Let me tell you a story. My son has long wanted a “gaming room”. We’ve pushed back on this but, now he’s at high school, we’ve started to convert our spare room. He also needs it because we made the decision to stop any gadgets, PS4’s or phones from being used in his bedroom.
For me, as I sometimes work from home, I also wanted the room to have some space for me to do my job. So I kinda had a vested interest in all of this. :)
In addition, it had to be the place for homework, so a nice desk and somewhere to concentrate.
A pretty big ask, but whilst I was ripping the wallpaper off at the weekend, the wife strolled in with this picture …
Can you make it look like this?
Well yes, sure. I could probably do that. A bit of trunking, some cable management…
I don’t want that trunking. Or cables….
Ahh, now we’ve got some problems. So, whilst we don’t want the PS4 mounted on the wall, we do want a big screen up high and – not one, but two monitors below – all mounted on the wall. Oh, and no cables visible. At all.
Stage one then, and after measuring up the desk we intended on buying (Ikea), drawing the height and width on the wall, I needed to get some electrical bits. First, some new power sockets which would be mounted behind the monitor and TV screens. Some simple, cheap white ones would do. They’re only about £2.50…
They’ve got to be silver, like the rest of the house.
Yes, but they don’t really need to be silver, because they’re going to be behind a TV or a monitor, so you’ll never see the things. Simple logic and, as the man of the house, I put my foot down. So, off I went to Screwfix, returning with…
OK I’m weak, but I like the quiet life. There was an offer on at Screwfix so I decided to get the ones with USB ports on. I’ll use one for this project and swap another one elsewhere in the house where that USB power will be more useful (the kitchen is on my radar)..
Then, I addressed the issue of the “trunking” and, once again, I lost that argument too. This led me to spending all of Sunday taking massive chunks out of our house in order to hide all the cables.
Wait, all the cables?
Ah yes, because this we’re not just feeding the power in. Oh no, and this is where things got serious. This is where I put my geek hat on and thought about all the cabling you normally need to have between (in this example) a PS4, a computer and a monitor or TV.
First of all, I wanted a satellite feed in. We have a Sky dish right outside the house and – because I’m tight – I didn’t want to pay Sky to put an extra cable in. Instead, I headed to eBay, got myself some coax and did it myself. I originally did this in our first home some 13 years ago when the cost of installing Sky was quite high – it’s a relatively simple job and you can shimmy up a ladder, screw in the coax (or add a new LNB and then screw in the coax), tack it to the wall, drill a hole and whack it in your Sky box. There’s another post here from my personal blog which details the process.
The intention here, when we’ve got enough cash (probably after Christmas) is to get a big TV which has a built-in satellite tuner, then we can watch all the free TV channels via Freesat.
So, cable number one is a coax.
But then I need some HDMI cables, because we don’t want them trailing up the wall from the PS4, laptop or Android box to the TV or monitors. So, I decided to look at these things…
Boom! You feed the cables up the inside of the wall, then they poke out of this brush-entry / exit plate. Job’s a good’un!
We’re not having that. It looks messy.
Ughhh… at this point I’m starting to look longingly at the beer in the fridge, but then I found this thing…
If you work in an office you’ll probably see these things all around you. There’s “1 gang” and “2 gang” versions (the “2 gang” is above). You then slot “modules” in the middle. So, if you head to eBay, you’ll soon find a plethora of these modules for everything – from HDMI, USB, VGA to phono and Ethernet.
This is when things started stacking up. On the right I’d got a cheap “1 gang” module frame already (before being told that it had to be silver / chrome), and you can see it next to the polished chrome one I got from Screwfix the next day.
As this is “Part 1” of this feature, I’ll be showing you the actual modules later on – they haven’t all arrived as yet, but I do have the Ethernet one.
Wait, Ethernet ?
Well yes, by this stage I’d ordered loads of stuff from Screwfix (honestly, without Screwfix 2 miles up the road this would all take a lot more planning!) and I’d also bought cables and the push-in modules for the module frames. Things were getting a bit out of hand, and worse still, I was banging the hell out of the wall…
At the bottom there is our current power socket, then I’ve got a space next to it which I need to extend out – that’ll have all the “HDMI feeds” for the various monitors. In the middle, a 2 gang (double) socket for power, then a 1 gang outlet with two HDMI ports. At the very top, another 2 gang (double) socket for power and a 2 gang module frame with 4 outputs – 3 HDMI and one satellite coax.
Things got messy, but after nearly breaking the vacuum cleaner, I’d got to this stage.
In the photo above you can just about see the satellite coax and the Ethernet cable. I’ll do a separate article about why I’m using an Ethernet cable and not just WiFi later. There’s a story to how it gets connected back to my main broadband router, so I’ll detail all that!
My list of ports now included…
- 3 HDMI ports behind the upper large TV panel and a double socket plus that satellite coax port.
- 2 HDMI ports behind the lower monitor(s) and another double socket
- 5 HDMI “feed” ports at the bottom, the Ethernet (RJ45) plus a double power socket.
As I mentioned, I’ve had the one network module delivered so far. This connects to your cable like this – you basically strip back the cable and push each core into the appropriately-coloured sections…
However, I’m not quite at that stage yet. At the moment I’ve just got one very messy room, lots of holes and i’m waiting for the necessary cabling and modules to turn up, so – stay tuned for part two of this project!