Random Thoughts

Tech, words and musings from an Englishman in Seattle

Fun With Home Wiring

When we moved into our place a few years ago I was happy to find that the place was wired with Cat5e, all run back to a central wiring closest in the house. Unfortunately though, every jack in the house was wired to phone (RJ11) jacks except for two - one in the office and one by the kitchen desk - I really want RJ45 everywhere.

This was OK, as I just put the WiFi router in the closest and a 5 port switch in the office and all was fine.

It still bugged me though. I want to put a PC in the playroom for the kids (Hi Bila!) and an AppleTV in the bedroom. Problem is that the WiFi upstairs is spotty. I really wanted some wired ethernet for those devices.

Now I was on a mission :-)

The first problem was that none of the cabling used for telephones was labelled. Sigh. Why don't the builders do this? So I needed to trace the wiring. I picked up cabling tester from Frys (the variety where you stick a remote on one end and the main testing unit on the other) along with a crimp tool and various RJ45 and RJ11 blanks1.

First step was to figure out the cabling. I wanted to avoid pulling all the sockets from the walls so I built an RJ45 to RJ11 cable (pretty simple really, the RJ11 is just missing the 2 outside wires from the standard 8 wires in the cable). This allowed me to connect the tester to the phone jacks.

Next I pulled each cable, one at a time, from the phone punchdown block in the closet, crimped on an RJ45 and attached the tester to it. Next I ran around the house testing each jack.

There were eight of them and of course the bedroom jack (which was the one I really wanted to find) was the last one. I got a lot of crimping practice.

And that was it really, all the cable runs are now labelled, the bedroom has a working ethernet jack and Netflix is available in the bedroom. A fun little project. Now I just need a real RJ45 patch panel for the wiring closet…

1 Btw, I really liked these EZ Jack RJ45 and RJ11 connectors that I found at Vetco. They make building the cables a lot easier. 

Experimentation

Every now and then, I think to myself “Steve, the blogging software you use on this site is horribly complicated. Why don't you write your own? I'd be a fun thing to build in some new language that you've been meaning to learn, like Scala, Ruby, etc… You could even host it on AppEngine!”

Then I start thinking about things like how comments are an absolute pain as you'd need to deal with XSS, etc… and I go off and think about something else.

Recently though, I thought “Comments are a pain. They currently look ugly, aren't threaded and I get an incredible amount of spam to deal with. Wouldn't it be great to offload that?”.

So I signed up for Disqus.

I had to fix a few things in the plugin to make it actually work with MoveableType, but now it appears to be up and running.

Enjoy…

And one more barrier removed until I actually do write my own blogging system…

© 2001 to present, Steve Lacey.