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Tips & Techniques from the Trenches
MAKING THE CONNECTION
Tips on Ensuring Proper Connection of Components

June, 2008 — Displays, sources, amplifiers and other equipment are obviously important parts of any A/V installation. However, these components alone don't produce the picture and sound your customers are looking for. Often an afterthought, in addition to equipment, installers have to seriously consider the task of connection.
Without proper connections, the performance of any system can be severely compromised. Among other things, noise in the picture and audio can be introduced, certain colors might be missing or intermittent picture and sound may occur. Even worse, these issues can arise after you've left the site, leaving your customer with a system that doesn't work, and you with having to drive back to the site for a service call.
Before running any wire in a wall or ceiling for anything from mounting a flat panel display or projector to running wires from room to room, it's important to first consider the type of wire to use for the job. Take into consideration not just how to maximize performance and to cover length needed, but be certain you are meeting building codes. In order to run a wire in most residential walls, look for "UL Listed CL3" (or CL2) on the insulation or packaging. In commercial or multi-unit residences, plenum-rated cable may required which is listed as "CL3P" or "CL2P" depending on voltage. Check your local codes to be sure as they are often different from town to town. You don't want to hold up passing inspection because you didn't run the proper wire.

ITC tool-lessWhen choosing wire or cable length for any piece of gear, consider the serviceability of each piece. Make sure you have enough slack to pull the piece of gear off of its shelf to disconnect/reconnect if necessary without so much extra length that keeping the wires neat and easy to trace is difficult or impossible. Bulk cables and quick and simple-to-terminate connectors will help give your installation a neat, more organized appearance because you control the length. Some connectors, such as ITC's tool-less connectors, offer easy termination without the use of multiple tools or dies and can be reused.
If you prefer to make your own custom length cables from bulk wire, choose a connector solution that is easy to use, offers a high-quality connection and doesn't force you to buy more tools than you need— whether you see it as a one-time project or not.
Consider your performance target when choosing either preassembled cables or bulk wire and connectors. Saving money by cutting back on any link in the chain will weaken the performance potential of your entire system. Wires and connectors are no exception to this rule.
HDMI cables vary in how far they will carry a full 1080p signal. If you want to get the best performance and all the high definition you purchased, make certain the HDMI cable you buy is rated a full 1080p for the length of cable needed between your source and display. This is especially true when mounting projectors or flat panel displays, where runs may be longer, often buried in the wall or ceiling. Check first and save the regret of having to run additional cable.

–Eric Wieland

Eric Wieland is ITC's Brand Manager. He can be reached at ewieland@itcplug.com. ITC tool-less connectors feature a captive center pin that securely grips onto the center conductor using a unique spring tension system for maximum contact and conductivity.

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