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My problem with networking

After my two parter on networking, IPv6 and wireless, I got a few questions on why I don just use a cable connection rather than dealing with wireless bridges. The answer is, unfortunately, that I don’t have a clean way to reach with a cable from the point where my ADSL is and where my office is, on the floor above.

This is mostly due to bad wiring in the house: too little space to get cables through, and too many cables already in there. One of the projects we have going on the house now (we’ve been working on a relatively long list of chores that has to be done since neither me nor my mother foresee leaving this house soon), is to rewire the burglar alarm system, in which case, I should get more space for my cables — modern burglar alarms do not require the equivalent of four Ethernet cables running throughout the house.

Unfortunately that is not going to be the end of the trouble. While I might be able to get the one cable running from my office to the basement (where the cable distribution ties up) and from there to the hallway (where the ADSL is), I’m not sure of how many metres of cables that would be. When I wired with cat5e cable between my office and bedroom (for the AppleTV to stream cleanly), I already had to sacrifice Gigabit speed. And I’m not even sure if passing the cable through there will allow the signal to pass cleanly, as it’ll be running together with the mains’ wires — the house is almost thirty years old, I don’t have a chance to get separate connection for the data cable and the power; I’m lucky enough that the satellite cable fits. And I should shorten that.

To be honest, I knew a way around my house if I wanted to pass a cable to reach here already. But the problem with that is that it would require me to go the widest route possible: while my office is stacked on top of the hallway (without a direct connection, that would have been too easy), to get from one to the other, without the alarm rewiring, I would have to get to the opposite side of the house, bring the cable upstairs and then back, using a mixture of passageways designed for telephone, power and aerial wiring; and crawling outside the wall for a few metres as well.

The problem with that solution, beside the huge amount of time that it would require me to invest in it, is that the total cable length is almost certainly over a hundred metres, which is the official physical limit of cat5e Ethernet cables. Of course many people would insist telling me that “it’s okay, there are high chance it would still work” .. sure, and what if it doesn’t? I mean I have to actually make a hole in the wall at one place, then spend more than a day (I’m sure I wouldn’t be able to do this in just a day, already had to deal with my wiring before), with the risk of not getting a clear enough signal for the connection to be established. No thanks.

I also considered the option of going fibre optic. I have no clue about the cabling itself, and I know it requires even more specific tools than the RJ45 plugs to be wired, but I have looked at the prices of the hardware capable of converting the signal between fibre and good old RJ45 cabling… and it’s way out of my range.

Anyway, back on topic of the current plan for getting the cable running. As I said the current “cable hub” is in the basement, which is mostly used as a storage room for my mother’s stuff. She’s also trying to clean that up, so in a (realistically, remote) future I might actually move most of my hardware down there rather than in the office — namely Yamato, the router itself (forwarding the ADSL connection rather than the whole network) and Archer, the NAS. Our basement is not prone to floods, and is generally cool in the summer, definitely cooler than my office is. Unfortunately for that to work out, I’ll probably need a real-life rack, and rackmount chassis, neither of which is really cheap.

Unfortunately with that being, as I said, in the future, if I were to pass the cable next month from there, and the signal wouldn’t be strong enough, the only option I’d have would be to add a repeater. Adding a repeater there, though, is troublesome. As I said in the other posts, and before as well, my area is plagued with a very bad power supply situation. To the point that I have four UPS units in the house, for a total of 3750 VA (which is, technically, probably more than the power provided by supplier). I don’t really like the idea of having to make room for yet another UPS unit just for a repeater; even less so considering that the cables would end up being over my head, on the stairs’ passage (yes it is a stupid position to add a control panel in the first place), and while most repeaters seem to be wall-mountable, UPS units are a different story.

So the only solution I can think for such a situation would be to add a PoE repeater there, if needed, and then relay its power through a switch, either in my office (unlikely) or in the hallway near the router (most likely), behind the UPS. Once again here, the factor is the cost.

Honestly, even though I decided not to get an office after seeing costs jumping higher and higher – having an office would increase my deductibles of course, but between renting the office, daily transportation, twice the power bill, and so on so forth, it’s not the taxes that worry me – I wonder if it is really as cheap as I prospected it to be, to keep working at home.

Sigh. I guess it’s more paid work, less free time next year as well.

Comments 10
  1. Your overthinking in order to avoid actually pulling the cable is worthy of a great philosopher. Just do it and see where it takes you.If nothing else, you will end up smarter in the matter and covered with enough dust to warrant a nice hot shower.

  2. 1) AFAIK, the 100m limit is specific to gigabit ethernet, and has to do with signal propagation. 100base-TX should be able to handle up to 1km.2) A repeater (such as an ethernet switch) may get you around that limit.3) If you’re already considering drilling a hole through a wall, perhaps it’d make more sense to drill a hole through the floor or ceiling? That might reduce your cable path length.4) I’m dubious about the need for a full rack. Open storage shelves can manage a lot. The biggest thing to avoid is laying two ATX cases on top of each other… (mid-towers can fit on most storage shelves. Any mid and full tower should fit sideways. Mini-towers should fit standing up…)

  3. Really getting the cable in there is a task that would require me a couple of days, if done with somebody to help me. And it’s an effort I really don’t want to start if it won’t lead me anywhere.The 100m limit is, as far as I can tell, present in all variants of twisted-wire Ethernet, and “Wikipedia confirms”:… what I studied at school. Whether that’s only a nominal limit or not, it’s a different story. I know that it is working in longer setups, but it’s not something I’d be ready to bet two (or more) days of work on.Drilling floor+ceiling is out of the question due to the way the house is built; I have wooden floor in my office, and fixed carpet in the hallway next to it, neither of which would be easily holed through. As for the need of a full rack, I can easily fit a quarter rack in a “dead” area of my basement, but I wouldn’t be able to get the full case of Yamato in there.Richie I tried that before, and I actually used it for a number of months to connect from my office to the bedroom… unfortunately it has a few drawbacks, not last the fact that, on average, the powerline adapters required 40W power each, versus the 24W of a 16-ports switch or, 10W of a 5-port switch or 5W of a repeater. Furthermore they don’t work when there are electrical switches on the line (which is required by law here, between the two floors), and they don’t really work when there’s an UPS involved. All in all, it’s not something I can use here.

  4. You should try to find out the exact distance between your office and your adsl box. You probably don’t need 100 meters of cable. 😉

  5. I know the long route is at least 70ish, but probably more. The short route, I’m not sure.

  6. Baseboard trim and crown moulding make nice accents in a room and can provide a nice channel for wires providing a method as well to go floor to ceiling I have little doubt that with time and planning a wired solution could be managed. Still to go wireless is the most elegant solution.I have 2 wireless boxes w/ eth0 available as well and would like to ‘extend’ as well. Essentially we must turn each box in to a ‘WAG’ or wireless access gateway to the extended portions of eth0.I have considered making them subnets, trying to bridge, IP4 encapsulation among a few other methods. I see the need for a well designed firewall on each gateway probably using /etc/hosts to resolve and setting the routes would seem easiest if the wlan0 could run with two interfaces on one card ‘promiscuous’ so address space could be allocated to different intranets and the internet in another address space.If the wlan0 card can talk/receive on 3 address subnets then you could avoid going thru the internet gateway for intranet only traffic.

  7. Diego, I take your point about the drilling, pathing and space issues.Reading deeper on 802.3i (still secondary sources; I don’t have a copy of the spec handy), you’re right. All twisted pair will have that difficulty. I suppose the speed improvement from 10base-T through 1000base-T comes from changing encoding and the like.You might look at media converters, but those are usually used in heavy industry, so their price point is rather high. A simple 5-port (or 2-port) switch halfway through might also solve the problem, as the switch will act as a repeater.Do you have coax running through the house that you’re not using? I’ve often wondered what running an in-home DOCSIS line might be like. Something to ponder.Finally, you might consider moving the ADSL modem. Where you might run 70-100m of cat5e for ethernet, you might instead run the same length of cat5e for a home-run extension for your ADSL modem. It shouldn’t impact your ADSL performance; the cat5e will be much better than whatever else is around. Then you could use a 30cm patch cable between the ADSL modem and its destination.

  8. For that amount of money you could simply buy wireless bridges with Atheros cards and OpenWRT and your problem would be solved (as suggested).Extending the ADSL is also an option if you have ADSL2+ with RAM it should adopt even if the signal is impacted by the cable length.

  9. If I’m spending that kind of money I’m going to go with cable. I positively _hate_ wireless and its unreliability..

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