Wireless printer? What wireless printer?


The Problem

We have a network laser printer that we use at home for all sorts of activities, business and otherwise.  It's a Brother HL-5250DN.  Brother HL-5250DNIt was a good value at the time for a duplexing, networkable, laser printer; around $100.  The problem has been that with it connected in the home office, every time it prepares to print it causes a brownout in the room tripping the UPS that the wireless router and the Ubuntu server are plugged into.  It's an older house and even though the printer is plugged into a separate outlet from everything else, the power spike of heating the fuser causes problems for everything else on the circuit (the entire room).

The First Solution... Attempt

I happen to have an extra Linksys WET54G wireless bridge laying around. 

Linksys WET54G Wirless Bridge

For a long time, this was my wireless connection for the XBox360.  However, after needing some more connections (DVD Player & DVR), all the home entertainment devices got plugged into a decommissioned WRT54G flashed with DD-WRT.

Linksys WRT54G Wirless Router

  Anyway... back to the bridge.  I physically moved the printer into the guest bedroom and then reconfigured the WET54G.  My initial test printing attempts worked fine.  That was about all that worked fine.  Everything worked... until the printer went to power save.  It would not wake from powersave while connected to the bridge and had to be manually power cycled.  Not good.

The Final Solution... I Hope

I realized I needed a wired solution... or to go buy a wireless printer.  While, wireless network printers aren't really all that expensive nowadays, I don't see the need to give up on this perfectly serviceable printer that I already have.  So, I decided to drop a network connection from the office to the guest bedroom.  As they are on different sides of the hallway, I decided that going through the attic was the preferred solution; the basement ceiling below both rooms and the hallway is finished.

Step 1

There is already a low-voltage outlet in the office where the phone line comes in for the DSL.  I replaced the cover with a 2-hole keystone jack to accommodate a new RJ-45.

Step 2

Because I have a bad back, I had a friend's dad help me out by crawling through the attic and drilling two holes: one into the top of the wall above the outlet in the office and another one in the top of the wall in the guest bedroom.

Step 3

I knew the AC outlet in the guest bedroom was mounted to a stud.  And, knowing the studs are 16" on center, I decided to measure 24" from the AC outlet and then trace outline for my "old work" low-voltage box.  This matches up with where the hole was drilled into the top of the wall from the attic.

Step 4

Using a drywall knife, cut a hole in the drywall for the low-voltage box.

Dyrwall Knife

Step 5

We fed a fish tape down from the attic and pulled it out of the outlet hole in the office.  It helps here to remove the box from the wall.  I could get my hand inside the wall to grab hold of the fish tape with the box removed, but not while it was installed.

Steel Fish Tape

Step 6

Tape the Cat-5e cable to the end of the fish tape.

Step 7

Pull the fish tape (and Cat-5e cable) back up into the attic.  Make sure the cable is uncoiled so that it will feed easily into the wall and prevent it from binding.

Step 8

Run the cable to the top of the hole in the other wall.  Drop the cable down to the newly cutout hole in the drywall.  Now, pull the Cat-5e cable out.

Step 9

Now I could install the "old work" low-voltage box in the guest bedroom.  Leave about 12" - 14" inches of cable so that you have plenty "extra" in case you have to re-cut.  It's easier to push any excess cable back into the wall than to deal with a short cable.

Low Voltage "Old Work" Box

Step 10

Using wire-cutters, strip about 1" of sheath off the Cat-5e cable.

Wire Strippers

Be careful not to cut the twisted pair wires inside.  If you think you've nicked the wires, it's better to just go ahead and cut the end and start again.  I can't tell you how many times I've tried to find a connection problem and it was eventually solved by just cutting the end off the cable and re-stripping and re-connecting even though there was nothing obviously wrong with the cable.

Step 11

Using a punch tool, punch down the Cat-5e cable into a Cat-5e keystone jack. 

Punch Down Tool

Here I used the "B" scheme, but it doesn't really matter whether you choose A or B as long as you're consistent.

Step 12

Place the protective cover on the keystone jack.

Step 13

Fit the keystone jack into the wallplate and re-attach the wall-plate.

Step 14

Repeat for the other end of the cable.

So Far So Good

All my test prints have worked like a charm so far today.  I let the printer go into sleep mode several times and then sent test prints from 2 different computers on the network.  Each time it worked as expected.