Infrastructure

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Infrastructure, quite a grand title, all it means to me is that you know what you need now and then build in some capacity for later on, it's always worth the effort and cost as payback will come later on, (Tip: I always when running a cable in run, leave a draw string tied off, it's worth it's weight in gold when needed).

I'm lucky because I have a home office (OK it's a small room with no bed in it), I chose to use Dado Trunking for my sockets and data outlets at desk level this was bought from TLC, this makes any additions later on really easy and so neat, also should you want to move, all you have to do is remove the trunking from the wall,  make good the fixing holes and any cable entries and away you go.

The trunking also allows for different sorts of outlets to be used as the trunking has internal compartments to allow segregation of cables, mains cables away from data cables for example, I used the top trunking channel for data cables, the main compartment for the cables feeding the socket outlets with the bottom channel used for cables which need to be added later to the PC, for example the last cable to be pulled through was the Boltek antenna cable.

Dado trunking with the external Boltek Cat 5 cable being installed 5 years after the office has been in use.

The office dado has one faceplate with four RJ45 (RJ stands for Registered Jack, may come up in a pub quiz!) outlets and one faceplate with two RJ45, each outlet is directly connected to a RJ45 patch panel in a Small Office Home Office (SOHO) cabinet using Cat5e cable, the cabinet has 16 patch outlets, telephone panel with ASDL filtered and unfiltered outlets, two shelf's are also fitted for the Netgear GS108 8 port Gigabit switches. The Cat 5e terminates on the connections at back of the outlets and patch panel, these use Insulation Displacement Connections (IDC) which means that as the wire is pushed into place the 'V' shaped connection profile breaks through the wires insulation and makes an electrical connection, using an IDC tool will make life so much easier as it not only pushes the wire down to make a good, solid connection, it also trims off any excess, (it does have a little hook as well on the side so you can put the wire out if you make a mistake).

SOHO Cabinet

This the hub of the home network and is where everything radiates from, to allow ease of expansion I used 50mm x 50mm trunking into the cabinet for cable management, before I had Fiber To The Cabinet (FTTC) fitted, the SOHO housed a Netgear DG834GT ADSL wireless modem router which was absolutely superb, but it did generate a bit of heat, so I modified the cabinet to include two fans (drawing air in the lower position of the cabinet and exhausting out of the top of the cabinet), these fans are controlled by a room thermostat set to use the 'cooling' contacts (make on temperature rise).

The sheet on the inside of the patch schedule including the IP, MAC addresses and access passwords of connected equipment, might seem a bit over the top, but when you need it, it's invaluable.

     
All the outlets terminate at the patch panel at the top of the cabinet.
Below this is a brush strip, this lets me push the slack out of the way to make the cabinet look neater.(all leads are 0.5mtr long from eBay)
Below this is the Telecoms panel, as the house has an ASDL filtered faceplate at the point at which it is distributed, so no micro filters are needed anywhere.
Below this are the two Netgear Gigabit switches.
  The Pear drop shaped unit at the bottom of the cabinet is a wireless temperature transmitter, the receiver is outside of the small room where the cabinet is enclosed and allowed me to keep an eye on the cabinets internal temperature.

The black rectangular box under the cabinet is a Netgear NAS DUO, this network storage device gives access to storage for all the computers on my home network, it is also used to store and retrieve backups.
   
 
Black

NAS Storage
  Red Telephone/Fax - (used to cross patch port 5 to port 16 for the Vantage Pro2 controller)
SOHO Patching colours: Yellow CCTV Controller
  Blue Data - Computers/Printer server
  Grey S1 port from Talk Talk Router

Electrical Top

The supply to the SOHO is from a 800VA Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS), this UPS also serves all aspects of the weather station and home CCTV system (see schematic), with full load the UPS LED bargraph is indication just over 50%, with the PC monitors of which will be normal running, the loading is steady at 50%. This loading should give approximately 10 to 13 minutes of stand-by power which is more than enough to cover the occasion power blips we have here, (the house is configured to be powered by an external generator, and I might do a page about that later), I have finally tracked down the monitoring and shutdown software for the MGE Pulsar Evolution 800 from here and have installed it on the weather station PC, eventually I'll read the manual and configure auto-shutdown of power fail, it must be said that the UPS GUI is really cool!

The UPS was of eBay and came without batteries to reduce carriage charges, ironically I bought the 2 x 7Ah 12 volt batteries needed for the UPS of eBay.

The feed into the UPS passes through a Belkin F7C005 Insight Energy Monitor, this monitors all the energy used downstream of the UPS and displays it on a remotely wired LCD unit, the total consumption is approximately 315 watts, which drops to 280 watts when the two monitors are switched to stand-by, the monitor is well worth the £8.00.

 

UPS Power Distrubution

Schematic of equipment the UPS serves

Router UPS 

Red faceplate identifies as a UPS outlet, this one is in the loft, the wall wart power supplies feed the Openreach FTTC interface and the TalkTalk router.

Clicking on the socket will take you to the network page.

 

 

 

Where the power supplies used to be, moving them has freed up the sockets so I can vacuum :-(

Home Network Top

This is the layout of my home network and phone system outlets:

Home Network Setup

Cabling Top

I used Cat 5e, but that was a few years ago, I'm not into gaming or have the need for speed of network and therefore I have no intention of upgrading the specification of the data cables, for my home project I found buying a box (307 Meters) cost effective, the only issue was running it out of the box when two runs were need to the same location due a dual outlet being fitted.

It is really important to identify the cable at each end as it will save a lot of frustration later on, felt tip marker pen, wrapping different coloured tape, or bands of tape or even 'nicking' the cable with a number of cuts all can help, the main thing is you know where they are from when you come to terminate them.

Run data cables a minimum of 50mm away from mains cables, try not to run them parallel and if you have to cross a mains cable, do so at a right angle, if it is unavoidable, I have sleeved the mains cable with some trunking and everything is still working.

Installing Cables Top

Tip: If you need to get a cable down a false wall to an outlet, I use a length of bath plug ball chain (any length can be cut off the roll at B&Q, 3 meter's has done me well for many years), this chain will natural fall under its own weight and resist snagging, but it is strong enough to withstand the odd tug if it does jam, once in the wall, it will be easy to hook either with a bent coat hanger, or if you have strong magnet, you can bring it down and catch it with that, the other alternative is to use a length of 16mm trunking lid to feed down a void or cavity or you could simply buy a set of rods from any electrical wholesaler (in the last house I had the internal walls were made of an egg-box type construction, and to drop a cable down those walls I used drain rods which worked just fine).

If your serious about installing cable and love gismo's, how about this.

Tip: If you have struggled for ages to get the 'fish' down the wall, tape either the cable or the draw string on well, if I use trunking lid, I make a hole in the lid and pass the draw wire through that and double it back to stop it coming off..

Tip: The fishing of cables inside wall cavities is not a recommended method, so it's up to you, I dislike cables on show and that includes trunking, so if I can route a cable in the cavity, I will, the tip is to use a 16mm masonry drill at an angle of about 45 degrees, drilling with care making sure that no pipes or other cables are in the area, drill slowly and you will feel the drill ease as it meets no resistance, you are now in the cavity (gap between the facing brick and internal wall, of vice versa), withdrawing the drill when you have a vacuum cleaner handy, and make sure you don't put the drill down on the carpet as it will burn it!.

You can now push rods or trunking up to where you need it and fish it out, either under the floorboards or in the loft, takes a bit of time, but I think it's well worth the effort. Caution - if you have cavity wall insulation using polystyrene balls they will run out of the hole,  a Tip I read a long time ago when you were faced with drilling a large hole through a wall with the above type of wall insulation (to install a kitchen/bathroom fan for example) was to drill a few 10mm holes slightly downwards in to the cavity around were you are going to make the larger hole and squirt in some expanding foam, once this has gone off, it will bind the insulation and stop it pouring out.

Trunking lid being pushed at an acute angle up the cavity enroute to the loft. If using two lengths of trunking lid, put a small screw to connect the two before taping tightly, if you don't they may get lost in the cavity (been there, read the book) I used a flexible earth wire as the draw, this was passed through a hole in the lid, simply taping to the lid without doing this increases the chances of it coming off in the wall should it snag on a wall tie or a bit of mortar snot. Draw securely threaded, ready for taping, don't put too much on and start at the trunking and tap down, this makes the profile smooth, when you cut the tape, bend it back over itself to make a tag, this will make tape removal lots quicker, especially in a confined space. I had to remove a section of breeze block in the loft to get at the trunking lid, not an easy cable to get in!

This was me installing the cables needed for the external weather station.

The hole I made in the breeze block was the same size as a standard house brick, this makes closing it up later a lot simpler.

 I used a cardboard tube from a kitchen roll as a cable liner, (note the cut in the tube so I didn't have to thread cables, makes the job loads easier), once in I made good the hole leaving the draw wire accessible in the loft.
  Cables from the loft have been drawn into the conduit, ready to be lidded up and the ground made good.

Be carefull when drawing in wires as you don't want to 'burn' the cables sheath and damage it, if cables are tight, use 'cable pulling lubricant' available from electrical wholesalers, (Yellow 77).

The pipe to the left of the conduit is the outlet from the pressure relief valve discharge tundish in the airing cupboard, always check before committing.

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