CEDIA® Boot Camps: Spring is the Time to Learn New Things

Highlights from the three-day “Basic Boot Camp.”

CEDIA’s Boot Camps – multi-day courses of intensive, focused training – return in March. The Boot Camps are terrific blends of lecture and hands-on coursework, and they’re taught by some of the best minds in the industry.

The classes begin March 13 – 15, 2017, with CEDIA’s Basic Boot Camp, and attendees can “piggyback” this course with an intermediate course in Home Theater (March 16 – 18). Next up is the wildly popular Advanced Networking Boot Camp (March 22 – 24). Designing, installing, and troubleshooting home network systems has become an incredibly important segment of the industry.

CEDIA’s Content Marketing Manager Ed Wenck recently attended the Basic sessions. You can find some selected highlights from his “Boot Camp Diary” below (the full batch of articles resides here).


8 a.m.

The class is a pretty diverse group: in addition to some gents jumping from construction to low-voltage installations, our number includes a woman who serves as an accountant for an integration firm in LA, a locksmith who’d like more knowledge about smart systems, and a homeowner who’s bringing his 6,000-square-foot home into 2016 (and finding out if working in the CEDIA channel will be his next venture).

The instructor, Ken Erdmann, has been at this game since the ‘70s. He’s got a background in electrical engineering, and after years spent running a firm from behind a desk, he determined that working in the field was where he found the most satisfaction.

9:30 a.m.

Ken reveals that one of his profs at BYU was Harvey Fletcher, part of the team that built the charts known as the “Fletcher-Munson Curves.” Fletcher and Munson were the guys who first understood how the human ear perceives sound at different volumes — info that informed everything from the first appearance of that “loudness” button on your old two-channel receiver to Fletcher’s contributions at Bell labs in the development of what we call “stereo” itself.

12 Noon

The discussion over lunch (provided by CEDIA as part of the class — thanks, folks!) includes a chat about subsonic systems and how they can be used in wartime to disorient the enemy. Super-low frequencies at the right volumes can make humans physically ill. Yep, that’s lunchtime small talk at CEDIA.

1:30 p.m.

Now we’ve moved into the grand overview of what an integrator does: Taking that cable, scheduling the gear and the lines, looking at the plans (whether we’ve designed ‘em or not) and applying all that to the job. (Mind you, these are all new-construction techniques, not the retrofit line-fishing we’ll eventually get to on Day Three.)


8 a.m.

Time for info on some basic electrical safety. Instructor Ken Erdmann: “The NEC (National Electrical Code) is NOT a how-to book.”

9:30 a.m.

Exercise: Name the Framing Members! (You knew studs are usually spaced 16” on center, right?)

1 p.m.

Compression ends on coaxial cables? Give me a sharp cutter and a proper compressing tool and I can go to work for Comcast RIGHT NOW. Every short jumper I’m running (which we’ll use to test installed cable later) comes up as a pass. The stinger’s just the right length. The termination is solid. No bigs.

1:30 p.m.

Next up: Wire an RJ45 plug properly with Cat cable.

I’m untwisting just enough for each pin … cutting ‘em back … flattening the twists … right amount goes into the plug, and …

And no less than five attempts yield split pairs and swapped pairs and all manner of misfirings on the ends of my Cat 6a jumper.

Finally, sixth time’s the charm — all the digits have lined up on my testing screen. (And I’ve also been schooled by my more knowledgeable classmates on the differences between T568A and B color standards.)


8 a.m.

Today is Retrofit Day. Ken Erdmann, the instructor, issues The Retrocratic Oath:

First, Do No Harm.

You need patience. You need dropcloths. You need to plan. You need shoe covers.

There are a few anecdotes from Ken and some other members of the class: everyone seems to have a story about someone working in an attic and putting their foot through a ceiling. We also learn that, like predatory aliens, F-bombs travel through ductwork — especially when the homeowner is near a vent.

Now it’s time to get cracking.

You can find the complete schedule for ALL of the 2017 CEDIA Boot Camps – and registration infohere.