Central Termination - Ethernet
We considered various options for the termination point of the Ethernet. As I come from a corporate IT background, it was difficult not to consider the possibility of using a freestanding 19", Telco-style rack. With a rack such as this, we would gain the clear advantage of being able to integrate the patch panels, switches, and a shelf for a few other things. In most typical home installations this would be considered "overkill," butI still felt that having a standard 19" rack was the best way to go on a long-term basis. While we looked at wall mounted, 19" rack solutions, we kept returning to the floor mounted rack because it better suited our needs.
Once the decision was made to go with a 19" rack, we were surprised how difficult it was to locate a 19" rack that is smaller than six feet tall. Since most 19" racks are used in enterprise applications and are normally seven feet tall, we were forced to get a seven-foot rack and cut it down for our installation. This proved to be the most cost-effective solution.
Rack waiting for installation
Once we had the carpet installed in the computer room, we were able to bolt the rack to the floor. An important note here: normally, you don't want carpet in an environment with this quantity of electronics due to static electricity concerns. Since this was a residential installation, however, we wanted carpet, so we went with a lower pile that was hopefully a little more static-free. In the areas in front of the racks and the bench, we have floor mats to provide a grounding surface to prevent static discharge, but we still have to be ever-mindful of the fact that we do have carpet in the lab.
Drilling holes to mount the rack to the concrete floor
Bolts inserted into the concrete floor
Of course, if you are going with a 19" rack mount solution, you need to select patch panels. Since our installation was CAT 6, we selected two of the 24-port Siemon Max Series MX-PNL-24 patch panels. Since the MX-PNL-24 takes regular snap-in jacks, it is easy to replace the blanks with jacks should the need arise at a later time. The cabling was then run into the rack and terminated to the patch panel using the T568A wiring standard, which is normally recommended because of its wider range of compatibility with existing standards.