Maybe a new spin for some of you dog followers out there, but back to some technical stuff. That is after all why this blog was created and is all (well mostly… now that I’ve got Caleb) about! Don’t want anyone thinking I forgot I’m a nerd!
Finally starting to make some real (and picture worthy) progress on the home automation side of things. This has definitely been a long time in the making, and I have to give a huge thank you to some folks at Maine Mutual Group Insurance, Mark Weston, and dad for hanging in there and helping me get this cabinet altogether.
Real quick, a picture of the before and after and then I’ll detail all the hardware and work that got it in there and working.
What you can see in both pictures are a huge bunch of wires coming down from the attic above. On the left, the pile of black wires are RG-59 Solid Copper Conductor, Quad Shield coaxial cable for the high-definition TV and the white wires CAT5e 8 conductor wires for the phones. The mass of blue/black wires on the right are also CAT5e wires for my 1 gigabit network, Internet, and the possibility for a whole bunch of other miscellaneous uses/connections.
So what about the equipment that ties it all together?
Top Third of the Network Rack
(black module with the 5 white cables plugged into it)
This module can distribute up to 4 telephone lines through 12 telephone connections throughout the house. It also provides a security jack so that my HAI Home Automation Controller can hang up all calls and overtake the system in the event of a security/safety event. The big difference here compared to what people usually do, is we home ran all our telephone lines back to the main cabinet instead of daisychaining them around the house so that it would be much easier to troubleshoot and extend the phone network in the future. Want to turn one of the 40+ ethernet ports around the house into a telephone line? Easy, simply just patch the line into this telephone distribution panel and you’re ready to go.
Middle: Time Warner Cable/Scientific Atlantic Cable Modem
(grayish box with lots of holes and a white label to the left)
This guy came to us as part of the triple play (telephone, TV, and Internet) package from Time Warner Cable and takes care of pulling off the Telephone and Internet from our incoming coaxial feed. The 4 conductor telephone cable is plugged into input 1 of the Telephone Input Distribution Panel to the left, and the Internet feed gets snaked through the wall to my wireless router above.
Bottom Left: Leviton 47693-08P CATV Distribution Module
(white module with lots of black coaxial cables plugged into it)
This module is what takes the incoming high-definition cable TV feed and sends it everywhere else throughout the house. This is again different than what many homes do in the sense that instead of piggybacking the cable TV around the house with cheap splitters, we decided to homerun everything back to a central cabinet so that it would be easier to troubleshoot and extend in the future. Definitely the hugest plus of going this route is the Leviton module provides a unity gain amplifier that keeps the outgoing coaxial lines at the same amplification level as the incoming feed. This is drastically different than conventional splitters which cut the single in half every time they split one cable into two. For a house with 8 CATV drops like us that means you’d be seeing less than 1/8th the signal at each drop. Not such a good thing when you’re dealing with high-bandwidth material like HDTV.
Top: D-Link DIR-655 XTREME N Gigabit Router
(white box with antennas mounted all alone on the green wall)
This is nothing more than a really great wireless router that has gotten all sorts of awards from the various techie/computer magazines, provides a good long distance range, and has a feature set that allows me to open up the bandwidth for different applications where it might be hugely necessary (like streaming high-definition video). It only has 4 ports so I use this primarily as a router/wireless access point and then send Port 1 down to my 24 port switch.
Middle Third of the Network Rack
Middle: (QTY 2) Leviton 476TM-524 24 Port CAT5e Twist & Mount Patch Panel
(two black modules flooded with blue wires)
These two modules are definitely the most important pieces in the cabinet, required the most work, and should give me the greatest flexibility/extensibility into the future. They are the hub of where 40+ ethernet wires throughout the house all get terminated in one spot. This is where team Maine Mutual Group really came through with their network experience and high-end test equipment to verify that all my cables/connections go exactly where I want them to and are certified to communicate to the full 1 Gigabit CAT5e standard. From here anyone of these cables can be routed to each other or any device that can use up to 8 conductors of wire. You’ll probably notice a handful of blue wires going to the network switch below. This is nothing more than “patching in” these ports scattered throughout the house to the Internet.
Bottom Third of the Network Rack
Middle: D-Link DGS-1024D 24 Port Gigabit Network Switch
(black module with a handful of blue/black cables plugging into it)
This module extends the number of network ports of the measly four included with the D-Link router by adding 24 of its own. Probably the greatest feature of this switch and why I bought is low energy consumption. By utilizing something called D-Link “Green” technology, this switch implements power saving technology that automatically shuts ports off when they have no link and budgets power output for the ones that do depending on the length of ethernet cable. Some great features that make this very important device use just a trickle of power.
Bottom: Power Wires
(all different sizes of black power cable and wall warts)
Getting all these devices plugged into the wall juice was one of the more challenging things in this whole cabinet. Seems that every device has a weirdly shaped transformer that causes it to block adjacent outlets and makes it next to impossible to plug in the required number of devices. Temporarily we solved this by mounting a cheap surge protector and will wait until the battery backup uninterruptible power supply (UPS) is installed in the wall below before we completely tidy everything up.
So that’s the automation done to date. Many thanks to all who helped get us to this point! Now comes the exciting stuff… wiring up the Home Automation controller.