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wiring 11 Maine summer cabins for Internet

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Old September 6th 04, 02:52 AM posted to comp.dcom.cabling,uk.telecom.broadband
Petri Krohn
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Posts: 22
Default wiring 11 Maine summer cabins for Internet

"dk253" kirjoitti viestissä

My family has 11 cabins spread out along a 1/4 mile stretch on a lake
in Maine. They have asked me to help them to determine the best way
to wire for Internet and phone as cheaply as possible.

This is the classical Neighborhood Networking problem:
How to connect buildings in a neighborhood to a network at minimal costs?
The question has global significance, there are hundreds of thousands of
neighborhoods with a need for an Ethernet network, many of them in
developing countries with minimal finacial means.

The hardware costs for a network like this are at minimum about $500 -
$1000. (For this low price you may have to spend some time at eBay.com.)

Others in this group (.cabling) will propose more expensive solutions. They
may better suit your needs and your family's financial situation. On the
other hand, I presume your parents are hard working people and try to
streach every penny.

If I use cat5 I have to (as I understand it) start at some
point and shoot an individual cable to each cabin.

In theory you could connect all cabins with nothing but Cat5 cable. You
could use 100 meter stretches of cable (even 150 meters for 10Base-T) and
daisy-chain switches. The reason not to this is lightning. You need to
electrically isolate your network into smaller segments. For this you need

Running fiber to each cabin is in my opinion unnecessary. You can connect
near-by cabins with Cat5 cable as long as the distance is under 100 meters.

1. Divide the cabins into clusters of 2 - 4 near-by cabins. Place 5- or
8-port switch in the central cabin. Connect the others by Cat5 cable.
2. Pull one pair of fiber to the switch in each cluster. Place a 5-port
fiber switch in the center of the network.

I suppose you have electricity connected to each cabin. Most likely the
power cables are aerial cables suspended on wooden poles. You should hang
your Ethernet-network from the same poles.

For Cat5 you should use gel-filled outdoor cable. The price may be twice
what you pay for (flamable) indoor cable.

Terminating fibers in rural Maine may be expensive. It is better to use
pre-terminated fiber cables. On ebay you may sometimes find 100 meter
indoor jumper cables. These are usually rated "plenum" so they may in fact
be more resistant to the elements than normal PVC "riser" cable. You will
need to find some way of protecting the cable from sunlight. Maybe wrapping
duct tape around the cable and and a support wire will do the trick.

Also note that the fiber does not need to extend end-to-end, as long as it
provides the isolation. You can bring the fiber-to-Cat-5 converters half-way
and provide power "over Ethernet" in the same cable.


On eBay you can get old 3Com fiber switches for about $25. These SuperStack
3000FX switches do not support the newer 802.1Q VLAN tagging so they are
being replaced.

In each Cat5 cluster you can use a 8-port switch with one 100Base-FX fiber
port (about $150 new) or a cheap 5-port 100Base-TX switch ($20) + Etherent
media converter ($25 ebay).

You could also add a WLAN access point to each cabin to give freedom of
movement and also to protect your visitors expensive laptop from the
occasional lightning strike.


For the network you will also need a NAT-router to share the Internet
connection. Your traffic will likely be light so you will manage with any
broadband router.

For more traffic and users you will need a router with a traffic shaper. The
two prime candidates a
1) the Linksys WRT54G wireless router with sweasoft or OpenWRT firmware
2) a PC + Compact Flash card + m0n0wall http://www.m0n0.ch/wall/

It should be noted that the 100Mbps Ethernet network can carry more traffic
that you will ever generate (or your ISP will ever carry). In fact the
network could well serve over a thousand users and PCs. I believe Ethernet
based neighborhood networks have great potential in the developing world.
In urban areas Ethernet service can be set up for under $5.
(For possible cabling solutions see:
http://gallery.colofinder.net/cabling-messy/beirut1 ... beirut3 ;-)


This post is not so much about cabling as about neighborhood networking. I
am still looking for the English language group to discuss these issues. For
lack of a better group I am cross-posting this to news:uk.telecom.broadband

Petri Krohn
petri. krohn [email protected] iki. FI(nland)
__________________________________________________ ___________
Fiber-optic Community Networking: http://www.HelsinkiOpen.net


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