Yesterday, I finally got around to setting up  rear surround speakers in our living room, to better enjoy TV and movies when we get around to watching them.

Because of the room layout, I wanted to run the speaker wire under the floor between the receiver and the speakers. From the basement, I could reach one end of the living room from below, but the ceiling was finished below the spot at the other end where the wire had to emerge. No problem, I thought, I’ve got a fish tape for this very kind of project. I measured where the holes should go through the floor, drilled, and started trying to run the fish tape down the hole that was inaccessible from below so that it could snake between the floor joists across the 15 feet or so of distance that I couldn’t reach. This would then let me hook the wire from where I could reach it and then pull it back through the hole.

I ran into trouble early on because the fish tape kept winding around on itself without going across under the floor as I had hoped. When I went downstairs to see what was going on, I couldn’t actually get my head into the narrow space to see directly, so I put my camera up there and took a photo:

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That’s when I realized that there were obstacles blocking progress in the space at the end where I was poking the fish tape through. I made a couple more attempts from above to run the tape across, but  had no luck. Once, my tape actually got so wound up that it twisted and got hopelessly stuck. It broke when I eventually had to force it out. My 40ft tape was now a 25-footer, but thankfully that was still enough for the job at hand.

I was getting frustrated, though! I took a break, cracked a beer and thought for a bit. It sure would be great if I could see what was going on as I was working.

It was then that I remembered Airbeam, an app that works with the Motrr Galileo I helped fund on Kickstarter last year. It’s mostly intended as a surveillance app, to let you use your iPhone as a camera that you can leave someplace and then access its live video image from anywhere on your wifi network or, with the right settings, from the Internet. Given that I don’t have an extra phone to leave behind when I’m out and about, I had tried it once and then forgotten about it.

But here was a perfect application for it: I could place my iPhone downstairs between the floor joists, light everything up with a Mag light flashlight with a tight focus on far end, and then see the video image on my iPad from upstairs as I maneuvered the fish tape!

This completely changed the game. I could see exactly what was going on with the fish tape and get a sense for where it was getting caught up. It let me place a backward bend in the fish tape at just the right spot to stop it from curling back on itself once it was through the hole. It also let me twist the tape at just the right moment to get it past the structural “X” between the joists. I may have eventually gotten this to happen with dumb luck, but it’s not terribly likely.

Anyway, I thought I’d share this alternative application for the software, in case it’s of use to anyone else doing a project where a set of eyes in a hard to reach spot would come in handy.