Instructables
Picture of Building POF home user network
Nowadays there are two known for the majority of the Internet users possibilities to build their home network – one based on Ethernet solution using the UTP (Unshielded Twisted Pair) cable; and the second one based on the WI FI technology.
    Both used techniques have their disadvantages:
    For the UTP they are:
  • The cable length is limited to 100m
  • The cable is thick and can not be hidden easy – always a big cable mess exist
  • The quality of the connection can depend on the temperature, humidity, the electromagnetic  radiation, etc.
  • There are only fixed lengths of cables available of the market – for the home user is difficult to cut the cable and to mount the jack (special crimping tools are needed)
  • If connectivity fails – it is difficult to find where exactly the problem is – you have to have always additional replacement cables
   The WLAN connection have the following disadvantages:
  • It creates electromagnetic radiation
  • Sometimes, when the used devices are from different brands (the router and the WLAN card or USB adapter) is very difficult to build a stable connection
  • Even coded and security protected, they are easy to hack – your neighbors can connect to the Internet through your WLAN modem and perform even criminal tasks, leaving you the responsibility.
I would like to propose another alternative for building of small home networks. It pretends to be the simplest  to build, resistant to heat, humidity, vibrations, radio waves..etc.
This technique is based on the use of POF.
POF stands for plastic optical fiber .
The 1mm fiber diameter is about 500 times thicker than a glass optical fiber. 96% of the cores cross section conducts modulated light for data transmission similar to glass optical fiber applications. The maximal transmission distance amounts to about 100m without active repeaters. Polymer fibers are used for high speed data network in homes, commerce and industry as well as in cars and airplanes. POF is often regarded as an optical home network because POF is easy to install. The fiber is thin, can be shortened to the desired length by a sharp knife and requires no connectors on its ends. Anyone can set up a robust, high performance and Ethernet compatible network without any special tools.
Due to its simplicity POF can carry Ethernet, USB, IEEE1394 and other protocols. The latest POF fibers operate at a wavelength of 650nm, are in mass production and offer state of the art network bandwidth. The fiber material is available in two main qualities; Low cost SI-POF with a core diameter of 1mm and a length of 50 to 100m. The 1mm core of GI-POF offers very high data rates combined with long range. The current GI bandwidth is in the range of > 3Gbps at 50m. The attenuation is < 200dB/km and the proposed bending radius is about 25mm. POF is very robust against vibration, EMI, zero radiation (EMC), humidity, provides high isolation, suited for explosive environments and has a wide temperature range. And it is easy to use. In other words the ideal networking media for you.
 
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up
gcouger4 months ago

You can buy bulk dual mode fiber for 35 cents a foot on Amazon and the ends cost 25 cents apiece [some skill required to attach]. The skill can be learned by anyone that isn't total klutz. I expect both could be found surplus for under a dime or less if you looked around

If I were building a new house I would run 1 1/2 or 2 inch PVC conduit for the telephone, network and pull a extra cable of each one while I was was building the house. A couple of runs of fiber wouldn't take up much space either. I am pretty sure fiber is in the future. A couple of well labeled messenger lines for pulling things in the future are good things to have as well.

I might not put an outlet everywhere but I would wrap the PVC at ever corner with a few wraps of copper or aluminum wire and test them with a metal detector so I could find the conduit behind the sheet rock if I need another outlet or needed to pull new wires or fiber and ran into trouble. All the corners would be two half ells instead of 90 degree elbow to make pulling thing easier.

Think a head.

dremanu1 year ago
To get a project like this done for a regular sized home, let's say 1,500 square feet, it would probably cost about a $1,000.00, when factoring in the need to buy a new router, and all for a measly return of 200mgpbs pipeline, it just doesn't seem like a very good value to get.
jsharp2 dremanu5 months ago

What is mgpbs?

cat6, cat6a or cat7 are way more cost effective and you can outfit an entire home with them for under $200 including a crimper/cutter and wall plates and have a max bandwidth of 10gbps and you dont have to buy any pci cards for standard 1gbps speeds, to reach 10gbps you will need the equipment which can be costly though
kaiserct1 year ago
Great idea; looks pretty simple and will not need to be upgraded every 4-5 years. However, please have someone proof read your text, grammar and syntax.
au contraire, this will need to be upgraded the instant you get broadband fiber to your home, who would want 100M backbone with 100M+ incoming.
Good for between buildings in lightning prone areas, so long as speed isn't a real issue and at 40metre range it would have to be a very close building.
All ready upgrading for my fiber connection.
leemck1 year ago
Plastic optical fiber really looks terrific. As of December 15th 2012 I did not see POF cable or end devices offered at frys.com or jameco.com. I don't know why this cable system has not made it into US computer product distribution.

Somewhat off topic, I have been looking for a POF type cable available with end devices that provide a broad bandwidth analog input. I would like to use it at 144 Mhz and 440 Mhz ham radio frequencies, Maybe make an opamp like circuit where the two strands of optical fiber, the led and the detector transistor have the non linear characteistics of the led and sensor removed with a feed back loop. It would be like a piece of lossless error correcting coaxial cable.
at 20bB /100m it's not really low loss, why not stick an RTL dongle on a raspberry pi server at the feed point on the aerial, then run Cat5/6 back. You can't hope to transmit via the POF, surely.
boricua861 year ago
Im pretty sure there are companies using this already, *cough*ARMY*cough*.
We use a similar adapter to what you have shown. The only downside I see is that the standard still is Cat5/6. Cat6 still offers gigabit speed. Yes it is thicker and more expensive if you want it shielded, but the standard is the standard ya know. The bottleneck would be a traditional modem. The fiber optic cable transmit light rather than electronic signals. So therefore companies would have to invest in finding out how to turn light into data. Similar to how a modem turns signals to electricity.
scci1 year ago
What was the total cost?
tvan nunen1 year ago
Actually, normal UTP lan is also electrically isolated. Inside every connector, there are little transformers that isolate the 'outside' from the 'inside'
Fiber optic is good, why you choose to call it POF is beyond me. It's only real trouble is that if you exceed the maximum bend radius, you will break or fracture the conductor of light leaving it useless. And unless there's a LOT new under the sun, fiber optic does need ends on it, and those are relatively easy to put on. The resistance to Electro Magnetic Interference (EMI) is most intriguing to me, since that is a big problem with many wired and wireless networks. EMI can actually be used as an intentional means of jamming signals, with fiber optic, not a problem. But they can be fragile. Speed is also very good. I've installed fiber optic that went over gigabit speeds.
seeems like many have missed the fact that he is describing Plastic Optical Fiber - similar to the materials used in things like swimming pool lighting.

It does not have the equivalent size and performance ration that Fiber Optic Cable has. but then it is plastic - not glass.
ssrdi021 year ago
Sorry to appear dense here, but can you clarify the data transfer rate of POF? It seems to be saying its around 250 Mbps, so while it could connect to Gigabit ethernet the transfer would slow down to speeds more like that of a Dlan. Is that correct?
What I could find gave a 200MB/s cap in the ID200. Not really a speed demon. Nor is it good at distance either, limited to 34 meters as the OP states. Even 'WiFi' has greater range than this stuff.
WoodsyGirl1 year ago
It is pretty clear this was written by someone whose native language is not English. However, the grammar IS technically correct (for the most part), but it is used archaically, making it somewhat difficult to understand for those not used to reading Shakespeare.

So...does anyone know where we can buy those beautiful lights?!?!
PeteCress1 year ago
This is interesting - especially the points about home media use - but reads like somebody's shilling for the industry rather than presenting a valid DIY project.
I doubt the industry would be targeting us for sales directly - and use the errors pointed out by kaiserct...
Nice 'ible - I like the fact you took the time to show taking raw strands and got them connected by a simple crimp tool. I would be very worried about stapling the strands onto the moulding or floor joists though - one bad swing with a hammer and you are rerunning cabling all over again.
Milen (author)  PeteCress1 year ago
Practically each DIY project is based on things, which you have to purchase, That means industry products. But after the act of buying teh necessary materials, the whole remaining work is fully DIY project. The implementation relies only on you.
jerbs1 year ago
@zaen
You are referring to Glass Fiber rather than Plastic Fiber Optics. Glass Fiber can reach speeds of 40Gb/s (that's the highest I know of anyway). The biggest fiber connection my company sells is an OC-193, which means it is the equivalence to 193 T3 lines. A T3 is the equivalence of 28 T1 lines, and a T1 line is the equivalence of 24 DS0 lines.

As you probably already know a DS0 has a bandwidth of 64Kbit/s.
T1 1.544 Mbit/s
T3 around 45Mbit/s
OC-1 = T3 yet optical rather than copper
OC-3 = 3 T3 lines
...
OC-192 = 192 T3 lines
....
OC-788 768 T3 lines (40Gb/s)

While the physical lines have to be able to handle the desired speeds, you also have to have something on each end that is capable of sending/receiving data at those speeds.
silvandre1 year ago
Very Nice Post! ;) Congrats
Zaen1 year ago
After visiting the websites listed, it looks like fiber tops out at about 200Mb/s vs 1Gb/s for ethernet these days. Now I know networks use fiber for the infrastructure backbone, but are these speeds not available to consumers? or am I just missing something...?
Willard2.01 year ago
In the intro, you state that a disadvantage of UTP is only a 100m run.  Later in step 4 you say the reliable connection limit of POF is only 40-45m.  
How is POF better than copper if you can't run it further?
How is it better when I can run gigabit over cheap copper and only 100mbit on expensive POF. How is POF suitable for network backbones when it is only capable of 100mbit.

POF also seems much more expensive for no performance improvement over copper. You need a specialized switch and adapters for every computer on your network. Copper is the standard today and every computer has a built in RJ45 port.

Here is common scenario:
I have installed POF in my walls and finished all the drywalling/painting. The POF directly terminated it to the computer and directly terminated it to the switch. Something gets bumped and a cable is damaged. You now have to try to replace the structural cabling. There is no patch panel (that I see) between the cabling and switch that prevents damage to the POF runs.

I think fiber is excellent for long range high speed connections where reliability and speed are the most important. It is too delicate to run to the average consumer PC. Consumers need something that is durable and easy to use.
totszwai1 year ago
The site casacom.ch is broken
tallen191 year ago
Maybe I'm missing something here, but I really can't see how buying extra kits, cables and all this faff is better than Ethernet?
snagels1 year ago
Wouldn't those dongles be the bottleneck for this network?
The optical connection would no doubt be lightning fast.
But wouldn't bringing the signal from the optical fiber through ethernet to the router/pc be limited to the maximum speed of the ethernet connection?
Milen (author)  snagels1 year ago
This technology is new and in development. Now 200Mbit/s is available, which is enough for the usual home applications. I hope soon 1Gbit/s dongles shall be available. At which costs - I do not know, but I think, they will be comparable with the cost of WLAN network ,..
Unless you're doing quite a bit of transfer between internal PCs, the bottleneck is going to be your cable/DSL modem. And since the POF is (at least) 100 megabit, that matches up nicely with 100 megabit Ethernet. And if you're running 1 gigabit, unless you're running with large frames, you aren't going to get much over 100 megabit anyway.
bytehead1 year ago
Cute. I've been thinking about glass fiber, but I doubt that I could afford it. I remember how it went when I converted to fiber at my last job, and how the cut ends all needed to be polished, and the equipment that told them if it was polished enough or not.

I don't have a problem cutting and strip UTP to length and crimping ends on (or testing it either), but this is an excellent alternative for those who want to do-it-yourself and get wired connectivity all over the house.

My one issue has to do with the cost. UTP is pretty cheap, and while you need a crimper (which usually has the stripper built in) which I've seen for $25, ends, and either a multimeter or a 10-base T tester (I've seen those for about 10 bucks). Some practice and a knowledge of how the wires should be laid out in the end, and you're all set.

And if I were wiring the house, I'd be using wall jacks.
ListysDad1 year ago
I looked at some of teh products you talk about but they only seem to go to 100mps! Any gigabyte kit?
Milen (author)  ListysDad1 year ago
Now are available kits with 200Mbit/s. Soon are expected 1Gbit/s kits. I think must be available in the begining of the year.
Jawatech1 year ago
For the average home user, the cost vastly outweighs any benefits you may get from converting to a local fiber network. If I were going to do this I would use glass optical fiber anyway. Plastic fiber is easier to use but simply is not yet capable of the range and speeds of glass fiber.
dbbd1 year ago
Expensive & slow. Sounds like this technology has to mature a lot.
Same as everyone I'm wondering what speeds you'd get from this, and what all that equipment will cost me, as it probably is way more expensive than regular ethernet appliances, due to it's unpopular nature.
blindpyro1 year ago
Hey just wanted to clarify TCP is Transmission Control Protocol, what you were speaking of is most commonly UTP or Unshielded Twisted Pair. Examples being Cat5e and Cat6. Nice ible though.
Milen (author)  blindpyro1 year ago
Thanks, I will correct the text
im3733 Milen1 year ago
TCP refers to the method by which packets are transmitted, and is used for both wired and wireless network connections. Almost all computers today use TCP/IP (note that the slash does not indicate "or", both protocols are used in joint), TCP for handling the delivery of packets to the user. IP handles the addressing and verification of packets. The main alternative to TCP is UDP, though UDP is primarily used for things such as VoIP, MMOs, streaming videos, etc.

I say all that to say that the correct classification of your two options are not TCP over UTP vs WiFi /WLAN, but rather simply UTP vs WiFi/WLAN. The only difference between them is the medium used to transmit the data.

But I do agree with your promotion of Fiber Optic, great stuff and overall great ible.
Milen (author)  im37331 year ago
Thank you, I have corrected the text, to no confuse more the readers :-)
Wilsas1 year ago
Simply amazing... this is going to be the first project i do when i move to a house!