Introduction: LAN's for the Everyman!

So its been a little while since my last instructable but i have had a little inspiration from my friends here on instructables so i thought id contribute.  I love LAN's and WAN's.  I study everything about them.  Its a hobby that i will make my profession.  What better kind of job is there than one you love doing?  In this instructable i will go over everything that i think is important for making a killer DIY home network.  Along with examples of great work from some of the others here on instructables and this kid on you tube, you will be ready to go crazy.  Everything from HTPC's to your own file server that does a whole host of cool things like an FTP server so you can have all your important files on the web for you and others to access to large files such as ripped movies and other important files that otherwise cant accessed form remote locations.  I dont know how to cite others instructables on here but i hope i dont upset anyone by adding the url to their instructables and videos because there is no reason that i should redo work that has already been done just fine.

*** If there are any questions about pulling cable or anything in my instructable is lacking in any way please leave my a post and ill answer it.  I know how frustrating it is to go through one of these and not understand a part.

Step 1: The Prewire

Thb43 made a great instructable titled Structured Wiring System Design.  Here is the url

His finished product is perfect.  I used to do low voltage prewire in new construction homes in california.  We would load these houses to the max with cat5e and RG-6 coaxial cables along with surround sound and security.  It was disappointing to know that the majority of cable in these homes will be under utilized.  Wiring is pretty straight forward so check out Thb43's instructable.

Step 2: The Devices

Now that you have taken a look at thb43's example of a structured wiring system were on to the devices that will be on the network.  This is pretty much the whole point of having the network.  On my network i have my windows xp pc that acts as a server for movies and music and my wifes laptop also an xp machine.  I also have my file server that is a pentium 3 box that i have my old 320 gb and a 250 gb hard drives.  Using windows file and printer sharing you can share printers and other usb devices over your network and eliminate the need for usb pen drives and just print right over the network to your shared printer.  By far my favorite feature of a network is the audio video streaming capabilities of devices such as HTPC's and game consoles such as both the xbox's and the ps3.  You can buy or build a custom HTPC with all the different features in one custom location but they tend to be expensive.  If you have the money this is probably the best option.  XBMC is made as a program for all operating systems and of course a replacement operating system for the xbox classic.

Step 3: Softmod an Xbox Classic

I used daiatlus79's instructable to softmod my xbox classic.

Without the mod the system is just a boring old thing but after you do this you can swap out the hard drive for a larger one and store all your old games on it and free up some space.  mine has all the good games and old snes and n64 roms on it for my wife.  she likes them and this way we have a multi purpose machine "toy".  after i did the original softmod i used slayers 2.7 auto installer to do the upgrades.  you can probably find the slayers 2.7 disk on pirate bay like i did or,  you can also google it and find it yourself.  it is a newer version of xbmc than the one that is in daiatlus79's instructable but not the newest, remember people stopped using xbox classic for xbmc a while ago for the most part so all the forums are pretty old and most of the links for the download sites are dead.  you need all the tools to do it right.  Thanks to mikeyg6754 for putting out his video about swapping out your xbox classic hdd for a larger one.  for video 1
and  for video 2

i dont think that this kid made the software for the swap but he did a great job showing how to use it.  ive done the swap 3 times.  works like a charm every time. 

Step 4: Sharing Files

So the xbox classic or any of the other machines i showed in step 2 is difficult sometimes.  doing the soft mod for the xbox classic is just a pain in the butt.  But even after you figure it out its still only the front end to the Data sharing system.  The back end is pretty easy as long as you have some sort of pc.  Ive shared files successfully on all three operating systems(Windows,Mac,Linux) but i have to say that i have the easiest time doing it on windows XP.  I'm not a huge windows fan after installing ubuntu linux in a dual boot configuration.  Linux shares files just like windows but its not a workgroup share its a SAMBA share.  Mac users have to find a program for their systems that allows them to set up a samba share and they are set.  In Windows a just right click and go to sharing and security.  then you can share it on your workgroup.  Same process to share a folder full of files.  You can set up something like a FreeNAS but i never had any luck with that.  I installed it just fine but i could never write data to it.  If you have an old pentium 3 or something similar you can set it up as a fake server without anything plugged into it other than the power cord and an ethernet cable.  I just installed xp pro and just used the remote desktop feature that is built into xp pro to make administrative changes to the server.  Its not a true server but it works well.  you can check that out here.

You can even make your little server into a print server.  Really its no different from anything you would do with a regular pc.  BE CREATIVE!

Step 5: Don't Panic

Again, let me know if you don't understand something.  Maybe you don't know how to crimp or trim out your cat-5e after you did all the work of running the cables in the walls and rafters of your home.  You tube works good for watching someone trim out either of these.  Maybe ill put out a video.  Happy Networking!