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The December 17, 2007 Issue Provided by System Dynamics Inc.
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Network Problem Solving with HomePlug

At the MoCA Technology Conference--see the previous article--Dave participated in an analyst panel "From the Press Box". Kurt Scherf of Parks Associates moderated the panel, and asked the panelists to describe how they use home networking in their own homes. Each of the panelists--the others were Rick Merritt of EE Times and Jeff Baumgartner of Cable Digital News--told a similar story about how they had used HomePlug to solve a networking problem-typically creating a broadband connection from a PC in one room to another somewhere else in the house.

Dave described how even though we strung half a mile of Category 5 cabling through the walls of our house in the summer of 1996, we had failed to provide an Ethernet outlet in our dining room, where we house our main audio system. We used HomePlug to provide the network connection for an AudioTron Digital Music Player to access all our CDs stored on a hard drive. We wrote about this application nearly five years ago in HomePlug - Problem Solving and More Test Results (BBHR 1/21/2003).

Soon after the MoCA conference, we closed on the purchase of a second condo on Sanibel Island. As we had done with our first condo, we moved quickly to install a cable modem and set up a PC for our rental guests. But we found that the cable modem would not connect to the cable network properly in the master bedroom where we wanted to install the PC.

Hidden HomePlug adapter n the guest bedroom --> Click for larger pictureWe traced the cable wiring, and found that the cable connection came into the guest bedroom and went through two splitters before it reached the master bedroom. The two splitters dropped the cable signal to a level too low for the cable modem. We tried connecting the cable modem to the first splitter in the guest bedroom and it worked fine.

Linksys PLK200 --> Click for larger pictureSo we ran out and bought a kit with two Linksys PLE200 PowerLine AV Ethernet Adapters based on HomePlug AV chips. We installed the Linksys configuration software on one of our laptop PCs and quickly configured both adapters with a secure password to reduce the risk of someone in the condo complex spying on our network. We connected the output of the cable modem to one AV adapter in the guest bedroom, and connected our VPN gateway/router to the other AV adapter in the master bedroom.

PC on computer desk --> Click for larger pictureThe new PC was online immediately, as were our two laptop PCs connected to the router with Wi-Fi. We quickly established a VPN connection to our home network to access our files at home and maintain the new PC remotely.

It felt like the cable modem and the gateway were connected with an Ethernet cable. HomePlug solves another networking problem! Our first renters are arriving for the holiday week, so we'll soon see how well it works over time.

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