Adventures in Networking

So I’ve had this notion recently of running Ethernet from our basement utility room to several rooms throughout the house. This would let us use VOIP phones at several locations, among other things. My Grand Plan was to use the existing phone cabling as a rope. Tie one end to the shiny new CAT5e cabling, then go pull on the other one.

But it hit a big snag. Several, actually. Apparantly, the phone cables are stapled to the house’s support structure — INSIDE THE WALLS! I would have a punch multiple holes in the drywall to make this scheme work.

So plans must be re-hatched.

The shortest run is to the office, which is adjacent to the utility room. I’ve just been running Ethernet cables under the door for some time, and I’d like to put in proper jacks. The wall that the jacks should go on has — yes, a phone cord in it, and yes, it’s stapled. But to discover that, I had to enter the crawlspace above the basement ceiling and below the main floor — a space about 1.5 feet high and not much more wide, and infested with all sorts of sharp pointy things (mostly nails), pipes, wires, etc. I only had to crawl about 10 feet but it took quite a while.

So, what to do? My dad suggested using a weighted chain, dropping it down the hole, then fashioning a hook to catch it from the existing electrical box. (Which, BTW, can’t be removed because it ALSO is fastened to the supports in a manner that requires access to the wall interior) I that that could work, and might also try adding a magnet to the mix. But it will require another visit to the crawlspace, and I’m just not quite up for that kind of fun yet.

So I started work on problem #2: an ethernet run from the basement to the bedroom, which is a second-story location. I figure the total length of this run is still about 20 feet or so, not bad at all. But, not only are stapes involved, but this one is an outside wall. That means no crawlspace access, but also insulation to deal with. The main reason for this cable run is to enable the use of a VOIP phone.

I pondered the situation for a few days, then started checking out Ethernet cabling specs. It turns out that a 10Mb link requires only 4 conductors (2 pair). The not-quite-cat3 “mystery cable” (appears to be unshielded, untwisted) has 6 conductors. Phone associates at 10Mb anyway. Could it work???

YES! With some punch-down ends from cat5ecableguy, I’ve got it working. I still can’t quite believe it, but it works.

Here are some links I found useful:

3 thoughts on “Adventures in Networking

  1. John, I just knew the crawlspace journey was going to end up at the source of the bad smell. Then I started reading back to the blog in question and didn’t find the resolution.
    If you still have it,(the smell) you might try cooking broccoli every meal. (that would take your mind off of the problem)

    1. <grin>

      The smell is still unresolved! However, it seems to be *slowly* dissipating with time. Our plumber is waiting to get in some fancier air monitoring devices, but maybe the smell will actually be gone by then. One can hope.

      1. Once the plumber gets the new fancy air monitoring devices (Oh, look. SHINY!), it will be determined that the smell is of such a nature that even those devices can’t identify it(‘s cause).

        Murphy’s Law, or something.

        – d.

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