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Going to try PowerLine (next to CAT5, and having used 10Base2, 10Base-T, 100Base-TX and 1000Base-T)

Posted by jpluimers on 2013/01/21

I’m going to try PowerLine.

My story is similar to Les at How Big Is Your Network?.

15 years and still growing

In 1995 I wired the house with thin net coax (10base2 w/ BNC connectors), because it did not require any expensive hubs of the day. Those old wires are still in place. The cable modem connects to a Netgear wireless router with four wired plugs. Two go to computers, one to xbox 360 and forth to Netgear hub 24 10baseT and 1 10Base2 (BNC) ports. Connected to the 24 port hub via cat 5 are another computer, 1 inkjet printer, 1 laser printer and an SMC power line Ethernet adapter. The powerline adapter connects to another SMC adapter and switch in storage building about 100 yards away from the house. This storage building has my old computers, Apple II, C64, Atari , iMac etc. Via the BNC port another 2 computers are connected in other parts of the house. Each room to which the 10base2 cable runs has a 4 port hub with BNC and RJ45 ports to allow for cat 5 connections. Last there is a laptop and an desktop in the house connected to the wireless router.

—Guest Les

I built my first network in my first rental home: a 2-room apartment with a living/study/kitchen/balcony of about 38 m^2, a bedroom of about 16 m^2 and a bathroom/shower of about 4 m^2. A crazy place (for one because the landlord choose to install 16 A D-type fuse in the main fuse box delivering power to multiple 25 A fuses in the apartment, so I once had the main fuse explode).

It was the place where I established my first company, had a BBS called The White House (which was in part true, as most of the house was indeed white), frequented the comp.font newsgroup (as I landed a PostScript/TrueType digitizing font job in about 1990) and comp.lang.pascal group,  and was public domain author.

Having a single computer multitasking BBS, work and storage using DESQview (video) wasn’t the best. So when I earned enough money using Turbo Pascal 6 and Turbo Pascal for Windows, and with student editions of DOS 5.0, Windows 3.0, and Netware 3.x I built my own network.

The server was a 386sx running Novell Netware. Clients were a 386DX with a 387 FPU for development, and another 386sx running 2 BBS lines (I had switched the phone to ISDN, and ran a dual Courier Dual Standard config that both ran HST and V.32bis at a whopping 14k4 speed (boy had I wished I knew about the “USR Sportster magic string” back then, that would have saved way more than 1000 USD).

Everything was on a network based on 10Base2 with coax cabling and BNC connectors (no, the C is not for Connector like the T was for Technology in Windows NT Technology). Having sold the university a bunch of 10Base2/10Base5 compatible network cards, I had bought a couple of them myself.

I moved to a new rental house (a real house with 3 stories) in the mid 90’s, and having seen a lot of 10Base2 problems at clients, I kept only the nearby computers at the office floor on 10Base2, and wired the rest of the house with CAT5 cabling prepared for 100Base-TX, but with 10Base-T network equipment as 100Base-TX was way too expensive. Actually, I ran the network with hubs as switches back then were still way to expensive as well.

The cool thing is that CAT5 has 4 pairs, and 100Base-TX requires only the pairs 1&2 and 3&6. Which means you could use pairs 4&5 for analog, or 4&5 and 7&8 for ISDN to save cabling. Which I did.

At the end of the 90s, I bought a house, and installed all the CAT5 cabling and equipment in the new house. The Novell Server didn’t survive Y2K, and together with the 10Base2 stuff is now in an IKEA Detolf glass door cabinet.

By then, cabling was less expensive. Since the empty PVC Electrical conduits in the house for the top 2 floors were blocked by concrete debris, I only wired the utility room, living room and office. The house is split level, so the office is half a story down, and the living half a story up from the utility room. Having an excess of wire, I didn’t have to save by sharing between network and analog/ISDN on the same wire.

Over the years, I have experimented with WiFi to get network at the bedroom floor, but there is so much rebar in the reinforced concrete that coverage is poor at best.

Meanwhile, the 1000Base-T is running over CAT5, and WiFi is at 802.11-something (the letter seems to change every couple of months), but the network capable devices at the bedroom floor are still basically connectionless.

PowerLine aka HomePlug has evolved a long way (HomePlug AV seems to be at 500 mbit now), so that’s the direction I’m looking into. When using multiple devices, PowerLine works like a hub, so it seems I’m going full circle here.

There is so much PowerLine equiment to choose from, that I need to do a tad bit more research though.

An important tip in advance:

Since you share the power lines with all your neighbors, make sure you enable encryption when using PowerLine adapters (:


Most images from Wikimedia, thanks guys!


Some more nostalgia from the “A List of Reachable Major MsDos Authors of Files at FTP Archives” back in 1993:

Key:        Pluimers, Jeroen
Author:     Jeroen W. Pluimers
Program:    UpCONV - Pascal case conversion utility
Company:    P.S.O. (Pluimers Software Ontwikkeling)
Address:    P.O. Box 266, 2170 AG  Sassenheim, THE NETHERLANDS
Voice:      +31-2522-20908
BBS:        +31-2522-20050 (HST/DS, 24 hrs a day)
Fax:        none
Other info:

2 Responses to “Going to try PowerLine (next to CAT5, and having used 10Base2, 10Base-T, 100Base-TX and 1000Base-T)”

  1. […] wrote mentioned the Courier HST Dual Standard before in Going to try PowerLine (next to CAT5, and having used 10Base2, 10Base-T, 100Base-TX and 1000Base-T), but never about the why, so here it […]

  2. […] This was back when I was already a professional Turbo Pascal for PC programmer, not yet a Mac programmer, but doing Pascal on VMS to assist a client in the scaleable font industry. […]

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