The Cat’s Out of the Bag

September 7, 2007


Today I finished wiring the telephone and ethernet jacks. It was a long, loopy process. Yesterday, I discovered that I had run out of POT wiring (Plain Old Telephone wiring– the typical old red, green, yellow, and black stuff) and attempted to just use a regular 25′ telephone cord with the heads chopped off. We’ve used it before and it has worked fine. But I couldn’t use this stuff. The strands of wiring inside the cord are thinner than hair, and they kept splintering and breaking. To top it off, our old phone terminal (the connection box where the service lines from the telephone company come in the basement and are attached) is old and has no cover. And it is a PAIN to use (if you want to add a new phone line, you have to disconnect all existing lines and hopefully reinstall them all wound around the bolt together). I tried to replace it with a NYNEX box the telephone repairman had used for an old business phone here (long ago). I couldn’t figure out how to use it! Arg! I was going beserk with frustration trying to “make do” with faulty stuff.

So I went to Home Depot to look for a new terminal and to get some POT. LOL, that sounds funny. Well, we searched high and low and could find no POT wiring. The guy there cut me some 18AWG speaker wire, thinking that would work. I got home and opened the wiring to discover that it is just too big and too cumbersome to try to run up through the openings.

Well, I did some heavy-duty research online and learned that the POT wiring is slowly being “sunsetted.” That is, it is not going to be on the store shelves very much anymore, because there is a new kid on the block: Category 3 wiring. Cat3, for short. I bought some and have found it to be a delight to work with. I did not find any phone terminal boxes, unfortunately. I actually can’t find them any anywhere. Weird. Do only phone companies provide them?

Well, since I already have my Living Room walls up, I had to fish this new telephone wiring through. It wasn’t too bad. I am used to fishing lines through walls around here. Let me say that it is sooooo much easier to fish wires through sheetrock walls!

I only had to fish one Cat3 wire through, even though I am going to have two telephone lines at this area. Cat3 has 6 wires in its sheath. You can see in the blurry photo below (sorry) that I wired two jacks with one cable. I am using orange and green for my POT “red”/”green” connection (with that old terminal) in the basement. (The terminal doesn’t care what color wire it gets, just as long as the wires makes a continous loop). For the other jack, I wired the Cat3 white/orange wire as my “red,” and the Cat3 blue as the “green.” The other two wires I tucked back. Maybe someday they will come in handy.

They say the quality is better using Cat3, too, since the wires are better insulated and twisted together to prevent interference on the phone line. Since I will be plugging my DSL modem into this telephone jack, I chose to make the line as good as possible to improve my DSL speed.

Category5 cables are used for ethernet lines. I wired an ethernet jack for all four walls in the Living Room, since this is where we homeschool and do office work. I have no fancy home network wiring panel… not yet anyway. I just rigged up the ethernet jacks to connect to the DSL modem that I will have at my “work station” (i.e., my desk). This is so that our computers can connect to the modem without having 100′ ethernet cables strung all over the floor and across walls.

Below are two shots of the ethernet wiring. You can see that the wires are color-coded. You just install the correct wires into the color-coded ethernet jacks (called RJ45). The jacks give you an option of using a wire pattern A or B. I chose A. The key is not which pattern is correct, but to pick a pattern and use it for everything. If you choose A for some and B for others, your network will not work.

After punching in those wires, I snipped the ends off and put on the little cover for the jack. It is amazingly easy. I hope it works! Since I have no modem in there yet, I can’t test the system. But it is an easy job, if a bit tedious. The colorful combinations keep it lively, however. šŸ˜‰

This is the finished project for the connections at the work station.

I left one blank for future use, if necessary. The top two jacks are RJ11– my two telephone lines. The remaining jacks are for ethernet. The DSL modem cables will plug into these. These jacks hold cables that run out under the room in a “star formation.” Our computers at the other ends of the room will plug into their corresponding jacks. They will be able to connect to our DSL modem through these wall jacks, rather than stringing cables all over the room. Eventually, it would be neat to build a whole home networking panel, but I am not interested in that right now. Gotta get the basics done around here, first!

P.S. If you are looking for a little help or just more info about telephone and data wiring, I found a few sites to be very helpful.

I think the hardest part for me was understanding how the system works. This is not hard, I just didn’t know how the system works! Once I figured that out, installing everything was very easy.

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3 Responses to “The Cat’s Out of the Bag”

  1. Karen Says:

    You go girl!!! My Opinion Counts

  2. Mrs Mecomber Says:

    Thanks hh and Karen! It’s a lot of work, but boy are we happy I decided to install it. No cables strung around the room!


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