Home Wiring Project, Part Deux
Sun Jan 30th 2005, 2:58pm
Last May, in Home Wiring Project, I wrote:
Still to do is wiring the master bedroom, to accommodate the Tivo we have in there. This will require drilling down the walls from the attic, and already I know from my time up there it's going to be cramped and difficult. To be continued.
I've been putting off this last phase of the whole project for some time, remembering all the wonderful things about crawling around in the attic: the heat, the insulation dust floating around, the bruising on my arms and legs thanks to the hard boards, the redwood splinters in my hands, the discomfort of breathing through a mask, and the oh-so-pleasant fogging of my glasses as my own hot breath leaks upwards from the mask.

That, and this time the crawl space was much smaller above the master bedroom. Yes, cramped and difficult about sums it up. But I'm thrilled to report the project is finally complete. Here are the details.

This is the master bedroom area. I've already moved the dresser aside. The goal is to put an ethernet port next to these existing cable TV and electrical ports.
Toolbox, drill, and a really bright light ready for use. My goal with the light was to shine it into the whole in the wall. When I finished drilling the hole at the top of the wall in the attic, if I saw light I would know I had a clear path down.
It might have been nice to put the ethernet jack in the same plate as the cable TV, but there's no way I could fish wires with that outlet box in place. So I cut a new whole, right in the middle of the two existing plates. You can see the faint pencil outline of the space I cut out just after I took this picture.
The attic. Yay, insulation dust.
I came to affectionately call this particular space as "the channel". This is where I spent quite a bit of time crawling up and down. I did of course move aside all this insulation first, but we're still talking about a 2-3 foot vertical space (decreasing as you move down), and about a 20 foot run. Note the nails protruding from the roof. And, mmmm, lots of redwood boards for some lovely splinters.
Unfortunately I don't have a whole lot of pictures of what happened in the attic, because well, it pretty much sucked up there. But on my first foray down the channel, I followed the existing cable TV and electrical cables and found where I should drill down. It was just at about the limit of where I could reach, and only then with a foot long drill bit extension. So I started drilling down through the top board, whirrrrrrrr..rrrr...rrr...rr...r.... (silence). Damn, my stupid drill battery died on me. Didn't think of that ahead of time. So... I crawled all the way back out, and down, and took a break while the batteries recharged.

After a short break, I went back up, and crawled down the channel again. Drilling a 3/4" hole through that top board proved to be a little tougher than I thought it would be. But, I made the hole, and--miraculously--I saw light! Whoo-hoo! I was a bit surprised there was no firebreak somewhere down the wall, but hey, I'm not complaining.
At this point, my wife helped me fish the wire up the wall. I had these wooden sticks I'd picked up at Lowe's for dirt cheap. I felt they would be easier to work with than a fish wire, especially if there had been a firebreak. As it turned out, yes they were nice and flexible, and easy to steer, but because of the cramped conditions I had to bend them so much they broke at least twice, and the duct tape holding them came off at least once. So they weren't perfect, but after a couple tries I got the sticks down, Angela taped the cable to them, and I got the cable pulled all the way up. Once I had the cable in hand, the hardest part was over. Hallelujah.
I ran the cable across the attic to the office, where I already had a hole ready to drop cable down to the patch panel and switch gear below. Piece of cake.
At this point, on the master bedroom side, I attached the cable to an RJ45 jack, and mounted the wall plate. Too bad I forgot to take a picture, the job actually looked semi-professional. On the other end, in the office (pictured), the goal is to eventually punch down the cable into my patch panel, and patch it into the switch properly. For the moment though, desiring some instant payoff, I simply crimped it and plugged it directly into the switch.
I'd already purchased a Netgear USB to ethernet converter to plug into the Tivo. Why Tivo doesn't just put an ethernet port on their unit is beyond me.
And done! Tivo got an IP from my DHCP server, and successfully contacted Tivo central over the Internet. No more need for the phone line.


I woke up this morning with one of my fingers throbbing in pain from a nasty splinter that I missed yesterday, but the effort was definitely worth it. Wireless is great for laptops, but having hard-line ethernet in every room is a must for performance and reliability. Still to do is get the various Tivo home media options working, like music and photo viewing from iTunes and iPhoto, and--the feature I'm really most interested in--multi-room viewing of recorded shows. But I'll need to replace my Series 1 downstairs with a Series 2 for that. Of course, the impulsive guy I am, I ran out and bought another Series 2 40 hour unit last night (you can get them at the Good Guys for $70 after Tivo's $100 mail-in rebate, good I think through today 1/31/05), but that'll be another story.

Visitor comments
On Mon Jan 31st 2005, 11:59am, Forest posted:
Sweet stuff, Steve! Man, I wish my whole apt. was wired like that. When I finally buy a house, I'm sure all your effort will come in handy to help me figure out what's in store. ;)

As for the TiVo thing though...I bought a wireless usb card for it right after I bought it and it works fine. :)

On Wed Feb 2nd 2005, 11:18pm, Steve Kehlet posted:
Thanks! I will say it's certainly easier now getting around in the attic than it was at first. But hopefully I won't need to do it again any time soon :-).