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Coax Patch Panel

With the CAT5e patch panel decision out of the way, the next task was to figure out what to do about coax cable termination. I looked at a variety of packaged solutions, but most were oriented around passive splitters and / or video distribution amplifiers, which didn't really fit my needs. My video distribution is a work in progress, with one or two DirecTV DVR's eventually involved. My main requirement was to be able to route one or two lines from the dish LNB to the desired coax jacks - distribution of the analog video out from the DVR was secondary.

These requirements turned me toward looking at simple coax patch bays, where I found some pretty high prices. The best deal I found was a Signamax 12F-FT 12-Port F Type Connector Feed-thru Patch Panel at Data & Telephone Supply for about $27. The design of this panel seems to have changed from when I ordered it and now comes with a wall-mount panel. But what I received was just a straight panel suitable for mounting in a 19 inch rack and didn't really fit into the space I had allowed for my central patch panels.

So I ended up returning it and made my own panel out of plastic duplex wall boxes, wall plates and F connector inserts as shown in Figures 10 - 12. While this took more effort than buying a blank panel and stuffing F connector inserts into it, there was something about paying $13 (and up) for a blank panel that just didn't sit right with me.

Modified (left) and unmodified plastic duplex wall box

Figure 10: Modified (left) and unmodified plastic duplex wall box
(click image to enlarge)

The box "modification" consisted of taking a keyhole saw with a metal / plastic blade and removing as much of the back of the box as I could while still giving me a strip of material to screw the box to the wall. The additional open space let the cables flex as needed when the time came to secure the wall plates with mounted coaxes to the modified wall boxes. You can see I was even able to get a plate with six coaxes successfully done, which would not have been possible had I not modified the boxes.

Modified boxes mounted
Figure 11: Modified boxes

(click image to enlarge)
Finished Coax patch panel
Figure 12: Finished Coax
patch panel

That about wraps it up for now. Next time in Part 3, I'll cover what I learned about connector termination and some thoughts on how everything turned out.

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