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Home Networking

Wiring The Home Computer Network

Russ Taylor
Russ@rhtaylor.com

Home Computer Networks.... Maybe the concept of a home computer network seems a little far out, but to those of you with multiple computers already in the house and especially those who are looking at some sort of high speed rather than a dialup connection….this is a fairly critical issue.

Some of the benefits of a home network are:
  • You can share files
  • You can share printers, scanners, etc.
  • You can make backup copies of your important files on another machine
  • You can extend the life of one of your old computers by installing a giant hard drive and let it live out its remaining years as an MP3 server, a backup file server, etc.
  • If you are using dialup connection to the internet a network would allow all calls to go from one modem on one computer….good for security reasons.
  • If you are using high speed access to the internet, then everyone can share the benefits.
What you need and how much will it cost…..as usual the answer is "It all depends….", but the parts you need are easily specified and are standard. The only big variable is how you do the wiring, do you want to expand the scope of the wiring to include cable TV, phone, stereo….etc.

The basics….This will be an Ethernet network (not any real choice about this). Fortunately, you don't have to know what Ethernet is or how it works. Buy and wire all the components so that the network will run at 100 Megabits. Many (if not most?) offices are still running 10 Megabit networks….since we're starting this from scratch and there's no real cost difference...buy network cards and hubs for the 100 Megabit network. If you already have high-speed internet access through DSL or a cable modem, you can buy ($100+/-) a combination modem/router that will be even better that the hub. Very basically...a hub just passes things that are passed to it...a router has some intelligence and some good built-in security features.

  • each computer will have to have a network card….$25 to $50 each
  • you will have to have a hub (or a router) …….$50 to $100
  • This is a hub that supports 5 computer connections - note the small size! hub


  • You will need Category 5 wire, connectors, & supplies….maybe $50 to $200..depending on how much wire and how many jacks.


    cable Category 5 ("Cat 5" if you want to sound like you know what's going on) wire has 4 pairs of wire….blue, orange, green, and brown. Fortunately, the back of the wall jacks are color coded exactly the same way. Note the RJ-45 plug on the above wire.

    The process….The only reasonable way to accomplish this task and to increase the value of your home….rather than decrease it by punching large holes in the wall and pulling wire through….is by installing wall jacks. It's usually not difficult to pull the wire up inside the wall, cut a neat rectangular hole in the wall board, and install a finished and professional looking wall jack.

    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    outlet

    • Metal piece goes in wall - the ears bend to the back of the wall board
    • The cover plate has openings for phone, cable, & computer
    • The Cat 5 cable is punched down on the color coded jack with the provided tool
    • Buy short network cables with RJ-45 jacks on each end to connect from each computer to the wall jack

    The wire and the wall jacks are all available at the large home improvement stores. The wall plates can also be fitted with phone, cable TV, and audio outlets. So, while your are pulling wire through the wall, pull an extra string from the hole in the floor or header along with the wire and leave it there so you can easily pull phone or other wires later.

    If your network is really going to run at 100 Megabits you need to be careful with the wire as you are putting it in….don't kink or knot the wire…don't staple or nail it down…make your bends in the wire nice smooth curves.

    Next step is to plug it all in...tell the computers about the new network...and go. The very best way to do this is to go to www.wown.com . They have the complete step by step and the best advice.

    You have my email address.....keep in touch......Russ



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