Switch on a hinge and a 350 foot network cable - how to rig up your new office

Subject: General Tech | February 17, 2012 - 03:41 PM |
Tagged: asus, office tour

Sometimes things don't work out the way you want them and you have to improvise.  In our case this week, as we prepare to move into a new office space, we had a couple of dilemmas crop up.

  1. The "cabinet" the previous owner made for network was an actual cabinet and didn't have enough depth for a switch, let alone a server.
  2. Fiber internet is coming but not for another 6 weeks - what do we do until then?

The first issue of our networking cabinet was resolved by putting a 24-port Gigabit switch on a hinge inside the not-quite-deep-enough space we had for it.  And sure, once you find out we used Gorilla glue, a block of wood and standard door hinges from Home Depot, it might sound a little bit on the ghetto side, but the fact is...it worked!

Our problem with an actual internet connection to apply to the switch in question was a bit harder.  Since our fiber wasn't going to be installed until late March, and I didn't want to see the office space simply sit there and be wasted until then, we had to find another solution.  We asked our neighbors about using their connections temporarily and while several were open to it, speed tests showed consistent 1.4 mbps downstream and 0.45 mbps upstream connections.  Not good for the amount of video we do here.

So, another option presented itself: our current office that has 20 mbps down and 2 mbps up service (mediocre, but still better) was only a short 100-110 meters away.  Could a Cat5e cable simply be run between them?  Turns out it could and we were even able to run a length has long as 500 ft without a problem, connecting 10/100 rather than Gigabit speeds.  

In total, our hinge modification cost us about $4.50 and the 500 ft spool of cable just around $50 but the hassle we saved has been worth thousands.  The cable connection issue is obviously not permanent but barring any rogue squirrel retaliation in the next 4-6 weeks, it should more than serve our purposes.

Enjoy the weekend!

February 17, 2012 | 03:47 PM - Posted by michael Short (not verified)

now you just have to hope that the landscape guys don't run over your cable.

February 17, 2012 | 03:51 PM - Posted by Ken Addison

Luckily, with it being February in Kentucky.. not a whole lot of landscaping is going on

February 17, 2012 | 11:08 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

Actually one of our new neighbors said he thought they started mowing in mid-March...so we might have an issue.

Hopefully we'll get a lot of cold weather and snow through March to keep them at bay. :)

February 17, 2012 | 04:20 PM - Posted by RandomGoon (not verified)

Even if it were landscaping weather you can still lessen the chance of damage if you just buried it temporarily. This would also mitigate some of the quadrupedal damage and possible neighborhood random trolling. I'd wager the cable it's really rated for burial but for 4 - 6 months it should be fine.

February 17, 2012 | 04:21 PM - Posted by RandomGoon (not verified)

*EDIT* ...cable ISN'T really...

February 17, 2012 | 08:13 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

Actually it's not 4-6 months -- just 4-6 weeks while the new internet is installed in the new office.

February 17, 2012 | 11:05 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

That is actually not a horrible idea...except to have to pull it out and clean it after the 6 weeks is up.

February 17, 2012 | 04:31 PM - Posted by Swoosh (not verified)

What the... The cat 5 cable my friend used to temporarily bridge their company's internet
connection from their old office to their new place just across the alley here in my
country was over 290 feet. Yours took 340 feet! That's one of the longest Cat 5 cable
installation i've seen. lol! :-)

February 17, 2012 | 04:31 PM - Posted by Aaron Star

The switch hinge is a nice install feature. They do make 3U 19" wall mounts, which might look a little more pro. However, I like the way the hinge makes all the connectors hang low relieving strain, allowing for better heat rise in that cabinet, and still making for easy connection access. Are there holes in the bottom of that cabinet and the top to allow heat to escape?

February 17, 2012 | 11:06 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

Not really but all we'll have in there is networking gear, no real computers. Switch, router. That's pretty much it.

February 17, 2012 | 11:08 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

And I added a right angle power cable today so the switch can actually go completely perpendicular to the back plane.

February 17, 2012 | 04:43 PM - Posted by Del G (not verified)

I worked in the Canadian army (insert joke here) and we ran 300-400 ft cat5e cables a lot. Cat5e cable is cheap which is nice when you get 30 minutes notice to move at 2am, and then you can just leave it in the ground instead of digging it up.

I love the PCPER "let’s make it work" mentality

February 17, 2012 | 11:58 PM - Posted by kern802 (not verified)

Is there any chance of lightning in your area in the next 4-6 weeks? You may want to consider installing some lightning protection for that cable run. Weigh the costs for the protectors against the replacement costs of the connected switches and NICs/motherboards connected to them.

Even better, for less than $500 you could get a 500ft pre-terminated fiber cable and two media converters and have no lightning worries.

February 18, 2012 | 04:25 AM - Posted by Mark_Hughes

I think I would have threaded the cable through a hose pipe or some of that plastic gas pipe, Just to offer some protection from the weather and lawn mowers. Also, people are less likely to feel inclined to mess with a hose.

February 18, 2012 | 10:17 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Just wondering how well that switch will pivot once its all wired up.

February 18, 2012 | 11:38 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

If you do need a switch with SFP transceiver ports in the future, Trendnet makes a great 16-port managed switch with two mini-GBIC/SFP ports, it's usually around $160 online.

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