a likelihood that you will want to relocate or add a cable outlet at some point.
Relocating or adding a cable outlet pretty much involves the same basic principle. You can either run a length of cable to the new location from the termination box (on the outside of the house) or you can tie in to an existing outlet and go from there. However, in both cases you will need the same device to meet the task… a splitter. A splitter simply converts one input to two (or more) outputs.
Splitters come ready to use, right off the shelf:
Remove the existing cable from your television set, stereo or radio and screw that end into the splitter port marked “in.” Normally, there is only one port on the “in” side of a splitter. “In” is short for “signal in,” which is short for “this is the side of the splitter that receives the incoming signal from the cable company.” The opposite side of the splitter is the “out” or “signal out” side. There will be two or more outlets on the “out” side of the splitter depending upon how many new connections you intend to add. You don’t have to use all the outputs. For example: If you have three outputs on your splitter and wish only to connect to two units, simply leave one unused. Each output will provide the same amount of signal… one is no better than the other.
With the input connected, the next thing to do is to reconnect the unit from which you got the cable (the cable box, television, radio or stereo). That’s all it takes to get your initial unit back in service again. Usually, only a very short length of cable will be needed for this task (a foot or so).
Next, you will need to connect a second length of cable from one of the other splitter outputs. This will feed a signal to the cable that will extend to the new location. In every instance, you will need cables that are fitted with female connectors at each end. You can purchase cables “ready-made” in varying lengths. This is the easiest way to get the cable you need. The advantage is that no special tools are needed to attach the connectors to the cable. The disadvantage is that standard “ready-made” cable might not be available in the exact length needed. If you wish to custom-make your own cable, keep in mind that the cutter and crimper can cost more than a complete ready-made cable.
If you need to improve the signal or frequency reception, an rf amplifier may help. The rule of thumb with cable is: The longer the cable, the poorer the signal. If you add an extension and find that the picture isn’t as good at the second location as it was at the first one, consider amplification. Sorry, but there is no distance rule of thumb when it comes to amplification. When you have a bad signal… amplify.
An amplifier will run you about $35 and requires power from a standard 110-volt outlet. Don’t be concerned, because they use only a teeny-tiny amount of power. If the incoming signal from the cable company is bad to begin with, an amplifier probably won’t help. We recently complained to our cable company about a bad signal and they reran the main wire to our home and within. They had changed frequencies and it was affecting transmission in some homes. Keep this in mind if the signal in your home has gotten weak.
Before you extend your cable, check with your local cable company to determine which type of cable to purchase. Although most all cable will work in most instances, various types of cables actually transmit signals differently. It doesn’t hurt to check.