As these things always go, it was a LOT more work than I thought it would be--in fact, I expected it to be more work than I thought it would be, and it was even more work than that! :-). Really the hard parts came down to the physical labor--it's easy to visualize what I wanted, but actually implementing it is another story. I'm not even sure how much money this cost me, or how much time it took. I had to buy a lot of supplies, and they were more expensive than I anticipated, and of course there are the one-time expenses of all those tools you need but don't already have. As far as time, I spent several weekends and nights after work getting all this done.
To make things easier, I broke the project into several phases:
- Phase 1: Identify desired locations of wall jacks and cabling routes.
- Phase 2: Purchase required tools, equipment, and supplies.
- Phase 3: Cut/drill holes.
- Phase 4: Run cabling, manage cabling.
- Phase 5: Wire up and install wall jacks.
- Phase 6: Mount wall bracket, wire up patch panel, mount switch and shelf.
- Phase 7: Run phone and video into attic and splice in.
Phase 1: Identify desired locations of wall jacks and cabling routes.The first task was fairly easy, given I already knew where I wanted what, and that was driving this whole project. I wanted to install network and phone behind the entertainment center in the family room (there was already video), and I wanted to install all three behind the piano in the living room. What finally occurred to me after a while of agonizing over the near-impossibility of drilling down two stories from the attic, was that both these locations share a wall with the garage, and that the closet in the office upstairs (where I wanted to run everything) is right above the garage. So I realized, forget the attic--I'll run everything through the garage and just try to make it as neat as I can.
Wiring the master and both bedrooms upstairs will have to wait for another time (soon, hopefully). For these I will want to drill down from the attic.
Phase 2: Purchase required tools, equipment, and supplies.I had most of the basic household tools, hammer, screwdrivers, electric drill, etc, but I needed to obtain some more hardware supplies:
- Drywall saw
- Drill bits of various sizes (1/2", 3/4", and 1")
- 12" drill extension.
- Junction boxes
- Lots of Cat6 cabling, at least 300-400 feet.
- Plenty o' modular wall jacks.
- Several 4 port wall plates.
- A 19" wide, 12" deep, 4U wall-mounted bracket.
- A 12 port patch panel.
- A rack-mountable, 12-16 port switch.
- A shelf.
- Plenty of zip ties.
- Lots of adhesive cabling mounts.
- Wire stripper.
- Punch tool.
- Electrical tape.
A bunch of this stuff I bought at Fry's because it was a Saturday when I wanted to get started, and none of my favorite shops were open (Beach Wire and Cable, Graybar). This ended up being a mistake, not just because Fry's is such a nightmare, but also because I ended settling on a couple items (wall bracket, cabling) and paying more than I could have off Amazon (Dlink switch). Fortunately, and I'll give Fry's credit, they took these items back with no questions. Afterwards I bought everything I needed from Beach Wire, where I got exactly what I wanted.