True to the unofficial agreement, 6 months had passed and more carpet has been removed. The central room–long a moldering and pee-soaked common area–harbored years of finely-sifted debris which had worked itself through to the subfloor over the decades. It was unpleasant enough to undermine the purpose of a relaxing reading room.
The city forced my hand with its unlimited trash pickup day. The carpet and molding was removed in time to avoid paying for special pickup, and with the floor barren and the furniture stacked in the dining room, there was no going back. It was time for laminate.
But this time, I possessed experience. I knew that there was no easier way to custom-cut these boards than with a coping saw. I also knew that the underlayer wouldn’t stay put, so I stapled it. I also knew that no matter how hard I scored the wall against the baseboards with a razor, removing them would always rip off paint and drywall–there was no way around this, so I just had to accept it.
In the end, I had become good enough at this that the project’s completion presented little humorous content to share.
But fear not! Next, I shall post about the foyer, and how fun it is to grout vinyl tile! Till next time.
The trench worked and looked much nicer, but had a tendency to fill in with debris. I concluded then that I would use the plethora of unearthed bricks (which we uncover every time a shovel is stuck into the ground) and pave the trench, my reasoning being that the reduced friction would channel the water faster and flush out anything in its way. And it would look nicer, and hopefully hold up better.
Additionally, I planned to sink a small recess to hold some of the water to give it time to soak into the ground–a rain garden, more or less. I installed something similar on a downspout, but it was gravel and I don’t want that look in the garden.
And so I dug until I had the desired pit. Then, as I began placing bricks, the sump pump clicked on and flooded it. Perhaps I should have unplugged that before starting this project. Ah well, I’m not one to allow simple forces of the universe, in this case hydrodynamics, to interrupt me. I continued.
When full, it looks like a reflection pool. It’s also accumulating mud because it hasn’t dried out yet with all the Spring rain, so I can’t clean it. And it’s overflowing constantly. What I should have done was dug out a deep dry well and filled it with rocks, then arranged my bricks on top of that. Whatever redesign I decide upon, one thing is certain–it needs more capacity. I will, no doubt, be revisiting this.
Thankfully, it hasn’t been instrumental in solving any crime, but it definitely brings peace of mind. And, it’s very convenient to see who’s walking up to the door while I’m in the basement working.
But paranoia has no terminus, and I found myself eyeing Ring’s line of cameras for the back door for the same reason: I want to see if anyone’s walking up to it. Not that anyone has, but I often leave the dog in the back to run while I work, and with reports of dog-snatchers, I wanted to keep an eye on things. I decided upon the Stickup cam wired.
My reasoning was thus:
I don’t want a floodlight back there, so no-go on that model
It supports PoE, which would not only allow a single cable run, but the PoE injector could then be plugged into my UPS, thus keeping the camera online in the event of a power outage
The only thing left to do then, was actually run the cable.
But the drawback of cable is that it limits placement of jacks, due to the simple matter of me not being able to squeeze into tiny places (unlike my father, I don’t have a son to task with those jobs). I had wanted to run the cable to the attic and down the eaves and into the middle of the deck, but as I attempted to do so it became very clear that if I actually managed to drop down through the attic and into the eave space, Liz would have had to call the fire department to chop me out.
So I would have to drill through the outer wall–which was brick, so no easy feat. But there is a pointlessly-placed back window into the garage, with a wooden frame.
The wood posed little challenge, and in short order I had a 3/8 in hole from the garage to the back yard.
From there, I ran a patch cable connecting the camera to an electrical box I installed on the garage ceiling, which housed the cable termination and ethernet jack.
From there, the cable ran into the attic and followed the path of a prior cable install for the garage hotspot, ultimately terminating in the patch panel. Then it was through the aforementioned PoE injector, then to the switch.
Voila: my longest cable run yet.
Now for some thoughts on PoE:
I noted that after all was up and running, the switch indicated that the connection was not gigabit. All the equipment was rated for it, including the injector, but the amber light stubbornly refused to turn green. Concerned that one of my punchdowns was bad (as was the case in a recent project–totally not my fault), I disconnected the injector and tested the line with a laptop. All connections were confirmed gigabit, so I researched how PoE operates.
Surprisingly, I couldn’t find any bandwidth figures for the various specs, maybe because PoE isn’t in itself a form of data transfer, but rather a means of transmitting power over a data cable. Still, the lack of discussion on the matter was not encouraging. I concluded that what was happening is that I had one of the specs that sacrificed two of the 8 CAT6 wires for power, thus dropping the connection speed to Fast ethernet. Apparently, therein lies the PoE tradeoff.
But the speed seems adequate, and while live view appears somewhat grainy, the recordings are perfectly clear.
I’m still pleased to say it hasn’t recorded any crime either. And, apart from some rabbit-chasing videos, it’s dutifully served its primary function–notifying me when there’s backyard movement I should know about.
But still–something nagged at me. My Linux machine demanded more respect. It was connected to the intranet via a crimped CAT6, but that connection was merely a hack. The wire was solid core, and not intended to be crimped to an RJ-45. It needed improvement, and that improvement would ordinarily be very low-priority, were it not February. But then Liz took the kid out shopping for summer clothes, and I found myself suddenly free of time. I decided it was as good an excuse as any.
I concluded that I would wire the desk itself and install two CAT6 jacks into the middle of the second section, next to the Linux machine, and attach the cables to the underside via a cable organizer. The desk, being of IKEA construction, was a laminated particle board and surprisingly tough. I considered the daunting task of drilling out a rectangle for a low-voltage box, but that hardly seemed necessary. There wouldn’t be any need to shield the wires since they wouldn’t be exposed in dead space, and if I drilled the plate down directly into the wood, there wouldn’t be any advantage to the box’s drywall tension wings. Plus, selective drilling would minimize undermining the desk’s structural integrity. I would just need two holes, just large enough to accommodate CAT6 keystone jacks, which I would then push up through the desk, snap into the plate, then mount the plate. I had a plan–it was off to the hardware store (Home Depot)!
Initially, I planned to wire both desks, so I purchased 2 2x white keystone plates, 4 white CAT6 keystone punchdown jacks, 2 5ft cable organizers plus elbow, and a small bag of wood screws. Side note: keystone jacks and cable organizers are kind of expensive. The total price came to about $60.
Back home, I measured and placed the plate to my liking, then traced its shape.
Then I started drilling. In hindsight, I should have started with a 1/2″ bit and made the initial holes just deep enough for the jacks, then finished the cable drops with a 3/8″, but at the time I just continually widened the holes with the 3/8″–a minor end result, but using the 1/2″ would have looked cleaner.
Then I measured off some bulk CAT6, punched the two into the patch panel, then fed the cables up through the two drops, punched those ends down into the jacks, connected the new patch panel drops to the switch via CAT6 patch cables, then tested the new connections by plugging in the laptop. And everything worked perfect and life was grand.
Kidding. Neither line registered any signal.
To be clear, I’m no rookie at this. I stared, confused, at my failed handiwork, and let the universe know my displeasure with a manly battle shout of despair towards the heavens. Then I contemplated the sources of failure.
The cable itself should be good, as I had already used 500ft of it. The patch cables so far hadn’t been a problem, but I tried swapping them out anyway to no avail. The patch panel should be okay, as the first 5 lines punched down just fine. I then tried a different computer, but still no connection.
My theory, then, was the most untested variable: the keystone jacks. So I ripped them off and tried a new one. Same problem. It was irritating, seeing as they cost $5 each. So I repackaged them and headed back to the store.
At the return desk, I mentioned that they might have a bad batch of these. The lady didn’t acknowledge me, and simply refunded my purchase. I have no doubt that those same jacks ended up right back on the wall, and some other home renovator would soon also be wasting 2 hours trying to figure out a bad ethernet drop. Sigh.
For the record, they were this brand (Commercial Electric):
I’ve bought this kind before, so I dunno why I got so many that were bad this time around.
I initially had gone to Home Depot because they cater a little more to home repair, rather than improvement, and as such they carry more contractor-grade inventory. When I was forced to try Lowe’s, I only found bags of jacks, and since I didn’t need a whole bag, I had to pay for more than I wanted–$10 more in fact. The bill was up to $70 now.
This was especially irritating since I only chose the color white to better match the minimalist theme of the basement setup, but everyplace else in the house used almond. Maybe I would install a proper jack in the garage ceiling next (it currently has an RJ-45 crimped on the end, feeding the hotspot. That would be another place to use white.
But anyway, I was antsy to get this project done, so I simply grumbled at the price, took them home, attached one, and it worked instantly. Same deal with the second. So I guess no more Commercial Electric for me.
After that, it was a simple matter of snapping in the jacks, bolting down the plate, sticking up the cable organizers and popping in the cable. Here’s some photos of the final result:
Few things are more satisfying than a bundle of well-organized highspeed data cables.
But I wanted more. I wanted…shelving. For how else am I to present a pompous variety of books in my background while engaging in video conference calls?
Some might argue against IKEA, calling it cheap and juvenile. But I say, in the appropriate conditions (such as an unfinished basement), it’s modularity and simplicity makes for an endless assortment of configurations, demonstrating that function alone can be an aesthetic.
Plus, my physical movies and second priority books are actually organized now. Never know when I might need that 1990s aquarium-keeping guidebook.