Laying cable in my home.



  • I'm going to try to lay some Cat5 in my home over the Christmas break.  I figure maybe there are some guys reading this with some experience doing this.  Anyway, I have never done this (Cat5, that is) but I have helped lay some coaxial cable in the same home so I have a good idea of what in general needs to be done and of the specifics of the layout.  The good news is that all the rooms already have plenty of room in multiple (coax and phone; no power) conduits, so I won't have to do any drilling or cutting.  I've looked at a bunch of Cat5-specific resources and it seems pretty straightforward.  My question is really about design.  All of the coax and phone meets in the attic in a jungle of twisted wires.  I know people generally wire everything up in the attic, garage, or basement.  However, we're only running 10-12 lines at most; definately no more than 16.  In the wall in the main room behind a large entertainment center are three unused conduits and outlet boxes.  I was thinking of possibly running lines from all the rooms to these outlets using 6-port RJ45 face plates.  Then I can just set the router and modem on top of the TV or something and have short patch cables connecting the switch to the outlets in the wall.

     My first question: Is this a WTF in the making?

    Secondly, I'm getting 1000' of cable.  If I were to wire it as described above, what is the best way to go about laying wire?  From what I've read pretty much the only safe way is to run a pull line from one outlet to the other and then add plenty of slack before cutting a length of wire.

    The attic is hotter than hell (even at this time of year), so I would like to spend as little time as possible in there.  Someone help me out, here.  Comments, suggestions, questions, etc.



  • Sounds like it'll be a mess with all those wires behind the EC. Why not do this:

    • Run all cables to attic
    • Stick a 16 port switch in the attic to tie them together
    • Put the router/modem on one of your outlets in a more accessible place

     

    As far as doing the actual wiring, I found the easiest way was to attach a string to the phone line in the outlet, pull it straight up to the attic, then tie the cat5 to it and bring it back down. Worked like a charm, no fishing needed.

     

    And get an attic vent fan. Should reduce the heat to about that of hell.



  • You know, it's possible to get some pretty decent performance from wireless these days.

     

    Just sayin.



  • [quote user="Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? Over."]You know, it's possible to get some pretty decent performance from wireless these days.[/quote]

    You know, it's possible to get gigabit performance of wires these days :-). 



  • [quote user="danielpitts"]

    [quote user="Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? Over."]You know, it's possible to get some pretty decent performance from wireless these days.[/quote]

    You know, it's possible to get gigabit performance of wires these days :-). 

    [/quote]

    Yeah, cause never know when your typical home ISP is going to offer the equivalent of 650 T1's. 🙂

     

    Personally, I wouldn't run Cat5 unless I was building. But if you are hell bent on running wire, you'll definitely want to run all the lines to a common location, but I'd shy away from running them to the attic and tying them together with a switch.  The attic just seems too hot and dusty for my taste.  It be better if the common point was the basement or garage. 

    You can always run all the individual lines up to the attic and then run a full 10 back down to a common point (your large room).  You can tie them together in the attic with a crossover block and enclose it in a circuit breaker box or something to keep the dust away from it.

     



  • I tried wireless before anything else; I desperately wanted it to work, but the feeling wasn't mutual.  The problem is that the two furthest points in the house that need to be connected go through a bunch of walls and tons of possible sources of interference.  I suppose I could have got a few APs and blanketed the house, but that seems a bit overkill just to hook up 4 or 5 rooms.

    Gigabit isn't really a priority (I'm only getting a megabit switch for now), but it's nice to have that option in the future.

    Unfortunately I don't have a basement, and putting everything in the garage would require a lot of drilling and cutting.  I'm just not up for a task that big; running wires will take enough work as it is.

    The more I've thought about it, the more I'm leaning towards running it into the attic.  It's basically the "proper" thing to do, and I guess it would look a little wierd having 10 cables coming out of the wall straight into a switch.



  • I myself would use a closet for the common point, a linen (sp?) closet could be easily used, just put the switch either on the floor, or you could bolt it to the wall toward the top as most switches CAN be bolted to walls or celings or the such. as well as it would keep the switch in good environmental conditions, and away from the bad conditions (damp, cold, or hot and stuffy) such as a basement or a garage - and a closet is bound to be more of a centralized location, thus shorter cables and faster communications between systems and less signal attenuation.  

    I recommend doing a mapout of the house, then plot the course for each cable before you run anything - and check where studs go and where structure is and such to prevent dead-ends as well as keep it a fair amount away from electical supply lines as they can cause interferance thus packet lossage


     





  • I really like the one with all the yellow wires towards the bottom.  Imagine you're walking by and accidentally snag a few cables with your shoe...



  • It's hard to find somewhere you can't use wireless with. If you need performance, there comes a point where you have to lay wires. However, putting a big onmidirectional antenna (and an amplifier if needed) on the AP is much easier.

    You can get a wireless signal to work over a few miles if you really want to - I doubt your house is that big. 🙂 

    On the other hand, if you really want to lay wires, I'd go to the attic, and I'd lay fibre and cat5 at the same time (if you want to upgrade later, you don't want to have to do all that again!)
     



  • I have just one more question.  There is stranded wire and solid wire.  Is there really any measurable difference between the two?



  • The difference is that it's much easier to break solid wire when bending it.

     



  • wireless sucks.  I tried 3 different routers (and different brands) and different wireless cards in my computer.  There was always too much packet loss to ply games online and be reasonably sure I wasn't going to drop.



  • [quote user="lpope187"][quote user="danielpitts"]

    [quote user="Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? Over."]You know, it's possible to get some pretty decent performance from wireless these days.[/quote]

    You know, it's possible to get gigabit performance of wires these days :-). 

    [/quote]

    Yeah, cause never know when your typical home ISP is going to offer the equivalent of 650 T1's. 🙂

    [/quote]

     If you regularly transfer more than a few dozen meg between computers on your home lan, wireless blows.  Sure, wifi is absolutely faster than your cable/DSL modem (and works great for online gaming, in my experience), but if you do anything more with your lan than browse the web and play World of Warcaft, then that doesn't really matter.

     

    Of course, most folks don't do anything more than browse the web and play World of Warcaft.
     



  • I was taught that solid core held the signal better over distance but is kind of brittle, so it's best used in conduit runs. Stranded is more flexible and better suited for patch cables or other uses where twisting and bending is more likely.

     

    Worked at one place where the cheap bastards had a reel of solid they used to make all their patch cables which they then weaved into a horrid, tangled mess. I wound up having to replace about 80% of them. 



  • About solid/stranded wire: you shouldn't use stranded wire for anything but patch cables - it's never supposed to run longer than 10m (total length of cable between switch and PC shouldn't go over 100m). While you might need to be a bit more careful when laying the solid wire (and try to not bend it too many times in the same place), that's what you should use to run to the outlets.



  • Solid core wire is used for network backbones, for connecting network points to patchpanels, etc... stranded core cable is then used for connecting devices to the network, patch panels to switches, etc...

    Basically either will do in a home situation, although stranded core is a little less painful to crimp if your doing a LOT of crimping. And I do mean a lot.

    Oh and if your putting it in the attic, if you dont have easy access to the attic then I would suggest getting a managed switch, a bit more expensive than a normal home use switch, but most of those home switches need a restart every few days



  • The real WTF

    The forum software is the real WTF.



  • [quote user="Hitsuji"]Oh and if your putting it in the attic, if you dont have easy access to the attic then I would suggest getting a managed switch, a bit more expensive than a normal home use switch, but most of those home switches need a restart every few days[/quote]Uhh, what? I never had to restart any switch so far. At home, I at first had a cheap 8 port 100Mbit, now I have an 8port Gbit, at work we have some computers connected to a cheap 5 port 100Mbit switch because we ran out of outlets in one room. None of these are managed, and none of them ever had to be restarted (I've even seen routers with built-in switches where the router part froze, but the switch kept working).



  • [quote user="ender"][quote user="Hitsuji"]Oh and if your putting it in the attic, if you dont have easy access to the attic then I would suggest getting a managed switch, a bit more expensive than a normal home use switch, but most of those home switches need a restart every few days[/quote]Uhh, what? I never had to restart any switch so far. At home, I at first had a cheap 8 port 100Mbit, now I have an 8port Gbit, at work we have some computers connected to a cheap 5 port 100Mbit switch because we ran out of outlets in one room. None of these are managed, and none of them ever had to be restarted (I've even seen routers with built-in switches where the router part froze, but the switch kept working).[/quote]

     I've had to deal with a lot of these cheap switches, and this problem crops up a lot for me, some obviously are better than others.

    The usual problems that i see is some of them firing random packets all over the place, others start repeating packets.



  • Well, you've found the obvious flaw with most homes. Its a pain in the arse to get at anything in an attic 🙂


    You will probably never have any problems with your switch. I have never had any problems that required a managed switch for a job that small (In 6 years so far). Besides, if it crashes, you still have to power cycle it...

    Currently in my house we have 16 ports of gig ethernet switch. This runs from a common point in the office where all the lines are terminated on a set of cheap 4 port wall mounted plates. These wall points are then patched with stranded cat5e to the switch. I used solid core in the walls and premade cat5e patch from a networking wholesale shop.

    One port goes from my internet router/firewall to the switch. The router provides DHCP to the network. Another port goes to the upstairs wireless access point. There is another wireless access point downstairs linked to one of the switched lines that terminated in the office.

    Cable runs in groups of four lines. One to upstairs bedrooms under the floor, one to downstairs, splitting to give a line each for living room, kitchen, dining room and garage. One runs to utility room, spares really and downstairs wireless. The final four are all used locally by the two office pc's, upstairs wireless and router.

    The trick to it going smoothly is to put in a draw line or two first. That can be done by using an existing cable as a sacrifice, tying your draw line(s) to one end, ripping the cable out by the other end and relaying it later. Just make sure you dont run data and power in the same conduit as thats usually a breach of building regs and dangerous to your health. Each draw should be the new cable and a new draw line (otherwise how do you pull the next cable?, very irritating mistake to make). When you finish, leave a draw line in place to make life easier next time you have to pull stuff. I used fairly heavy (15lb) fishing line for my draw lines as it was cheap and seemed like a good idea at the time.

    Despite having a spacious attic, none of the cable termiates there simply because when I want to change something I dont want to have to get up there. I also really dont want my switch getting an attack of the dust bunnies. I use a 16 port Dell webmanaged gig switch in unmanaged mode as I have no use for the management features it provides.

    If you have to put a switch in the attic, get an old pair of nylon tights and stretch them over the air intakes to give yourself a cheap air filter. The tights have to be stretched a fair bit or they'll be too restrictive to airflow.

    The network happily supports my fileserver, development servers and gaming. Only the servers use gigE connections as pci gigE is a waste of money (32bit * 33mhz < gigabit/sec even before contention from my sound card and device subsystem.) the rest run fine at 10/100.



  • If you can I would advise allocating an enclosed airconditioned space for the termination point for your wires as well as a home for your switches and servers.  These you will terminate in flush mount RJ45 wall sockets.  Ideally you'll have a rack you can mount a patch panel and servers on.  Your connections from the wall will come into the patch panel - and then pass out the other side into your switch(s) via short jumper cable.  Make sure everything is wire wrapped, neatly organized and tagged for identification during troubleshooting.

    If you need to future-proof your wiring (e.g. mice) you can mount a punch block in the attic, and terminate the data closet and room wires on the block.  This will allow you to cross connect any room to any block in the data closet if adjustment is needed.


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