Thursday, September 01, 2005

Networking at Last!

We've lived in this house for just over 3 and a half years, and I've wanted to have full networking throughout the house all along. We've had cable into the study basically since we got here.

In an attempt to stick with DSL, I went with Earthlink, because that was who we had before. I was hoping that the speed would be better here than at the old house, because we're closer to the new CO than our old place was to the old. Earthlink got things done reasonably quickly, but couldn't actually get it to connect. As far as they could tell, it was all fine, but it couldn't connect, so they wanted to have Pac Bell come out to figure it out (my next door neighbors ave Pac Bell DSL, and theirs works fine). I'm convinced it is anti-competitive behavior that Pac Bell wouldn't come out in a reasonable amount of time, but they weren't going to.

I called AT&T to get cable on Friday thinking they'd want to come in a week or so. How's tomorrow between 9 and noon? Great! Took 45 minutes and we were online. Awesome. AND it's always been faster than DSL. We're up to 4.5mbps now; not sure how high they're going to push it. Only about 360kilobit upload speed, but that's OK.

Bought a LinkSys 802.11g wireless router back in April 03, but it never really worked to our bedroom or the back of the house. I even tried getting a range expander and then a signal booster. Didn't try both at the same time. The signal booster did a bit better than the range expander, whose problem was that while the connection to my laptop was great, the connection between the RE and the base station was no better than my laptop's connection. That means the throughput is actually no better.

In January, I bought a bunch of networking equipment - 12-port patch panel and various terminators - with the plan of wiring the whole house and placing a wireless access point in the back of the house on the same SSID. In February, with the help of my father and brother, I ran wires from a place in our crawlspace to the living room (2), study (3), dining room, Rachel's room, and into Rachel's closet. We terminated the one in Rachel's room and the two in the living room then.

Today, we finally got around to completing more of the project. First, we terminated 2 of the cables in the study and put them on the patch panel, and quickly had the cable modem routing the signal down to the patch panel. Then we put the rest of the cables (8 altogether) onto the patch panel and tested the ones that had been terminated and terminated the others, except the one in Rachel's closet. This let us confirm they were all working, and figure out which port on the panel each went to.

After lunch, we started on the cable in the closet. This one is meant to go up to our bedroom and, eventually, out the back to a hub which would have a WAP on it along with a wire back into the bedroom (for the Tivo) and two down to the downstairs bedroom. It's really too bad we didn't get the cable further last time. The problem is that we had to pull a lot of stuff out of the closet to get in there to work on the cable, and I wish we'd at least gotten it into the first closet in our room then.

Oh well, with various trials and tribulations along the way, we got it as far as the back corner of our room. Left the extra length of cable coiled up and terminated it there so that I can pull it out the back of the house later if I want to. I made sure to put a port of the hub onto the patch panel port that goes upstairs, so it was easy to test just by putting the other hub on the new termination.

Naturally, I couldn't just leave it alone at that point... The Tivo upstairs is a series 2, so it needs to be on the network now that there is one. And I clearly need to get the wireless up there. And there's no good reason not to have an 8-port hub in the crawl space so that all 8 ports can be live.

The Linksys 54GS router is actually cheaper after rebates than their 54 access point, and it has a 4-port hub on it, so I figured I'd get that. And Tivo supports the Linksys USB200M USB-ethernet adapter. And they have an 8-port switch (faster than a hub). I thought about getting network cords from Best Buy as well, but they wanted 14.99 for the cheaper ones (of which they only had 1) and 16.99 for the more expensive. I think they might have been cat6 cables, but there's no reason to get that. We stopped at Radio Shack as well - cat5e for 5.99; when you need 8, that's good!

Rachel was pretty great through all this; she had some trouble leaving to get her haircut, but when she was with us she was very charming, wanting to watch and help and know what we were doing.

The other day, happiness was quiet brake pads on my bike; right now it's 4.5Mbps to my laptop over wireless in my bedroom...

No comments: