Sunday, March 26, 2006


I really don't like sitting idle. As a result it seems I always try to have something to do to fill up my free time on the weekends. This weekend's project was some minor electronics rewiring at my condo. I have DSL for Internet access, which means my Internet access is located wherever I happen to have a phone jack. The problem is, my condo is in an old (1800's) mill building that was renovated in the 1980's. As a result, it was not designed for computer networking. Heck, it doesn't even seem like it was designed very well for telephone access. For example, there is no phone jack in the kitchen, but there is one in the bathroom. What's up with that?

Anyhow, since there are limited locations for phone jacks, I decided to see what I could do to improve the situation. After poking around looking at holes in walls where existing wiring was, I eventually discovered that all the telephone wires branched off one master wire located in a utility closet that contains my hot water heater and furnace. Basically, there was just a bundle of spliced wires hanging behind the hot water heater. Not very well organized, to say the least. So, to improve things a bit, I went out to Home Depot and picked up a telephone bridge board. It's just a simple junction board that allows all the telephone wires to be punched down to a common base. This way I can easily label them and know which wire goes to which room. Also, DSL requires a filter to be put on any line that has a telephone (so the voice calls don't interfere with the DSL Internet signal on the same wire). Normally you put these special filter plugs on each phone jack. The plugs are kind of big and clunky looking, so I figure putting just one in the utility closet before all the wires head out to the phone jacks will simplify things quite a bit.

Here's a picture of the telephone bridge board. I haven't yet attached the DSL filter.

After wiring up all the telephone jacks to this bridge board, I then just ran one DSL specific line (i.e. an unfiltered wire) to another closet for my DSL modem. My laundry closet is right next to the furnace utility closet, so I figured that would be a good enough spot for the DSL modem. I just wanted a place that would be out of the way and there was already a hole in the wall from when there used to be a gas line for the dryer, so it was easy enough to run a wire between the two closets. In this picture you can see the DSL modem mounted on the wall of the laundry closet.

After wiring the DSL modem in the laundry closet, I then just needed to run an ethernet cable to a location which would be convenient for my wireless router and hub. I choose my living room. The living room is pretty much in the center of my condo, so the wireless signal would provide the best reception to all the other rooms on each floor. Plus, I have a wired ethernet MP3 player that I had been wanting to connect to my stereo. I've had this MP3 player for several years, and in the past I had enjoyed using it for playing music from Internet radio stations (such as Radio Paradise). Unfortunately, since it is several years old, it isn't wireless, so it requires a direct-wired ethernet connection for Internet access (which meant in the past it had to be whereever I had a phone jack). Ever since I had turned my original living room into a dojo last year, I had to moved my DSL connection to a different location and as a result I haven't had a nearby wired ethernet connection available for hooking up this music player in the new living room. But, now I will! I just have to drill a couple holes in some walls for running the ethernet cable from the DSL modem in the laundry closet to the living room.

In this picture, you can see the beginnings of making the outlet jack for the ethernet cable. The cable was being fished from a hole in the bottom of the other side of the wall (in a closet). I lowered some bead chain through the outlet hole and then just pulled it out the hole on the other side of the wall. Bead chain is convenient to use because unlike string, it will hang strainght down, so if you know you have the holes lines up with each other (at different heights), the chain can just be lowered through the top hole and pulled out the bottom hole.

After fishing the bead chain through the hole, I then attached some string to the chain and attached the string to the ethernet cable and pulled it all back out the hole. It was then just simple matter of putting on a faceplate and it all looked neat and tidy. This picture shows the end result.

The oulet box actually has a second port (which is currently filled with a blank), but I plan on running a phone line to it at some point so then I'll have telephone access in my living room. Technically I could use a pair of wires in the ethernet cable for the telphone signal (the ethernet cable has 8 wires in it but only 4 are used for the ethernet signal), but that would require me to splice the wire on both ends and make some Frankenstein-like cable with both an RJ-45 and RJ-11 plug on one end. I'd rather just run a second cable specifically for telephone.

This final picture shows the finished setup with my wireless router and the small Slimp3 MP3 player sitting on top of it. Finally I have music again in my living room.

(Ick! Sorry about the odd word-wrapping around the edges of the photographs. I was experimenting with different sized photos and apparantly I picked a bad size for this layout.)