Introduction: Home Network Design and Setup

What makes for a great home network? How can I create a network open to expansion? How can I make it easy for friends to join? The most important thing to do when creating a network is to plan out what you want to include and where your outlets are located. The necessary outlets are the coaxial outlet for internet and power outlet for power. Once you know what you want and where the outlets are located, you can determine the devices needed and the cables with their lengths.

In this tutorial, I will go over a basic home network design stepping through the setup as well as covering potential expansion points. The basic home network will create a wireless network and wired network for any devices that need internet.

Step 1: Materials

Materials:

  • Modem + Power Adapter
  • Router + Power Adapter
  • Coaxial cable
  • Short ethernet cable
  • Long ethernet cable
  • Computer with ethernet port

Optional Materials:

  • Laptop
  • Gaming Device

Step 2: Setting Up Hardware and Optimal Location

The first step is to find the optimal location to place the router and modem in the house. In the diagram of the house above, the location of the coaxial outlet is in the living room. The modem and router could be placed any where in the house using long cables, but long cables can be messy and trip people up when improperly stowed. Thus the optimal location will be in the dining room but where? The diagram indicates the potential locations with red crosses and green checks. The red crosses are for locations that could work, but their location limits the wireless broadcasting throughout the house. The green check is centrally located to allow for optimal wireless broadcasting throughout the house and located against the wall so the cables could be run along the edge of floor and the router and modem could be stored on a shelf.

Required Materials:

  • Modem + Power Adapter
  • Router + Power Adapter
  • Coaxial cable
  • Short ethernet cable

The setup for the hardware is in the picture above where the modem is the black box and the router is the white box. The modem converts the signals from the coaxial outlet into what we know as internet. The router then broadcasts the internet to all the devices connected.

  1. The coaxial cable connects the modem to the coaxial outlet which can be seen the last picture above if you need help finding which one.
  2. The short ethernet cable connects the modem to the router. Make sure to connect the ethernet cable into the internet ethernet port on the router otherwise the router will not have internet access.
  3. Connect the corresponding power adapters to their corresponding devices.

Step 3: Setting Up Software

The next step is to setup the router to broadcast the internet throughout the house. Detailed specific instructions for your router will come in the box or look them up online under the manufacturer's website. In this case, I bought a DLINK router so the images will reflect the software from this manufacturer.

  1. Either connect a computer to the router using an ethernet cable or to the default wireless network.
  2. Once connected, open up an internet browser and proceed to the default IP address for the router. In this case the default IP address was 192.168.0.1
  3. The first page of the website should be a login similar to the first picture above. Use the default admin username and password to enter the admin console for the router. For this example the username was admin and the password was blank.
  4. Most routers have a wireless setup wizard to assist in navigating the console. The next image shows the option to pick a name for the network broadcasting. This should be something unique that you can easily identify.
  5. The last step in setting up the wireless network is to set the password for the network. The last image shows the password creation for the wireless network so you can protect it from unwanted users. The password should be something strong that you can remember or write down and store somewhere safe.

There are a lot of custom configurations that can be done to the wireless network, but for simplicity the bare minimum was described here. Depending on the router, there are even options for guest networks.

Step 4: Connecting Computers and Devices to the Network

Now that the network has been setup, it is time to connect the devices. If you need to use a wired connection the first photo is showing the ethernet cable and where it should be plugged into a desktop. The second photo is showing the wireless network connection menu and displaying our network called home_network on the wireless list.

Wired

Once you plug the ethernet cable into the port, you will have internet and will be free to browse.

Wireless

You will need to find the wireless menu on the device. If the device is a laptop then the wireless menu should be in the bottom right or press the arrow in the bottom right and it will display more icons.If the device is a phone or tablet then go to the settings and find the wireless setting which should then list your options. Once you try to connect, the device will request a password. Enter the password you setup in the last step.

Step 5: Custom Devices

Now that the network is setup, what can I add to customize it?

Wireless Speakers

The photos above are one example of customizing your network. The system in the photos is the Sonos system which uses a home bridge to send the music to the wireless speakers. The bridge is connected to the router by an ethernet cable and speaker connects to the bridge without the need to connect to the network.

Smart TV

Another option is a smart TV which allows you to view the internet and access programs like Netflix or Hulu. To connect the smart TV you will either need to join the wireless network or run an ethernet cable from the router to the TV.

Gaming Devices

Some gaming devices allow for offline play, but if you want to play games with friends you will need to connect the device to the internet. This can be done either through ethernet or wireless depending on the device. If the device doesn't have a wireless adapter then you will need to run an ethernet cable to the device.

Step 6: Expanding Network

Now that the network is complete. Here are some solutions to problems that may occur during the development of your network.

I have run out of ports on my router

There are a couple solutions to this problem. One solution is getting a router with more ethernet ports, but that makes your old router obsolete. Another solution would be to get a network switch to expand the ethernet ports. To connect the ethernet switch just take an ethernet cable and connect the router and the network switch. This allows the ethernet ports on the switch act as if they were connected to the router thus giving you more ethernet ports to provide internet to wired devices.

I am not getting very good wireless on the other side of my house

The first and easiest option is to relocate your router to a more centralized location as well as make sure it is not located behind any large metal objects. This will allow the router's range to reach a larger portion of the house. Another option is to add an access point which rebroadcasts the wireless signal without conflicting with the original signal. This will allow you to have the same internet throughout your entire house, but you will need to run an ethernet cable to the access point.

I can't run an ethernet across my house but my device only can use a wired connection

The first option is the power line ethernet which uses the power outlets in your house to pass an ethernet connection. The device is a two piece adapter that plugs into two separate power outlets to pass the ethernet. Another option is a network bridge that uses another router configured to connect to the wireless network. When the network bridge connects to the wireless network the ethernet ports will be connected to the internet and can provide a wired connection to your device.

Comments

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DIY+Hacks+and+How+Tos made it!(author)2017-01-08

Nice tutorial. You should enter this into the First time Authors contest.

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