Adding Ethernet to the upstairs in our house

This weekend, my Bride asked me if it was possible to get TV and video on the TV we have in the upstairs playroom like we have on the other TVs in the house. Hmm….

Xbox 360s are cheaper now than most set-top boxes you can buy, and with Windows Media Center I am centralizing our recorded TV and DVD collection so anything is accessible anywhere, so what I really need to do is get a reliable, fast-ish network connection upstairs.

As any geek that’s married to a non-geek knows, there’s a huge marriage-happiness difference between giving your spouse technology that’s 99% there and 100% there.

Wireless is a bit sketchy at that part of the house, so I need more than an Xbox wireless adapter to make this work. That gives me two options: add another access point in the house, upgrading to Wireless-N in the process (I’m still hanging on to G since it’s just used for a few laptops to get on the Internet) or run a wired connection.

All told, going to Wireless-N would trigger an epic upgrade cycle that could end up costing me hundreds. Running a wired connection will cost about $50, will be faster (gigabit, even though the 360 only goes to 100mbit), and once I have a run up there, I can add as many drops as I want.

My Plan

I already have a few coax cables running along behind a gutter at the back of my house going from the basement to the attic. I will add a Cat-5 to that bundle and send that run into a small patch panel high in one of the closets upstairs. From there I will run a connection by the upstairs TV and for now I’ll just directly connect the two lines. Later as I add more drops upstairs, I can put a switch in this closet.

I could save money by skipping the patch panel for now, but that’s too ghetto.


Bill of Materials

Outdoor-grade Cat-5e cable (100’)

$26 shipped

12-port Mini Patch Panel

$25 shipped

Keystone Jacks, Wall Plates, In-wall Cat-5e cable

Already in my inventory


So it looks like I have a project for an upcoming weekend. At least if I’m going to be climbing around in the attic, I’ll be doing it in the winter instead of the summer. Schlepping around in fiberglass stinks. It REALLY stinks when you’re doing it sweaty and everything sticks to you.