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Help me build a home network (please!)

Discussion in 'Mac OS X Server, Xserve, and Networking' started by stubeeef, Jul 1, 2009.

  1. macrumors 68030


    I am a network n00b

    I want to wire my house with a gigabit network (around 10-12 plates in the house)
    I am thinking of Cat6 just for the added benefits (I have read that there is not a lot of difference btwn Cat5e and Cat6, but I am not sure how close some runs will come to my homes electric wiring).
    I will have my cable modem then an Ooma voip box, then to a time capsule and out to a switch. (does that all sound right?)
    I think I need a switch vs a router (am I right)
    First question, Which Switch? (looking at netgear prosafe 16port gigabit)
    Second question, Is there a good unpowered switch?
    Third question, What vendor is recommended? (1000' of cable, rj45 connectors, plates with keystone connectors, and other items someone here tells me I need)
    I will have an entire house with gigabit apple computers, and my work issue Dell Laptop.
    I will eventually attach a NAS or Media server.
    One outlet will be to my Home Theater http://home-and-garden.webshots.com/album/555596824CqbdmN
  2. macrumors 601

    Okay here goes...

    1. The router connects your internal network to another network (most likely the Internet).
    2. A switch simply connects all internal devices together (no routing).

    When wiring, the best idea is to wire the jacks back to a patch panel. This panel presents a row of RJ45 jacks for you to use, and the cable to each wall jack in the house is punched down on the back side. The added benefit of this is you can use the RJ45 jacks for anything you wish (audio, telephone, etc). This makes your system much more modular for future use. We actually use some of the LAN jacks in our office for a stereo system. We simply patched the jacks across so that they do not connect to any networking equipment.

    As for vendors, I generally use Linksys, since I have had several NetGears die prematurely; however this was several years ago.

    If price isn't an issue, or if you are not sure, I'd go with CAT6 hands down. I have used the modular jacks from Home Depot/Lowes in the past. I had one wall plate with 2 coax, one telephone, and one LAN, with an extra spot to spare. You can order these online at a bigger discount.

    For cable, I've used Belkin without issue, but I'm not sure it's going to make a huge difference. If it is designated as CAT6, you shouldn't have any issue.

    I do not know of any unpowered switch. There are some very small switches built into the wall jack, but they usually get their power from the other end, which would require a PoE (Power over Ethernet) switch for it to connect to.

    You may also research to find a wall jack with 2 female connectors, and order pre-built cables from another company. This would save you tons of time from crimping and punching down the ends, and you can always shorten the cables as well.
  3. macrumors 68030


    So what I need is a switch. Thanks

    I guess the switch will connect to the time capsule, correct? and I can access a NAS or Media Server that is plugged into the time capsule via the network via the switch. (this is driving me crazy-I am a stereo nut not a networking nut)
    I just want to make sure I have an effective design to access the NAS/Media Server across the wired and wireless portions of the network.
  4. macrumors 68040


    belvdr pretty much covered it, but from your reply you seem to take the switch/router question as an either/or. You're likely going to need both, unless you don't want the whole thing hooked up to the internet (you mention a cable modem and voip gateway, so you probably do want it attached to the internet). The router will sit at the "edge" of your network, connected to the cable modem via the "WAN" port and then back to your network via the "LAN" port.

    Otherwise, it looks like the cable (just a spool that you'll have to cut and strip) will be ~$300 for cat6, probably $150-200 for the switch and router. A patch plate will probably be $20-40. You do have to decide if you want keystone connectors on the patch plate and each wall plate (then you'll have to crimp the cables and put on the connectors yourself) vs. punching down the twisted pairs yourself. Either is going to require some cable manipulation (stripping, etc. for punching down, crimping for adding your own connectors). The only way around this is premade cables + all keystone connectors, but getting the right lengths, etc. would be very tricky, and likely even more expensive than the 1000' spool.

  5. macrumors G5


    build home network
  6. macrumors 68020


    That google term would be useless. Not particularly 'consultant' like.

    You can't get 'passive' switches like you used to be able to get passive hubs. I also like Linksys hardware, although I haven't experienced any problems with Netgear.

    I would love to cable my own house when I can eventually buy, and Cat 6 would probably be the choice cable. I haven't installed cabling at work, but I have repaired wall jacks in the past and the tool is really simple to use.

    Also, everything that belvdr says is right in regard to a patch panel, and it'd probably be a good call to get a small to medium sized rack and maybe a rack mount switch.

    It's not rocket science, it's a little daunting at first, but it is pretty simple stuff.
  7. macrumors G5


    Which part of it is useless? The results are relevant, but you are saying articles from these places are useless?


    Please actually google it before making wildly false claims.
  8. macrumors 6502

    I reckon that you'll want...

    Cable modem----> Router----> Switch----> Devices on network

    In your case your router is your Time Capsule. Routers nowadays have built in switches but for what you are proposing you will need many more ethernet ports than the Time Capsule can provide.

    Adding a NAS or media server shouldn't be any more work than plugging it into an available port on the switch.

    Please someone chime in if any of that is incorrect. I have experience in networking but not really on this scale!

    BTW, your home theatre looks amazing.
  9. macrumors member


    With a 10 megabit Internet connection you don’t need a gigabit router. Your current router will connect to a port on your gigabit switch at 100 megabit. A managed switch is generally overkill for home use. How many switch ports do you need? I would suggest an unmanaged switch from Linksys, Netgear, Dlink, Dell, or Zyxel.
  10. macrumors 6502

    Time Capsule has gigabit ethernet ports.

    Although internet connections may not ever tax gigabit connections it is still useful for media streaming around the home and transferring large files.
  11. macrumors 68020


    I'm saying you're being pretty unhelpful. Plus it forced you to actually google it yourself after making false claims yourself ;)
  12. macrumors 68030


    Thanks for any and all help.
    FWIW I did a lot of googling, it is cheaper than hiring a Consultant (sorry couldn't resist)
    I have read about solid cable vs stranded, cat5e vs cat 6.
    The problem I am having is if I plug the NAS/MediaServer into the time capsule will it be accessible via the network if it is setup as so..

    cable modem>Ooma Voip box>timecapsule and from there a server out one port (NAS/or Media) and the 16 port gigabit switch out another port. Then all other home computer and such will access the wired network through the switch. Will they get to the NAS/Media server? I am assuming so, but hate to assume that.
    Is there any special software that would be beneficial?
    I do appreciate the help (and thanks about my HT-still in work though).
    I am still googling but do appreciate specific links that others found helpful.
  13. macrumors 603


    stubeef, don't mean to be late to the party. But is the wireless option not possible? It is just less messy and less wires (duh).

    Might be worth investing in an N-router and N-dongles for all computers. Yeah? Thats all I have to recommend.
  14. macrumors 68030


    I have the house on an apple extreme but we are running at G because of the work laptop.
    I will be purchasing a dual band time capsule (or extreme) after wiring the house.
    I want to remove the wireless option from time to time (get the kids off the iPods, stream movies to the HomeTheater mini and AppleTV in master bedroom) and have the options available from gigabit ethernet (better speed with multiple simultaneous users).
    Wireless will end up in guest mode.
  15. macrumors 601

    Here's how I would do it:

    Cable modem -> Router -> Switch -> various network devices (VoIP, Time Capsule, etc)

    If your router has a built-in 10/100 switch, and you want gigabit speeds, I would connect all devices into the separate gigabit switch.
  16. macrumors 68030


    Ooma and customers both believe they get great reliable service when the Ooma voip box is the first thing out of the cable modem.

    Well if my router is an Extreme than I will have a gigabit switch for 3 ports, no?
    Can't a time capsule or airport extreme be the router? then use one of its ports to connect the switch? a second port for a printer and the third port for a NAS/Media Server?
  17. macrumors 65816


    I've wired 3 houses (residences) by now, the most recent just a few months ago.

    Other people are speaking clearly to the electronics issues, but I'll second the poster who said you don't need a managed switch. You don't! Unmanaged gigabit switches are not very expensive, and are just fine for your application.

    Back to the physical wiring -- a patch panel is absolutely the way to go, as is finding a location for your "wiring closet," where all the non-computer electronics live near the patch panel.

    Be sure you get a Cat6 panel -- if you're using Cat6 cable, you need a Cat6 panel. One poster mentioned the kind of panel that takes RJ45 on both sides. I think you'll be better off with punchdown. I've made a lot of ethernet cables using RJ45 and for me, at least, it's a headache to arrange the wires and crimp. But with a decent punchdown tool (the ones packaged with the jacks do work, but you really, really need a good tool) punching down the wires is quick and easy and, more to the point, effective for an amateur.

    You'll need some installer tools, which you can get at Home Depot or equivalent: "installer drills," which are either twist or spade bits 18" or 24" or even longer, and sized properly for your cable's diameter. These are really indispensable. A strong (18 volt) cordless drill is a big help, too. Cable clamps. Zip ties. String (mason's cord is good) for pulling cables, if you need to (and it can be helpful, later on, if you pull a string when pulling a cable -- this lets you pull another cable if you need to).

    Drill through joists and beams to route the cable, if possible (try hard...it's really the best way). See image for an example. Keep your signal cable as far away from AC cable as practical. Don't use the electrician's holes or routes unless you have absolutely no option. In the image, the electrician's work is to the left. My holes are passing ethernet, RG6, and cat3 telephone.

    Pull the cable slowly! You don't want crimps.

    Box all the wall plates. Home Depot has low-voltage open boxes. With signal cables, you don't have to follow AC code requirements. The open boxes are easy to use and give you lots of flexibility in routing the cable to the jack.

    Watch out for tight cable bends -- avoid them whenever possible. Give yourself enough cable for each run, meaning a couple of feet extra. Cable is cheaper than your time. Don't punch anything down until all the cable is in place, if possible. Mark the cable ends in the wiring closet with a Sharpie (another essential installation tool).

    One image is a shot of one of my wiring closets (5e, and before I got the Airport Extreme). As you can see, it's literally in a closet. But all the electronics are near to each other, and to the patch panels, which makes things very handy.

    Another image shows the back of the patch panel from another (incomplete) installation.

    Good luck!

    Attached Files:

  18. macrumors 68030


    Monokakata, awesome post.
    Thank you.
    Could you like specific products like the unmanaged switch you use? a "good" tool, and the panel?

    My house is perfect for straight runs, new open style house with a central stair and closet area. I can run to the closet things are in now, or straight down to a basement closet and build an area there. It is ideal. Runs may get a bit long, but straight and easy, I will make large holes and install either conduit or pvc pipe in through the floor areas (I am lucky-designed the house myself).

    Thanks for some links.....

    Would there be an issue taking my cable runs and plug them directly to the switch instead of into a panel than a patch cable to the switch?
    I am striving for a very simple solution, not need extravagant or esoteric

    PS2: is this an unmanaged switch OR this http://www.netgear.com/Products/Switches/DesktopSwitches/GS116.aspx?
  19. macrumors 601

    How many times are you going to uplink that gear? ;)
  20. macrumors 601

    I don't see why that would even remotely affect it. The only thing that could affect this is if there is a ton of other traffic on the network causing high WAN usage, the router is not able to keep up, or Ooma has a bad product. I'm not sure if the Extreme can do it, but if you can setup QoS on it to guarantee your Ooma VoIP solution has enough bandwidth to operate, that would help.

    Yep, then plug them all into the Extreme. I wasn't sure what gear you were selecting.
  21. macrumors 68030


    See attachments

    Ok, I had that in the posts and no one was mentioning it, I should have made it more prominent.

    Attached Files:

  22. macrumors 65816


    I don't understand what you mean. I can take a joke, but I have to get it first!
    Maybe I'm just slow today.
  23. macrumors 68020


    I guess they don't understand all of the cables being used, or maybe the colour coding for the cabling.

    In regard to unmanaged switches, yeah, unmanaged is best for a network where vlans aren't necessary, however I think you will need gigabit ethernet if you are looking to share media over the network.
  24. macrumors 601

    You have 3 switches, each uplinked to the next, then it appears an uplink there to another device.
  25. macrumors 65816


    The patch panel method is the best, because it's more flexible. You don't "patch in" the ports you're not using, until you need to use them. You can have fewer, even far fewer, ports on your switch than you have ports in your house. Yes, you can grab cables and connect them into and out of the switch ports, but doing that via a patch panel is much easier at installation time.

    The patch panel stays in place, and if you move your equipment around you can adjust with different patch cable lengths -- hard to do if your long runs are just waving around in there. They could be too short.

    You shouldn't pull cable with RJ45s attached. You're going to punch down at the remote end, so why not punch down in the wiring closet?

    It's the standard procedure, and the most flexible. And in my limited experience, it's also the easiest -- it might not seem so right now, but when you get to work you'll see that it is.

    The Netgear switch you link to would be fine, but probably more than you need. Remember, you don't have to have every port live all the time unless you're going to use them all. Count up how many devices you expect to have active at all times (remembering router/modem/NAS/etc) and then don't bother having more ports than that, at the beginning. You can add them later.

    I use Netgear but that's just me. All the first-tier manufacturers make good gigabit switches.

    Here's an example of a decent punch-down tool. I have a good one and an OK one and I do notice the difference between the good and OK. Good is better than OK.

    OK one:

    Good one:

    The patch panel seen from the back (blue cables) is like this one:


    It seems fine.

    Don't rush. A professional installer will be in and out in no time, but you won't be, just as I'm not. You can do a good job if you're careful, but you'll be a lot slower. Still, as one pro reminded me, my hourly rate is less.

    I also have a UPS in the wiring closet, which keeps the network up for a while. I can switch to a laptop if necessary and still get out.

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