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LAN & WAN Basics

Network #1: Data, Phone, TV, And Whole-house Audio

Chris from Texas built his system using components from Leviton's Integrated Networks product line. He was able to design and install the network while his home was being built, which was obviously a big help.

"My focus was to have distribution boxes for computer/phone/TV, with wiring that would control Leviton Decora Digital Chopin Volume Control modules," Chris wrote. (Figure 1)

 Figure 1: Decora Digital Chopin module

Figure 1: Decora Digital Chopin module

These are the Ethernet-controlled volume control modules that replace traditional transformers and rotary controls for whole-house audio distribution.

The heart of the system fits into two Leviton Structured Media Center Series 280 distribution boxes. Figure 2 shows the LAN / Network box with the cover on, and the other is for phone and TV / satellite and support for the Chopin modules.

 Figure 2: Leviton Structured Media Center Series 280 box

Figure 2: Leviton Structured Media Center Series 280 box

Chris paid about $69 for the boxes at his local Home Depot. He would have used a larger box, but Home Depot didn't stock them.

 Figure 3: Open view of LAN box (click image to enlarge)

Figure 3: Open view of LAN box
(click image to enlarge)

Figure 3 shows the LAN box with cover off, where you can see the Leviton Cat 5e GigaMax Universal 24 port patch panel purchased on eBay for around $45 running along the left side of the box. The panel supports the approximately 17 Ethernet ports throughout Chris' home.

"I could have used the smaller Leviton patch panels that fit wonderfully into these boxes...I think they come in groups of five", Chris said. "However, the patch panel was cheaper and I was able to secure it to the side and free up space. It also was a gigabit [grade] patch panel, in case I upgraded in the future with my router and switch".

The other components in the LAN cabinet are a Linksys SD216 16 port 10/100 switch (top), WRT54GX2 wireless router (center) and cable modem (bottom). If you look carefully, you can see the router's two antennas, which are tucked underneath the cable bundles. Even with the cover on, Chris said that he gets a good enough wireless connection about 75 feet away.

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