I thought I'd share this (I'm probably gonna post picks of my rack in the "show us your rack" thread, but this really goes beyond that). I don't have any really early pictures of demo (I took them, but I think directly in text messages and those are long gone now), but you'll get the point.
I started with a fairly large closet in center of my house. in July of 2011, I had my A/C replaced and they refused to put it in the Attic again, so it went into this closet. I had plans on removing the closet to open up the living room, or opening the other side and making a little Den for the kids, etc. but the A/C had to go somewhere. Once that was done, I pretty much knew I was going to tear down the dry wall and put in my whole house audio/video distribution system in there as well as a rack for my living room/home theater. I am currently running only the living room out of it, but every chance I get, I run more wires. Work has just been crazy and we now have a baby on the way, so other things have taken over. This was started in September of last year, and by the end o this post(s) it will be up to where it is today. On with the pictures (it might take me a few posts to get them all in!!).
First I removed the drywall. It was fun. It caused a big mess. My Girlfriend thought I was bat crap crazy! She puts up with it though. After that I had to relocate some studs to make room for the SMC enclosures and the Rack passthrough. I don't have pictures of these steps. I was more interested in getting it done than documenting it at the time
At the point I have pictures, you can see the wholes I drilled in the top plate for the SMCs (none of my interior walls in my house are load bearing, so I didn't have an issue doing this). You can see I doubled the studs up. I was planning on putting wire shelving back into the closet, and the extra space between the SMCs would allow me to put the vertical supports in. I opted not to do this because the rack is on wheels and it would hinder me moving it easily.
Here you can see the SMCs installed. I went with 3. One is for network, one is for audio/video, and the last is just for whatever else and a pass through to the patch panels below it. I used PVC that extends about 24" into the attic so that even through the insulation, I can easily pass wires down. One of them, however was just under a ceiling joist, so I just stopped it short of the joist (as I said, no load bearing walls, so the joists don't actually sit on the walls. there is about 1-2" between them. It's very odd looking when there is no drywall up).
IN this picture you can see the 2 power blocks for the first 2 SMCs. EAch one has 6 outles on it for plugging stuff into. I don't think I'll need 6 in each, but better to do it now than regret it later. These will be wired to reverse outlets in the recessed outlet boxes below them (more on this later).
Here is a shot looking from the outside in (from the living room). I couldn't remove all the drywall in the closet because the A/C Unit was already installed and I didn't want to have to try and re-install drywall around it (it's about 3-4" away from the walls).
Here is the rack. It came in earlier than I needed it, but I was anxious, so I started putting stuff on it. This if far from the last iteration of it's layout.
Here is inside the first (network) SMC. I'm using leviton SMCs. I've used them before and like them. They have some good products and I really like these new punch and twist ones. My only issue is they are wider than their old style and I"m scared I won't have room to run all the wires I hneed to run (each of those panels is 24 ports).
Under the 3rd SMC, I installed 3 8-gang low votage rings (They fit exactly between 16" on center studs). These will hold either pass-through ports (brush style) or Quickport panels that go to the rack. 8 was probably overkill, but I wanted to make sure that once drywall was up, I was done.
Here is my first 'receccesed' outlet box. This is for the wirless router that will sit on the wall above it. It has 1 enclosed outlet electrical box and 1 LV ring. It is recessed to that the plugs don't stick out.
Because my GF had a 3y/o, I was constanly putting back up pieces of drywall I saved to keep him out. He thought that room was a jungle gym and would jump around and swing. I'm not a party pooper, but I didn't want the little guy to get hurt. She didn't live with me yet, so this was only on the weekends (this project was part of many that I did to prepare the house for her and her kids, including a new 9x11 master bath, a new 12'x24' shed for my crap, new tile floors, and new trim throughout the house).
Here's a shot of the most of the outlet boxes installed. I installed a total of:
- 4 4-gang recessed electrical boxes around the bottom (more on this later),
- 1 4-gang at the top near the router (for reverse outlets run to the 4 boxes around the bottom to go to a battery backup that will go here).
- 1 2-gang for the router (1 LV, one regular),
- 1 2-gang recessed box near the A/C (mainly because the A/C had pump).
- 2 2-gang recessed boxes on the other side of the rack that go to the TV, Subs, and the back porch TV
I ran all the electrical myself except the lines from the breaker box. I already had 1 20amp circuit in the room (that I had installed just before the A/C was installed just for this purpose), and I had an electrician pull a second 20a circuit during this part of the job.
Here is one of the lower outlet boxes all wired up. There are 3 outlets, and 1 inlet on the two under the SMCs with power in them. They are color coded for a very specific reason.
- Black - 1st 20a Circuit
- Gray - 2nd 20a Circuit
- Colored outlet - Goes to color coordinated power inlet under the UPS (near the router. It's an APC Structured wiriing battery backup)
- Colored Inlet - Goes to the SMC directly above it (These didn't need to be color coded, but I had already painted them, so just used them)
(For the one under the 3rd SMC, there are 2 black outlets for the 1st 20a Circuit and 2 gray outlets for the 2nd 20a circuit. The one under the router towards the floor is wired just like the SMC ones above, but instead of a power inlet, has 2 Cat6 and 1 RG6 run to it just in case I ever need them there. I doubt I will)
Here's a shot of me wiring up the boxes (ok, I'm not in the pic, but all my tools are. I was alone in the house when I did this)
And here is one with all the outlets wired and the boxes covered to protect them from the Drywall guys that will be coming eventually (I decided to hire this out due to all the cuts around the outlets).
Here is a great shot of the cutout for the Rack. I am using a tripp-lite rack on casters so I can roll it out of the way. I am doing this because I have a development server that I will face backwards, but will be towards the bottom under the opening. It should maximize my usable rack space. To the left you can see the 2 dangling power lines for the 2 circuits. These will be run into the 2-gang box to the left of the opening, and then run under the rack opening to the other side for all the other boxes.
Here is the start of the LV wiring within the closet itself. I ran it around the wall (which in hindsight was probably a bad idea. I should've run it up and over and back down). The LV over the 4-gang box on the left is for a 2-gang LV recessed box that will go directly above it. That box is not installed because it will be located directly behind, but slightly below the battery backup. Since it won't be attached to a stud, I just ran wires there. The drywall guys will leave a whole for me.
At the bottom of this SMC, you can see all the lines running out the bottom and to the left. There is a space about 3" wide next to that stud before you get to the corner stud (I wish I had gotten a picture of it). The wires run there then up that "channel" and back over. Like I said, I should have run it up the ceiling and then back down from the attic.
Here's a shot looking into the closet from the hallway. I removed even more drywall so that I could minimize having to match texture.
Here's from the other side. The bound up cables are the ones that go to the battery backup.
Here is that channel I was talking about. If one of those cables goes bad, I'm sol. I can't replace them. Oh well. Lessons learned!
Here is the back of the SMCs. I drilled 2" holes between them to run cables between them. I used a ton of those metal plates to keep the drywall guys from screwing into my wires.
Here you can see how the electrical is run under the rack opening. I'll have to "unwire" it to get the rack in (it's too tall to fit through a doorway).
Here's a picture looking from the hallway into the closet. Those recessed boxes maximize space. The backs of them rest up against the drywall on the opposite side on a standard 2x4 stud wall.
Here's a couple of more pics of the box for the wireless router. You can see how the LV is wired and the color coded outlet (that goes to the power inlet in the box next to it). I used black cat6 ports for data, and the blue one is to signify it's the raw signal from the modem.
Here is the rack in place! The drywall guys hated me, but I had no choice. It had to go in before drywall. It's ok though because the Tile guys hated me even more!! they had to tile half the floor, let it dry, grout it, then move the rack and do the other side. IT was worth it though.
The drywall guys came and did their stuff! They were mexican and I'm sure they were cussing me out in spanish, but they did a most amazing job in there.
Here is the rack opening all drywalled out. I'm glad I measured carefully. The rack barely fits between the two bump outs I made without pulling any paint off.
And here you can see the bump outs I just talked about. This way when the rack is pushed in, the walls go back a little past the front of th rack. It allows me to give the appearance of an installed rack, but I can pull it back if I need to, I also plan on framing in the front to cover any gaps, but haven't gotten there yet.
Here is the rack pushed into place. I don't have the MA faceplates or blanks at this point, but it did feel good to see it in place.
Another angle. Once again, the openings will all be filled in eventually/
Here is the inside of the closet with the rack pushed into place. the SMCs all have extender rings (to give more internal space) and locking doors on them. The third one is inaccessible with the rack in place, but it shouldn't hold anything vital. The first 2 SMCs are all full accessible with the rack in place. There will/is enough slack in the lines going to the rack so that it can be fully moved out of the way and pushed to in front of the A/C on the other side.
Here is a pic of the outlets after the trim is installed on them. I like that they're recessed and the plugs don't stick out. I know it was overkill for a small space, but as I keep saying. Better to do it now than regret it later. It also allows me to plug in something without draping power cables all around the closet, which was one of my goals.
Here is the space for the router and battery backup. You can finally see the other 2-gang box installed. It's for all the cat6 and rg6 that go to the BBU (network protection, telephone protection, cable protection).
And fast forward some, and here is the closet as it is today. I wish I had taken more pictures of the wiring phase of the house, but the attic was hot, and I was not wanting to be up there more than I had to.
This is the rack as it wired today with custom length cables made by me (except power and HDMI, which were measured and purchased to be as close as possible. For the most part they were dead on).
Here's the back of the 4u MA drawer, the APC battery backup and my local dev server/NAS (with almost 20TB of storage I think)
And now to the rack specifics. It's tight in the closet now (With all the drywall up), so it's hard to get good pictures, but I tried.
Here is the 24 port switch that is dedicated to the rack. Way more ports than I'll need, but it was rack mountable and I got a great deal on it.You can also see the lacing rods i used for the back of the AV receiver (I used 3, one 'upper', one 'mid', and one 'lower).
Here is the actual back of the receiver. Instead of running the wires to the shelf then over and back up. I just used lacing rods on the back, ran them over then through the rack the Receiver. At one point I had some quick port patch panels up there, but removed them and ran straight from the wall to the receiver. Under the receiver is my HTPC that I use for all my TV watching (the GF uses the Roku for some dumb reason). Due to the limited number of cables, I did run them to the shelf, over then directly into the HTPC. IT's IR reciever is also mounted right under the shelf with a IR emiter strapped to it.
Here is the Wirless printer, Cable box, Roku and PS3 bluetooth Harmony adapter. (not a great pic as the last 3 are on a shelf directly below the printer. they also nee to have their cables cleaned up a bit as I just got my Harmony 900)
Here is the back of the 4u drawer again and the top of my dev server. it has 20 hot swappable drive bays (16 hooked up to a 3ware card, the other 4 to the MBs sata connectors).
And here is the battery backup for the server. I plan on getting a rack mountable one, but at this point it works and I already had it, so it's free.
And finally, the part that is most important. Here is the rack from the living room. I plan on framing it out, so you wont' see the numbers on the tripp-lite rack and it will also help with some of the light bleed when someone goes into the closet. It looks pretty sweet as is though and everyone loves and is in awe when they see it. My next step after the framing of it out is to add a hinged panel to hide it away. It looks cool and all, but I put it there to be stealthy, but look good when you open it.
Here is the battery backup and the router. you really can't see the 2-gang recessed box behind the battery backup, and to some degree, I wish I hadn't placed it behind the battery backup (hard to get the cables to plug in). Its a lessong learned though and hopefully those cables aren't swapped out very often at all. I also ordered 2' and 3' power cables from monoprice to go from the battery backup to the inverse power plugs. they work pretty nicely. I wish they made a 2.5' version though so I could take the loops out of 2 of them. The wireless range though is great being up so high and the BBU doesn't seem to hinder it's signal (a concern of mine).
This is inside SMC 1 (Networking and Telephone). I haven't yet terminated the wires from any locations I've run yet, but I plan on doing it soon. For now I have some of levisons 12port angled quickport inserts for the ports coming to/from the BBU and router ports on the wall.
Here is SMC2 (Audio/Video distro). as of right now, I'm only running the living room on it, but I'm about to do the Kids room and my master bedroom when I get time. I was using a monoprice cat6 -> hdmi wall plate adapter to get to the living room, but while running wires to my new master bath, I somehowe fried them (and 1 of my hdmi ports on my receiver. Thank goodness it has 2!). I am now using a 60' redmere cable with great success. I don't even have the sparkles on the PS3 that I had with the monoprice adapters
Here is SMC 3. It's just a passthrough at the point, but my original intention was to use it for the whole house audio (if I ever get to it).
And here are the 3 8-gang patch panels. I really think that 3 was overkill, but I wasn't sure at the time. I'm just gonna install blanks (they are here waiting) to tidy it up. You can also see 2 more 2-gang recessed outlets in the corner. The bottom one feeds my TV and one of my subs in the living room (so they can plug into the APC HT battery backup) and the top one goes to the other sub in the living room and the out inlet goes to the back porch for my TV there (not installed yet)
Here is a closeup of the cable management for the receiver. I tried to get a good picture, but it's all black on black in a very confined space.
Here is the HTPC cable management. a few USB cables (IR Emitter and wireless keyboard charger/dongle), HDMI, power, and ethernet.
Here is the back of the APC s20BLK HT battery backup. There is a lot of stuff goign to this. Some of it is just small stuff like the IR repeater and some other small things. I want to reduce this by putting in a tripp-lite vertical outlet strip on the right side of the rack. They have a 2 circuit one with black and grey outlets that match my scheme great and would provide power the height of the rack for things that don't need battery backup.
Here is the back of the PS3. It and the Wii are pretty well hidden behind stuff, but I still tried to make it look pretty.
And finally, here is my rolling shelf that I got off amazon. IT can easily fit through the door (so I can take it out if I need to), it provides even more storage and it looks pretty nice. My only problem is it blocks the printers paper feed tray. Oh well, you can't win them all!
I hope you all enjoyed this. It took me a long time to get to this point, and I plan on updating this thread as I continue my process. The A/V distribution will be hopfully coming soon as I start to add some TVs to the house. I'm right now trying to get past the lowest common denominator for 7.1 surround sound. If I can get past that, I'll fly through it.
Please feel free to make suggestions and/or ask questions.
P.S. Sorry i posted this when I was half done. I accidentally hit submit instead of previous once (I kept losing track of what picture I was on.....LOL)