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Diary of a New Home Network

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February 15, 2006 6:47:12 PM

This article is just one example of how to design and install a home data network. Let's hear your story!

More about : diary home network

February 16, 2006 11:42:40 PM

Hi Tim,

I enjoyed reading your article about your home network allthough I am curious as to why you didn't decide to use 19" wall mount rack something like...

http://www.server-rack-online.com/kh-8u-wmr.html

You could then integrate all connections into 1 or 2 standard 1U mounts & have plenty of room to store your router/switches etc etc

It would also look a lot neater
February 17, 2006 1:22:37 AM

you could have used trunking instead of just velcro straps...
looks neater imo
Related resources
February 17, 2006 11:58:32 AM

I will get some pics and a story to you soon, but a few tips I can share now...

1. Use duct tape for the rough-in labeling. It can be cut off later, but it isn't likely to fall off. Also a little easier than writing directly on the cable.
2. Use a can of fluorescent spray paint (the upside down marking stuff works well) to mark the studs where the low voltage is going. This draws attention to the stud, then you can write on the wall what you need.
3. Personal preferance - mount the outlets and the data rings opposite (such as outlets horizontal and low voltage vertical). This makes it much easier to ID the ports after drywall.
February 17, 2006 2:52:33 PM

Paul,

I priced out going with a rackmount bracket and rackmount patch bay. But going with the wall mount was less expensive, plus my personal preference was to separate the "data" and "phone" runs.

I also knew most of the gear would be little boxes that would go just fine on a shelf.

Thanks, though for the tip on the wall-mount rack. Not too much $$!
February 17, 2006 2:53:49 PM

Quote:
you could have used trunking instead of just velcro straps...
looks neater imo


True. Just personal preference and my method was less expensive.
February 17, 2006 2:55:16 PM

Quote:
I will get some pics and a story to you soon, but a few tips I can share now...

1. Use duct tape for the rough-in labeling. It can be cut off later, but it isn't likely to fall off. Also a little easier than writing directly on the cable.
2. Use a can of fluorescent spray paint (the upside down marking stuff works well) to mark the studs where the low voltage is going. This draws attention to the stud, then you can write on the wall what you need.
3. Personal preferance - mount the outlets and the data rings opposite (such as outlets horizontal and low voltage vertical). This makes it much easier to ID the ports after drywall.


Both great ideas. Looking forward to seeing more of your story!
February 17, 2006 4:21:10 PM

Dear Tim

I read your three part How To: Diary of a New Home Network with interest. Thanks for presenting a highly readable guide for the amateur complete with photos.

I am a registered cabler with an endorsement for laying data cable, down under. It became illegal to run cable including data cable in Australia in 2001 unless you are a registered cabler. Just think that you would appreciate comments from an experienced professional.

There are a few items in the Australian standard which apply to any data cabling installation anywhere in the world. I expect these items are in the standards of your country.
1) Separation from mains voltages must be maintained along the entire length of the data cable and must be at least 50mm. This is to prevent electrocution due to mains voltages becoming present on the data cable for whatever reason.
2) Separation of at least 140mm should be maintained between data cabling and mains voltage cable to avoid crosstalk, except where data cabling crosses mains cables at right angles. Inducted voltages from mains cable can induce currents in the data cabling which reduce data speeds due to interference.
3) Where data cabling and mains cabling cannot be separated by at least 50mm, such as in a hollow concrete shaft, the data cabling must be encased in armoured conduit to prevent accidental damage from enabling dangerous voltages on the data cabling.
4) Care must be taken during installation of the cabling to ensure that the cable is not compressed. eg stepped on. This is because the rate of twisting of the pairs varies along the length of the cable for each pair. Compression of the cable may lead to permanent modification of the twists, thereby allowing crosstalk to occur between the pairs. ie Stepping on data cabling, or excessively bending it, during installation will most probably lead to a reduction in the maximum data transfer speed and noise on the line.

I notice that the photo of the punched down cat 5e socket shows one of the wires not being cut off where it should be. This is one of the things I look for when checking that I have punched down the wires correctly.

Another cheap tool which I have found essential is one that lets me check that each pin on the socket has a good electrical connection through to the appropriate pin on the socket at the far end of the cable. eg http://www.dse.com.au/ and search on cable tester.

I understand why you used the ply, but for myself I would use a 19" frame as it is much more elegant. Nor does it have to be expensive. One small enough to hold 2 patch panels would be big enough, say 4U high. A metal plate on top would then flesh it out to act as a shelf. Rather than using a phone patch panel I would simply plug the phone leads straight into the cat5e sockets albeit possibly with a plastic insert to reduce the width. There is the possibility of doing damage to the cat5e socket due to the plastic shroud of the phone plug but I am yet to see this in practice.

Hope that this comment finds you enjoying the fruits of your labours.

Regards
Michael Barr
www.solvedit.com.au
February 17, 2006 5:29:04 PM

Here's another article, from a few years back. This one is for a more involved network installation. Tom's - 6/30/03

Michael, for some reason, that link does not correspond to a product, but seems to simply default to the index page of the site. Apparently I'd have to be a logged in Member to access that?

Be Well!
February 17, 2006 7:05:55 PM

I'm posting this for a reader

Congratulations on your new home networking. I am impressed at your installation, I deal with lots of small businesses and you would be amassed at what a horrible networking job some of these places have. Your installation challenges many of the "professional" installations I have seen.

There a few things that I would have done differently, I prefer to use a 66 block instead of the telephone panel that you used, it will be cheaper also. I typically terminate all pairs of a cat 3 or cat 5 cable in to the block, and all the cables coming from the Telephone Company.

Any changes that need to be made could be done by simply jumping the different cables across the block. The advantage to doing it, this way, is that you can have up to 4 different telephone lines (assuming you use cat5 cable) at every location.

The next recommendation is that any time that a cable run is made, 2 cables should be done. I say so for the following reasons:

1. You never know when you need an extra network outlet.
2. If for any reason one of the cables is damaged, you don't need to re-run a new cable.
3. The price of the cable is negligent since a 1000ft box of cat5 can be bought for under $100.00; chances are that if you buy a 1000ft box you will have left over cat5 cable.
4. When you are running the cable it takes minimal extra effort to run 2 cables instead of one, (assuming you run both cables at the same time).
5. If you don't want to spend the money on the extra jacks and a bigger panel you don't have to terminate the cable at the moment, you could do it when the need arises.

I think it is cost effective doing it this way you may save yourself time, money and effort in the future.

I hope my suggestion will be useful to some of the THG readers.
February 19, 2006 6:49:21 PM

Unlike some installers, I don't see the value of running lower-grade infrastructure next to CAT5e, as technology tends to migrate upwards rather than down (e.g., VoIP & IP phones). You're better off running pure CAT5e, especially considering the cabling is cheaper than CAT3 anyhow.

Quote:
There a few things that I would have done differently, I prefer to use a 66 block instead of the telephone panel that you used, it will be cheaper also.


Old style 66 blocks don't meet fast ethernet specifications for crosstalk, near-end crosstalk (NEXT), and isolation. By using them, you effectively reduce CAT5/CAT5e rated cable to CAT3. Instead, consider using CAT5e/CAT6-rated patch panels. Typically these terminate with higher density 110 blocks.

I second the idea of running a minimum of two cables per run. This never fails to pay off in a year or two when your network devices proliferate. In addition, consider running poly line alongside any pulls. This will facilitate pulling additional cable in the same chase in the future.

- Dan
February 19, 2006 8:45:57 PM

Quote:
With the decision of T-568A / B out of the way, I next had to decide how I was going to terminate all the CAT5e at the wiring panel. The cheapest way to go was to not use a patch panel at all, but instead just crimp an RJ45 plug onto the end of each cable. After all, the data lines will just end up getting plugged into a switch port, so why have the extra layer of interconnect? I almost went this way, but remembered how much I hate getting the wires lined up properly to crimp into an RJ45 plug. So despite the added cost, I decided to use a patch panel.


While simply crimping RJ45 plugs onto interconnect cables and foregoing patch panels may seem attractive, don't do it. CAT5e interconnect cable doesn't play well with most RJ45 plugs. You'll notice signal loss, intermittent continuity problems, or at worst, dead cable runs. This is especially true of plenum-rated cable, because the jacket material doesn't properly friction-fit with the crimp action of the plug.

Among our clients who have existing cable infrastructure, >70% of those without patch panel interconnects experience intermittent connectivity problems. Within two years, the majority of them have opted to retrofit patch panels to remediate the problem. As you can imagine, the costs of doing after-the-fact are substantially higher. Especially if the previous cable installer ignored other EIA/TIA best practices -- missing service loops (1-3 foot of slack at each end) being the most common mistake.

Leviton provides a good overview of cabling practices:

Wiring Strategies for Voice and Data Systems
http://www.levitonvoicedata.com/learning/documents/stra...

It's well worth a read for anyone pulling their own telcom/datacom wiring.
February 20, 2006 1:39:16 PM

(Overall information for everyone)

While I see many people stating they would have used different equipment and have their reasons, many people must understand that Tim had quite a bit of money already invested in this.

He didn't list a total price for all his equipment and pricing but I'm sure it wasn't cheap.

While many of you would have liked to use a 19" rack, these can run anywhere from $50-$150 for low end, while his plywood sheet would have only cost a few dollars.

I work on a larger scale for a national company installing networking. In short, my company goes around and buys other similar companies and I'm sent in to put the network together. Many of these companies are forced to skip out on equipment or they tend to spend too much money on equipment.

While the 19" rack looks good, the plywood works just as good. The majority of companies I've gone into and looked around use plywood to punch down with a plastic rack attached. The cable then run over to a rack.

Working with wires in a rack isn't always easy and you tend to have to purchase a rack that works to your needs. A lot of times it can take days to weeks to get the rack that you want and it's not necessarily easy to pick up.

Often in the computer field I find that manypeople tend to go overkill in many situations. Many times I find things are done poorly. In my experience, many people are unable to figure out the best equipment to use for a job. In Tim's case he based his decision on price, quality, and useability.

I personally couldn't justify spending $50 for a rack, especially since this is a brand new house and he has other expenses.

I wanted to share my thoughts with everyone that very rarely do you work with an unlimited budget, especially in Networking. Certain areas you will need to make compromises. Tim used plywood for his rack and used the money saved to purchase quality equipment. Had he not purchased the wire strippers, the cable tester, etc, and bought a Rack instead, he would either end up spending more money or have a bigger headache on his hands.

Bang for the buck is what I like to say when it comes to figuring out your equipment. Most people always figure "More" into the factor instead of asking, "Does spending X amount of money on this justify the need?"

In his case, in my opinion, a rack would have been overkill. In fact, he can always add on later if the need arises. Just something to keep in mind.
February 20, 2006 1:41:48 PM

Nice article,

I'd recommend crimped coax connectors over the screw-on type. I've found the crimped coax connectors to be far more trouble free.

Another option for Cat5e wiring is to buy pre-made and tested cabling (with plugs already attached). I've installed a few home and office networks --- so you would think I'd have figured out how to properly punch down a RJ-45 jack. However the Fluke test equipment that I have purchased almost consistently shows a problem with about 10% of all the jacks that I've punched down.

John
February 20, 2006 1:55:16 PM

Premade cables are very expensive and take time.

Tim noted Sweat Equity. I guarentee most people our humble world have more time than they do money. This was cost effective for Tim and gave him an opportunity to save money by putting his skills to the test.

Again, working with limited budgets, Tim saved money on this project.

While crimping the cables down may have taken an hour or two, premade cables may have cost him hundreds of dollars more. Sweat Equity is the best thing to do, especially when you're working on a home project.

If you have the skills and time to use your skills, do it. It's by far the best way to save money and stay on budget.
February 20, 2006 8:11:46 PM

Now, most of this applies to both Dish and Cable customers, but some is directed more at Cable customers.

The article was going real well until you decided to go with screw on connectors for your coax. Now, having not worked in cable, you probably think one connector is just as good as another, but I'm here to tell you that line of thinking couldn't be further from the truth.
You're using RG-6, which is good - alot of people don't know the vast difference the quality of cable you buy makes. Unfortunatly most home users don't have a good signal meter and they think that as long as their picture is clear everything is okay, well that isn't true either - what you can't see is that those poor connections are butchering your signal.

I recommend Tri-Shield or Quad-Shield RG6 depending on your RF environment, from either Commscope or Times Fiber. (some cable co's will let you buy a reel through them when they order for themselves, some won't)

For connectors, you should be using high-quality ones like these:
http://www.solidsignal.com/prod_display.asp?main_cat=20...
(crimp tool: http://www.solidsignal.com/prod_display.asp?main_cat=20... )
Once you have the cable stripped, fold back the braid and slide the connector on until the white dialectric material is even with the inner ring of the fitting. You should trim the centerconductor once crimped so that it does not protrude more than 1/8 - 1/4 inches from the end of the connector. There are different connectors for different types of cable also. Alot of people also like using those handy little push-on jumpers you get at wal-mart or sometimes they come with the VCR - pitch them in the trash. They cause more problems than you would care to know. If you must use a pushon, at least make a RG6 jumper with good fittings and then use these type: http://www.allelectronics.com/cgi-bin/item/POF-SW/216/P...

If I was your cable tech and came into your house, I would have to pull every fitting and every faceplate in your house and recrimp the connectors after you put screwons on.

Now for your coax patch panel, A metal sheet (which could be grounded - or power bonded, whichever term you preffer) on some standoff brackets would have done the job better. Just line up your holes and drill with a 3/8 bit, then use these:
http://www.arrisistore.com/product.php?pid=209379
(don't forget your nuts: http://www.arrisistore.com/product.php?pid=202336 )

Whats the purpose of this you ask? Well, I've seen a lot - I mean a lot, of bad TV's, VCR's etc, that actually put 110volts back on the *ground* of the coax. This can cause all kinds of problems that I'm not going to go into here.

General rule of thumb: Don't buy coax or equipment from anyplace that has "-mart" in its name. Don't buy gold-plated (worthless junk - yes, lets gold plate the ground instead of the part that actually carries the signal)

Those with cable installations that use splitters will want to use splitters made by Regal:
http://www.arrisistore.com/product.php?pid=209661
http://www.arrisistore.com/product.php?pid=209662 (etc...)

The common mistake alot of people make is assuming that they'll get better picture out of the ports of the splitter with the bigger number, where the opposite is actually true, the numbers indicate LOSS of signal in db, and you should generally assume that you get 15db into the house, and subtract from there (ask your tech how many db you are getting to the back of the house - he may give you two figures, split the difference and use that as your start). Depending on the carrier to noise, your picture could become grainy or even hard to see at 0 or -15db (no signal is -30), and you should always have about +10 hitting the back of a BigScreen (they generally require more than the average TV for a good picture).

Okay before I ramble way off-track I wanted to get to the CAT5, and reinforce what was said before about the patch panels and having ends on your runs. Horizontal cable is generally "Solid Conductor" meaning that each wire in the pairs is a single wire. This makes it stiffer, easier to handle and it has better characteristics as far as signal performance. However, the common mistake people make is in fact, connectorizing this cable rather than, when properly utilitized, terminated into a patch panel. The solid conductor is why you can't use it as a patch cable. The more the cable moves, and that wire bends, its just like taking a pop can and wiggling the tab back and forth, eventually it breaks off, then you have your intermittant failure or high-resistance connection or just a complete failure altogether. Now, if you do terminate it into a fitting, it best be a fitting that never moves because it will fail eventually. This is why you buy the premade jumpers that are made from "Braided Conducter" that are easier to bend and are not so stiff for your shorter, more commonly moved around, plugged and unplugged often connections.
You want to buy them premade because braided cable is a pain to terminate, let me tell you - and patch cables don't cost hundreds of dollars either (unless you are buying a lot of them...)


While the job overall was well planned and thought out, some inexperience in these matters could cause problems for you on down the line. A job done right is always better than a job done on the cheap - some corners just shouldn't be cut, regardless of the extra cost.

Overall, I give the project a 3 out of 5, with points off for improper termination and tidyness of the panel.

---Capm
February 20, 2006 8:40:42 PM

Very interesting, I'm in the middle of wiring Cat5e network in a new house I'm building in the UK, the cable runs (25) are all in and I'm just about to start terminating them. I'm happy with the data connections its just trying to figure how to set some up for simple telephone voice comms thats giving me a headache. I'm planning on terminating the drops on a 48 port patch panel I already have. I'm just working out how to split the phone signal to the 4 or 5 drops I need for it.


Other suggestions.....

When you run cable drops during a house build leave plenty of over-run, loop and pin out the way and note not just the number of the cable but where it is! It is very frustrating to come back after the dryliners have been in to find they have burried half your cables. Photos are good to track cables. Odds are the cable ends will get covered in bits of plaster, paint, stood on, pulled (note all the horror stories about damaged cables). Basically no matter how good they are, and I've had some great guys on site, other trades have no idea about network cable (or power cables when it comes to it).
We had no problems using white masking tape with pen numbering to tag the cable, run it round the end of the cable a couple of times and then take a 2 inch bit and double it back on itself.

Only other thing is that Cat5 cable costs basically nothing so just run it eveywhere, you can just hide it behind drywall or blanking plates.


Have a look at our build
www.blackie.me.uk
Cat5 first fix on 15:1:06
February 21, 2006 5:11:12 AM

Concerning running normal pstn telephone over the cat5e data cables.

When you are terminating the cat5e sockets there is colour coding called 568a and 568b. If you terminate with 568a at both ends then the sockets are compatible with standard RJ11 telephone jacks. ie Run all telephone and data cables as cat5e or cat6 and then terminate with 568a colouring at both ends. You will then be able to plug either a telephone or ethernet into one end and patch the other end into your telephone socket/pabx or ethernet switch at the patch panel. Don't know how this applies to BT plugs. This avoids the need to have a separate telephone adapter.

Semi-graphically

[Telephone]--patch lead--[Cat5e socket terminated as 568a colouring]--solid cored ethernet cat5e/cat6 cable--[Cat5e socket on patch panel terminated as 568a colouring]--patch lead--[telephone socket/krone block/110 block/pbx]

or

[network device]--patch lead--[Cat5e socket terminated as 568a colouring]--solid cored ethernet cat5e/cat6 cable--[Cat5e socket on patch panel terminated as 568a colouring]--patch lead--[network switch].

I noted with interest that one of the posts says that EIA standards call for looping of data cable before termination. This is the opposite of the Australian standard which specifies that there must be no looping nor slack. If I remember correctly this is because it is easier to induce a current into a coil than into a straight wire which would then lead to interference. Don't get me wrong. It would be easier to loop the data cable than not, as I am required to do.

I have corrected the link in my earlier post to the cable tester.

Regards
Michael Barr
www.solvedit.com.au
February 21, 2006 1:32:20 PM

Quote:
I noted with interest that one of the posts says that EIA standards call for looping of data cable before termination. This is the opposite of the Australian standard which specifies that there must be no looping nor slack. If I remember correctly this is because it is easier to induce a current into a coil than into a straight wire which would then lead to interference. Don't get me wrong. It would be easier to loop the data cable than not, as I am required to do.


Wow, that is an amazing amount of idiocy in regulation. There are other ways to arrange the slack than looping that won't induce current. Not having any slack is a very bad idea.
February 21, 2006 11:07:10 PM

Quote:
The article was going real well until you decided to go with screw on connectors for your coax. Now, having not worked in cable, you probably think one connector is just as good as another, but I'm here to tell you that line of thinking couldn't be further from the truth.
You're using RG-6, which is good - alot of people don't know the vast difference the quality of cable you buy makes. Unfortunatly most home users don't have a good signal meter and they think that as long as their picture is clear everything is okay, well that isn't true either - what you can't see is that those poor connections are butchering your signal.


Capm,

Thanks for your post.

Can you say a little more about what you mean by "butchering"? And why that if the picture is ok, whether the "butchering" makes a difference?

I'm not trying to be flip, just to get down into the tech details a bit.

Thnx
February 22, 2006 12:41:54 PM

Capm, I got a question for you. I have installed lots of the crimp on connectors for my father. He has an RG6 stripper. When ever we strip a cable, the braided portion ALWAYS comes off. I am not sure if it is the type of cable or the strippers or what, but it always comes of. Also, I would have to take a look at the cable, but I am not sure if it is a braid or just a thin foil. I have used the braided ones with the screw on connectors previously, but lately we've only had the ones with the foil, and it always comes off.

How bad is it that it comes off?
February 22, 2006 12:47:51 PM

At my uncle's house, I used some 2x4 and some thin OSB (maybe 3/8 or 1/2) and basically made a 19" rack. I had the 2x4's on each side, and the OSB was running between them. The patch panel and the switch mounted to the 2x4's, and they are even hinged on one side so we can get at the back of them.

Unfortunately, my uncle ran the cable himself, and left a lot of them too short.

Can anyone tell me when and if to use a cable booster type thing? Also, how much of a boost do you need?

Thanks!!
February 22, 2006 2:22:29 PM

The coax stripper that I referred to in the article does a nice job and leaves the braid intact.

Very inventive on the 19" wood rack!

Not sure what you mean by a "cable booster". The spec limit for 10/100 baseT Ethernet is 100Meters (about 330 feet).
February 22, 2006 4:02:04 PM

The butchering will take a while, so I'll answer that when I get home from work tonight -

JustPlainJef - The blade on the strippers is not adjusted properly - if you can't adjust the blades on it, then it is wore out, and needs to be replaced.
The braid is the ground side of your circuit, so it needs to be there to contact with the connector to ensure a solid connection.

Are you talking about extending the length of the cable or amplifying the signal on the cable?


-edit-
Also, make sure you're not using an RG-59 stripper for RG6
February 22, 2006 5:31:43 PM

It is an adjustable stripper for RG6, RG59 and maybe RG5? I'm not sure.

As for the booster, I am talking about something like this...

Also, how many cable runs are too much? If I use the terminators, but someone has 15 runs of cable in their house (not necessarily 15 TV's, but 15 cable jacks through the house), is that too much, and will that require a booster?

Thanks again!!
February 22, 2006 5:34:47 PM

By cable booster, I meant video amplifier... See previous post with link...

I'll see if I can get some of the pics tomorrow...

:lol: 
February 22, 2006 6:34:30 PM

I'll have to get around and post some of the stuff I did for my work.

A cabling company came in and dropped some lines in our plant floor and I wanted to use a 19" rack to mount 2 switches and the local telco's punch down block.

I ended up with a full sized, heavy duty cabinet that ran in the range of $500. Overkill.

In the mix of all this wiring going on, they were supposed to supply a 19" rack but forgot. They gave us something they weren't using.. so now I have multiple pictures of this rack holding 2 24 port switches and a sheet of plywood the telco used for punching down some phone lines.

Someday I'll get around to posting some of the pictures of wiring closets I have to deal with and before/after pictures when I work on them.
February 22, 2006 8:13:53 PM

Thanks for the clarification. IMHO, putting in a distribution amp is really a "it depends" situation. For example, right now I have neither splitters nor distribution amps, but have only one DirecTV box connected to a dish and am feeding the RF out from my DirecTV Tivo out to one set, which works fine.

If I had two sets on that RF feed, I'd probably try a splitter first, then an amp if the signal were crummy.
February 23, 2006 4:42:44 AM

By butchering the signal, I mean the poor connections made by screw-on fittings have a negative impact on signal quality. This can manifest itself in about a thousand ways.

There are a number of ways they cause problems:
1) Using a RG59 fitting on RG6: Many people don't pay attention, and try to screw on a fitting onto the wrong size cable.
2) Improper circuit completion: alot of the time I find these screwed over the jacket only with little or no braid. This causes a faulty connection because the circuit is not properly completed. And sometimes, even a properly installed connector has poor electrical characteristics, well, just because they're junk I guess.
3) Shorted connectors, where the braid has been screwed onto, but has become wrapped around the center conductor.
4) poor quality of connector allows for interference - and leakage.

On analog signals (basic cable, off-air) even a well-prepared screw-on fitting (or series of them) can allow for power interference (looks similar to satellite sparkles), FM Interference, lines can appear in the picture, picture may appear grainy or other problems. Typically, these problems show up in the lower channels 2-6 but can also be manifested in higher channels (depending on the actual problem). On a Digital signal, it will almost always manifest as a digitized picture (picture breaks up into little blocks). Unfortunately, unless you've got a digital meter, every problem on digital shows up like that.

Leaking connectors can allow the signal carried on the cable to radiate out from the connector. This is a problem as the FCC can shut down a cable system for large leaks (and I've shut subs off for this too - until I could get inside to fix the problem).

When you are looking at the signal with a meter, you can see the difference in a poor connection and a good connection. You can lose alot of signal just in bad connectors. Because a screw-on connector can also physically move, any movement of the cable can alter the connection and make the signal fluxuate. TV's and equipment don't like signal fluxuations - they like a steady clean signal.

The mathematics and electrial equations behind it all are complex, my old Boss could probably explain those alot better than I can. There are a thousand ways I've seen them cause problems and sometimes the problem manifests one way and another time it'll show up differently - or you may not see it at all, but the problem is still there. Sometimes you can only see it if you drop the signal level down low, sometimes you have to boost it up to see it.

Anyway, in my time, I've seen a whole 2 of these connectors that were not causing a problem.
February 23, 2006 5:09:46 AM

You gotta be careful on your cable amps. With 15 outlets, you probably have a two-way splitter and two eight-ways, which is 14 db of loss (give or take) which means you're hitting your TV's probably with very little signal. However, if you pictures are clear, then I wouldn't amplify. You can easily overdrive a TV by putting an amp in where you don't actually need one.

I recommend these amps:
http://www.mjsales.net/items.asp?FamilyID=176&this_Cat1...

An adjustable amp can be okay but its hard to adjust them right without a signal meter - and cheap amps can put in alot of noise. Also, Dish systems seldom need amplifiers unless you're driving *alot* of boxes.

If you have the money to burn, I'm partial to the Trilithic Model One (they have a Model Two now also) or for more advanced features, look at Wavetek's 4040d And there are other more pricey models...
February 23, 2006 9:57:47 AM

Yes, it would normally be a two way and two 8 way. The way I wire it is to take the feed (usually cable, haven't done Satellite yet), split it two ways, then feed both the 8 ways. I know it's a bad idea to feed one 8 way, and use one of the 8 to feed the second 8 way.

With those boosters you showed me, can I just use a two way booster to feed both of the 8 way splitters?

When would you recommend using a video booster? Basically just when the picture is poor?

Thanks again for the wonderful information! :D 


**While I'm here, anyone have any recommendations on a GOOD cable tester, that I can use to test at least CAT5e connections? I would hate to pull a bad wire, then not find out until after it was all drywalled.
February 23, 2006 2:53:21 PM

Dusting off my 30 year old Physics degree -- poor quality cable connectors (such as screw-ons) can cause lots of problems - no electrical connectivity, signal leakage, or a signal reflected back into the cable system. Ideally, the signal should travel down a transmission path having constant impedance such as 50 or 75 ohm coaxial cable. When a signal travels over a path having a change in impedance - it "sees" this as a semi-transparent wall or boundary and a portion of the signal is reflected back in the wrong direction. In the case of a reflected signal the signal "hits" the connector and a portion of it is bounced back into the system potentially causing havoc with all the other TVs or devices connected to the cable system. In this case, a TV with a good connector may be having problems due to another TV having a bad connector. Unless you possess very expensive test equipment -- it is easier and more cost effective to use good quality connectors (and good quality workmanship) instead of having to go around and systematically replace the connectors in your home until you find the "bad" connector(s).
February 23, 2006 9:33:14 PM

Quote:
With those boosters you showed me, can I just use a two way booster to feed both of the 8 way splitters?

When would you recommend using a video booster? Basically just when the picture is poor?


You could, but do you need to? Most cable co's try for 15db at the back of the house, depending on the system, however, can be as low as 5 or as High as 20. Generally, lets assume you get the 15db, and lets assume your C/N (carrier to noise ratio) is pretty good, around 46 to 48 (you start seeing problems in the lower 40's and in the headend you can get 50+ If I remember right) So, at that point, you could probably get to -5 or so and still have a decent picture as long as its not pushing a big screen. Now, Generally, most TV's don't want more than 20db hitting the back of them - doing so is called overdriving, and the picture will noise up and streak and all kinds of things. Okay, so you have 15db at the house, you have a two way, and two eight-ways, which is 3.5 + 11 = 14.5db of loss (and then, add 1db for every 100ft of cable, and .5 db for every connection: ie, splices, anywhere a fitting is used.) So, In that setup, you're hitting the TV at right around 0 to -1db give or take. If the picture on the Furthest tv with the most loss is still clear - don't amplify it. Remember, most TV Amps start at 25db, so at 0db, Add 25db, and you are overdriving the TV already. Now, if you had an eight-way feeding 8 eight-ways, thats 22db of loss right there, and you'd most likely need an amp. Also, they make smaller "bullet" amplifiers that push about 10db out if you need just a small boost. Also, be aware that on those electrolines, the 3 ported one is actually a single output as those have a coax power input as well, so read the description on how many amplified ports you want.

Note these calculations don't apply to Dish systems as those are in an entirely different frequency range and setup.

Cat5 Testers - it really depends on how much you use it and what you need it for - for example, if you have money to burn -
http://www.blackbox.com/Catalog/Detail.aspx?cid=151,156...
but if you're more frugal -
http://www.blackbox.com/Catalog/Detail.aspx?cid=151,156...
might be more up your alley.

One more note on overdriving equipment - Digital boxes on your cabletv setup - overdrive alot easier than your TV - but as long as the signal is clean, they can work with a lower signal alot of times. +10db maximum to the back of these devices.
February 24, 2006 8:41:11 AM

Damn... I saw that the second one was from Fluke and I knew it would be expensive.

So basically I don't need the amp unless the pictures are bad, and then I could test (maybe with a small TV) to see if the feed is bad or a splitter or a bad connection somewhere...

Cool, got it...

Thanks!!!!
March 4, 2006 2:59:53 AM

I GOT THE PICS UP!!!! Yay!!!

My Website

I'm not done with the cable management, and I need to add the cable modem and get a router, but they are up and running. The red cable is (are) custom made with pairs 1 and three swapped, so pair 1 (line 3, fax) is moved to the middle pair (pair 3). They are red so they are easily identifiable. I also made one with the standard RJ45 on one end and an RJ11 with pair 1 in the middle for the DSL modem, as it needs an RJ11 input, not the RJ45 I had on it.

But now they are likely going Comcast (cable modem) instead of DSL... Oh well...


I know cable management is not done yet, but I'm getting there... Also, there are 47 of the 48 ports in use on the patch panel! 8O
March 4, 2006 12:05:43 PM

Thanks for posting the link to your pix!
March 17, 2006 8:43:09 PM

Nevermind, I found an answer by not being lazy and researching on my own!
May 1, 2006 8:56:22 PM

Hey guys, I was wondering your opinion on my plan on home networking. I have a small 1 floor home (3 bedrooms) and I replaced my telephone and tv cable wiring last summer with a leviton central hub box, much like the ones in the article, just smaller. Now, Id like to buy another leviton box to do all the houses internet wiring. I only plan on doing about 5-6 drops in my whole home. Id like to have my cable modem, and a wireless network setup from the box, along with anything else id need. My question is, what else do I need? I mean I know from reading the article some of the stuff, but I don't have like 17 ports in my home. What are your suggestions? I am a newbie to wired internet networking and I dont know much about it yet. I know I need some CAT5e cable, a cripping tool, etc. But as far as like the patch panel, and specific routers and I guess all the specifics I have no idea on what to actually purchase. Any help would be great! Thanks!
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