My mom has been wanting out door cable lighting or “ping pong ball” lights up in the back yard. These are the large Christmas style lights you see strung across at wedding venues or outdoor restaurants. This winter, Costco randomly starting selling them. The main hindered before was that we could not find a reasonable retailer that sold them. These are heavy duty lights, so a cable structure was needed. The final paper I submitted for grad school was on cable structures so I could not wait to put one up.
- Steel cable
- Eye hooks (x1 short, 3x >5″)
- Corresponding nuts
- Turnbuckles (x3)
- Thimble and clamps (x6)
- Thick walled steel tubing
- 1 Bag of quickcrete
- Light strands
- S hooks
- Small ratchet
The first thing that needs to be done is put in the main infrastructure to hold the lights. For me, this will be three pillars on my parents patio, and a steel pipe that will be anchored on the hill. Before the pipe can be put on the hill it needs to be prepped. First drill a hole slightly larger than the short eye hook.
Once the hole is drilled, put the eye hook through with a washer on each side of the pipe, and crank down the nut.
Now that the pipe is prepped, it is time to select a place to put it.
The image above shows the three pillars that the lights will be mounted to, and are circled in red. The purple box shows the vertical channel of the fire pit. A position was select to give roughly the same angle between the three pillars, while avoiding any wires to cross over the fire pit.
Once the position is selected it is time to dig the hole. This hole needs to be at least 2 feet deep. If it is mounted on a hill, then the shortest wall of the hole needs to be 2 feet. Place the pole in the hole, and fill in the space around it with a bag of quickcrete (put it in dry).
Before water is added to the quickcrete, the pipe need to be made level. Do this by placing a level along the length of the pole, and adjust until it reads level. Then rotate the level around 90 degrees and repeat. This will level it in 2 perpendicular planes, which will completely level the pole.
Now that the pole is level, water can be added to the quickcrete. Just pour water in, and mix it slightly with a shovel or stick to try and get it below the surface quicker. Be careful not to hit the bump the level pole. Do not mix the quickcrete all the way down, the moisture will work its way down. Add more water as the quickcrete absorbs it. Wait 24 hrs before applying any load to the pole.
The pillars on the patio need to have their eye hooks mounted. To do this simply drill a hole slightly larger than the eye hook through the pillar. Use a washer and an nut to tighten down on the back side.
Now that it has been 24 hours, and the quickcrete has set, the cable can be put up. On top of the pole, put the able thimble through the eye hook, and crank down with a cable clamp.
Now add at least one other clamp. Three were used here because they came in a set with three.
Now measure out the length of wire that is roughly needed to reach the mounting point at the other end. Take a turnbuckle, and extend it fully.
Loop the open end of the turnbuckle to the eyehook on the top of the pillow. Loop the end of the cable through the closed end of the turnbuckle and pull it tight. This is now the length of cable that will be needed. Cut the cable, but leave enough excess for the 3 cable clamps. Now attach the cable like before.
Do not tighten the turnbuckles until all the cables have been attached. This way they can be adjusted together to get roughly the same tension in each cable.
Repeat the same steps for the other cables.
To mount the light strands on the cable, put an S hook on the lights. Use pliers, or in this case channel locks, to crimp down the S hooks.
Finished night time photo coming soon… 🙂