Tag Archives: ethernet

The Benefits of Wiring for a Home Network

October 28, 2011

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When I gutted the living room in 2007, I bit the financial bullet and networked the room for Ethernet wiring. Except for drilling a small hole through a 12-inch support beam and 4-inch thick studs, the experience was pretty enjoyable. What I essentially did was create one Ethernet port for each wall in the living room. I ran Cat5 Ethernet wiring inside the wall studs and created a “port” or “Ethernet station” on each wall. One of the walls I made into the “master station.” This area would hold the master computer, the router, and the face plate that would hold all the Ethernet port cables. I scratched a rough diagram showing one of the ports and the master area. It’s pretty rough, but it gives you an idea of how simple it is to network a room.

networking32

As you can see from the diagram, I basically created “extension cords” of Ethernet wiring within the walls. Previously, the other computers in the room were connected by wires that I had to string on the floor, across doorways and through the living room. It was terribly messy, and dangerous.

This is the face plate after I had wired the Ethernet. The top two ports are telephone (RJ11) jacks. The others are Ethernet (RJ45) jacks. I left one blank because I didn’t need it filled at the time.

Modular Face Plate

Ah, but now I have cable Internet, with coaxial wiring. I had fun yesterday, and learned how to wire a coaxial cable jack to my master face plate.

networking

You’ll notice that the other two ports have Ethernet cables. These cables go to the router and to the switch, which is a device that acts like an extension cord for the router. Most routers have only 4 ports in the back, but I need many more connections. The switch is a big box that can hold more connections. The one I have holds 16 more Ethernet connections!

Eventually, I want to make the entire house wired. Currently, the computers in the upstairs rooms use wireless. While wireless is pretty handy, I don’t like using it for main computers. It takes up a lot of bandwidth when everyone is on together. Wireless is also a PAIN to configure and if there’s interference from airplanes, CB radios, microwaves, whatever, it can be frustrating when downloading stuff. Wireless is also less secure than wired connections.

The hardest part about home networking, in my opinion, is getting the wiring through the walls. Even when we gutted the walls, it was still hard to drill holes through such big, old lumber. Wiring the upstairs is easier because you can string the wires up into the attic and simply drop them down into the wall cavities without drilling horizontally through studs. When we renovate the upstairs, I will be adding a few Ethernet ports to each of the bedrooms.

Cat5 jack wired

We’ve had our home network system for a few years now, and I’ve never regretted it. The only thing I regret is not adding more ports!

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Powerline Technology Just Totally Blows My Mind

August 9, 2010

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I’ve been in the slow process of creating an entire Ethernet Internet network control panel (I’m still wiring the cables while we have the walls open right now). But after seeing some technology called “powerline switches,” I wonder if I should even bother with the Cat5/Cat6 wiring. This stuff just TOTALLY blows my mind!!

Basically, a powerline switch allows you to extend your Internet connection using your home’s electrical system. I had heard of this technology last year, and I figured it would be a while before it was really stable enough for me to consider. But there’s been a lot of progress in a year’s time. A tech dude from Netgear went to the Buy.com headquarters and made a very informative video about the Netgear XAV2001 Powerline Switch. It looks so amazing!!

OK, OK, I know some of you are totally uninterested in technology– but before your eyes glaze over, I want you to remember back when there was dialup and you had to learn about that, and then there was cable and DSL, and you had to learn about that…. so let me give a few gory details about this gadget. This just may be how we connect the Internet in the days to come.

  • There are two powerline switches per box. One plugs into an electrical outlet and connects to your router. The outher powerline switch plugs into your electrical outlet somewhere else in the home (like the upstairs game room). The switch has a small port for an Ethernet cable. You connect your computer (or HDTV or Playstation or Xbox or Wii or print server or storage server!) into the powerline switch using the Ethernet cable. Voila, instant Internet.
  • The powerline switch is geared to lessen the load on wireless. If you have a lot of people on wireless connection at once, you know how slow things get. The powerline uses the internal electrical system of your home to connect to the Internet router. The powerline switch is also terrific for providing Internet access to rooms that have spotty wireless coverage (or no coverage).
  • Buy.com has the best price (of course!). I have seen this Netgear powerline switch for $100 or more everywhere else. Buy.com has a sale for $70 and free shipping.
  • Netgear’s switch has a security feature– press a button on both switches, and it instantly encrypts all data streaming through the network.
  • Data are fast– rates up to 85 Mbps, which is faster than 802.11g wireless.
  • The powerline 4-port switch will connect up to 4 devices at a time.
  • The switch works on standard 240volt electrical service. No special electrical receptacles required.

So I wonder, am I wasting my time and money, wiring all this Ethernet cabling?! Technology sometimes develops too quickly. I haven’t even gotten the NEW stuff in yet, and already there’s something newer. Whew, it just blows my mind.

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Patching… and PATCHING Thx to Buy.com

August 4, 2010

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We’re STILL installing Sheetrock. Ugh. Patch patch patch. I wish it was as easy as tacking up panels, like you do in modern homes. But as any homeowner of an old (renovated) house realizes– nothing is straight in an old house. Besides the centuries of settling and movement of the structure, there’s the inherent crookedness of old plaster and lathe walls and ceilings. Back in the olden days, the builders didn’t need to make anything straight. The plaster was applied as the final building coat, and that’s all that needed to be straight (somewhat). So, it’s a big challenge to install Sheetrock. It requires a lot of measuring, a lot of cutting, and a lot of patching. Thank God for crown molding!!!

The other kind of patching I’ll be doing is with a patch panel, Ethernet switch, and router. I am transitioning the computer Internet away from wireless, and working toward an all-wire, built-in system. I have the router and the switch (I got a good deal on a Netgear 16-port at Buy.com last month). All I need is a patch panel. Found a phenomenal deal (once again) at Buy.com. It’s the Tripp Lite 12-port shielded patch panel (shielded cables and panels help eliminate electrical interference). Looks sweet.

Basically, to install an Ethernet control station, you wire Ethernet cabling from the control station to all the various branches throughout the house. The wires in the control station connect to the patch panel. The patch panel has Ethernet RJ-45 jacks, as you can see in the picture. Those jacks receive Ethernet cables, and the other end of the Ethernet cables go to the switch. The switch is connected to the router, which is connected to the telephone system, which is coming from the telephone company. It’s similar to electrical wiring system, in that you have a “service entrance” that enters a service panel, and from there all the various connections branch out throughout the house. I think the most difficult part, next to wiring the cables through the studs and etc, is punching down all the little Cat5 wires into the slots. It’s rather laborious.

Anyway, Buy.com has made it pretty easy for me. They sell everything I need, from the equipment to the supplies like Cat5 cables, punch down tools, Ethernet cables, and more.

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My New Textbook

March 22, 2010

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Here it is, came in the mail today:

newbk1

It’s not a thoroughly extensive book for wiring, but it addresses the basics. Plus, there is some very good information on wiring ethernet and other digital stuff throughout the home. I am definitely going to wire for ethernet throughout the house. Eventually, I’ll set up a small control panel in a special cabinet in the kitchen. It will look like a typical matching cabinet, but it will actually be a small service panel, disguised. I like to make the kitchen the “central” place.

Back to the book: diagrams like this as in the photo below are helpful, too. My next goal is to create a schematic. It is important to map out all the wiring and lighting fixtures, so that I can keep track of the circuits and make sure one circuit does not have too great a load.

newbk2

So I’m preeeeeettty busy these days! More to come.

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Staying Ahead of the Curve: Networking the Home

December 4, 2009

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I am finding technology extremely difficult to stay on top of. I’m in the process of planning a centralized networking system for the home- we have problems with Internet wireless here- and I prefer to use ethernet cabling as much as possible. This means wiring the entire house with it. I’m slowly learning how to create a central networking hub where I can manage all connections from one station (preferably a built-in closet downstairs) and from one router (or an additional hub). But just when I think I’ve got a handle on the latest and easiest techniques and tools, technology changes everything all over again! I guess I am going to have to draw the line somewhere…

…but it is so neat to explore the possibilities! I’m checking out something called “POE” which is “Power Over Ethernet.” The technology is amazing. Basically, POE allows you to connect to ethernet Internet through the power system in your home. There are adapters that allow this.

And then there’s more! Buy.com has a bunch of equipment with informative videos about POE devices. The latest one, the D-Link DWL-P200 Power over Ethernet Power Injector, allows even more flexibility. Let’s say you want to create an access point from a room that has no electricity (hello, that’s us) or has no electrical outlet where you want to have your access point (such as, a ceiling or wall with no outlet). This handy dandy little gadget connects via network cable, providing power for an access point AND the connection power to create your own little Local Area Network.

I don’t know about you, but I find all this stuff both fascinating, complicated, and a little overwhelming! I think it’s great that Buy.com has the equipment AND some excellent videos that explain the products. The D-Link POE Power Injector is very affordable, too– only $38 with free shipping. That’s dirt cheap! Buy.com has loads and loads of things on sale, and not just in networking equipment. They have much more for the electronics geek! :D I love Buy.com. They have excellent customer service, speedy (and oftentimes, free) shipping, and their prices are amazing. The selection grows and grows more all the time. I am definitely going to Buy.com for all our networking needs– plus they have electrical supplies and equipment, too. Not to mention stuff like cookware, apparel, housewares, tools, books, computers, and more.

I’m not quite sure I’ll choose the POE system. It could definitely be useful for places such as an exterior patio or porch, or in place where I don’t have adequate outlets. But I still like the idea of a centralized wired system via cabling. Still… I may get one of those POE gadgets just to try it out, though. :) And it may cure our wireless problems upstairs until I can gut the rooms and add more wiring!

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Ethernet Cabling vs. Wireless Internet

September 28, 2009

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When I gutted and rewired my living room, I installed ethernet cabling (four jacks for the perimeter of the room). It was an added expense to an already very tight budget, but I bit the bullet and did it anyway. The work wasn’t difficult, but it required me to study up to make sure I was doing it correctly, and the parts and components are pricey (it cost me an additional $100 to rig up four jacks in one room).

Cat5 jack wired

Modular Face Plate

And BOY am I ever glad I did! You see, I’ve been struggling with our wireless connection and security here are the homestead, and the constant hassles drive me NUTS. My kids have laptops upstairs, and of course there’s no ethernet cabling upstairs (heck, there’s hardly any electricity upstairs yet!). So we rely on wireless for their machines. Their laptops are old and new, with a mix of Windows XP, Vista, and Linux Xandros. I am the chief IT person for the family… and the CONSTANT hair-pulling problems with wireless have me screaming in frustration sometimes!

(If you need a well-written article on the properties and differences between ethernet and wireless, see this very good post here at BestBuy.com).

Of course, you don’t need to have ethernet cables inside the wall cavities to work. You can buy ethernet cables at any store, and plug them in to your router and string them across your room to the computers. But there are a few problems with that, obviously:

  • You can only buy cables less than 100 feet long, or your connection quality diminishes.
  • You have cables hanging all over the place.
  • You can’t string the cables across windows and doorways.
  • It all looks just darn ugly .

Well, I have decided that I am going to install ethernet cabling in EVERY room in this house, once we gut it. The problems with the wireless system is driving me crazy! Not to mention that having wireless can cause security problems within your network. EVERY network should be secure (see this post about securing your wireless network), but wireless security is an oxymoron. Hackers are figuring out how to get past the encryption codes to get onto your network, where they can make all sorts of trouble and even get you into trouble with the law. So, essentially, a completely wired system is best. And that’s what I’m doing when I can. Wired is better!

P.S. Remember, before you undertake any project with electricity, or go tearing out your home’s walls, check with a professional and be thoroughly read-up on the projects. Some older homes have toxins like asbestos, lead, etc– Take extra precautions to know what you are doing, and to be safe in doing it! :D

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Renovation Inspiration

March 30, 2009

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I really, really, really think Spring may be here now! (In New York language, this means “I don’t think we’re going to have any more snowstorms! Wooo!”). I am starting to gear up for another spring/summer season of renovations. I have NO IDEA if this will be The Year of the New Kitchen. I sure hope so, Lord willing. But I do know that I have GOT to get some electricity in the house! Half of my house has no electric right now. I also want to get some ethernet installed when the electrical wiring is going in. I bit the bullet last year, when I gutted the living room. I scrounged some cash and spent extra money beyond my budget to install Cat5 wiring for our computers. WHAT a DIFFERENCE. It has been worth every penny spent. So, I’m going to install at least one modem in every room in the house.

I’m very keen for deals on supplies right now, and guess what?? I found some! Buy.com has Cat5 supplies– patch cabling, bulk wiring, RJ-45 modular plugs, couplers, and loads more. GREAT prices! Some of the stuff is free shipping. Buy.com is best know for their Weekly Sale deals on electronics but Buy.com has loads and loads of items, just about everything. Home and outdoor stuff, clothing, shoes, some books, housewares and supplies, DVDs, jewelry, cameras, vacuum cleaners- TONS of stuff. I love Buy.com and I think you should check the place out. I am absolutely sure you will find something you need at a good price. And they have terrific customer service, too. Check out Buy.com!

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Get Smart: Wire For It NOW

January 20, 2009

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I am on my knees, thanking God I had the foresight to wire the living room with Cat5 ethernet cabling WHILE I gutted the room. Oh my goodness, it has been such a blessing. No more strewn cables across the floor and behind the desks! Hurray! I wasn’t always such a believer in foresight like this, nay!

I’d always read in those home improvement articles to wire everything while the walls are open– even if you don’t have the fancy capacity for it yet. I used to scoff (the eternal penny pincher am I). But I have seen the light. I am doing this from now on. The Cat5 wiring has been such a great thing. It cost me a little extra at the time, and it was tough because my budget was pinched already, but I did it. Yippee! I love it when thngs work out like that.

I just HATE fishing wiring through interior walls of lathe and plaster. I won’t do it anymore. Actually, I still have half a house without electricity because I am waiting until I can gut and restore the walls. It is insane to fish the wiring. If I had the money to invest, maybe I’d just hire a guy to do it… but then again, I’d really rather do it myself, save the money, and gut the room and get new walls.

Of course, not everyone can install wiring and components for audio, video, and Internet. It’s rather complicated. It took me a lot of studying to figure out how to do it. So if you are in need of some nice wiring and just don’t want to do it yourself, hey check out Home Theater San Diego. They are consultants, design experts, and installation experts who can add everything from home audio wiring to home theatre wiring– whether your home is new or already built. Sometimes it’s so good to know someone will handle all the planning and installation, you know what I mean? And these guys can rig everything up with remotes (which is the latest luxury feature becoming more mainstream) to, for example, pipe music throughout the house, and more. Very nice. They work with very high-quality equipment, too. Check out their website or give them a call at 858-324-1704. And check out the FAQ page if you want to learn a thing or two about what’s new in technology and installation.

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I am SO Glad I Installed Cat5!

September 22, 2008

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When we gutted the living room, money was really tight. (It’s always tight, though). Yet, I gritted my teeth and decided to shell out the additional $70 to buy materials for Cat5 installation. Cat5 is wiring for ethernet– DSL internet. Previously, we simply had long ropes of ethernet cables strewn across the living room from the DSL router to each computer. I tried to hide them, of course, but they still looked awful, like a big black spider web of cables. And in some cases, I couldn’t use Cat5 for a computer because I couldn’t string cable across a doorway. I’d use wireless for the computer, but if we use the cordless telephone in the living room, that computer would lose it’s connection. Grr.

So… back to gutting the living room. OK. We pulled out the walls and some of the noggin (bricks between the studs, my post about it is here). I installed electrical wiring, telephone wiring, and ethernet Cat5 wiring (my posts where I blogged about it are here). Here are a few visual aids:

Learning HOW to install it was harder than the actual install. That took some time. When I felt confident enough, I made a total of four connections for the living room (we use four computers for our homeschool lessons)

This is the finished project for the connections at the work station. At each computer work station, there are more modems, ready for Cat5 ethernet cables to be plugged in.

Well, anyway, today the kids and I moved the furniture (well, they moved it) and we dusted and organized the room to prepare for school lessons. And we also shifted the computers around. I had to unplug all the cables and create new workstations. And BOY OH BOY am I thankful I didn’t have to lace ethernet cables all across the floors and walls this year!! I am slapping myself on the back for it. I am SO glad I paid that $70 for the wiring and installed it.

Moral of the story– it is true, it’s better to do everything you can while the walls are open rather than regret missing the opportunity later. I am so elated that I did something right this time, lol!

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The Cat’s Out of the Bag

September 7, 2007

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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. ;)

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.

http://www.expertvillage.com/videos/materials-install-phone-jack.htm

http://www.swhowto.com/index.htm

http://www.telephonesystems.com/services/wire_phone_jack.cfm

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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