Category Archives: network wiring

Punching it

Last week, Ron and Odell from Ranserve walked the house with Steven to organize the punch list.

Two days ago, Odell and Cris began adjusting pocket doors and experimenting with how to fill the holes around the balusters.

Today, Aaron arrived with Chris and Bani to begin working on the kitchen cabinets — smooth edges, filling holes, adjusting drawers and slides. Aaron remeasured for replacement panels.

Above, Chris, left, and Bani, right, adjusting utility drawers between the cooktop and sink.

1-dsc_3678-001Chris arrived from Granite Security to install the glass break sensor missing from the ceiling in Steven’s office — outlined in the black box in photo above.

Chris also added “water bugs” at the washer and both tankless water heaters — sensors that alert us if the washer and heaters overflow.

Chris positioning the water bug at the upstairs tankless water heater.
Chris positioning the water bug at the upstairs tankless water heater.
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It’s going to get bedder

With apologies for a bad pun …

Jacquela asked for a new mattress. Today, Sleep Number delivered the C4 system — two California King FlexFit bases that raise and lower the head of the bed, two inflatable mattresses, a mattress pad and mattress protector, and a SleepIQ remote — with an Android App to download.

1-dsc_3673Out went the old mattress and box spring. Yay.

The bed comes with MAC address. Remarkable. A networkable bed. Come the apocalypse, we’re all going to sleep on dirt. For now, Steven can be halfway around the planet fiddling with bed and HVAC and door camera adjustments.

After adding the MAC address of the mattress to the network filters at the router, Steven sat on the floor with Nexus 6P in hand. Bluetooth sees the MAC address of the mattress, but refuses to pair. Twenty minutes with tech support later, we determine that the Android 7.0 and Bluetooth builds are not compatible with the current SleepIQ driver; we’re going to have to wait for an update. But … the iPad does pair — and two minutes later Steven is swiping up and down to raise and lower the head of the bed, and adjusting how firm the mattress is.

Cool.

Now, Jacquela gets to determine how high she needs to incline the head of the bed to switch off Steven’s snoring.

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T minus 7 days

The port-a-potty was taken away five days ago. We’re 24 hours closer to moving in — and Team Ranserve is working through the punch list.

Above … Jacinto from Ranserve today began to scrape the old linoleum tiles off the floor in the old garage. We suspect one of the previous owners converted the garage into a rec room. We want to park the cars and use the space for storage and tools.

Catching up ... the whole-house surge suppressor that the electricians installed a couple of days back -- at the bottom of the electrical panel.
Catching up … the whole-house surge suppressor that the electricians installed a couple of days back — at the bottom of the electrical panel.
Odell chiseled the door frames to fit the strike plates for the deadbolts.
Odell chiseled the door frames to fit the strike plates for the deadbolts.
The painters continue to polish off the house, finishing off the ceiling where the balusters are inserted through the drywall into lumber framing.
The painters continue to polish off the house, finishing off the ceiling where the balusters are inserted through the drywall into lumber framing.
Tyler from Granite Security installs a network wall plate at the TV wall in the family room.
Tyler from Granite Security installs a network wall plate at the TV wall in the family room.
Odell cuts open the back panel of the shelf end of the island, to install an electrical box for the network ports.
Odell cuts open the back panel of the shelf end of the island, to install an electrical box for the network ports.
With Odell done, Tyler snaked the pre-wired Ethernet cable into the new electrical box and punched the wires to the connector.
With Odell done, Tyler snaked the pre-wired Ethernet cable into the new electrical box and punched the wires to the connector.
The connectors on the plug are color coded and labeled, making it easy to match the proper wire.
The connectors on the plug are color coded and labeled, making it easy to match the proper wire.
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T minus 8 days

Steven brought the Schlage Connect smart lock online for the first time, programming in new entry codes. Jadin tested hers — and then threatened to lock Dad out of the house …

Austin Air connected the component devices for the make-up air system to the exhaust hood in the kitchen. Odell reports the electricians will connect all this to power sometime Thursday.
Austin Air connected the component devices for the make-up air system to the exhaust hood in the kitchen. Odell reports the electricians will connect all this to power sometime Thursday.

Climbing a ladder, Steven twisted and locked the Engenius Wireless Access Points into position in the library ceiling downstairs and upstairs hallway. In the electronics closet upstairs, Steven unpacked the Power-over-Ethernet switch, pulled three Ethernet cables out of his bag of network cables, plugged everything up — and the WAPs lit up with power, looking for signal. There are several hours of configuration and testing ahead …

In the mudroom, yesterday, Odell opened up the wall and relocated the drain line into proper position, directly underneath where the drain will mount in the sink.
In the mudroom, yesterday, Odell opened up the wall and relocated the drain line into proper position, directly underneath where the drain will mount in the sink.

Today, Odell returned to the mudroom with several pipe fittings, working on proper installation of the T-trap for the mudroom sink. He got everything snugged up, with no leaks after wrapping the threads with tape. Then he took it all apart, putting up the parts for final installation after the drywall team patches the wall …

Odell also pulled out his metal detector and went in search of the control wire for the sprinkler system. Kevin dug this out before the garage slab was poured. Someone cut the wire that was coiled near the formwork. Odell did not find the wire today. More spelunking to come …

The painters continue to tweak the ceilings, walls, baseboards, trim ...
The painters continue to tweak the ceilings, walls, baseboards, trim …
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On the way to Ikea …

Jacquela and Steven stopped Saturday at Emerald Hill. We emptied the back of Steven’s Element, putting more boxes into the garage as we circle around moving in. And we inspected.

This is the tankless water heater in the mudroom off the kitchen. The City of Austin by code requires a pan to catch water under the tankless unit if it ever leaks. The plumbers apparently built this aluminum pan, which is hanging by a rusted wire attached to the pan and one of the copper pipe runs at the right side under the tank. It looks, well, let's be kind ... less than functional and less than professional. After discussion with Odell, Steven ordered from Amazon the two black plastic pans sitting on the floor. They are designed and produced specifically for use with tankless water heaters -- there is a market for everything, and someone smart saw this need unmet. Steven's goal for Monday is to confirm with Odell that these can be installed here in the mudroom and upstairs in the utility/laundry room, under that second tankless unit.
This is the tankless water heater in the mudroom off the kitchen. The City of Austin by code requires a pan to catch water under the tankless unit if it ever leaks. The plumbers apparently built this aluminum pan, which is hanging by a rusted wire attached to the pan and one of the copper pipe runs at the right side under the tank. If the tank ever leaks and water begins to fill the pan, the pan will collapse under its own weight. It looks, well, let’s be kind … less than functional and less than professional. After discussion with Odell, Steven ordered from Amazon the two black plastic pans sitting on the floor. They are designed and produced specifically for use with tankless water heaters — there is a market for everything, and someone smart saw this need unmet. Steven’s goal for Monday is to confirm with Odell that these can be installed here in the mudroom and upstairs in the utility/laundry room, under that second tankless unit.
This is the wired and wireless network operating in the house after Time Warner's install. The black router at left delivers telephone dial tone. The black box on the floor is the router -- with WiFi signal distributed via the antenni/antennum/antennas . In between is the white cable modem. Still boxed are two wireless access points that Steven will mount to the ceiling prewires -- one upstairs and one down -- plus a power-over-Ethernet switch that promises to bring the WAPs to life. But, first, Steven needs to run to Lowe's to buy adapters to mount the WAPs to the ceiling boxes. The screw holes in the WAP mounting plate do not align with the screw holes in the electrical box that is already installed in the drywall.
This is the wired and wireless network operating in the house after Time Warner’s install. The black router at left delivers telephone dial tone. The black box on the floor is the router — with WiFi signal distributed via the antenni/antennum/antennas <?>. In between is the white cable modem. Still boxed are two wireless access points that Steven will mount to the ceiling prewires — one upstairs and one down — plus a power-over-Ethernet switch that promises to bring the WAPs to life. But, first, Steven needs to run to Lowe’s to buy adapters to mount the WAPs to the ceiling boxes. The screw holes in the WAP mounting plate do not align with the screw holes in the electrical box that is already installed in the drywall.

Steven attempted to set up the Ring wireless doorbell. Fail. Technical support made several suggestions. Steven will reattempt at next opportunity.

Steven and Jacquela could not find the user manual needed to configure the Schlage Connect keypad and lock that is installed at the kitchen side door. A couple of downloads later, the Internet is, once again, your friend.

Observation — at the front of this job we make BIG decisions. Rip out the aluminum wire. Take it down to studs. Replace the windows. Check the plumbing under the slab. Set a budget. Those decisions are made quickly, almost easily. Now, by contrast, we are mucking around with minutia — countless discoveries that seem to stack up over Newark, buzzing for attention, distracting, each one getting in the way of the next. It’s exhausting. It’s daunting. After nine months, we just want to be done.

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Blower door test — and more

Today’s agenda at Emerald Hill stacked up meetings and tasks:

  • Gutters
  • Time Warner Cable for Internet, phone, TV services
  • Brett Grinkmeyer, architect, and his tour of Emerald Hill with prospective clients
  • Tyson from Granite Security for a tutorial on the security system
  • Blower door test
  • Cut down the hackberry tree at the northeast corner of the house
  • Assemble more Ikea furniture
  • Set up a computer in the pantry, out of traffic, to work on ShowStoppers @ Mobile World Congress

Above, Alex from ATS and Jonathan from Austin Air review the duct plans with Ron from Ranserve, in preparation for the blower door test.

Jonathan measures airflow from the duct in bedroom 1 as part of the blower door test.
Jonathan measures airflow from the duct in bedroom 1 as part of the blower door test.
Alex assembles the blower door.
Alex assembles the blower door.
We passed! The City of Austin requires less than 5 ACH -- air changes per hour. Alex and Jonathan confirm that Emerald Hill is tightly insulated and not leaking a lot of air. Ron is smiling at this measure of quality.
We passed! The City of Austin requires less than 5 ACH — air changes per hour. Alex and Jonathan confirm that Emerald Hill is tightly insulated and not leaking a lot of air. Ron is smiling at this measure of quality.
Tyson showed Steven how to configure and use the alarm system that we prewired into the house.
Tyson showed Steven how to configure and use the alarm system that we prewired into the house.
Rodriguez from Gilsa uses a chunk of concrete to grind stains off the first paver in front of the house.
Rodriguez from Gilsa uses a chunk of concrete to grind stains off the first paver in front of the house.
Ron and Kevin opened up the stair wall to add more blocking -- needed to support the shower wand in the bathroom on the other side of the wall.
Ron and Kevin opened up the stair wall to add more blocking — needed to support the shower wand in the bathroom on the other side of the wall.
Taking out the hackberry tree that was leaning toward the house.
Taking out the hackberry tree that was leaning toward the house.
Stripped of most branches in just 10 minutes.
Stripped of most branches in just 10 minutes.
Sections of trunk cut smaller to make them lighter when carrying off to the chipper.
Sections of trunk cut smaller to make them lighter when carrying off to the chipper.

 

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Adventures in structured wiring

Over the past months, Steven has walked the house with multiple installers of structured wiring, also known as low-voltage wiring — network, telephone, audio-visual, security.

It has been a frustrating, disheartening, difficult process that delayed the start of drywall installation by at least two weeks.

Steven takes the blame.

Oversimplifying this miserable saga …

Company #1 walked the house with Steven and Ron, sent the quote to Ranserve, would not communicate with Steven.

Company #2 delivered a quote with touchpads even though Steven specified touchscreens. On the third attempt to get it right, a specialist arrived in a truck, pulled boxes from the back seat, unboxed devices to show Steven — and it still took days to get an updated proposal.

Two installers quit Company #3 and the manager instructed Steven to find someone else to do the job.

Recommended by one of the companies that participates in ShowStoppers press events, Steven walked the house with company #4 days before he departed for Berlin and ShowStoppers @ IFA. The quote arrived in time for Steven to ask questions before leaving for the airport — and during a 50-minute phone call from Berlin. How does dialtone get from the panel in the closet to the jacks in the walls of each room — what distribution module by number and hyperlink and spec goes into the panel? How does Internet signal distribute to the rooms in the house from the panel? Using what module, by hyperlink and specs? “I will have to get you that answer.”

Also recommended by a ShowStoppers company, company #5 could not schedule the install until late September — but referred Steven to another company that could possibly comply with the already-late schedule.

Company #6 missed the count on glass breaks, nailed the network, telephone and AV details, but blew the budget by more than twice the allocated amount.

At this point, Mark and Ron at Ranserve intervened. They scheduled a second meeting with Company #1. Two hours. Walking everything. Talking everything. Speccing everything. The company asked for and received Ranserve permission to communicate directly with Steven. Steven received an updated bid the next day. He reviewed it. Carefully. There were several question. Steven approved it Thursday, 10 September.

Friday, 11 September, Granite Security delivered coils of cable to Emerald Hill and began stringing wire.

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