Building budget home entertrainment network and more I
It started as a very simple idea: have internet access available in all rooms of the apartment. As simple as that. OK, I wanted to have both wired and wireless internet access (just in case – having wires instead of thin air carrying over data seems still more convincing for me).
Seriously, although it’s very easy to set up wireless network access, it still has some limitations like low(er) speed and (higher) latency. Of course, nowadays you can get wi-fi routers with more bandwidth than 54 mbit/s but I want to stay within my (low) budget and since I got my DSL modem for free from my ISP and it has built-in wi-fi , it makes no sense to buy a whole new device just to get more wi-fi speed. So I had to settle with what I got for free…On the other hand, the DSL modem I got is quite a nice gadget with a rich functionality – a Fritz!box 7240 produced by a German company called AVM. Among others it also act as a DECT phone base station, supports dynamic DNS and allows some fancy phone features including using your cheap VOIP account with your regular phone handset without having your computer running.
Internet access everywhere
I want to have more devices connected to the home network at the same time. These devices can perform different work – one is, for instance, downloading lots of data and the other is used to browse high-resolution photos. Therefore, having in mind my wi-fi limitation of 54 mbit/s I wanted to provide wired access to the network as 54 mbit/s is very easilly reached by 2 laptops doing mass data transfers on the network at the same time. Plus you never really get 54 mbit/s as the conditions are never perfect (lots of noise coming from surrounding electrical devices, interior walls etc).
So I needed some wiring. Spreading cables all over the apartment is ugly (OK, not visially appealing) and unpractical. Since the architect of the building didn’t think about building ethernet infrastracture into the walls, I decided to use some of the existing infrastructure to push TCP/IP traffic accross them.
Which existing instrastructure? I remember seeing a TV in the late 80s called “Beyond 2000″. On that show they discussed a possibility of using power cables in the apartment for computer networking. At the time it seemed to me as pure science fiction. Alas, beyond 2000 came for me exactly in 2009 when I decided to buy so called “power lan” adapters and utilize my power cables to connect computers into the local network. I decided to buy Devolo dLAN Highspeed Ethernet II Network Kit which includes 3 adapters in the kit and operates with 85 mbit/s bandwith. These adapters are plugged into a regular power electrical socket and into each adapters you plug a regular cat5 network cable. The electrical sockets can, of course, be in different rooms but the distance, measured in length of electrical cables between the sockets, should not extend 200 meters. The traffic between the adapters is encrypted to prevent your neighbors becoming part of your home network as they may have similar devices as well (and they do!). Additionally I bought one very cheap Netgear 10/100 5-port switch to put it in the room designated used as small office/home office in order to enable more devices to connect to the network in future.
So, I connected what equipment I had so far and this is how my network looks like at this point: