Introduction: 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.

Step 1:

On the pictures is done comparison between Ethernet cable and POF. It is seen that the POF is thinner and it is easy trace, to hide, to mask, to bind .

Step 2:

Other advantages of the POF networks:
  •   Fast and cheap installation
  •  The communication is done using visible light, created by LED and it safe for the eyes
  • It is resistant against electromagnetic waves, temperature, humidity, chemical reactive substances
  • In plus – it does not create radio wave radiation
  • It is electrically isolated network – if external routed, can not collect lightnings, can not create short circuit fail
  • It has very low weight
  • Can be easy mounted inside the walls and panels and simply connected
What is needed to build a high quality connection based on the POF?
 First – The POF cable of course - the POF is offered in the colors : White, Black, Grey.

Step 3:

         Which structure the network will have depends on how many computers will be connected together. The simplest solution is  that only one computer must connect to the Internet and a link between the computer and the modem/router must be established. In this case are needed additionally only two Ethernet to POF adapters. Because the mainly used computers  do not have their own POF port or card like presented on the picture above (internal PC POF PCI card), as well, the popular modems and routers too, special adapters (dongles) POF-Ethernet must be used.

Step 4:

The POF-Etehrnet adapters require additional supply. They can be supplied directly from a free USB port by  special cable, or using AC/DC adapter.

Step 5:

       Having all needed parts the building of the network can begin:
The POF cable can be cut at the appropriate length. The presented dongles guarantee a stable problem less connection at distances until 40-45 meter. The cable can be cut using usual sharp knife.

Step 6:

Together with the POF cable can be ordered also a special dedicated cutter.

Step 7:

The dongles must be connected to the PC and the modem through UTP Ethernet cables and supplied. They are automatically recognized by the computer and do not require any driver. What remains now is only to insert the POF cable in the Optolock (Trade name from Firecomms – ) connector of the dongle. Finally the lock must be pressed.

The only rule is that the lighting end of the POF cable pair must be inserted in the dark hole (the receiver side of the dongle) and pushed softly until the bottom of the socket. The dongles can stay always supplied – they have power saving mode if no connection is detected.

Step 8:

      When more nodes must be connected in the network, than an POF optical router/switch is needed. It normally has one Ethernet interface, which connects to the modem/server/router and 4-24 optical interfaces.

      The switch can be simply configured,  when needed, connecting a PC to its Ethernet port.
From the other side of the connection, the mentioned above dongles should be used.

Step 9:

        POF is an excellent solution for multimedia and intelligent home networks. In particular, POF is suitable as network backbones to mutually interconnect TV, set top boxes, NetTV, gaming, PCs, network attached servers (NAS), internet and VoIP. Carrier Networks POF is an attractive solution for telecommunication companies, cable networks and infrastructure providers to offer a completely optical solution (Vertical installations GOF (glass optical fiber), Horizontal (floor level) POF).
When the POF cables are inserted in the walls, another elegant solution proposed by the company Casacom ( ) can be used – All internal links embedded inside the walls are performed by POF. The optical cables connect to a small router sized as standard wall socket, having external Ethernet connectors, which can connect directly with the PC.

Step 10:

Dongles, switches, POF cable can be ordered on the e-mail address:  . Additional information can be found at
Dongles, switches for home and office use and wall mount modules can be ordered also at the internet site of casacom : or e-mail address : .
When companies are interested in their own POF modules design, they can order the necessary chips at the Innodul website. The “Optolock” optical transceiver is unique product and can be ordered at Firecomms (

Finally I want to present another unusual application of the POF cable. It can be used for very beautiful lighting decorations and effects (see the pictures).

P.S. I am receiving a lot of mails and comments. I can not answer all of them. I want to resume my answers:
I do not claim that the POF is the best universal solution. It is new technology in development. Not many companies are involved in the project. They are mainly Swiss, making the development, some placed in China, making the devices and the cable, and the only one producing the optical transceivers is Firecomms (Ireland).Some of the speeds reported in the text are reached in laboratory conditions. Currently the dongles work at speeds of 200Mbits/s. and distances to 50m. This shall be enough for home appliances. I hope that in the fist half of 2013 devices with speeds of 1Gbits/s will be available. I hope also that soon a dongles with USB2 and USB3 interfaces (instead Ethernet) will be available. I expect that internal PCI-E cards with optical interfaces will appear as replacement of the dongles.
I wrote this instructable with the purpose to present another alternative (not full replacement of the existing techniques) for the home user to build their PC networks in the easiest  and health friendlily manner. Nowadays the increased radio field strength can be reason for lot of diseases (cancer, migraine, leukemia...). WLAN is nothing else as additional radiation, independently how small the power is, but in combination with all the other electronic devices (GSM, DECT, Microwaves...) it increases the normal electromagnetic field strength, sometimes to dangerous values.

The presented decorations are pure DIY - they can not be purchased. You can buy the POF cable, to strip it and everything else lies on your fantasy and creativity.

About the costs of the devices and cable  - please, do not ask me - I do not know the prices. Use the e-mail addresses above to require them.

P.P.S Now the dongles can be ordered at Conrad : or here: 


tony54 made it!(author)2017-03-22

Ethernet to POF (fiber ) to connect to my cable modem and HDTV card. It was about $40 on Amazon called a Ethernet Media Converter. So this way it can be struck by lightning and my computer would still be safe. Maybe the local EMP might also do damage but it would definitely make it less likely !

Milen made it!(author)2017-03-11

Practically the POF does not contain any metal wire to attract the lightnings and it does not conduct electrical current. In practically impossible case, when the POF cable is wet it could be conductive, but in this case everything around would be...I do not know how protected is the cable against the sunlight - may if exposed to direct sun rays, its external plastic shield could become breakable - in this case may you have to use some plastic tube. But I think that it would be not needed - the cable by itself should enough resistant.

tony54 made it!(author)2017-03-22

I am just looking for a way to connect a WIRED 100mb cable modem or HD tuner to POF fiber by using some low cost adapter. I have seen the SFF modules that plug into a network card in a computer or switch. That would take care of the computer side but is there any adapter that plugs into a WIRED 10/100/1000 network to FIBER on the other side ? I can't find one but I am not familiar with business network equipment.

I have see that the SFF modules have a Fiber In / Out and an electrical serial +- input and output but since they are using PECL and running a 1GHz speed it wouldn't be as simple as connecting the wires. And since wired network uses several pairs vs just 1 fiber also.

So is there a simple wired network to fiber adapter like the kind that plugs into a switch or computer NIC but for a remote equipment to POF ?

JasonC370 made it!(author)2016-11-22

Those who are running 6, 6e, or 7 through the walls. Don't just run it through the walls or use any old cabling. There is electrical wiring in your walls and possibly in the same gang box too. That means it will be susceptible to interference, very likely EMI, so you should buy double-shielded ethernet cabling.

It should be in plastic conduit too. The conduit protects it from critters and moisture. If you get corrosion on the cable you will have serious issues with sending and receiving data across it.

Note: cabling that is corroded should be replaced, even if it still works or is low voltage, because it will be a fire hazard.

The conduit should go directly into a gang box with a screw on conduit connector. The ethernet face plate on the other side should have a foam gasket on it so there is no moisture from the outside in.

Since you are potentially going over long distances you should use solid conductor ethernet cabling not stranded. Solid conductor is just better anyways. There is a physics as to why. It has to do with how the electrons move around the outside of the conductor. It's to lengthy to get into here though.

Ethernet cabling is typically sold in 28 - 22 AWG sizes. If you get bigger than 22 AWG you may have issues crimping on RJ45 plugs or using putting the wires down on your Ethernet jack. You really don't need bigger than 22 anyways if you are using solid conductor rather than stranded.

Some of this may sound like overkill but once its in the wall you can't exactly take it back out. At least, NOT with causing serious problems.

printrbot932 made it!(author)2016-09-01

The point isn't the cost effectiveness of it the point is the awesomeness of home fiber

vanwazltoff made it!(author)2013-02-28

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

baldmosher made it!(author)2015-06-03

I've just wired my 2-storey house inc. 100m of Cat 6 cable for around $70.

MichaelC16 made it!(author)2014-12-11

Uhhhhmm... No and No. UTP, = Unshielded Twisted Pair. It is not electrically isolated. (what ever you mean by that) and NO! There are no "Little Transformers" inside every connector. I have built hundreds and hundreds of cables for the company I work for. Unless those "Little Transformers" are microscopic, I never seen them inside any connector I've crimped on.

Wyvrnium made it!(author)2015-01-19

Ethernet over twisted pair uses an electrically isolated design to prevent ground loops and other problems. There is a tiny transformer for each signal pair inside Ethernet using devices. The signal goes through but DC and other bad things don't, so called "galvanic isolation". To reduce the number of components, these transformers can be integrated into the Ethernet jack on the device's circuit board. There are no transformers in the cables or wall jacks, only in the devices where the Ethernet link terminates.

gcouger made it!(author)2014-06-17

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.

dremanu made it!(author)2012-12-17

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 made it!(author)2014-05-03

What is mgpbs?

kaiserct made it!(author)2012-12-16

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.

TechPaul made it!(author)2013-02-25

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.

leemck made it!(author)2012-12-16

Plastic optical fiber really looks terrific. As of December 15th 2012 I did not see POF cable or end devices offered at or 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.

TechPaul made it!(author)2013-02-25

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.

boricua86 made it!(author)2013-01-23

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.

Nick_Tesla made it!(author)2012-12-17

What was the total cost?

John+T.+McF.+Mood made it!(author)2012-12-16

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.

DB.Cooper made it!(author)2012-12-17

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.

ssrdi02 made it!(author)2012-12-16

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?

james.m.k made it!(author)2012-12-16

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.

WoodsyGirl made it!(author)2012-12-16

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?!?!

PeteCress made it!(author)2012-12-16

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.

ToolboxGuy made it!(author)2012-12-16

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 made it!(author)2012-12-16

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.

jerbs made it!(author)2012-12-16

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.

silvandre made it!(author)2012-12-16

Very Nice Post! ;) Congrats

Zaen made it!(author)2012-12-16

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...?

Willard2.0 made it!(author)2012-12-16

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.

totszwai made it!(author)2012-12-16

The site is broken

tallen19 made it!(author)2012-12-16

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?

snagels made it!(author)2012-12-16

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 made it!(author)2012-12-16

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 ,..

bytehead made it!(author)2012-12-16

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.

bytehead made it!(author)2012-12-16

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.

ListysDad made it!(author)2012-12-16

I looked at some of teh products you talk about but they only seem to go to 100mps! Any gigabyte kit?

Milen made it!(author)2012-12-16

Now are available kits with 200Mbit/s. Soon are expected 1Gbit/s kits. I think must be available in the begining of the year.

Jawatech made it!(author)2012-12-16

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.

dbbd made it!(author)2012-12-16

Expensive & slow. Sounds like this technology has to mature a lot.

markheloking made it!(author)2012-12-16

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.

blindpyro made it!(author)2012-12-14

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 made it!(author)2012-12-14

Thanks, I will correct the text

im3733 made it!(author)2012-12-14

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 made it!(author)2012-12-15

Thank you, I have corrected the text, to no confuse more the readers :-)

Wilsas made it!(author)2012-12-14

Simply amazing... this is going to be the first project i do when i move to a house!

About This Instructable



Bio: Thank you all for following me.
More by Milen:DIY Oscilloscope Kit - Assembling and Troubleshooting GuideParty stroboscope done by recycled partsArduino controlled power supply source
Add instructable to: