Introducing Maximum PC Lab North


Introducing Maximum PC Lab North


I use my home office for evaluating near-field speakers (typically comparing them to one of my favorite 5.1-channel speaker systems, M-Audio's Studiophile LX4). That's an Intermatic CA5500BR master Z-Wave controller sitting next to the speaker on the left.

Since we're in a rural area and are subject to the occassional power interruption during inclement weather, I installed a Belkin UPS (left) so that I wouldn't lose any work should the power cut out. I ran Cat5e, telephone, and coax to every room in the house, but I elected to run four strands of Cat5e to the home office (right). I currently use one Ethernet connection for the PC and a second for a Belkin Network Print Hub.


My home office doesn't have a closet, so my home run is located in another bedroom in the house. Luke built a shelving system that comes in handy for storing boxes and product that's waiting to be reviewed, and it's also handy for stashing a NAS box. Allen installed a Leviton Structured Media Center for the home run in that closet, and John made sure there was plenty of power nearby. There's a duplex inside the home-run cabinet and two more on the wall beneath it. John also pre-wired the closet for a ventilation fan in case I decide to put a server in there.


Here's what the home-run closet looked like before the wiring was finished, the doors were installed, and the room was primed. The built-in shelves are just the ticket for storage, and there's plenty of room at the bottom for a server tower.

The shot of the structured media center on the left was taken after Allen finished pulling the Cat5e (for data and voice) and the coax (for satellite TV). He hadn't terminated the coax at this point, nor had I installed the router and switch. The Cat5e and telephone patch panels are from Leviton.

The shot on the right was taken after the satellite dish was installed and I had plugged in the patch cables for the router and switches. Allen also installed a phone outlet here for my DSL modem (something we hadn't thought to do originally).


Good lighting is almost as important as good ventilation. My simple solution was to clamp a goose-necked desk lamp onto the side of the built-in shelf. This allows me to target the light where it's needed.

Many people put their router and switch inside their structured-media cabinet, but I elected to mount them outside because I change things out so frequently for product testing. I'm currently using a D-Link DIR-655 router (802.11n with a four-port gigabit switch), a Netgear GS116 switch (16 gigabit ports), and a D-Link DGS-2208 switch (eight gigabit ports). My network has a total of 23 Ethernet drops, 13 telephone drops, and 10 coax drops. All the gear is plugged into a Belkin PureAV home-theater surge supressor. I also had John install a whole-house surge suppressor at the main circuit-breaker box.

Page 1: Introduction 

Page 2: The Media Room

Page 3: The Media Room: Wiring and Video

Page 4: The Media Room: Audio

Page 5: The Home Office and the Home Run 

Page 6: The Kitchen and the Video Surveillance System

Page 7: The Garage

Page 8: The Solar Power System




+ Add a Comment


I'm currently remodeling my home and would love to have more info on the Z-Wave stuff you selected, how you configured it, etc.



I was also interested in more about lighting control and more information on Z-wave. I was planning on starting to do my home automation and was reading about Z-wave. Maybe another section added to the forums on this topic would be great for ppl to reply back with ideas and feedback.

Good article and very interesting.



Great stuff! Thanks for writing this up and walking us through your experience.

Did you hook up your HVAC to z-wave functionality? I'm curious to know more info on what you decided to do in this area...




Interesting stuff you got going on there. I see that you're using a piece of carpetting to help dampen speaker vibration on the pull out trays. Not too many people think of doing that. I use a small piece of cork between my speakers and the carpetting to help deaden the noise from the woofers so that I don't disturb my neighbors below.

- mike_art03a
IT Technician
Gov't of Canada



I think I'm drooling. Someone slap me.



So when's the PC lab north BBQ and music festival???? I'm there!

There's no time like the future.



that is a absolutely stuningly tech out home good job!



you sure went to lengths to make this house tech-ed out!

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