Once we moved in, it was time to start trimming out the pre-wire. The builder does at least part of this for you. All of the Cat6 and RG6 jacks on the walls are already connected and in place. The other ends of those wires, however are just dumped into the structured wiring enclosure, but are finished with the appropriate connectors.
The first thing to do is get a cable tester (they’re available at Amazon or almost anywhere and cost under $40. You can find a decent one for $20, and I bought one for $3. It’s kind of crappy but it works). I tested all of the wires the builders installed. Making sure they were labelled correctly, and working correctly. I did find a few that had one or two pins not working, and had to be re-terminated. At this point, I knew ALL of my jacks installed in the rooms were connected correctly.
Now, the builder left all of the Cat6 dangling in the structured wiring enclosure, and I guess that’s fine if you just want to plug them all into a router to distribute internet around the house. But since we’re using the Cat6 as sort of a multi-purpose wire I really wanted to terminate all of the ends into a patch panel (basically a panel of jacks). First of all, it’s a lot neater. Secondly, it’s easy to repurpose the jacks into whatever you need. If, for some reason you need to connect one room in the house directly to another via Cat6 (carrying maybe audio, or USB or whatever), you can do so just by connecting a short Cat6 jumper from one jack to the next in the patch panel.
I bought a few Cat6 patch panels, snipped the ends that the builder installed off of the cables, and used a punch-down tool to connect them to the panels. This turned out to be one of the more difficult jobs, particularly due to the arrangement of the wires. The structured wiring enclosure has 3 knock outs at the top to pass wires through. The builder only used two of them, and randomly distributed the wires between the two holes. Since I wanted the jacks in the patch panel to be arranged in some logical order, the wire path from the top of the enclosure to the patch panels is a bit of a rat’s nest and limited how high up I was able to mount the patch panels. My advice when doing it yourself would be to keep in mind what kind of patch panel you’re using, where you’re mounting them in the box, and how you want the jacks organized when bringing the wires into the enclosure during your pre-wire.
I also installed an RG6 patch panel. All this is is basically a piece of bent steel with the appropriate tabs and slots that allow it to mount neatly into the structured wiring enclosure and has a bunch of barrel connectors on it. That didn’t stop the company that sold it from charging about $30 for them. (Plus I had to replace all of the barrel connectors with ‘high speed’ ones that would carry satellite signals. Those were about $0.30 though). The RG6 patch panel is the same principle as the Cat6 patch panel in that it provides a neat termination point for all of the jacks in the house.