Q: My next-door neighbor and I want to network our personal computers together. He has two PCs and I have one. I have organized 10Base-2 and 10Base-T wiring in my company`s manufacturing plants, and I know what to do inside a building. Our houses are approximately 25 to 30 feet apart, and I would like to simply use 10Base-2 and connect all three PCs together with standard network cards. We would run the 10Base-2 in plastic conduit underground. Everything I`ve read says don`t run copper outside, but we can`t afford fiber-optic cable. How dangerous is it to run 10Base-2 in plastic conduit 30 feet underground? What if we bought one 10Base-T hub and ran 10Base-T instead? If you were on a budget, how would you handle it?
A: Your situation is similar to that of most of the K-12 schools in this country. "We only need to go 25 to 30 feet," is commonly heard. The school districts are linking portable classrooms in this way, but this is the first "neighborhood network" question that I have heard.
I must caution you that you would be in violation of Federal Communications Commission and Public Utility Commission regulations, which require you to have a franchise to provide service between properties. Otherwise, everyone with a satellite dish in the yard would be in the cable-TV business.
If you install a 10Base-T hub and cabling, you can install an overvoltage protector at either end of the cable between the two houses. If you cable the 10Base-2 network as described, it will probably function without a problem. But remember that if you experience a lightning strike, which is not likely between the two houses, you do have an overvoltage protector of sorts--your PC.
I, too, am on a budget. The information I need to access is not 30 feet away, but rather, all over the world. I use a high-speed, credit-card-sized modem to my service provider.
Donna Ballast is a communications analyst at the University of Texas at Austin and a bicsi registered communications distribution designer (rcdd). Questions can be sent to her at Cabling Installation & Maintenance or at PO Drawer 7580, University of Texas, Austin, TX 78713; tel: (512) 471-0112, fax: (512) 471-8883, e-mail: email@example.com.