In our kitchen, we have a Mac Mini with a small 15″ monitor that we use mostly for surfing the web and watching television that was recorded on another computer using MythTV.  For as long as we’ve had the Mac Mini, we’ve always used a wireless connection with it, which has worked pretty well for the most part, but there are times when the wireless signal is so weak we aren’t able to stream television or music to that computer, which can be pretty annoying since all of our multimedia content is stored elsewhere.  Using a wireless connection also has the downside of being interrupted every time the microwave runs, which is equally as annoying.  Recently, the network connection problems seem to be occurring more frequently, so we decided it was time to think about running a wired connection to the kitchen.

The New Network Jack

The New Network Jack

Of all of the rooms where we have computers located, the kitchen is actually the easiest location for fishing a network cable.  Even though it’s an insulated wall, the basement below it has an unfinished ceiling and there was already a coax cable running into the box where we wanted to locate the network cable, so we could use it as a guide.  We started by tying (and taping) multiple strings to the coax cable that had already been fished through the wall where we wanted the network cable to be and then we pulled it back down into the basement so that only the strings were left in the wall.  We then tied (and taped) a network cable to one of the strings and tried pulling it up from the basement.  It took a couple of tries (and we broke one of the strings in the process, which is why we were glad we’d thought to run several through the wall), but we were eventually able to fish the network cable into the electrical box in the kitchen.  Once we had the cable in place, we wired it to a network jack & face plate that we bought at Radio Shack and fixed the plate to the wall.  In the basement, we ran a long (30-foot?) cable across to “server room” on the other side of the house, where we plugged it in to our router.  (Our next project will be to neatly tuck this cable up into the rafters …)

When we first plugged a network cable into the new jack and the Mac, we had trouble getting the computer to detect the wired connection (it was giving an error message that the “Cable for Built in Ethernet is not plugged in”).  We thought maybe it was because we had used a standard Ethernet cable (rather than a cross-over cable, which is required for some Apple products), but after spending way too much time checking that we had wired the cable to the jack correctly and researching the problem online, we finally discovered that there was a problem with the Ethernet port on the Mac Mini.  One of the little “wires” used to make a connection with the Ethernet cable was bent down and kind of wedged behind another of the “wires”.  We think it must have been a manufacturing defect that we’d never noticed in the 4 years we’d had the computer because we’d never tried to use it with a wired network connection.  Luckily, we were able to use a couple of small needles to delicately pry up the wire that was preventing the computer from detecting the network connection and it now works fine.

The "Wired" Mac Mini

As always, the project took a little longer than we anticipated, but it was worth it to be able to play music or watch tv while we run the microwave.  We’re still noticing the playback skipping sometimes, but it’s much reduced from before and we’re blaming what’s happening now on the fact that the Mac is continually running more slowly and probably needs to be rebuilt …

Filed Under: Home Technology

Tags: ,

Leave a Reply