Networking Help: Do I need a Router, Switch, Other?

Discussion in 'Mac OS X Server, Xserve, and Networking' started by roland.g, Sep 24, 2009.

  1. roland.g macrumors 603


    Apr 11, 2005
    One mile up and soaring
    I have recently completed a renovation of my home, during which the addition and parts of the existing house were wired for Cat 5e and coax. I now have my cable feed coming into the basement rather than through a hole in the office wall. That feed is now connected to my modem in the basement, and all 11 or 12 ethernet feeds from the house come into the same utility room. I don't need them all at this time, and might not ever. Currently I have the following rooms active:

    Office with iMac
    Master with Directv DVR
    Media Room with Directv DVR, Airport Extreme Gigabit Base Station, Apple TV, Networkable Samsung TV

    I also have an older 3Com 8 Port Dual Speed Hub in the basement.

    I attempted connecting the hub to the cable modem and then each of the active room feeds to it. For some reason, the TV in the master is getting an IP address through the hub from the cable modem, while the TV in the media room did, and then it stopped working. I tried putting my base station in the basement connected directly to the modem, with a LAN port connected to the hub, and then connecting various rooms to the hub but the media room was still getting a self-assigned IP. So I moved the Airport to the media room which is on the main level and I would prefer to have the broadcast from there, plus it acts as a router giving me three out ports, to my DVR, Apple TV, and TV set. However, now when I hook up my iMac via ethernet in the office to the wall and then connect its cable to the hub in the basement it goes self assigned as well.

    Not sure why the master TV DVR is getting an IP, but the iMac won't and the Airport will. The Airport is connected to the wall in the media room which is wired to the hub in the basement, but is somehow getting the message through to the modem to pull a valid IP.

    So I am not sure what config I need and what I should replace the hub with. Do I need a 4 or 8 port router? If so, will my iMac connected via wiring to the router, talk to the Apple TV connected to my Airport in the media room?

    I would prefer to be able to stream data to the Apple TV over ethernet rather than wireless.

    Any feedback or help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
  2. tonyled macrumors member

    Sep 4, 2009
    you need a router with a switch that contains enough ports for the number of devices you want to hook up. ditch the hub it will cause more harm than good.

    the reason you need a router is you pay for a single ip address from your internet provider, a hub or just a switch will cause all of the devices to fight for that single ip address. a router will take that ip address itself, then assign your devices private non-routable addresses and will "route" the traffic appropriately effectively hiding your network behind that single ip address that your internet provider gave you. all of your internal devices will talk to each other just fine.

    hope this helps
  3. roland.g thread starter macrumors 603


    Apr 11, 2005
    One mile up and soaring
    Thanks Tony.

    I found these Linksys items at Microcenter's site.

    I would prefer to have an 8 port, and I am curious these are not gigabit, which I know won't affect my internet connection speed, but as far as streaming movies in the house will that be slower than draft-N wireless. I know my iMac and Airport are N and gigabit devices, though I am not sure about the Apple TV unit. I know it has N, but might not be gigabit.

    And when you say that the router will allow them to talk to eachother fine, is it an issue that the Airport in the Media room is acting as a 2nd router. Or does it just handle all the traffic to it's devices and back to anything on the main router.
  4. tonyled macrumors member

    Sep 4, 2009
    you have a very similar setup to me. personally, i got a cheap 4 port router (100mb), then bought a 8 port gigabit switch and plugged into the router, then plugged all of the patches from my patchpanel into it, this will also work for you and give you gig speed between all of the devices. my caveat though is that everything except my imac connect at gig speed, for some reason it wont even if i manually set the nic to gig.

    I am not sure I understand the airport setup you describe. what exactly do you use it for?

    my setup is:

    linksys router (running ddwrt)
    8 port gig switch that connects to patch panel which provides service to all my rooms
    i have an ethernet drop in every room, and put one behind the refridgerator in the kitchen (on top of the fridge i hid a wireless access point since it is centrally located and high up) this provides excellent coverage for my house. i also located my time machine here (near the modem/patchpanel/router/switch) and it is plugged directly into the gig switch (i have the router and wifi turned OFF on the TC)

    in the master bedroom i have an airport express that feeds a set of computer speakers and is used strictly for streaming itunes

    in the living room i have yet another switch since i had more devices in my entertainment center that needed ethernet (directv, blu-ray, apple-tv (just got it yesterday), etc)
  5. roland.g thread starter macrumors 603


    Apr 11, 2005
    One mile up and soaring
    Not sure what ddwrt is.
    But yes it sounds very similar as I have drops in almost every room.
    I think I will get the cheap router to connect the modem to the network and then at some point pick up a switch as well. Currently I only have three active drops - my office iMac, my living room, and my master directv dvr. My kids aren't old enough for a 2nd Apple TV yet as a streaming movie player to the basement TV which is an old CRT that isn't hooked up to the satellite.

    The reason for the Airport is that in the past I had it connected to my cable modem and then my iMac though only 3 feet away was connected wirelessly as was my Apple TV which I could not ethernet before the renovation. In the beginning it would drop the connection during several hours or more of standby and even though Apple fixed this with updates and even replaced my original unit, I prefer a wired solution. However I still will use the Airport for my iPhone and my wife's laptop. No TC though.

    We too have an airport express that I use in the garage, backyard or wherever for airtunes. But I also downloaded Airfoil which is great for streaming other audio through it, like live sports etc. I spent a lot of time in the garage staining a wall unit and dressers and would listen to football and hockey games through the express.

    As far as the living room, I too have only 1 ethernet jack which is why I figured I would put my airport there so it could act as a router/switch to my Apple TV, Directv DVR, TV, and PS if I ever get one. I suppose I could use a switch there but I already have the Airport and it is a good location to broadcast from.

    But thanks for all your help. Looks like a 4 port router for now, and maybe later I will get the switch when I want more LAN bandwidth and more ports active.
  6. tonyled macrumors member

    Sep 4, 2009
    ah, gotcha. i would just configure the airport to extend the network wirelessly and you will then have wireless coverage throughout your house for iphones, guests, etc

    if you need more ports in the living room just buy a cheap switch. even if you dont get gig i really dont think you will notice the difference.

    ddwrt is just an open source firmware for select routers, it enables a LOT of features that would ordinarily be excluded by the factory firmware

    anyways, sounds like you are on the right track, good luck!
  7. JGruber macrumors 6502

    Feb 13, 2006
    I did the same thing when my house was built, Once I find my house connectivity plan, I'll post it here for you to check out. It's pretty straight forward, and I did a lot of the same stuff you guys did, with the exception of Fiber and 4 ports per jack per room.


    Here is how mine is layed out, I have a 2 story house, with 2 'Utility Rooms', or small closets.

    In each utility room, I have a 48port patch panel, a Cisco 3560-48TD switch and a TrippLite UPS (I know the Cisco PoE switch is overkill) but I wanted a gigabyte backbone network. Plus I get the Cisco equipment for about 50% off.

    Between the 2 switch's, it's connected via a 10GB Fiber backbone. In 3 of the rooms in the house, they each have a 2port Jack on each wall. The Master Bedroom has 4port Jack on each wall. The Kitchen has 2port jacks on each wall, so 6 in total, Living room has 8 total, garage has 6, and outside has 4. In short, I have jacks on each wall, with a minimum of 2 per jack.

    Just about all my devices are connected via Ethernet, and I have plenty of room for expandability. I also have 2 AEBS in the house, one down stairs and one up stairs. The main AEBS hands out the IP address from the modem to all the ports in the house.

    Overall it took me just about 2 months to wire the entire house while it was being built, and the builders didn't appreciate it very much either. It's still a HUGE project in the works, I plan to add a few Apple TV's, and I want to be able to stream music to anywhere in the house, plus it's good for the future.
  8. belvdr macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2005
    No longer logging into MR
    The TD is not PoE, unless you meant PD or PD-F.

    Even still, that's a 3560-E, not a regular 3560, which adds even more to the cost, as now you're adding in power supplies to the mix. If so, you've wasted thousands, as PoE is not cheap no matter the discount, and 10Gb SFPs are really expensive. I estimate the total cost of that gear (if new) to be in the neighborhood of $10,000 - 15,000 for just the Cisco gear (no cables, patch panels, etc). For that, I would have extended the runs to one location and put in a 4503.

    I think you overbuilt by a long, long shot. Most gear cannot even come close to saturating a 1Gb link. A 3560G-48TS could have saved you thousands of dollars and you could have built a 4Gb EtherChannel fiber run and still not be close to saturating that link.

    You've definitely future-proofed, but at great expense.
  9. JGruber macrumors 6502

    Feb 13, 2006
    I would have to double check to see what switch it is, but I think you are right. It's been a while since I ran down the specs. Total cost for the entire house to be wired with everything, coax, speakers, etc, was in the range of $20k-$22k. It was all factored into the price of the house, so it wasn't out of pocket for me. I got all the patch panel and cables for free from a vendor our school district uses, since we are in the process of building a new school, all the equipment was bought from them. It was nice not having to worry about it.

    I know it was overkill, plus my parents live next to us, and my wifes parents lived 2 houses down from us, so it was thought out with them in mind. but I don't plan on moving anytime soon.

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