The wireless-G connection to the computer in the back room was flaky. A large wall mounted mirror on a wall between the office router and the back room reduced the signal strength. Using a cantenna on each end helped the signal strength, but did not eliminate the flaky connection. Using one cantenna was better, but was still not reliable, and there was message loss.
In a completely different direction, its time for a new satellite TV service [Dish] and the DVR requires a phone connection – Dish charges another $5 a month if there’s no connection. They are probably harvesting viewing habits with the phone line, in addition to allowing PPV ordering.
These two issues have created a project to wire a set of CAT5 cables around the house. The rear of the house has no crawl space and no attic, so the wiring is external on the outside of the house. The best and simplest method appears to be to use outdoor CAT5 cable with UV coating and silicon gel for direct burial. Oregon is wet, so while not used for direct burial, the cable is likely to be wet for much of the year.
The connections were made using Leviton Quickport wall boxes and outlet plates.
The CAT5 connection goes straight from an office port around the house to a port on the wall in the back room. The phone connection is daisy chained from a port in the office to pick up the phone, to a port in the den, another port behind the entertainment center in the den and around to the back room with the CAT5 connection. Daisy chained connections are not normally used for phones, but 4 connections are required, and it seems unreasonable to wire 4 separate wires around the house. Of course daisy chain is not possible for CAT5 Ethernet.
After some experimentation, it seems that it is not possible to directly attach two cables to a QuickPort connector, and it’s not reasonable to take a single cable directly through a connector. So, a daisy chain point requires 6 3-way splices. All 6 wires were connected to the RJ-11 phone connectors, even though only 2 are used for the phone line.
These are little buttons that splice the wire without stripping. Stick the wires into the three openings and mash the button with a pair of pliers. The splice is filled with silicon gel, so the splice is waterproof. In this application, the splices are in the mounting boxes. One of the splices failed during the installation with one of the connections being intermittant.
The direct burial cable is filled with silicon gel, which makes it a sticky mess to work with. The gel does not come off with soap and water, but a trick was discovered. Wipe the wires with a paper towel wet with olive oil and the gel wipes off easily. Also olive oil removes the gel from hands and other items. Of course, soap and water easily removes olive oil when the job is done. Olive oil is a lot less smelly than paint thinner or other solvents.
The job is done, and all is working just fine.