[clug] Re: Cabling your home and managing your boxen. (Paul Wayper, linux Digest, Vol 48, Issue 5)

Miles Goodhew miles at henrygoodhew.com
Tue Dec 5 13:40:32 GMT 2006

Paul Wayper wrote:
Hi Paul et. al.,

> I've rearranged my room again and so now my two always-on machines (firewall
...yadda, yadda...
> soundproof) space.  All in all I'm probably looking at sixteen connected
> devices, including phones.
> So what do other people do with their home boxen?  Do you spend the money on

	At my old house, I got a hand-me-down Csironet 19" rack from the PCUG 
move to Weston. The downsides of this rack are manifest: It's only about 
19" deep, no power or shelves and seems to be made from depleted uranium 
coated in lead so it weighs a freaking tonne (ok, I think it's 1/16" 
steel panels on a 2x2x1/4" square steel-tube frame, but it's heav-eee!).

	Here's a Flickr set of photos of the rack in the old house:


	However, I'm getting ahead of myself. Originally I had my ADSL/Wifi 
router plus one 8-port switch stuffed into the top-shelf of the linen 
closet. I tried putting my Compaq Deskpro SFF pc up there also, but it 
made too much noise (These are really good little server boxes though - 
unfortunately it's behind the keyboard in a lot of the photos). I even 
tried putting my first NSLU2 file/web/DNS/DHCP-server up there also, but 
the disk even made too much of a racket for me. I self-cabled two 4-pair 
UTP cables to the 4 main rooms of the house. This was done about as well 
as you could expect from a programmer (i.e. badly). Later I ran two 
tie-lines to the garage and stuck everything in the rack. 
Power-interference problems, bad crimping, incompatible wall-jack 
selection and the desire to get access from both sides of the livingroom 
meant I had to do a few re-iterations in places to get it. This leads to 
my first deluge of sage advice:

	* Don't run unterminated cable and fiddle around crimpling plugs, 
punching-down wall-jacks or trying to get jacks to seat into 
switchplates made by a different manufacturer (and thus don't quite 
fit). Instead buy terminated cables of the right lengths (buy a bunch of 
various lengths in one go) plus some keystone wallplates and 
double-jacked inserts to suit. You then just have to clip the insert(s) 
into the back of the wallplate and then the in-wall cable plugs into the 
insert giving you a nice, stable port on the front.
	* Keep data cables away from power not only for the safety issue, but 
crosstalk too (A/c and washing machines can make life even more fun). If 
you're in attic space, see if you can anchor cables to the top-members 
of roof-trusses (certainly worthwhile trying to keep it out from 
underfoot nomatter where it is).
	* When running cabling in the roof, brick-veneer constructions usually 
only let you drop cable down external walls (between brick and gyprock). 
Internal walls have noggins between the studs that make dropping cable 
beyond half-way impossible.
	* If you've got underfloor access, you're probably better-off running 
cable here rather than in the ceiling. Cable-lengths are shorter and you 
don't have the noggin problem (just have to drill a hole through the 
	* If you need to attach to a punchdown termination of any kind, then 
still use the pre-terminated cable and snip-off the plug. You can use 
one of the cheapo punchdown tools (a lump of plastic with a metal 
"tooth" at one end, possibly a stripper-blade too), but I can't give-up 
on my "Krone-alike" tool I got on eBay - it seats the wire with the 
correct speed/power and also snips-off the excess at the same time.

> getting an actual rack with power rails and cabling patch panels?  How do you
> make sure that your hidden media server gets the power, air and data it needs?
>  Are there racking and equipment stores that will accept a private punter off
> the street?

	The cabling guys at the computer fairs sell a lot of good stuff very cheap:
	* wallplates
	* jacks
	* pre-terminated cables
	* 24-port, 19" patch-panels (cheap and have jolly colours! - not like 
the grey handmedown eyesore I've got)
	* cheapo punchdown tools
	* cheapo cable-testers (doesn't test split-pairs, but does all kinds of 
connectivity tests)

	Hardware stores like Bunnings and Magnet Mart have the 
wallplate-mounting brackets if you're going that way.
	Bennetts in Fyshwich will probably be happy to sell you all-kinds of 
bits-and-bobs and probably loan you a spool of cable if you really want 
to do it from the grass-roots up (The cable's got measurements printed 
on it, so you just pay for what you've used when you return the spool).

Hope that helps.


More information about the linux mailing list