Security Camera

Installing Your Security System Yourself? Here are the List of Tools You Need

After finally answering all of your technical questions and figuring out which security camera system will suit your needs the best, you are going to have to decide if you are going to pay someone to do the installation for you or if you are going to install it yourself.  If you are going to pay someone to install the system for you may want to continue reading to understand the different tools that are necessary to complete the installation, so you understand what you are paying for.  If you are installing the system yourself, you may want to use this for a checklist to make sure you have all of the necessary tools to properly complete the task.  I am going to go through this run down with the assumption that all of the hardware required is known.

Simple Plug and Play

If you want the simplest installation available, the plug and play option is for you.  It requires the least amount of specialty tools of all the installation methods.  With a plug and play installation you will want to have a power screwdriver, drill, drill bits, drywall knife, fish tape or push/pull rods, a ladder, and a caulking gun.  Having a power screw driver will save you time and from having a achy wrist, when you are screwing in a minimum of 2 screws per camera to mount the camera, it adds up quick.  You will need a drill to penetrate the surface that you are mounting the cameras to, in order to run your cable through.  You will need different drill bits for different materials.  If you are in Florida you may want to get a hammer drill and masonry drill bits to be able to penetrate the concrete block of most buildings.  The drywall knife will be for cutting a hole for the cables to run through to the back of the DVR.  I will typically use an old work low voltage box for attaching a faceplate back to the wall in order to cover the hole.  Make sure that if you are doing the same thing to get all of your cables through the hole and run them through the box and the hole in the faceplate, because the last thing you want to do is get everything hooked up and realize that you forgot to put the box in and you can’t install a faceplate over the hole.  The fish tape or push/pull rods will help you with getting the wire down and through walls, as well as through attics and drop ceilings.  The ladder is pretty self explanatory.  The caulking gun will be used for putting a sealant in the holes of penetrated exterior walls to prevent weather and critters from making their way into the structure.

Siamese Cable

Siamese cable is a more precise installation method which requires more skill than plug and play cables.  You will want to have a power screwdriver, hand screwdrivers, drill, drill bits, drywall knife, wire strippers(for both stranded wire and RG59), a good pair of wire cutters, a wrench, a crimping tool or compression tool, pliers, soldering gun, a fish tape or push/pull rods, flashlight, mirror or scope, pull cord, a ladder, and a caulking gun.  Obviously some of the tools used on the simple plug and play method will also have the same purpose with siamese cable.  The wire strippers will come in very handy when you are putting on your BNC connectors and with combining the 18/2 portion of the cable to either the distribution box or to a 2.1mm plug end.  With the RG59 portion you will want to get a stripper specifically designed to strip this wire.  What the stripper has is 2 different blades that cut at different depths to expose the copper core and the white plastic core shielding.  You will need to have about a quarter inch of both the core and the shielding exposed.  One thing that most people forget to do is to trim back the stranded shielding wire to eliminate a chance for grounding of the image.  With the stranded wire stripper it is important to have one that is good for a multitude of different gauges, this will aid in the prevention of over cutting of the internal copper wire.  The pliers can be used for a couple of different things, first and foremost would be if you choose to go with the twist on BNC connectors.  You will strip the RG59 and the take the twist on connector and twist it onto the cable, having the pliers will allow you to get the connector snug enough to stay in place.  Just be careful to not over tighten the connector onto the wire, it will cause a bad connection.  The second main purpose of the pliers will be if you are using a gel bennie to combine the raw wire from the siamese cable to the 2.1mm plug lead.  You will strip the cable about one quarter to three eighths of an inch and twist the wires together.  You will then slide the bennie over the twisted wire until it doesn’t go down any more and all the copper wire is covered, if you can’t get all the wire covered just trim the tip enough to get proper coverage.  The pliers will be used to compress the bennie onto the twisted wires.  The wire cutters are pretty self explanatory, but they will be used to cut the siamese cable to length and trim the stranded shielding of RG59.  If you choose to go with the crimping style of BNC connectors, you will need a special RG59 crimping tool.  This type of connection is more permanent than the twist on connection and takes more patience.  You will still strip the cable and trim the shielding the same as on the twist on connector, the difference is that you will need to slide the sleeve on the cable before putting the connector onto the wire.  You will then pull the sleeve over the end of the cable and seat it closely to the connector and using your crimping tool set it.  For a beginner it will seem complicated, but you need to practice a couple before beginning the process. Now, if you choose to go with the even more sophisticated but best connector the compression, you will need a compression tool that is specific to BNC connectors.  There are several variations on the market and not all are for putting on BNC connectors.  You will want one with several interchangeable plates to ensure a good secure compression.  You will proceed with stripping the cable just like on twist on and crimp on connectors, but there is one important thing to remember.  Once you have the cable stripped you will want to place the cable next to the connector set the outer shielding just below the treaded lip of the connector to get a rough estimation of how far in you will need to insert the cable before just trying to insert the cable into the connector.  This will help to ensure a solid connection between the center core and the steam (center conductor) of the BNC connector, make sure that the steam does not start to come out of the connector, if it does start with a new connector.  The soldering gun will be used if you choose to not use a bennie connector to combine your raw power cable.  By using the soldering gun you are creating a nice solid connection between the two different wires providing years of uninterrupted service on that connection.  Just make sure to use at least electrical tape over the raw portions to prevent arcing.  I personally like to do a combination method of heat shrink tubing and then topping it off with electrical tape, this way I know that there will never be any electrical problems with my connections.  The flashlight is self explanatory, you want to be able to see what you are doing when you are in the dark parts of the attic!  The mirror or scope will come in very handy when you are running wires down walls, they will allow you to see up the wall to determine where the wire went or what is causing it not to completely drop to where you need it to.  The pull cord is for leaving a string in the wall cavity for future use, I like to tie off a string with any area that I have had to run a cable down a wall.  If you ever want to add more cabling to the area you don’t need to fight with fishing the cable back down.

Category 5 Cable

Category 5 cable or Cat5e for short,  is a more precise installation method which requires more skill than plug and play cables, and more delicacy than a siamese cable installation.  You will want to have a power screwdriver, hand screwdrivers, drill, drill bits, drywall knife, wire strippers specifically designed for Cat5 cable, a good pair of wire cutters, an RJ45 ratcheting crimper, network cable tester, a fish tape or push/pull rods, flashlight, mirror or scope, pull cord, a ladder, and a caulking gun.  The majority of these tools have been covered in the previous installation types, the Cat5 cable stripper is a specialty stripper that is typically designed with one blade that runs the length of the stripper with varying slots molded into the stripper to accommodate different types of Category cable.  The good strippers have replaceable blades as well as adjustable  cutting depths to prevent cutting more than one sheath.  You will typically want to strip about two to three inches of sheath off of the cable to give you slack on the pairs.  Once you have exposed the inner pairs of cabling the easiest thing to do is to take and individually separate and straighten the cables for easier color coding.  The typical rule of thumb with terminating the ends of any network cable is to stick with the 568B protocol.  This is a coloring code that is uniform to the vast majority of the industry.  It starts with 1) white/orange, then 2) orange, then 3) white/green, then 4) blue, then 5) white/blue, then 6) green, then 7) white/brown, and lastly 8) brown.  The numbers next to each color indicate the correlating pin number. if you are looking from the top of an RJ45 connector with the clip facing away from you the first pin to the left is number one and they move sequentially to the right.  The easiest way that I have found to get the cable prepped for the RJ45 jack is to straighten all of the cables, putting them into proper order.  Once you have them all nice and straight in the proper order, I will place my thumb at the base where the shielding and wire meet, cutting a straight cut across.  This makes for a neat and clean crimp.   You only need about three eighths of an inch of cable exposed from the sheath.  Once you have made your connections on both ends, you will want to use a network cable tester to make sure you have not crossed any of the cables.  With a network cable tester, there is a remote end that gets connected on one side of the cable and then you have the monitor which will give you a readout as to if the cables was made properly.  Some installers will have a hand held monitor for viewing the cameras that have this feature built in, this is so they don’t need to carry as many different tools around when they can have one that has multiple applications.

With every installation there are a number of different tools that may be needed to successfully and professionally complete the task.  Having the proper tools will not only speed the installation, it will help prevent any mishaps from using something not designed to do the job properly. My suggestion to any first time installer is to practice making connections before starting the job, it will help ease any tension from problems that you will encounter.

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