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Rewiring the Office

March 30, 2014 03:00

A task I have been pushing for several weeks now is finally complete. I have mostly rewired the office. This is a project that has been sorely needed for years, but I have put it off, mostly due to the fact that doing so requires me to completely shut down the network in the house. No Internet, no cable, not much of any media entertainment to be had. This is not a huge problem for me, since I will be too busy rewiring everything to care, but others, mainly Gertie, but also visitors to the site, will be horribly inconvenienced by the downtime.

I had several goals I wished to accomplish with this endevour. First off, the home network is entirely 100mbps, and most of the cabling in use is cat 5. This is usually sufficient, but I can occasionally saturate it when copying large files from one system to another, and the effect is defintely noticeable. Secondly, from the beginning I had planned to have all of the power and data cables attached to the wall via hooks. I installed a few of the hooks, and several cables utilized them, but sometime shortly thereafter, probably within about 10 minutes of setting up the first computer, I instead chose to disregard my cable management plans and just drape the cables behind the desk such that they fell to the floor. Over time, dust, dirt, and assorted junk accumulated and despite my efforts to sweep it up, it would require a major overhaul just to properly clean under and behind the desks. Therefore, one of the major goals was to get ALL of the wiring off of the floor.

The other big reason for doing this was to clean up the horrible rats nest that was my server cabinet. I had daisychained switches, numerous daisychained power strips, and cables EVERYWHERE. It was almost impossible to remove unused cabling as they frequently got knotted together.

Several weeks ago, I ordered myself parts for a new computer, and pre-crimped cat 5e cables of specific lengths, along with a 1gbps switch. Assuming a pre-cleaned office, I figured a total conversion time between 6-8 hours. Since my wife worked one day a week that I sometimes didn't, I figured that would be a good opportunity to do the switchover, since if all goes well, I should have everything up and running again by the time she gets back home. However, the first week I was missing some important parts, and the next week I had to work the same day. The week after we went to visit some people, so this last weekend became it. Thursday early afternoon I woke up, with the intention of cleaning up the office with Gertie's assistance clearing her desk, and as soon as she left, I would begin. To make it easier, I'm taking off the entire next week for vacation, so I can be sure to finish this (and many many other) projects.

Anyway, I woke up on schedule, jumped in the shower, and when I get out, I hear Kiko's voice. Kiko hasn't lived here in a while, and I wasn't expecting her to visit, so that was a bit of a thwart in the plans. Not only that, she planned on staying a couple days. Not a huge problem by herself, but she's got the baby now, so making the excessive amounts of noise I planned on was going to be awkward. Drilling and hammering would have to be kept to a minimum. Great.

So not much gets cleaned up before Gertie leaves for work, so it's a good 3 hours later before I'm ready to tear stuff down. Just shutting down all of the computers takes about 30 minutes, what with saving files and such. I then remove all of the computers, network cables, switches, monitors, printers, keyboards, usb hubs and assorted cables, hard drives, and power cables, temporarily store them in a neat fashion for later retrieval, and begin work on the room. I first moved my desk away from the wall, cleared up the remaining cables, and swept and mopped. I also took this opportunity to pull down and wash the curtains which hadn't happened in several years.

After moving my desk over to the other side of the room, I pull down the (now empty) cabinet and dust it out as well. It needed it. Badly. At this point, with the cabinet on the ground with the back side up, I permanently mounted all devices that had mounting holes or brackets. This included the two cable splitters, the cable amplifier, all of the power strips, and about 30 cable clamps. I then ran one network cable from each computer location through the clamps, to the location where the switch would be. I did the same with the coax and cords for the power strips (in separate clamps, on the opposite side of the cabinet from the data cables). I also took the opportunity to sweep and mop where the cabinet was located.

It was about 9am by the time I got the cabinet set back up and all the computers connected. I hit power on the UPS and fired everything back up. Amadeus needs a new bios battery, and HAL apparently has no working USB ports now, but otherwise, all of the servers are functioning properly. So we do another pass at sweeping, mopping, and dusting, and put Gertie's desk back in place, and I set up her computer. Annnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnndd... nothing. It won't boot. Dead. I decide at this point, I'm too tired to carry on, and get a few hours of sleep.

I replace the power supply in Gertie's computer just to be sure that's not the problem, but no dice. I try to put the HD in another computer, but Windows doesn't really like it when you do that. So I've ordered an exact copy of her motherboard to replace the original so hopefully all will be well with the world after that. I then pushed my desk back into place, set up my computers, and got the cams and lamps functional again. All told, the controls were down for about 24 hours.

At this point, I'm waiting for the replacement motherboard to arrive. Otherwise, I have everything back to the initial condition. Now it's time to get my new computer going, set up the new media server, and get some more cams working. Stay tuned.