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Please help me design my home network (long)
Old 12-23-2010, 03:49 PM   #1
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Please help me design my home network (long)

Presently we have Verizon FIOS via Ethernet to the PC, and via set-top box to the HDTV.

I want to set up a wireless home network that will provide Internet to my PC, a handheld tablet device such as an Ipad, and the HDTV (for movies, and to use the TV as a big monitor sometimes). The network will need to work throughout 3 floors ~ 4,000 square feet. The TV is in the basement. The PC is on the 1st floor. The tablet will be used mostly on the 2nd floor, and out on the deck attached to the back of our house. So, the signal will need to go through floors and walls.

I need ideas on
  • how to configure the network
  • what equipment (wireless cards? signal repeater?) I may need. (I realize this will vary depending on the model of TV, PC, etc. so am just seeking general advice).
  • Whether I may need extra services (such as a separate Internet feed to the Ipad)
  • Questions to ask Verizon (their web site is not very helpful)
  • Pitfalls to beware of. (We are 500+ feet from nearest neighbor, so not too concerned about signal interference).
All ideas, cautionary tales, etc. are welcome. I am trying to banish newspapers and DVDs from our house, but they won't go without a good reliable network!

Amethyst
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Old 12-23-2010, 04:10 PM   #2
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802.11n wireless should provide more range. Get one that is backward compatible with b and g. You may have some devices that need b or g.

To get the benefit of 802.11n... you will need an 802.11n compatible radio in the device.


If you have problem with one wireless router providing coverage... you might consider a wireless repeater. I have not tried one... but they are supposed to work. Do you research on them... I have read where some people have had difficulty setting them up.

If you have an ethernet cable run to different floors, you could setup two routers on different floors.

Make sure you set it up securely... If you have not done it before, do some research... there is plenty of information out there.



Make sure you
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Old 12-23-2010, 04:15 PM   #3
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My setup is pretty basic, my modem and wireless router are on the main floor. I use my Playstation 3, Dishnet receiver, wireless laser printer, and a laptop on the main floor and another laptop in the basement. Netflix through the PS3. Had no problems at all with setup, all devices found the router and setup was pretty much automatic. PS3 and Dish receiver connected to a Panasonic plasma TV. My house has steel siding and I use the laptop on my deck and in a screened patio area with no problems. I did password protect my network so each device has the password entered into it. My reliable range seems to be about 350 feet so unless your house is very large you shouldn't need any signal amplification.
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Old 12-23-2010, 10:58 PM   #4
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I have a D-Link 802.N wireless and wired router located in my office (1 end of the house). My kids are currently visiting for Christmas & I think I have 5 PC's and a couple of Blackberry/Iphones on the network right now. The router is at one end of the house on the main floor and nobody has reported any problems with it.

The router I bought has a USB port that I've put a terrabyte NAS drive on for backup. It could also be used as a source for movies or music but I haven't done this.

Setting this up was very easy. There are several how to's posted on the net. Biggest issue is to make sure that you set up the security so that a high school student can't log on. You should use WPA encryption and set the administrator password to something that is unique to you. Non-encrypted routers or ones that keep the factory password are the two most common ways to sneak onto a network.

The only quirky issue I ran into is my Comcast ISP connection. I had to "clone my PC MAC address" to connect my network to the ethernet via my Comcast cable modem. If you don't have any problems when you fire things up, then you won't need this. The symptom was that I could see the internet when my PC was hardwired to the cable modem but couldn't when I connected with the router between the PC and the modem. If you have that symptom, then try that as a fix.

Besides the router, you'll need a wireless card in every device you want to connect or a hardwired ethernet cable between it and the router. Unless your television is ethernet enabled, you'll need some sort of internet box to plug into it. I think all new game boxes are internet enabled or you can get Apple TV or one of its competitors.

I've not needed a repeater so don't know how to set one up. I advise setting up a network without one and see how much coverage you get. Take a laptop to the farthest places you want to have the network and check your signal. If its strong, you don't need a repeater.
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Old 12-24-2010, 01:41 AM   #5
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Depending upon distance and number of walls/floors, streaming HD (if that's what you want to do) to a TV is dicey, as the bandwidth may not be enough with other than a very strong (meaning close) wireless signal. It may end up needing wired ethernet.

Don't ask me how I know.
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Old 12-24-2010, 05:23 AM   #6
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As far as the actual "networking," I use Network Magic (now part of Cisco) to handle all the details of setup & administration.

Here are a couple Screen Shots:

Network Magic-1.JPG

Network Magic-2.JPG
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Old 12-24-2010, 06:28 AM   #7
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I'm an Apple fan so my slant is an obvious one - Airport Extreme and if needed, an Airport Express.

Dead simple setup, already configured for dual bands (802.11n and a slower b/g/n) which will help streaming to the HDTV, and if the base station doesn't yield coverage over 4000 square feet, plug an Express into an outlet to extend the reach.
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Old 12-24-2010, 08:03 AM   #8
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I had done a bit of research on projecting audio and video wirelessly from a laptop to a HDTV. There is a new technology referred to as Wi-Di (wireless display I think) that is built in to some (but not all) newer laptops/PCs and I think the TV as well that enable wireless HDTV. There are other solutions (about $150+/-) that have a sender that connects to the laptop's USB port and a receiver that connects to the HDTV but I think the quality of the display is less than HD. I put my effort on hold for a while, but that is what i remember.
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Old 12-24-2010, 08:33 AM   #9
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I don't suppose it'd work with a Windows PC, though

Quote:
Originally Posted by dfdski View Post
I'm an Apple fan so my slant is an obvious one - Airport Extreme and if needed, an Airport Express.

Dead simple setup, already configured for dual bands (802.11n and a slower b/g/n) which will help streaming to the HDTV, and if the base station doesn't yield coverage over 4000 square feet, plug an Express into an outlet to extend the reach.
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Old 12-24-2010, 09:19 AM   #10
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Our Home Network is, I suppose, a little more complex than most.

We run our TV through the Network and it is controlled by a Desktop Computer. In the above Network Map you can see:

2) SiliconDust tuners - HDHomerun-Dual -- this allows me to, for instance, record four different programs at the same time. (I don't have cable/satellite service but if I did the STB would replace these.)

1) SageTV HD Theater 300 (There is also a HD 200 attached but not in use).

This is connected from the Roof-Top Antennae to theTuners to the Desktop Computer to the Theater to an AV Receiver to the TV. We use SageTV but Windows Media Center (among others) would work as well.

Because this is all part of the Home Network, I can watch TV, recorded or live, on any computer with Internet access (usually my Laptop when traveling -- well, a modified version of that model).

In addition, our Security System (8 cameras) is, also, connected to the Home Network. (See, for example, at Amazon... bought ours at Sam's Club.) This, also because it is connected to the Home Network, allows us to monitor the cameras from remote locations (providing Internet access, of course).

Internet TV is still in its infancy and I am rather unimpressed. Newer TV and AVRs (Audio/Video Receiver) now have ethernet receptacles but the Content is pretty meager -- and, of course, lacks 5.1 (or greater) sound or , for the most part, HD video. Youtube is still easier to simply watch on the computer monitor than to hassle with a TV set. Internet Radio, however, has potential right now.
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Old 12-24-2010, 09:54 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amethyst View Post
I don't suppose it'd work with a Windows PC, though
The Airport stuff will, yes. They are PC type neutral.
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Old 12-24-2010, 11:39 AM   #12
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Thanks everyone, and please keep the comments coming. Everything is valuable to me.

As Chinaco said, there is a huge amount of info about home networks on the Web. In fact, I was drowning in it.

Amethyst
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Old 12-24-2010, 01:32 PM   #13
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Thanks everyone, and please keep the comments coming. Everything is valuable to me.

As Chinaco said, there is a huge amount of info about home networks on the Web. In fact, I was drowning in it.

Amethyst
Yes, but I'll suggest as others have - try the simplest first. It very likely will work fine the first time. An 'N' capable router is probably the safest bet to assure you have coverage.

One other suggestion is DO NOT use any CD software that comes with the router. Just set it up with the 'alternate' instructions. You connect an ethernet cord to the router and log into it from a web browser, and all the set up can be done from there. Then you are not dependent on SW and you can learn enough (it doesn't take much) to set up any gear anywhere on any OS (Apple , Windows, Linux - it's all the same to a Web Browser).

-ERD50
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Old 12-24-2010, 01:34 PM   #14
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I don't suppose it'd work with a Windows PC, though
Sure it will! I'm running an Airport Extreme router/wireless box in my office downstairs. It runs a wired connection to the office computers (iMac and Linux box), and wireless service to 2 MacBooks, an iBook, PowerBook G4, a Dell laptop, and two iPhones today. Oh, and there's a TV with WiFi and Netflix streaming on the network, too. (Some Vizio model...) There's a Brother laser printer plugged into the Airport Extreme, so network printing is available for everyone.

Yes, we have company. All the kids are here from around the country, and more relatives will be here tomorrow. Full house!

We have DSL service that comes into the vendor's DSL->Ethernet box. That connects by a short Ethernet cable to the wide area network port on the Airport box, tucked in a downstairs closet with the laser printer. A wire run from there connects the office machines, and the wireless coverage reaches the rest of the house easily. The TV with network streaming is upstairs and maybe 30 feet diagonally from the Airport box.
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Old 12-24-2010, 08:20 PM   #15
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We have:

Comcast cable Internet
Cisco router
Cisco wireless-n access point
Buffalo RAS server for music/video
Control4 system

Runs my iPad and iMac and dw's MacBook and iPhone flawlessly
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Old 12-24-2010, 09:25 PM   #16
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My setup as a software developer, gamer and tech guy. My setup is more for someone who enjoys tinkering; so take it with that grain of salt.

Internet into home -> Linksys WRT54G with firmware replaced with DD-WRT. You can still get these excellent routers on ebay. You may want something newer with wireless N as mentioned previously; but G works so well that N feels like an 'up sell'.

WRT54G Notes:
Mac-address filtering.
Broadcast network id off.
Extended Range Antenna.
DHCP range and # set to exact amount of hardware present (in your case 3?)
Located in 'wiring closet'; something like this, but I have a locking door:
Chief New Construction In-Wall Pre-Wire Box PAC-515

Network wired in the walls:
Office Outlet -> Gaming / Work PC.
Living Room Outlet -> 10/100 Ethernet switch (Netgear) to PS3 and Home Theatre PC running Boxee software.

Wireless network:
Macbook Air.
Old Android phone (T-Mobile G1) with Boxee remote and other home automation software. Will be replaced by iPad.
eeePc for robotics project.
eeePc laptop for cooking. (in kitchen)
Nintendo Wii.

We do not have cable; we have RSS feeds for Torrents that download episodes of shows we are interested in. We watch most things through Boxee on the home theater pc or via Netflix on the Playstation 3.

For you; I would take a closet on the first floor and put everything in there, or put it near the PC. I would run hard wire down to the basement to the tv and use wireless mostly for the ipad/etc. I suggest having it in a closet or near the pc in case you go with a UPB/X10/Z-Wave/Control4 home automation system you will have a place to centralize that too. This is where to put your really good battery backup surge protector. Most guys who do a closet run an exhaust; but that is a bit of a nerd project. It is easy enough just to put everything with the main PC.

Nightmares:
1. Not having the really good surge protector / battery backup on main pc.
2. Letting a router overheat and having to redo your network setup after buying a new one. Keep'r'cool.
3. Buying generic and not LinkSys/Cisco or Netgear.

I don't have knowledge of stuff like Control4; I use Z-Wave. Ronstar sounds like he has some nice equipment in place; straight Cisco brand (not Linksys) is great if you have the budget.

I do not suggest airport; and I'm a Mac/Pc/Linux user.
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Old 12-25-2010, 09:05 AM   #17
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For my network, I have a DSL modem connected to a wireless router which is connected to a switch. Connected to the 4 ethernet ports on the back my router is a slingbox, DVR, Nettalk calling device, and the cable that connects to the DSL modem and switch. Connected to the back ethernet port is the cable for my main computer and other hard wired test/guest computer. I use wireless only for my laptop or if guests stop by and want to use their laptop instead of my guest computer. I'm thinking of adding a printer switch so two computers can share one printer. For the wiring, I drilled a hole through the wall and ran two ethernet cables (ones for DVR, and slingbox) as the wall separates my computer room and living room.
Also, I use a crimping too to make my cables to the lengths I wanted.
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Old 12-25-2010, 01:36 PM   #18
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This is a timely discussion. We are at the point of wireless linking of our DVD to our network.

Many thanks to all.
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Old 12-25-2010, 01:40 PM   #19
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When I switched from cable to DSL recently, the phone company provided a free combo modem/wireless router (SAGEMCOM F@ST) that works great. It provides wireless access throughout the house and even has a strong signal down on the pier/dock (approx. 175 ft from the house) so that is the extent of my network as my only needs are for laptop, kindle, and netflix.

Simple is the way to go unless you need more moving parts to make it work. With cable, I had the cable modem, a wireless modem, and a range extender but the signal was still not as strong/dependable as my current modem/router.
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Old 12-25-2010, 02:17 PM   #20
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I had forgotten that we also have that other Home Network -- the one in our Roadtrek. For those that want/need a portable network -- I have described ours in these two threads:

One the Road Security

Why I think RVing Sucks.
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