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  PC-Net's PC News - May, 2000
 
Don Watkins

Networking, Sharing and CAT-5

More on Internet Sharing and Setting Up a Network

By Don Watkins

 
 
 

 

May 2000--Way back when in December, 1998 we took a look at sharing a modem connection in our Learning to Share article. Later on we took a look at basics of setting up a home network. Both of those guys still apply but there have been major changes in connection sharing and it's not a bad time to expand on the physical side of networking.

Why?

I love this part as I get to tell about my latest networking fiasco, uh, experience. I had a server running in my work room and I wanted to move it to the garage. Why? Good question. I live in a cool climate and don't have (or really need) air conditioning. However my work room has a south facing window and with a human, a dog and a couple of computer it can get quite toasty. On the flip side my garage rarely gets over 70 degrees. Secondly there is the issue of noise. Because I've added tons of hard drives and fans it's a noisy brute and I could do without that bit. 

You don't have a server you say? It may be that you have a spare computer that isn't worth selling or giving away. It may be that you want to install one elsewhere in the house. Certainly if you do you want to make sure that you can share your existing Internet connection.

Bring On The Tools

Fortunately it's a short run to my garage. In fact it's right below me so in theory I only had to drill through the floor and through the ceiling of the garage to install the CAT-5 cable. 

Naturally nothing is that easy. The floor cavity is a lot thicker than I would have guessed so it was off to the hardware store for a long drill bit.

Nor despite my best efforts did the bit exit where I expected. So rather than a direct drop it snaked around a bit so it was back to the store for a fish tape (find out for yourself!).

After finding where everything entered and exited I was ready to go. I had 100 feet of CAT-5 cable obtained from the same hardware store along with the connectors and tool used to install the connectors. You should be able to get these items from any hardware store (I got mine from Home Depot) or Radio Shack.

Pinning The Cable

You can always buy ready made cable but 1) it's hard to get the connectors snaked though the holes you've drilled and 2) ready made cable is very expensive. Plus making the actual connection is fairly easy.

Once the cable is in place strip the insulation off the cable and pin them using the EIA568B standard:


Pin 1 = T2 Orange/White
Pin 2 = R2 Orange
Pin 3 = T3 Green/White
Pin 4 = R1 Blue
Pin 5 = T1 Blue/White
Pin 6 = R3 Green
Pin 7 = T4 Brown/White
Pin 8 = R4 Brown

Pin 1 is the left-most pin when looking into the RJ45 socket.

Ready to Network

That's it. You're ready to set up networking in your operating system and you should be able to rock and roll.

Sharing Your Internet Connection

Back in the aforementioned Modem Sharing article we looked at software solutions for dial up modems. And there's no question that they still work very well. However things have changed and there are better solutions in the form of affordable routers.

The first on the market that I'm aware of was Linksys and that's what I use. Because I'm the guy laying face down in the mud I got mine quite a while back and use the single port model that connects to my network hub. Since then Linksys has added routers with network ports built in along with wireless (too slow for me) and the BEFN29S4 Cable/DSL & Voice Router.

This guy includes a regular RJ-11 telephone jack that allows you to use Net2Phone using a standard telephone. It's looks very, very interesting.

Set up of the Linksys router is a slam dunk. You'll need to enter some basic setup info such as your IP address if it's static and other info on how the router should "talk" to your ISP. None of it is complicated and the Linksys manual is easy to follow. There are also a few changes on the PC side but again, nothing that's not clearly identified in the Linksys documentation.

I have a 1.5Mb up and 768Mb down DSL link and I've tracked my connection speed for years using iSpeed. While there are wide variations depending on outside factors I've run it enough to determine that there's no serious performance hit.

The router also acts as a firewall. The www.grc.com test cannot find me behind the Linksys router.

Another Player

Since I got the Linksys Netgear has rolled out a couple of very interesting router products including the RP114 and RF314 which include keyword content filtering. 

Also the specs would indicate to me that the Netgear product uses a processor that might be slightly faster. While I've not noticed anything significant in performance drop off that's always something to keep in mine.

I've not personally used the Netgear router but I have used their network cards and hubs and I swear by them; I think you'll do just fine with both products. 

Have Fun

This really can be great fun and the possibilities are endless and it can be a good way to share a connection or get some use out of a computer that's otherwise "worthless". It's not expensive, you've paid for everything, so get some use out of it.

Until next month, stay connected.

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