Understanding Patch Panel connections

jobseeker

Active Member
I’m in a new house in Madeira, Portugal, with a Cat 6 network consisting of 24 ports around the house wired back to a patch bay consisting of three sections. Each section has at the left hand end two sockets marked ‘IN’ and ‘GROUP’, with a small off/on slider switch below them. Then there’s a row of individual numbered ports. Each individual port has a small slider switch with positions ‘OFF’, ’1’ and ‘2’ marked on it. The internet router is in the main room with a direct fibre connection into the back of it, next to a double cat 6 network port. I’ve identified that if I connect one of the router ports into one of the adjacent wall ports, I can get a signal out of the corresponding port on one of the three stacked patch bay units. If I then patch that port to another individual port on the patch bay I can get a signal at the other end in whatever room it’s situated. So the connections seem all ok.

What I’m struggling with is what connections I now need to make for all the ports in the house to get that signal so that a device can connect to the internet when plugged in to any of the wall ports. I don’t fully understand the ‘IN’ and ‘GROUP’ sockets with the on/off switch below them at the start of each of the three rows of ports. Nor do I understand the off/1/2 switches under each individual port.

Can any knowledgable person advise me here?
 

oneman

Well-known Member
If you can post some pictures that would be helpful.

What it sounds like is you need a ethernet switch which are fairly inexpensive. This will give you multiple connection from one connection in your router. However you description makes me think there is a switch there already.
 

mickevh

Distinguished Member
In a "normal" UTP patch bay each socket in the bay is (electrically) independent of all the others. That's fine for ethernet usage because ethernet requires that there only a single active "thing" connected to the end of any given cable lobe.

Analogue phones (at least in the UK) work differently in that each phone socket is connected to all the others using a "common bus" topololgy - literally all the sockets are electrically spliced together.

One way you can utilise cabling infrastructure that has been installed "point to point" as ethernet would use it, for phones is to spice together multiple lobes at the patchbay. That could be done with a special "fan" cable or (more tidily) you can create a group of ports on a patchbay that do not connect to anything except each other (typically you just put some jumper cables across the back of the group.) Thence to create a set of "phone" enabled sockets about the premises, you patch one lobe in the "group" to the incoming line and the patch any other sockets in the group to the lobes that you want to be enables for phone. Maybe you premises has had something similar done.

When taking photos , it might be useful if we can also see the back side of the patchbay. Any identifying names and model numbers would be useful.

To distribute your data network to multiple sockets about the premises, you cannot do so by just patching the sockets together. You need an active device called an "ethernet switch." Often these are located in the same rack as the patchbays for convenience. (I'll be willing to bet if the previous owner had a switch, they didn't leave it behind - is there an "empty" slot in the patchbay anywhere..?) You thence patch in (using short connectors called patch-cords) between the swtich and the cable lobes you want to deliver the data network onto. So you'd mount up a switch in the patchbay, patch the link from your router into one switch port, then patch the other switch ports to any other cable lobes required. Of course, you have to count up how many sockets you want to deliver data onto and ensure you procure a switch with enough sockets.

The "LAN" ports in a typical SOHO router are a built in ethernet switch. If the number of enabled ports you require is low and the router has enough sockets, you could use your router instead. But that means moving it to your patchbay which may not be the best option for Wi-Fi if you are using the routers Wi-Fi facilities.
 

jobseeker

Active Member
Yes, I can’t move the router because it’s where the fibre connection comes in in and it also supplies an internet provider’s tv box direct. Sounds like I need a 24 port switch (or multiple smaller switches if I can’t fit a 24 port in the wall cabinet) with a cable to every single network socket on the patch bay if I want all room sockets to be active.
Edit - I’m just confused about these switches on the individual sockets and at the end of each row, as to whether they have any function in distributing the signals
 
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oneman

Well-known Member
Yes, I can’t move the router because it’s where the fibre connection comes in in and it also supplies an internet provider’s tv box direct. Sounds like I need a 24 port switch (or multiple smaller switches if I can’t fit a 24 port in the wall cabinet) with a cable to every single network socket on the patch bay if I want all room sockets to be active.
Edit - I’m just confused about these switches on the individual sockets and at the end of each row, as to whether they have any function in distributing the signals
As mentioned, if you can post a photo then there might be a chance that somebody recognises what their function is
 

jobseeker

Active Member
535F9A17-B156-472A-B73C-A4DAAE4AD4B7.jpeg
EF22CC10-D7FE-4B9F-8CBC-EA8B84F84950.jpeg
 

jobseeker

Active Member
I’ve no idea how they came out sideways. Anyway, the small box with the yellow wire is just the fibre network coming in and being sent on the the fibre socket where the router is in another room. For further context, this is a brand new installation in a newly built house. Based on the reply from mickevh, perhaps, then, these little switches on the panel are red herrings relating to a possible telephone installation and are of no relevance to the network function that this installation is meant to serve. That being so, I guess it’s just a case of fitting network switch(es) to provide the appropriate number of connections.
 
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mickevh

Distinguished Member
Looking at a YouTube video for that product range, it looks to me like each module on each row has interconnector pins that contact with it's neighbours forming a bus (or two) across the back. I suspect the switches then select whether each module is (electrically) stand alone or tied to the bus. This strikes me as a pretty neat solutions for availing mixed phone/data infrastructure over UTP, albeit that it possibly costs a bit more than alternate ways of achieving the same thing - but hey if you inherited it, who cares!

It would not surprise me if the "in/group" connectors at the end of each row are a way to cross connect the bus(es) on each row with each other, but I'm less certain about that.

There are some professional cabling guys lurk in this forum; they may recognise this and know what's up. I'm little more than guessing.

If you ever find the correct manual or user guide for this system, it might be an idea to print off a copy and leave it in the cabinet for the benefit of future owners.
 
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jobseeker

Active Member
No, I didn’t inherit it - I have had the house built so I paid for it :)
but getting any sense out of the electrics guy who was here the other day finishing off a few bits was impossible (and I don’t mean the Portuguese language barriero_O).

I think this has been one of many misunderstandings about my spec. I asked for full cat 6 network around the house. I do remember them saying that any wall port could be phone or internet, it didn’t matter, so these types of mixed units are obviously the standard. But the phone is actually tied to the fibre router with a smaller connector, so moving it presumably would involve some friggery or other. Anyway, I think what they have done is install the network infrastructure but not installed anything that would actually make it run.
 

ChuckMountain

Distinguished Member
That's part of the problem, you have a full CAT 6 network round the house, that's the cabling infrastructure as such.

Now you just need the Ethernet side of things :)

Doesn't look like a normal rack-mounted switch will fit in that cabinet so will need to decide where to put one and then buy it and appropriate patch cables. The length of which will depend on where you mount the switch. How many do you need wired as you will probably need a 24 port switch, possibly more if you need them.

For phone usage you just use a RJ11 to phone socket adapter in the port in the room. RJ11 will fit into an RJ45 socket. Then you need to wire those up, probably as you say using the switches on the rack to change.

I would not let a sparkie choose my network equipment as there are too many things that you might want\not want and a huge variance in price tags.
 

mickevh

Distinguished Member
To tease out something from what @ChuckMountain says - you only need to purchase an ethernet switch that facilitates the number of ports you actually want to have "live" - there's no need to have any ports that are not actually connected to anything patched into a switch.

Let me use an example - let's say you have 30 sockets about the premises all cabled back to your patchbay. If, let's say, only 10 of them are going to have devices connected to them, there's no need to go out an buy a 30 port ethernet switch, a 16 port one will probably be fine for a while - 10 ports for everything you want live, 1 port for the uplink to your router and you have a few spare/unused switch ports for future growth.

So the "game" will be to figure out how many ports you need live for data (ethernet) and size a switch accordingly. There's no reason not to procure a switch big enough to patch everything if you want to, but it might save you a bit of money not availing data on any sockets that don't need it (and aren't likely to for the foreseeable future.)

Bigger switches, of course, cost more. Also, they might be actively cooled - ie they have fans in them - which might be louder than you think in a relatively quiet domestic premises. You might prefer to look for fanless switches. Heat might be a consideration if you are in a hot country, though if you've got AC it's probably not a big deal.

We could also get into conversions about "power over ethernet" (POE) switches if you are planning to drive any Wi-Fi Access Points (AP's) on the end of the cable lobes - POE is neat way to deliver electrical power to endpoints like AP's over the same cable as the data thereby saving having to string up separate power supplies. (Though note that not all AP's are POE capable.)

Incidentally, I notice it looks like none of your infrastructure is labelled. You will save yourself a world of pain in future if you give each cable lobe a unique identifier and stick a label on the sockets both ends.

"At work" I use a dymo label printer to keep it looking smart, but there's nothing to stop you scribbling something on bits of paper and sticking it to the appropriate ports. Often the sockets in the rooms have a little window in them for a label, but if they don't you could stick something on, or use self adhesive labels from a stationary store or some such thing.

The patch panels pictured look like they have some numbers pre-printed on them, so you could take advantage of that for the numbering scheme. For example, label each row "A, B, C" etc, then find the other end of each cable lobe (in the rooms) and label them correspondingly "A1, A2 ... B4, B7 ... C1, C3" etc. You could even extend that regime to the optical sockets. A good cabling professional would have done this for you (and tested the infrastructure and presented you with the test results) but well meaning sparkies often don't.
 
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