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Small Office Home Office Networking 

First-Mile Internet Access

Internet ubiquity and video on demand (VoD) are driving demand for ever faster first-mile access while exerting pressure on pricing. Today much of the US population is served by multi-megabit wired broadband; most often supplied by the local Cable TV (DOCSIS) or telephone (ADSL) company. Fiber to the Premise (FTTP) is the holy grail of broadband but is only available to a small percentage of the population. The Cellular network is rapidly becoming IP centric where Internet data usage vastly exceeds that of voice. This paper discusses the various technologies used to provide internet access and the role played by the ISP.

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Living with a SOHO Network 2023 Twenty-fifth annual report (skipped)

50/50 Mbps fiber has been working great for both internet and VoIP landline phone.

Living with a SOHO Network 2022 Twenty-fourth annual report

Hands-on experience installing a small LAN.  Paper covers a broad range of topics: internet connection sharing, installing landline telephone and Ethernet wiring, configuring network PCs and implementing a poor-man's server. Being a small business I also discuss the advantages of registering an internet domain name.

  [PDF] [HTML] Consolidated Communication is aggresively deploying PON high speed fiber symmetric passive optical network in New Hampshire. We were finally able to move from 5 Mbps DSL to 50/50 Mbps  PON.

Living with a SOHO Network 2021 Twenty-third annual report (skipped)

Grudingly learning to live with Win 10 - no changes to the network or ISP

Living with a SOHO Network 2020 Twenty-second annual report 

  [PDF] [HTML] Changes this edition. With Win 7 at end of support I migrated all our PCs to Win 10. We also had to change the way we stream internet content for our TV, now  using a Roku Express media player. Lastly to augment our backup generator I built a DC UPS to keep our network alive during power outages when the generator is not running.

Living with a SOHO Network 2019 Twenty-first annual report (skipped)

LAN has been stable, still stuck with DSL but it remains adequate for our purposes. Need to start thinking about migrating our Win7 PCs as extended support ends January 2020.

Living with a SOHO Network 2018 Twentieth annual report (skipped)

Hard to believe it has been 20 years since I first installed an Ethernet LAN. LAN and DSL have been stable, no network changes during the previous year. I replaced my T61 laptop with an off-lease Lenovo T520 running Win 7.

Living with a SOHO Network 2017 Nineteenth annual report

  [PDF]  Changes this edition: Pretty uneventful year. Same ISP but replaced the DSL modem. New modem is synching about 1/2 Megabit per second faster, that was a pleasant and unexpected surprise. Expanded the troubleshooting section.

Living with a SOHO Network 2016  Eighteenth annual report

  [PDFChanges this edition: finally moved into the 21th century, I upgraded the LAN with a Gig Ethernet switch, increased the size of our off line backup, replaced an aging inkjet printer and signed up with a Wi-Fi centric mobile phone provider.

Living with a SOHO Network 2015  Seventeenth annual report

  [PDF]  Changes this edition: ADSL service has been uneventful except our CLEC was acquired, nothing is supposed to change. Added several Ethernet drops to support home automation controllers and finally bit the bullet and upgraded from Win XP to Win 7.

Living with a SOHO Network 2014  Sixteenth annual report (skipped)
Living with a SOHO Network 2013  Fifteenth annual report

  [PDF]   Changes this edition: finally able to upgrade ADSL to 6 Mbps from 3 by switching to a competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC). Still modest by present day standards but a worthwhile improvement. Upgraded Wi-Fi to 802.11N Access Point and installed a WD TV Live Hub for Netflix TV.

Living with a SOHO Network 2012  Fourteenth annual report (skipped)
Living with a SOHO Network 2011  Thirteenth annual report (skipped)
Living with a SOHO Network 2010  Twelfth annual report (skipped)
Living with a SOHO Network 2009  Eleventh annual report

  [PDF] Changes this edition: updated LAN wiring with a patch panel and added more Ethernet drops, implemented off line USB file backup, DSL speed increased to 3000/768

Living with a SOHO Network 2008  Tenth annual report

  [PDF] ] Changes this edition: after several years of stability replaced just about everything except the DSL connection.

Living with a SOHO Network 2007  Ninth annual report (skipped)
Living with a SOHO Network 2006  Eighth annual report 

  [PDF] Changes this edition: ADSL speed increase to 1500/384.

Living with a SOHO Network 2005  Seventh annual report

  [PDF] Changes this edition: added DNS resolver

Living with a SOHO Network 2004  Sixth annual report (skipped) 
Living with a SOHO Network 2003  Fifth annual report

  [PDF] Changes this edition: added Syslog event logger, extensive whitepaper rewrite.

Living with a SOHO Network 2002  Fourth annual report

  [PDF] Changes this edition: 768/128 ADSL replaced 512/512 SDSL, implemented automatic file backup.

Living with a SOHO Network 2001 Third annual report

  [PDF] Changes this edition: 512/512 SDSL replaced dialup. Added NAT router and network print server.

Living with a SOHO Network 2000  Second annual report

  [PDF] Changes this edition: added software firewall, registered Domain name.

Living with a SOHO Network 1999  First report

  [PDF] Sharing dialup Internet connection with Wingate connection sharing software

Modem Access Adapter - device prevents interference when telephone and dialup modem share a telephone line. When modem attempts to dial out adapter searches for an idle phone line over a maximum of two lines. It disconnects phones before connecting the modem. This prevents picking up a phone from dumping an ongoing data connection, or the modem barging into an existing phone conversation. If both lines are busy modem retries later.

Design Idea was published in July 22, 1999 EDN. Firmware is filed separately as Design Idea #2389.  Download article directly from EDN magazine or here.

Dialup Modem Impairments - dialup modems are very demanding of the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) and rarely hit advertised speed. This paper describes common impairments that degrade speed.

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Miscellaneous Ramblings

Long distant postal mailbox alert - Our mailbox is on the far side of the road 600 feet (190 meters) from the house. Now that we have fiberoptic internet I repurposed the retired copper outdoor telephone cable to link a low cost key fob RF  remote control to the notification controller in the house. 


Bird feeder winch - installed a hand operated winch to raise and lower our bird feeder.


Inline DC voltage/current monitor - simple power monitor inserted between DC wall wart and low power electronics to monitor voltage and current. It uses a wide assortment of barrel jack adapters or banana jacks for connectivity.


Outdoor Temperature/Humidity logger - one of the casualties of migrating to Win 10 is the ancient software we used to present weather station data no longer works. Used the same PLC as some other projects with some simple firmware to log min/max temperature the previous couple of days in addition to real time web based temperature and humidity display. 


Tire bucket seat swing - growing up there was a tire swing at my grandparents house. This was more then just an old tire hanging from a rope. About 2/3rds of the tread was cut away and the tire turned inside out resulting in a bucket seat. Many joyful memories so I wanted to make one for our granddaughter. 


External battery 12/5 volt DC output UPS - I wanted to keep our LAN operational during power outages when we are not running our backup generator. The UPS replaced the AC wall warts and powers network devices directly. Rather than including a SLA battery I used an automotive jump pack as the battery. That is the best of both worlds: the UPS gets a free battery and the UPS keeps the jump pack battery topped up so it is ready to go if needed.  

  [PDF] [HTML] I needed to make some minor modifications to support our ISP's fiber PON network. 

Vacuum cleaner plug repair - the built in captive connector failed on our canister vacuum cleaner. Found a shrouded connector to effect a repair.


ATX bench supply - recycled an old PC ATX power supply using a nifty breakout board I stumbled across on eBay It had never occurred to me to use an ATX power supply as a bench supply. It provides plenty of 3.3, 5 and 12 volts and even a little -12 for analog projects or 24 volts when teamed with +12v rail. 


Toddler activity box - as a newly minted grandparent wanted to build some type of activity box. This one has an electronics section (what a surprise), and a plumbing and gearing side. It will be several years before my granddaughter will be old enough to use it but it is ready if and when she expresses an interest.

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Cat proof automatic feeder - my daughter purchased an automatic cat feeder. Unfortunately her cats figured out they could use their paws to get more food out of the feeder. I built a simple (non electronic) box to protect the feeder from marauding cats.

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Portable backup generator - bit the bullet and installed a small gasoline powered generator to deal with long term power outages. Designed a status panel to monitor generator AC and DC health.  Paper describes: generator selection, fuel choices and electrical considerations.  

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USB dummy load - simple device to verify power supply capability and power consumption. It uses a switched resistive load useful for battery capacity analysis and power supply/cable testing. It has turned out to be more useful then I expected so modified it to provide more granularity: 100ma, 500ma, 1A, 1.5A, 2.1A and 3.1A. For more comprehensive testing a constant current load can be connected.


Retro vacuum tube proximity detector - I ran across an Internet library of old electronics magazines. Found a copy of the Popular Electronics magazine I used to build a proximity detector science fair project way back when I was in 8th grade. Thought it would be fun to rebuild the detector.

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Aquarium controller - simple system to control lighting and heat for two aquariums and provide GFCI protection. I used the same WebControl PLC as in several other projects.

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Outdoor LED lighting control - Fourth home automation project. Integrated multiple 12V LED floodlights and Passive IR (PIR) sensors around the house and outbuilding. This project is hardwired, it does not use a programmable controller.

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Window opener & exhaust fan controller - Third home automation project.  Used the same WebControl PLC as in the wood heat and greenhouse designs to open/close clearstory awning window and control exhaust fans.

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Leakage current adapter - Simple device to measure appliance/tool leakage current and tests safety ground under high current to insure it is functioning properly.

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Whirligig - Salvaged CD/DVD drive bearing improves performance of this timeless yard ornament. 


Second generation wood heat controller - The greenhouse controller ended up being so successful it motivated me to redesign the original wood stove controller using the same WebControl PLC. Controller monitors flue temperate for safety, controls house and fresh air intake fans and manages wood stove hot water preheater to reduce winter electricity use.

Revised 10/12/2021 added plumbing leak detection and manual control of fans.

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Greenhouse automation  - Programmable logic controller (PLC) to manage greenhouse summer ventilation and winter temperature. PLC has a web interface allowing it to be managed by any device on the LAN. This paper describes the various features and tradeoffs.

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Solar batch and wood stove water heating - We significantly reduce our water heating cost with a solar batch heater in summer and wood stove preheater in winter. This is a passive system with low capital cost and ease of  use as major design criteria.

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Bathroom fan timer - Over the years experimented with different ways to control bathroom humidity. This paper discusses the pros and cons of each method we tried.

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Wood heat controller - In the 1980s when we built our house heating with wood was seen as rather quaint and limited to rural poor. Today heating with cord wood or wood pellets is a cost effective green energy technology. Paper describes purpose built controller to increase safety and efficiency. Note: this unit has been superceded by the 2nd generation controller.

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Outdoor TV antenna - Living in a fringe area places significant demands on TV reception. Paper discusses criteria used to select antennas (VHF, UHF, FM), preamp and mounting location to obtain best possible reception. November 2017 update: added discussion of FCC repack plan as a result of the incentive auction and next generation digital TV broadcast standard ATSC 3.0. 

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Future of home networking - A few decades ago computer networks were the province of large companies with well-funded IT departments. Internet access was little known outside a small cadre of network professionals. Advances in wired and wireless network technology have made small residential LANs and Internet access the norm rather than the exception today. This paper extrapolates from the last decade to predict how this critical market with evolve.

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Future of building automation - The emergence of ZigBee and wireless mesh networks have become the driver of next generation building automation systems by reducing cost and increasing functionality.

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IP vs RF television - High speed internet access creates an alternative TV delivery method. Where adequate bandwidth exists IPTV is capable of a much richer suite of services that either Cable or over-the-air TV. IPTV leverages internet infrastructure eliminating the need to build a dedicated video distribution network.


Commercial peer-to-peer distribution - There is much hand ringing by the music and movie industry that internet peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing will be the death of artistic expression rather than an exciting opportunity to lower distribution cost. This paper proposes a P2P mechanism for commercial content distribution that compensates artists, provides incentives for customers to play by the rules while dramatically reducing distribution cost.

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Do third party ISPs facilitate broadband competition? - One of the more controversial aspects of broadband is the power exercised by first-mile network owners over third party ISPs and the regulatory requirements to share these facilities. This paper argues for a different approach. First-Mile networks should provide common carriage - transparent IP delivery. This allows application developers and ISPs to operate at the network edge independent of physical connection.

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Effect of ISP business practices on home networks - Broadband ISPs are adopting restrictive measures that violate the cherished notion transparent data delivery.  This business strategy has profound effects on home networks. This paper was written to provide background information as part of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) Versatile Home Network (VHN) and International Standards Organization (ISO) Residential Gateway (RG) standards activity.

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The Rise of information gatekeepers - The internet was designed as a transparent end-to-end delivery network. This cherished concept is threatened by gatekeepers attempting to control how customers use the First-Mile access network.

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Open Letter to Senators Leahy, Hatch and Congressman Coble opposing Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act (CBDTPA)

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MG Sports Car stuff for sale - I have been a fan of MG sports cars since the 1960's. Over that time have amassed cars and memorabilia. Trying to winnow collection down and am selling the following items.

  MG Sales Literature and Books  - mostly 1962-1980 MGB


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