Patch Panel

A while back I offered my thoughts on the benefits of wiring devices rather than relying on WiFi, and my efforts with installing Ethernet drops.  The system worked well, but I had nagging doubts about my install.  Specifically, my jack punchdowns were not up to spec, my patch cables were self-made, and my drops terminated in the basement with RJ45 connectors.  In short, it was an amateurish install and didn’t look good.

After re-punching my wall jacks with the proper method, I decided that I would finally bite the bullet and buy a patch panel.  The only thing that had been holding me back was the price, and the fact that I lacked a networking rack to hold it, but these concerns were alleviated with a little bit of searching.  I decided upon these two items:

TRENDnet 24-Port Cat6 Unshielded Wallmount or Rackmount Patch Panel, Compatible with Cat 3/4/5/5e/6 Cabling, TC-P24C6
Monoprice 1.75 by 19 by 4-Inch 1U Wall Mount Bracket 108623

The intent was to mount the patch panel in the bracket on the concrete wall in the basement.  And, despite the irritations involved with drilling concrete, this idea played out perfectly:

It was also much easier than crimping.  A simple punchdown tool secured the wires and clipped the excess, and in short order I had secured my existing 5 drops.

For the record, I chose T-568A.  Although now, having purchased patch cables all configured in B, I probably should have chosen B.  Ah well, the difference is pretty negligible.  Regardless, though I haven’t benchmarked anything, the network does seem a little snappier now.  The previous RJ45s were properly rated for solid-core CAT6, but I still don’t think it’s possible to manually crimp a connection as well as punching.

And besides, it looks much cooler now.

–Simon

Elusive Photogenics

A couple weeks back, I bought a new aquarium.  This reminded me that my main aquarium really needed a pruning, especially so as it was starkly contrasted to the Amano-style tank in the basement.  And a pruning is really not an arduous undertaking, so I finally forced myself to do it.  Behold:

I’ve always struggled to get a good close-up photo of that tank.  I think digital consumer camera technology finally advanced enough to make it possible.  Oooo, purdy.

–Simon

Laminate (Part 2)

I heard a theory once that mothers, having endured the pain of childbirth, cope with the trauma through selective amnesia.  The theory posits that, were the memory’s vivid details to remain, no woman would ever subject herself to a second pregnancy.

I don’t know if it makes a good metaphor, but I’ve found a similar effect in husbands who undertake painful home renovations, for 6 months is apparently the point at which I forget anguish and willingly subject myself to the original task which caused the anguish.  Of course, once I begin the task, I quickly remember.  But by then, it’s too late.  Much like pregnancy.

This past Spring, I replaced the hallway carpeting with laminate.  The horrors which lay below were unmentionable (so I mentioned them).  And the end result was well worth the effort, for no longer did navigating the hallway require a temporary hiatus from normal respiration.  Ahh, I love the smell of offgassing formaldehyde in the morning.

The subflooring of the dining room wasn’t nearly as bad, but the carpet was equally rank.  Cut into strips and awaiting their gradual disposal, they pollute the garage with the musty fumes of an old lady and a dying dog.  I’ve taken to running the ozone machine out there regularly, where it works much better than my original intention.

Floor stripped and vacuumed, the real work began.

I was faced with a quandary.  When we bought the house, the kitchen and front room had fresh laminate.  The problem was, the slats interlock in a certain direction, and unless I removed areas of the transition zones, I had no way of knowing which direction the slats had been laid.  When I re-floored the hallway, I hadn’t checked, but at the time it didn’t matter because it wouldn’t connect with the existing laminate.  But now, with the dining room, I needed to know.  But I didn’t consider this ahead of time and began work.  It would come down to a 50/50 chance.

I had already laid the first board.

As the work progressed, the dilemma gnawed.  Could I live with the two rooms not matching?  Would I be content to leave a junction strip between the two?  If I could, would the misalignment forever torment me?  And what if I eventually joined the living room?

So I ripped out the kitchen’s terminal boards and hammered in replacements.  I then shifted my prior work to match, but it was only until the work had advanced sufficiently as to be irreversible did I discover that the two rooms were not perfectly matched in linearity.  No, by mere millimeters were they bent.

Well, if intellect and proper anticipation would fail me, I could always use brute strength and violence!  At least I would have, had my strength been sufficient, but ultimately I had to use a 2X4 and the wall to force things into alignment.  And cursing.  Lots of cursing.  The boards matched closely enough so as to be convincing, and only a very close inspection would betray the slightest of error.

As proof of my efforts, I paid The Blood Price.

Once everything was aligned with the kitchen, the remaining work was more tedious than noteworthy.  I installed the border strip and replaced the molding.

We now have what I call the most adult room in the house, since no one’s allowed to use it.

I did so well in fact that Liz was immediately ready to pull the carpet out of the living room, but I required that the home renovation amnesia set in first.

She set a calendar reminder 6 months out.

–Simon

One Door Leads to Certain Doom

Well, maybe not doom, but the usual mix of anger and irritation.

Liz wanted a storm door on the front, as she had long complained about the lack of airflow north to south through the house, which is mostly because there’s no south-facing window (aside from the bedrooms).  So, in theory, the front door could be left open to aid this pneumatic conundrum were a screen to be installed there.

I liked the look of our front door, as it sported a rather medieval type of aged bronze handle upon dark maroon paint, so I was reluctant to hide that behind my outdated vision of a screen door: the Lubbock house’s back door–an exposed aluminum frame with a screen that was always torn and popping out.

But there have been some design updates in the last 20 years, and the modern iterations are coated aluminum with hybrid glass/screens.  They also mount into frames with enough clearance so as to avoid doorknob complications, and they can accommodate the ever so important seasonal wreath which hangs from the main door.

That’ll keep the storms out!

Nevertheless, it wasn’t as straightforward as IKEA furniture.  In fact, depending on its desired orientation, the screw holes had to be manually drilled out first.  This process required some spacial orientation, and therefore concentration, to do correctly.  But at this critical moment, Poppy attacked the mailman, and after I corralled the whippet any such concentration was shot, and of course I drilled out the wrong side.  Sigh.  At least the holes are small.

I also had to drill out rather large holes to attach the doorknob and deadbolt, during which the battery in my drill went dead, so the project experienced a rather unfortunate delay.

And there was no gentle way to drill out 3/4 inch holes in plate aluminum

But alas!  We now have a storm/screen door.  I admit that it does look nice, and it’s convenient to use it throughout the day instead of the large wood door–mostly because the kid either slams it, or won’t close it at all.

As to whether or not it helps with ventilation–I don’t know yet, because since I installed it it’s been about 90 out and humid.  Ohio weather (kind of makes me wonder again why we bothered with this).

I’ll just be content in that it looks nice.

Nose prints within minutes

–Simon

Rhubarb (Part 2)

As part of our ongoing suggestion to the neighbor’s kids to stay off my lawn, the raised bed project continues.  And this time, the ancient rhubarb has made it to the next plot.

The plant was eager, having provided us multiple desserts last year despite growing in just a few inches of potted soil, so I expect it’ll be even more productive now.

It also seems like one more official step to making the land part of the Moorhead clan lineage, as it now hosts a portion of the official Moorhead Rhubarb.

And, stay off my lawn!

–Simon