I'll never do home networking for a living - but I'm happy!

  • UPSGuy
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Preface: I've tinkered with crossover and 5e cables a little before, but this was my first experience reworking a building like this. Since we're new homeowners, this was also my first experience with running drops. So...total n00b ownage was a COMPLETE possibility in my mind throughout the entire experience - what if I punched ONE wire wrong? What if I tipped the coax wrong? What if I forgot something vital in my plan? And begin...

So I spent yesterday prepping the house for the new HDTV that Amazon is merrily sending my way. The wife put in new living room furniture about a week ago and (unfortunately for me) we decided to swap where we wanted the TV from where we chose before we built. The house is on a slab, so I knew that meant all my coax was going in the side of the attic and, once inside, running various directions under 4ft of spray insulation. Hooray. Being the geek that I am, I also decided that this was the perfect opportunity to wire up the same TV location for 3 ethernet drops - the first being for the XBox, the second for future PS3 slim (we want a BluRay player - might as well pick up some gaming benefits for the same cost!), and the third for future media center. Also figured I might as well place a central switch so that if we ever wanted to wire another room, we could run a cable to the switch and be done.

Something like this:

Router (in office) --> wall jack --> switch in attic --> 3 wall jacks --> toys. That equaled to 4 6ft cables, two 35ft cables, and a 50ft cable. That meant 8 tips and 4 plugs. I cut a few really short mock-cables that I then tipped/plugged as would be needed to test my theory and for practice. Everything worked fine - sweet!

So, with 500 ft. of Cat 5e, a handful of plugs/tips in hand, an 8-port switch and a coax cable to relocate, we went to work. The first thing I did was measure up and cut my holes in the wall for the new boxes everywhere. Some simple math and a drywall saw - no big deal. The wall where the TV is to go is not an outside wall, so running drops there is rather easy (hollow wall - no insulation). Find the top of wall, drill a hole, push wires down. But wait - that coax has to go too, so now I break off to get that portion done. More on that in a minute. Second wall, where I needed to run a drop for the router->switch connection, WAS an outside wall, so that meant insulation. With the aid of a new fish tape to guide the cable down and a lot of luck, my wife managed to catch the fish tape with a telescoping magnet that I have and pull it through (scraping/bruising her arm in the process :(). It was definitely a challenge in and of itself, but we got it done.

The worst part of the whole experience was definitely relocating the cable line. I essentially crawled down the side of the attic following the wire along the sides of 2x4's until I figured out that it made a sudden turn and ran about 4ft under a plywood platform where a portion of my A/C was stationed. Wonderful. No chance of moving it, so I decide to reach in as far as I could and cut it. That would still leave enough to run the drop, since the new wall was closer to the entry point. I backtrack through a few guide staples, and now I've got my coax cable, but it came with some nice acrobatic skills, a few cuts and bruises, and a healthy dose of fiberglass that still feels like it's all over me. My face still looks like I'm sunburnt from fiberglass irritation. Nice.

By this point, it's 11pm. We had skated around sunlight hours because, well, it was hot, hot, hot up there. But now all the drops are pulled through the new holes, we're both exhausted and licking our wounds, so we decide to clean up and call it a night.

This morning I got up, finished putting in the boxes, punching the plugs, putting on face plates, etc. Now it's time to test. Ugh - I think my stomach just fell through the floor. That bit in the back of my mind about messing up a single punch is now screaming at me. Have you worked with twisted pair? Man, sometimes it's REALLY hard to tell which white/color it is you're working with when the color candy-stripe is barely printed on! I very rarely get something like this right the first time, so I really was anticipating troubles by now. I had already convinced myself half of today would go towards troubleshooting cables.

Time to find out. I plug the router into the new wall jack. I plug a laptop into one of the new jacks in the living room. Nothing - NOOOOOOO! I intentionally placed the switch close to the attic entry, so I pull down the ladder and rush up just in time to see the switch flash a few yellow lights before the input and port #2 turn green and flicked with activity. Whew! I figure that the switch was dealing with configging itself, so I run back downstairs to see if the laptop had a connection...SUCCESS! I tested the other 2 ports, MORE SUCCESS! Hooray! One final test - I unplug and unhook a TV, carry it into the living room, plug it into the new drop and again, SUCCESS!

I enjoy new experiences. I also enjoy refining new geeky skills. At the expense of our free time and skin, I've gained both this weekend. Now I can't wait to get the TV in. I feel like I've earned it now. I just hope I haven't bored everyone to death. :)

I wanted to share my experience with those who are most likely to understand it. When you tell your non-geek friends that you networked the house, they just don't have the same appreciation. I also set out to prove that DIY is the way to go. All in all, we spent about $175 on the entire project, which included, IMO, a costly little 5e/phone crimper/stripper and a relatively affordable fish tape that I wouldn't have to buy next time. I've also got a handful of tips/plugs and about 300ft of 5e left. If I wanted to run another room, I'd spent maybe $3 on a box and a faceplate. That's it. Who knows what someone would have charged to come out and do what we accomplished for well under $200.
  • joebert
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Please tell me you didn't toss your fiberglass clothes in with the rest of your laundry. I hate that stuff, I treat it like it's contaminated with radioactive fallout. LOL

I remember when I was 20 or so doing commercial framing. It was around Christmas time and while everyone else took a few days off I stayed on site and prepped the place for the networking guys behind the drywallers and before the drop-ceiling guys. I was using the same type of drill hole saw you would use to cut a door knob hole and cutting out holes near the top of the walls, then sliding short pieces of 2-3 inch diameter PVC pipe through the wall and sealing around it with spray foam. It made the cable-runners job easier since they didn't have to worry as much about the cable tearing the wall up or getting snagged.

It was kinda fun really, considering it was brand new construction and not finished yet. :D

Those network cable multi-tools definitely aren't cheap as far as simple looking tools go. I scoped out Home Depot awhile ago thinking about making my own cables and the average price for that tool there is about $40.

Make sure your friends/relatives know you can produce custom-sized "Internet cables". You just might be able to have that crimper pay for itself. :)
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Good call! I think I'll email the fam now. :D We separated the clothes and washed them by themselves twice. I hate a hatred for the stuff, so I guess we're in tune there. lol

I wanted to run a whole lot of wires before they drywalled, but they wouldn't let me do it because they didn't want to be responsible for the work. Makes sense, but I wish they would have had someone PVC for me. :) That would make life simpler!

Quote:
Those network cable multi-tools definitely aren't cheap as far as simple looking tools go. I scoped out Home Depot awhile ago thinking about making my own cables and the average price for that tool there is about $40.


I paid about $50 for mine. Nice to have, but it's one of those things that I just can't justify until a project budget comes along calling for it.
  • mk27
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Hey my personal tip for routing cable around rental properties, so you can get everything out again w/o damage: little plastic suction cup clip hooks and super-glue. Suction cup hook/clips are actually totally useless (like, they won't hold any weight and won't stick to paint at all) which is why they are usually in a bargain bin.

Apply a little cheapo super-glue, hold for about 30 seconds and presto! I've had a set of these holding cable along floors (under the rad), up walls, and along ceilings on several floors in the rooming house for about a year now, they don't come off unless you pull hard (meaning they take the damage, not the cable, when your drunken evil twin comes reeling up the stairs wrestling a surf board and lawn chair collection). They're transparent, and they don't leave a mark. My landlady is a total dragon, but even she just pursed her lips and said, "Ask me about this next time".

B.A. Baracas and I have applied for the patent :mrgreen:
  • kc0tma
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Post 3+ Months Ago

joebert wrote:
Those network cable multi-tools definitely aren't cheap as far as simple looking tools go. I scoped out Home Depot awhile ago thinking about making my own cables and the average price for that tool there is about $40.


But they pay for themselves pretty quick. If you figure that a chunk of premade network cable costs around $15 for a ten footer, you could spend the $40 on the crimper, $15 on RJ45's, and $200 on a thousand foot box of bulk cable and in the end you'll be saving. So to buy 100 ten foot cables would be $1500, compared to around $260 to build them yourself. But I'm looking at this from the view point of a bigger network though. It would be hard justifying the cost of doing that if you are just helping out a friend.

I'm working on a project somewhat kinda sorta similar to UPS's. My work is loaning me out to a non profit grant funded community center that is getting started in my little town. We're donating 5 computers, a network laser printer and a usb inkjet printer, a switch, and going to purchase a small firewall appliance for them, as well as cabling and stuff. The telephone demarc for the DSL is out in the open in one of their rooms so I'm going to run a cable from there into the managers office. Then I'll set up the modem in "transparent bridging mode" and let the firewall handle all the PPP authentication and stuff, then run that into the switch. One computer and the inkjet will be in the managers office, then two rooms down the hall is their computer lab where I'll have the remaining 4 computers and the laser printer. They aren't in need of any servers or anything, so this will be a pretty easy one afternoon install. I haven't been up in their attic where I'm pulling cabling yet and its a pretty old building, so I'll probably get lung cancer from asbestos poisoning and die.
  • UPSGuy
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Quote:
so I'll probably get lung cancer from asbestos poisoning and die.


You're so going to get laid in your afterlife - dying for a charitable cause has to get you at LEAST that much! :lol:
  • kc0tma
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Its a good thing my wife doesn't read this forum!
  • UPSGuy
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Post 3+ Months Ago

lol - If she's like my wife, then you're completely safe as she avoids all things geek.
  • kc0tma
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Post 3+ Months Ago

She's pretty much just a lurker on gawker and TWoP sites, so I think we're safe.

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