I want to install up-to-date non-power wiring as I work through this
(old) house with 'heavy redecorating'. I think I want a computer network
and whatever other services might be deemed necessary today, eg: tv,
fm/digital radio, phone.
What would be appropriate reasonably up-market future-proof services to
provide and standards to adopt?
For example, for the network, would 'structured cabling' (by which I
think I mean Cat 5 STP & RJ45's) still be appropriate?
Most rooms will probably have the plaster skimmed, so there is no
problem with chasing in. I intend to install oval conduit for the
'extra' wiring, so that it can be replaced if it becomes obsolete.
I am not too happy about a wireless network on the basis of some fairly
feeble notions: more kit to buy, more to go wrong, probably not secure,
waste of electricity, stray rf is pollution.
The popular standard is CAT5e UTP (i.e. unshielded) cable. 300m will
cost you about £35. Shielded cable (STP) costs about three times
You could also look at CAT6 infrastructure. Cable is approx. twice
the price of CAT5e. You do need to be careful to buy components that
are specified as being suitable, however.
For home or home office use, 100Mbit networking is likely to be enough
for a while. For internet access, the suppliers are struggling to
deliver 512k - 2Mbit access, so this is the main limitation.
However, if you envisage running file servers or home automation
servers perhaps including digital video, then 100Mbit is certainly not
These kind of cables can also be used for other services such as
telephone, audio and home automation. The cable is relatively cheap
in comparison to the disruption to go back and install more, so it's
worth thinking of what you want and then going back and doubling or
It is also worth putting in CT100 coaxial cable. You can either home
run it to your main distribution point or use splitters as part of a
tree structured distribution system if you want to save cable. Home
running allows for a central distribution device such as a satellite
multiswitch to be used. Thus you could have flexibility of satellite
or cable TV receiver placement.
I used a technique of having transition distribution points.
Basically I put in a large number of cables as bundles to 4 points in
strategic places around the house - typically in fitted cupboards.
Cables to individual outlets can be added in as rooms are decorated
without having to pull cable all the way back to the distribution
A good solution is to use Euro standard modular face plates and
modules. A single plate switch sized plate will take two modules,
whereas a double (socket) sized one will take four.
Modules can be RJ45 outlets, BT phone sockets or even coax outlets
resulting in a very neat solution that can also be changed easily.
For example, for phone wiring you can use RJ45 outlets, but then these
need adaptors to BT connectors. I put in BT modules directly, but
could change them later if desired.
I am not sure that there is that much of a price difference. If you
do CAT5/6 wiring properly, you will have the wall outlets, patch
panels etc. to cost in. This can be as much as a basic wired
However, the wireless medium is shared so the 802.11b stuff only gives
a maximum of 3-4Mbit actual, shared across all the users, 802.11g
rather more. However, you may well need more than one access point.
I am not sure that there is inherently more to go wrong in a wireless
network. With cables you are dependent on all the connections being
perfect. The punch down stuff is good, as long as you buy a good
quality product, but can still have problems with faulty connections.
Security is a problem, depending on what level you are looking for.
The inherent WEP encryption is poor and easily broken by a determined
hacker, given enough data. Depending on what you are doing, and how
you are configured, it can be broken in a few minutes. Even
techniques like limiting MAC addresses to your own devices can be
overcome by somebody determined to break in. The real question is how
likely are you to be a target? If it's just home stuff, probably not,
and you can live on just changing passwords regularly. However, if
it's a business or SOHO environment then the prize may be interesting.
Even then, though, the interceptor would need to be sitting outside
your house or pretty close by to be within radio range.
You can fairly easily implement higher level security using VPN
technology which for practical purposes is raising the bar higher than
most hackers would bother to try to jump.
The electrical consumption is negligible - a few watts from the mains
and similar to fixed network equipment like switches.
The power levels are very low and bandwidths used very limited, so
pollution is not really an issue. You might be able to receive next
door's signal, but that's about it.
To email, substitute .nospam with .gl
On Sat, 06 Sep 2003 08:55:08 +0100, Andy Hall wrote:
UTP should be fine in a domestic enviroment, I doubt that the extra
expense of STP cable is worth it.
And be a bit more careful about handling the cable, kinks etc if you
want full performance from it.
Very important. If you think you want/need one cable at a given point
put in two. If you think you need/want two put in four.
CT100 is cheap. Go for the home run as it by far the most flexable
method and avoids the losses and connection problems of splitters.
Good idea on a per floor basis, don't forget the roof space.
But generally easyily and quickly traced and fixed. If a couple of PCs
just happen to sit in black spots for the RF you can have real fun
moving the access point/PCs about until they all work at the same
If they are using a poor aerial. Says him with two 802.11b based links
attached to his house one 4.5km long the other about 3km. OK the 4.5km
one uses 24" dishes at each end but has a good 20dB+ margin. The
shorter link uses "long" yagis and has a similar margin. Other links
in the area are longer, some over 10km.
With a decent aerial I reckon that you could be several hundred
metres, line of sight, from an normal access point and still be able
to communicate with it.
Dave. pam is missing e-mail
On Sat, 06 Sep 2003 09:56:20 +0100 (BST), "Dave Liquorice"
I was thinking of the Pringles tube type of thing that hackers tend
So this is a house to house type of scheme? How many do you typically
have in a chain back to the central point with the land line access?
Have you done any traffic shaping, or do you just rely on everybody
being reasonably well behaved?
The thing is though that a car with darkened windows and a 24" dish
would have everybody scurrying to check that they had renewed their TV
To email, substitute .nospam with .gl
On Sat, 06 Sep 2003 10:45:47 +0100, Andy Hall wrote:
Not really. It is a wide area scheme built with several backbones from
a central point feeding remote access points. If you can "see" an
access point you can get service. At a guesstimate I should think
there is about 60sq miles of coverage available.
I just happen to live at a handy point that can see both ends of one
of the backbone links that otherwise have a great lump of rock between
them. One end has a couple of access points for the village and
environs the other end has another link down to the main connection
Most users are 2 or 3 hops from the connection into the net. However
that is also provided over 4 or 5 more hops before it hits a decent
sized copper/fibre pipe.
Most people are well behaved. I believe there is some teaking done,
like incoming HTTP has a slightly raised priority and the serious
bandwidth hogs like Kazaa are disabled. Biggest problem of late has
been the pesky windows welchia worm.
But a tatty small van with Bloggs - Plummber with blacked out rear
windows and the aerial firing through a window thus not visible
wouldn't be noticed.
Dave. pam is missing e-mail
Just going off at a slight tangent, I called in to the large B&Q on the
outskirts of Newbury yesterday and noticed that they were selling
made-up CAT5e cables and associated kit (RJ45 wall plates etc.). Guess
this must mean that home networking has finally reached the "man in the
| Just going off at a slight tangent, I called in to the large B&Q
| on the outskirts of Newbury yesterday and noticed that they were
| selling made-up CAT5e cables and associated kit (RJ45 wall plates
| etc.). Guess this must mean that home networking has finally
| reached the "man in the street". ;-)
They probably teach it in the schools these days.
Of course, you can forget installing a spur to power the network hub in the
kitchen cupboard in the future unless you're signed up with knicker-ache.
New technology = fashionable
Good old-fashioned trade skills = not fashionable
Says something about our education/government.
As some of you will know, my company sells satellite TV cable and
accessories so I know a bit about it.
Modern TV aerials for digital TV need to use double-shielded coaxial cable
because the system is affected by impulse interference (from vehicles,
thermostat switches, light switches etc.) Raydex CT100 is double-shielded
copper-on-copper and electrically identical to Pope H109. If the entire run
is indoors, you could use what we call "RG6" which is copper-on-aluminium.
It's slightly more flexible than the other and slightly cheaper. The more
weatherproof stuff is WF100, which uses a foam dielectric instead of
Satellite TV dishes use exactly the same cable. The trend is towards FOUR
cables to a dish as a satellite receiver with built-in Hard Drive (PVR)
requires two cables from the dish. It doesn't take a mathematical genius to
figure out that two of these digital satellite receivers will use four
cables. Many people already have one PVR satellite receiver and one
ordinary, using three dish cables in total.
So, for good future-profing, run THREE double-shielded coax cables to each
TV point. That's one for the aerial signal and two for the satellite. In
addition, the main TV location will probably need another coaxial cable
going up to the roof space to feed a distribution amplifier supplying other
rooms with whatever signal is required.
Whatever cables you run, be sure to AVOID running them close to, and
parallel with, any 230v mains power cables. Also, if the house is on a main
road, keep the aerial and cables as far from the road as possible in order
to minimise interference pickup from vehicles.
Other sources of interference are:
DECT portable phones.
Certain "Snooper" type radar detectors used in cars.
My personal plan for a small office network is to centralised the computers
and to use Cat5e cable to connect Keyboard/Video/Mouse switches to the
places I want to work from. I don't anticipate a great deal of need for
peripherals, other than at the central point, but a couple of workstations
will have USB2 connections and one printer may need to be remote. My main
concern is to remove sources of heat and noise from the workplace, but
having all the computers in one rack-mount case should mean that the actual
computer network is independent of the cabling I choose to run to the
workstations. I'm not sure how effective this setup would be at running the
latest generation games though.
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