Building a Home Network - Media

Twisted pair is used in a star topology, where each computer is connected through a network device called a hub. The hub isolates each computer from the others, so a bad connection does not interrupt the network for the others. The portable computer benefits from this because it can be moved around the house without affecting the use of the network by the rest of the family. The star topology and Category Five cable is also used in a newer protocol called Fast Ethernet, which supports faster rates of data transfer.

Twisted pair cabling seems to have the advantage in cost, functionality, and ugradeability, so this will be the media utilized in our Ethernet based home network. At the end of a Category Five cable is an RJ45 jack. These are similar to a phone jack, but accommodate more wires. RJ45 jacks are attached at both ends of the cable connecting the room where a computer will be located and the location of the network hub. These RJ45 jacks can be purchased from several locations. I found them at Radio Shack, Home Depot, and Graybar Electronics. Plan on spending around five dollars for each RJ45 terminator.

Our hypothetical house has four bedrooms; each will have a network access point. Additional points of access will be in the family room, living room, and two in the basement. The hub will be located in the office, so no additional cabling will be required there. At five dollars per cable jack, and one jack at each end of the cable, we will need about eighty dollars for the RJ45 jacks. A patch cable will be required from each jack to the hub and from each jack to a computer. Twelve patch cords at around four dollars each, totals forty-eight dollars.

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By Robert Corfman - 06/13/98