Chip's Technical Blog

Tech commentary of thoughts, challenges, how-to's, and the mundane.

Cabling our house…

So this week I’ve been working on re-cabling our phone jacks to be Ethernet jacks. Since we get our internet through the cable company, use an VoIP phone, and wireless handsets throughout the house, we had no particular use for the phone jacks in the house.

At the same time, I do run many computers throughout the house, and while wireless was an OK option, it really wasn’t reliable enough for running the server from, meaning we had to put the server with the wireless router. This was a bit of a problem, as I’d like the wireless router in the higher floors of the house, and the server in the basement, where it’s noise and heat won’t be an issue. Similarly, I’d like to stream video and audio throughout the house, and wireless really isn’t the best option for this.

Unfortunately, the house didn’t come pre-wired for internet. But while the cable company was doing its installation, we got to talking, and he pointed out the phone cables were cat5e. This being the same cabling which is used for internet, we talked about how to make it work as computer network cabling. The first step was to get the cables pulled into the garage instead of outside the house. This was done with the help of my father-in-law, putting a hole in the garage wall, putting an outlet box in the hole, and pulling the cables through.

The next step was taking the cables and crimping them, using a crimping tool and rj-45 heads I got over Christmas, then plugging them into the switch I got at the same time. Then, the remaining step should be to switch all the outlets themselves to rj-45 jacks. The only problems were that the family room has no outlet, and the basement was added on after the rest of the house, so there wasn’t a direct cable to the basement. The first problem was solved by taking the outlet in the living room, and spinning it around to face the living room. Then, the basement cable was split off of the one in the family room. Rather than switch the one in the family room down to the basement, I chose to run another cable from the garage into the basement. This involved putting another hole in the garage wall, this time leading into the crawl space, from which I could then run the cable into the unfinished space in the basement, where I will be moving the server tonight. In the future, I may run another cable to a place in the finished space in the basement, to replace the jack there.

So now, I have new experience crimping cables, running cables, cutting holes in drywall, crawling in my crawlspace, and installing ethernet jacks. This turns out to be rather practical knowledge, since I am teaching a course in computer networking this semester. There is something so useful about tangible experience with a topic in networking and systems. It was a lot easier than I thought it would be, but it struck me just how much easier it would be to have run these cables before the house was dry-walled. To have cable both for phones and ethernet…

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