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Here's some info about Home Communications Cabling

568A? 568B? What the?
Cabling systems
Sharing a VCR or Set Top Unit to multiple TVs.
ADSL Central Filter


This basic guide is produced in answer to the many emails I get concerned with cabling homes for Data and communications.

There are a variety of options when it comes to cabling a house, and several guidelines and industry standards that need to be followed. Communications Cabling must be carried out by a licensed Cabler. Penalties can be applied under the Telecommunications Act for non-compliant cabling or equipment so think twice before you DIY or trust a newbie to do it for you. Aside from the safety issues, the last thing you want is to pay to have the whole job done again because it wasn't done correctly the first time. I've seen so many bad jobs (eg incorrect/inappropriate materials, wrong layout, faulty equipment, incorrect terminations and so on) that it's just not funny any more.

Some things to ask your Cabler -

Does he/she have an ACMA license and what level is he/she licensed for?
Does he/she have 3rd party property damage cover?
What testing procedure/equipment will be used?
What guarantee is offered?
What experience does he/she have?

Wiring Patch leads

When wiring patch leads a common misconception is that "she'll be right as long as the colour code matches on both ends". Whilst this may work over short distances, for the most part nothing could be further from the truth. I get a lot of work cutting ends off Cables wired in the incorrect sequence causing slow Network access, data loss or just plain not working at all.
The unfortunate thing about matching the ends is that the relatively cheap Pair Testing Meters will usually indicate a thumbs up even though it's just plain wrong.
The same goes for Keystones (sometimes called mechs). The colour indicated on the Keystone must be adhered to or you will create a lot of pain for yourself. The problem with most keystones is that they are tiny and the little chart drawn onto them is hard to read as they show two different wiring standards side by side. 568A & 568B.

568A Patch lead

With the clip part of the cable end facing away from you, wires should go in the following order from left to right:-
White/Green - Green, White/Orange - Blue, White/Blue - Orange, White/Brown - Brown

568B Patch lead

With the clip part of the cable end facing away from you, wires should go in the following order from left to right:-
White/Orange - Orange, White/Green - Blue, White/Blue - Green, White/Brown - Brown.

Ensure that the ends of the wires go all the way into the Clip so that you can see the ends of the wires against the end of the plastic, and if you don't have the proper crimping tool, don't even bother starting.

Note: A crossover Cable uses 568A on one end, and 568B on the other.

Cabling systems

The first diagram below sets out the cheapest and most common way to cable a home or small office.

The telephones are wired in a "peer to peer" type sequence, so that if one rings, they all ring at the same time, and several people can talk on the same call at the same time. There are handsets available that allow a call to be transferred from one handset to another, and can also double as an intercom.
If an alarm system that utilises a "mode 3" socket is to be installed, then the mode 3 socket needs to be the first one in the series after it enters the premises, and that's where the main control panel for the Alarm will go too.

The data points are in a "star configuration" (all branch out from a central point). This allows a desktop hub to be fitted to allow all the PCs to be Networked together and the Internet shared from either a server PC or a small router.

The Cable TV points are "star wired" from the box outside at the Telephone Lead-in point as per Telstra/Optus specifications.
If you're pre-wiring a new home, these rules must be followed for Cable TV wiring.

A minimum of RG6 tri-shield Coaxial Cable with a solid dielectric core must be used.*
The Cable TV Wiring must be run as per the diagram to a point on the outside wall higher than 1 metre, but lower than 2.4. (About chest height is ideal).
The side of the house you choose to run the cables to will obviously be the one closest to the Telstra pit, or the tap up the pole. Find where the phone and cable TV cables are in your street and visualise how they'll get from there to your house.
The splitter for all of the outlets must go in the box outside the house (unless you're in a unit)
Terminations must be of the "F" Connector type and torqued to specifications.
Any more than 3 active points will require installation of an Amplifier at around $300.00

Anything outside of these rules, and the Cable TV installer will be forced to rewire the whole lot, and your money and effort pre-wiring will have been wasted.
Bear in mind that the Cable Networks are "sealed" networks and the Communications Carrier (Telstra, Optus etc) in fact own everything up to every socket and device (STU, Modem etc) and are not obligated to connect you to their network if your wiring is considered outside their specifications. The advantage in Pre-wiring for Cable TV on a new home, is that you don't have to compromise where the points will be and the Cabling will be properly hidden from view.

*Update: Previously I had dual-shield co-ax as a minimum (which was what it was when I was in the game) but I have received a report form a very reliable source that Telstra now require a minimum of Tri-Shielded co-ax cable while Optus & Telstra Satellite require Quad-Shield. It may be well worthwhile to check with your Cable provider before you fork out for the wrong cable.

The diagram below shows the next step from a standard Cable job on a home or small office.
In this situation we are installing a small PABX (Commander type Phone System), and a patch panel for all the Data and Phone sockets.

The main advantage here is that we can swap and change patch leads to our heart's content down the track without having to rewire anything, and all of the Networking Hardware and the Cable modem is hidden from view in a cupboard.

You'll notice that now the telephones are now wired in a "star configuration", and the PABX System and patch panel will be mounted inside a cupboard, out of sight. We will also be using Cat5E (Data Cable) for the Phones instead of the standard "2 pair" Phone line. This will increase the flexibility of the whole Cable installation and allow greater scope for changes via the Patch Panel.
The data points are still in a "star configuration", however now we have the central point in the cupboard where we will also install the Cable modem and a small Router to share the Internet Connection and Network the PCs together. The advantage of a Router over a hub is that it doesn't rely on a PC to be "always on" to share the Internet to all the other PCs.
The Cable TV points are "star wired" from the box outside at the Telephone Lead-in point as per Telstra/Optus specifications mentioned above.
Ensure the cupboard has louvered doors or some other method to allow air circulation. Excessive heat and Networking Hardware don't mix well...

A PABX system has many advantages over the standard method of wiring for Phones. Features like having an internal intercom, having several lines available at each handset and even being able to answer the doorbell or unlock gates are available with most PABX systems.
Expect to pay somewhere from about $1500.00 for a basic new system, depending on the number of handsets and features required.
I installed a basic Aristel System with two lines and four handsets, music on hold etc, Netgear JFS516 16 port Switch and patch panel on a mini rack/swing plate in my home office for around $2000.00. This doesn't take into account cabling or labour, but will give an idea of a starting point for this type of installation.
Chuck and Emma have a great Website which details the structured cabling installation at their new home. Note the double jumpering on the phone line (blue & white wires) on the bottom row of the patch panel. This is the method necessary when no PABX is to be installed (at least in the short term) so that the (single) phone line can go to multiple points. These can now be patched to various rooms using patch leads on the other side of the patch panel (and changed around easily if circumstances change). On my patch panel, you'll notice little white cables coming in from underneath. These come directly from my PABX and I can plug them into any socket to go to any room or workstation where I have a data point installed. Naturally I installed dual outlets everywhere so I can have both a phone and data point active at the same time anywhere I choose.
Note: For those intending to DIY, note that there are legal requirements for this type of work and they did receive an unexpected visit from the Australian Communications Authority to inspect the work and ensure it was carried out correctly by a licensed cabler.

Sharing a VCR or Set Top Unit to multiple TVs.

These diagrams show a simple way to change the standard Free to Air wiring in a house to share a VCR or Cable TV Set Top Unit to multiple TVs in the home. The drawback with this system is that although the TVs still maintain independent Free to Air control, they all have to watch the same Cable TV channel at the same time.
There are infrared relays available that allow the Cable TV or VCR remote to be used at other TV points by relaying the signal back to the Set Top Unit or VCR.

ADSL Central Filter

In most situations, the ADSL signal runs down the same line as an existing analogue service, but there are circumstances where this is either inconvenient or involves an unnecessary expense of leasing another line just for the ADSL signal. In other cases, there may be another service which will not coexist with ADSL or will adversely affect the ADSL signal.
Normally a small "in-line filter" is installed for each handset or device that is on the same line as the ADSL service. These filters prevent the screeching and crackling noise from the ADSL modem from being heard whilst using the line for voice and other purposes.
Other situations require that the filter is placed in a central location before it gets to the other devices. These situations are -

when the ADSL line is also on a PABX service
where a mode 3 Alarm Socket is present on the ADSL line
where any hardwired devices exist on the ADSL line
where there are more than four sockets in use on a premises on the ADSL line (This one may be more economics than anything else, but having too many filters in the system may adversely affect modem performance.)

A central filter will also get around difficulties with some phones like many Panasonic Cordless units that don't seem to behave very well with inline filters.

Image 1: The image below is D-Link's 10SP Central Filter which is designed for this job rather than the bodgy method shown in image 2 below that. (The 10SP is installed where the 3 way join is shown there). The 10SP also has an RJ11 socket so the ADSL modem can plug straight into it that way if you prefer, which is very handy for those situations where the incoming phone line is right next to where the modem is going to live. However, in most cases a new line will need to be run for a new socket for the ADSL modem to use and in these cases using the hard wired terminal is more convenient.

Note: The instructions that come with the 10SP are a little confusing as they outline a different method for connecting these, which doesn't seem right to me and isn't the way I'd do it.

Image 2: The diagram below shows the basic format of wiring in a central filter. In this diagram I have pictured a bodgy method using an Alcatel in-line Filter instead of a proper model designed for the central filter purpose. However, the principle is exactly the same with the only difference being that a proper central filter (like the D-Link 10SP above) would go where the 3 way join is shown and none of those 610 sockets would need to be fitted. I do not recommend or guarantee that this type of filter will work in these circumstances, but it has been done before and usually does the trick in a tight spot.