Posted October 26, 2021
Yesterday I completed a long-dreamed-of project to run ethernet from my basement's "server" room to my router located in the attic. The whole driving force behind this project was the janky, unreliable wifi bridge system that I had been using to connect my wired basement computers to the Internet and its side effects.
I say side effects because the overwhelming problem with the wifi ethernet bridge system is the shoddy, consumer-grade hardware that is involved. Years ago I invested in a number of Netgear ethernet bridges to connect various desktops around the house to our wifi network, but those soon passed from usability (they only supported WEP encryption). I moved to a collection of TP-Link devices that are actually sort of neat.
The TP-Link bridges, though, aren't really meant for always-on bridging. They aren't particularly fast, and they eventually need a restart. Running 10 or so computers off of a single TP-Link TL-WR702N bridge presents a lot of speed issues.
When I switched from AT&T's fiber back to a cable modem, I bought all my own equipment, which left me with a spare ASUS consumer-grade wifi router. It did have a bridge mode which I enabled, and it generally works. However, it does eventually "go insane" and pollute the home wifi somehow, making the main router in the house (a relatively nice TP-Link product) start to appear flaky. It was time to run that damn wire.
Getting from the basement to the attic in a 1950s home with a wire is an unpleasant experience that demands compromises. Last Friday I was able to blast two key holes: a ceiling hole in the basement (I have a finished ceiling... ugh) and a hole into the garage from a basement storage closet. That meant I could get a wire from the server room in the basement, hidden above some HVAC vent shafts, to a ceiling hole, into the rafters, and into a storage closet with unfinished ceiling. From that closet, I could run into my garage through another hole.
Yesterday I tried to figure out where the hell my attic crawl space intersected the basement ceiling. I ended up drilling 2 large holes before realizing I was grossly misjudging where the crawl space was located above the garage. The third hole resulted in an ethernet cable, hidden by some electrical conduit, to leave the garage and enter the attic finally.
The whole project does have a 15-20 foot run where the ethernet cable is techincally visible, but, for the most part, everything is hidden from the unobservant. The network down here in the basement, though, is now delightfully fast.