Media wiring project: data cabling

For those that have not been following my structured wiring project (and hard to blame you: it’s been going on since late 2004), here are the highlights to date:

  1. Moved into a 1941 house with no inside telephone wiring and put a temporary fix in place.
  2. Installed a Leviton structured wiring box in our basement and mounted a telephone switching block, a cable T, and punchdowns for Cat 5 wiring.
  3. Ran Cat 5, phone, and coax into the first and second floor bedrooms while the walls were open for our air conditioning project.
  4. Ran all the phone and coax in the house into the structured wiring box
  5. Hook up the new outlets in the kitchen

The major step left incomplete after all this activity was the data wiring. I haven’t had to do a lot of data cabling in the house thanks to 802.11. But with three to four laptops, a TiVO, a Wii, speakers, and a printer all on the same hub, it’s occured to me that lighting up the data jacks that I installed in steps 3 and 5 might be a worthwhile endeavor.

So last weekend I got my wiring tools out, opened up the box, and took a look. I saw my punchdown block but couldn’t figure out how it was supposed to work. But I finally realized that the punchdown block simply provided physical termination for the wire alongside a jack into which the actual data service could be plugged. So I needed to do three things: terminate the two Cat-5 runs from the bedrooms into the punchdown block; buy and install a hub to light up the punchdown block; and extend the short run from the kitchen to the block so I could light it up as well.

It turned out to be really easy. The Cat-5 runs were color coded to the colors on the block, so I simply lined up the wires (blue & white, solid blue, orange & white, solid orange, green & white, solid green, brown & white, solid brown) and used the punchdown tool to knock them into the block. Then I used a crimping tool that I bought back in 2005 to make Ethernet patch cables from some spare Cat-5, and connected the block to the hub. I saved the short run for the weekend; I’ll probably move the long cable I had to the data block, and splice the short one and run it into the voice block.

That leaves one very important step: getting a data feed from the WAN (our ISP) into the hub. I have a plan for that, and it happens this weekend. And it involves a new contractor and a new drop to the house. And I’m very excited about it. Stay tuned!

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