FocusAiry Leader G1 Air Purifer/Qi Charger Review

The FocusAiry Leader G1 is a combination HEPA Air Purifier and Qi Charger that allows you to charge your phone simply by placing it on the charger. It's designed for small rooms such as offices and has some really cool features. It combines two functions that are nice to have in a small office so it only takes up one power outlet and little desk space. Continue reading for my full review.
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Residential Keystone Wall Plate Configurations

It's important to run enough cables and provide enough jacks in your home to not only provide the services and equipment you currently use but also to account for any future needs including rearranging furniture. In this post I'll go over what I think are the best practices regarding which keystone ports to include in your wall plates.

ANSI/TIA-570-C Residential Structured Wiring Standard

There's actually a standards document that was last updated in 2012 for residential structured wiring, ANSI/TIA-570-C. It provides the minimum outlets to meet 2 different grades of the standard. Each of the grades indicates you should have at least one wall plate in each kitchen, bedroom, family/living/great room, and den/study/office of your home. See my recommendations on where to put voice/data/video outlets in each room of your home.

For ANSI/TIA-570-C Grade 1 you should have at least one 4 pair UTP (Cat5e minimum) and one RG6 cable terminated in each wall plate.

For ANSI/TIA-570-C Grade 2 you need at least 2 4 pair UTP (Cat5e minimum) and 2 RG6 cables at each outlet with 2 optional fiber cables.

According to the standard all residential 4 UTP cables should be terminated according to the T568A standard.  Which I think makes the most sense. There's a misconception that T568B is newer or better, but it's not. The only difference between the two is that the green pair and orange pair are swapped. T568A is more compatible with phone systems so you can use an RJ45 jack for phone or ethernet depending how you have it terminated on the other end.

My Disagreements with TIA-570-C

The ANSI/TIA-570-C standard is a long document covering many concerns with residential wiring, most of which I agree with and I think make a lot of sense. There are a couple of things I don't agree with.

RJ12 Phone Jacks Not Allowed

This is a poor decision in my opinion. All residential phones use 6p4c jacks. While you can get a 6p4c plug into an RJ-45 jack it's not ideal. The ports should be designed to work with the  intended equipment.

I know landlines aren't a priority for most people these days but I don't agree. In the event of an emergency, the more communications options you have the better. I live in an area where most phone, cable and power lines are above ground on poles. It's not uncommon to lose power or phone service for brief periods of time. Over the past few years there have been some major events in my area. I'm only a few miles away from the site of the World Trade Center. On 9/11 you had a hard time making a cell phone call. During Superstorm Sandy a lot of people had their landline and/or power. Again, cell phone service, even wireless data was very unreliable for those that were able to keep their cell phones charged since even gas was hard to come by due to generator usage and no power at many pumps. If you're already running cables, it's not a big deal to run phone lines too and you can get

I think having a landline with at least one corded phone on each floor is important to have. Even if you don't use it frequently it's good to have for emergencies. You can strip off all the calling features and get the minimum per minute rate with free local calling in most areas for around $15 or less. You might have to spend some time on the phone with your provider but it's worth it. Get rid of all the extras like wire maintenance too. If you're reading this document and doing your own cabling you can manage to fix your phone wires yourself and save over $100 a year.

According to the spec, all Cat5e cables should be terminated at outlets using 8p8c (RJ-45) ports. You also can't split the wiring behind the outlet. That means if you run Cat5e for your phone, have 4 phone lines, one for lines 1&2, the other for lines 3&4, you can't have 2 Cat5e ports wired to 1 cable, which would be the cleanest way to work with most phones. Instead you'd have to wire the 4 line cable to a Cat5e jack then use a break out cable to split the lines externally. I have instructions on how to make a RJ45 to telephone jack breakout cable.

I don't like this at all. My recommendation. Include at least one RJ-11 6p4c Keystone ports on each wall plate. Run Cat5e even though Cat3 is more than fine for standard telephone lines. You can always change out the ports later, just make sure you allow some extra cable at the wall plate and patch panel to allow you to terminate a new connector. You'll only need to punch down the blue and orange pairs. If you have 3 or more lines (or just want 2 phone ports that you can connect to line 1 at the patch panel) punch down the green and brown pairs on a second RJ-11 keystone. See the post on the breakout cable I mentioned previously for more info. As long as you keep each pair twisted as close to the punch down terminal as possible and keep each pair of pairs twisted as much as possible there shouldn't be much risk of noise in the line.

Doing so is cleaner, neater and it helps you differentiate phone and network ports easily. While you can plug a phone plug into a RJ-45 jack, it can sometimes damage the pins. If you do that you'll also best to color code network and phone ports which I don't like. Even though I wound up ordering different colors (blue) for my network Cat5e ports I'm starting to think it looks a bit tacky and too much like an office, which I don't want in my home.

Don't even consider Fiber

I know TIA only mentions fiber optic cable as an optional feature but I don't think you should even consider it. Everything about fiber (the cable, the networking equipment the tools you'll need) is much more expensive.

Properly terminated and run Cat5e should handle 10GB/s speeds on cable lengths less than 140 ft that don't have much alien cross talk between cables which shouldn't be an issue for most residential installations. If 10GB/s speed is important to you look into Cat6a or preferably Cat7. 

Even if you only get 1 Gigabit per second speeds that should handle most residential needs, including streaming large HD video. Over the air ATSC broadcasts are less than 19.28 Mb/s per channel and the maximum blu-ray transmission rate is about 50 Mb/s. On a 1000Base-T network you can stream 50 TV channels or 20 Blu-Ray movies at the same time. Probably not something you'll be doing at home.

With some broadcast quality HD cameras you can record video at an uncompressed 1.5 gigabits per second but there's no reasonable way to play those at home right now. If you do manage 10Gb speeds you can still stream six of those movies. By the time you'll need the speeds of current fiber, current fiber technology will be cheaper and they'll be something way better.

My Wall Plate Configuration Suggestions

As I discussed in my recommended locations for voice/data/video wall plates you should strive for at least 2 outlets in each room and at least one in the dining room since most people use their dining rooms for other purposes these days.

More details in the other article but basically in each room you have at least two areas where you'll need connectivity. In a family room you'll have the area where you'll put your TV and other video equipment where you'll need RG6 and networking cables (maybe even phone) and you'll have your sitting area where it's nice to have phone and networking. In a bedroom you may have a bed, desk and TV where it's nice to have connectivity but you can serve 2 of those areas from one wall plate.

Wall Plate Labeling and Port Numbering

A quick aside before we get to the wall plate configurations. I think labeling wall plates and using colored keystone ports looks tacky and too much like an office for my tastes so wall plates won't be labeled and all keystones colors will match the wall plate except in rare instances like if you need to easily identify a PoE (power over ethernet) port to avoid damaging equipment. In a future article I'll show you how I'm mapping out my own installation so you can see how easy it is to manage without labels on the wall plates. 

Since there may be more than 1 type of cable present, all cables will be numbered from left to right and top down. So let's say you have a 6 hole wall plate with 2 coax on top and 4 RJ-45 network ports. The two RG6 cables will be video 1 on the left and video 2 on the right and the 4 RJ-45's will be data 1 and data 2 from left to right on the middle row and data 3 and data 4 from left to right on the row under that.

No need to label the cables V, D, P or anything like that for video, data and phone, the different types of connectors and cable colors (see my residential cable jacket color recommendations) will take care of identifying the purpose of the cable.

Bare Minimum

At the very least, every room should have 1 RG6 port, 1 RJ-45 network port and 1 phone port. 

There should be at least 2 wall plates in most rooms. One on either side of the main traffic pattern of the room or other obstacles. 

Each wall plate should have at least 1 ethernet port except where you're wiring a location for a wall mount phone. For example, if you plan to keep things down to cut costs and you're installing 2 wall plates in the bedrooms, one for phone near the bed, one for RG6 on the opposite wall for a TV, also run a Cat5e for networking to each wall plate even if you currently don't plan to use a wired laptop in bed, desk or you don't have any TV equipment that's currently networked. Chances are you'll want to have as many options for networked devices as possible.

I have a very good WiFi setup but I always prefer to have a wired networking connection. Wired will always be faster and as more neighbors get WiFi mine gets occasional hiccups.

Dual VDV Wall Plate

In an ideal world, if money and number of holes you can drill was not an issue, you would run at least 5 cables to each and every wall plate. This will give you the most freedom to rearrange your furniture and equipment without having to alter any of the structured wiring.

This is also the most versatile solution for new construction where you or the builder may not know how the furniture will be arranged.

Two RG6 cables. One can be used for a paid TV service and the other can be used for rooftop over-the-air antenna or you can just have two feeds, one for a TV, one for a media center. You can also just use one as a feed and the other to send an RF signal back to the distribution panel then back out to another outlet if you want to do something like share the output of one cable set-top box with another television set.

Two RJ-45 ports to connect to your home's ethernet network. Two is ideal but you may need more than 2 in some locations. For example in a family room with an internet connected TV, Blu-Ray player and a couple of gaming systems 4 ethernet jacks would be ideal near the TV.

Two 6p4c phone jacks. If you have more than one phone line (including VOIP lines) you can split them up between the ports so you have lines 1&2 on the left and lines 3&4 on the right, or if you only have one phone line you can send the line up twice, once to each jack, by connecting the blue pair and the green pair to your line 1 dialtone bridge. See my post on how to wire a 110 block for more information.

You may want to run 2 separate Cat5e cables, one for each jack even though you may only be using 1 or 2 pairs from each. It's nice to have an extra cable in the wall if your phones are important to you. Sometimes a cable or even just a pair can get damaged. I stuck to 1 because even I realize landlines aren't as important. 

One Dual VDV and One Dual DV

We don't live in an ideal world and money, time and how many cables we can run is limited. If you've lived in your home a while and aren't the type of family that constantly rearranges furniture drastically, you may omit the RG6 cables from any wall plate that you don't currently have or want the option to install a TV.

In your family room for example you'll have two walls plates (as in most rooms). The one closest to the TV will be the Dual Video, Data and Voice configuration while the one near your seating area will just be dual data and voice. You can even omit the phone cable by the TV if you want or run a third network cable.

This is the setup I'm going with. RG-6 cable is the most problematic to run. It has a larger diameter so you can't run that many through holes or conduit. (See my post on how many cables you can fit through a hole.) It's also thicker and harder to pull and more expensive to run and terminate. I do plan on leaving a bit of slack looped up in the wall, attic or unfinished parts of the basement so that if there's ever a need to move the TV to the other side of the room moving the RG6 cables from one wall plate to the other will be easier.
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Hyperikon Ballast Compatible LED Tubes Review

As I mentioned in a previous post I've been working on switching a lot of my lights to LEDs. For standard screw in bulbs it's been very simple. If you have any fluorescent tubes, switching to LEDs was a bit difficult until now. I found these Ballast Compatible LED tubes from Hyperikon that make replacing your fluorescent tubes with LEDs easy.
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Tile Top Plant Stand Plans

Free woodworking plans to build an inexpensive plant stand with a tile top.

I decided to add more plants to my home without first thinking about where to put them! So I came up with this simple yet attractive design for DIY plant stand that's easy to build. You can even build it with minimal tools or get the wood cut for you at the store. You can build one for as little as $8 or if you're building 3 of them the cost comes down to around $6 each depending on the wood you choose.
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Kreg-Mini Cheat Sheet

I use my Kreg-Min Pocket Hole Jig quite often but I always forget the settings for different wood thicknesses so I made this little table to look up whenever I'm using my Kreg Mini. There are three measurements that you need. The depth collar adjustment, distance from edge and screw size.
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Attic Storage Shelf Plans

Free woodworking plans to build 2-tier attic shelving system.

I was browsing online for something unrelated for my attic when I came across this AtticMaxx Shelving System. It's a pretty ingenious system for attics that can't have wide shelves because they either use engineered roof trusses or include purlin bracing in the framing which can get in the way of regular shelves. The problem though with the AtticMaxx is the price. For 8 shelves it's currently $169. Yikes! And it doesn't include the totes.

Below you'll find plans to build an attic shelving system that solves some of the same problems the AtticMax does but at a fraction of the cost. I also made the bottom shelves a little longer which will allow you to slide out the bottom tote so you can access the contents after you spin it sideways.
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Cost of GreenFiber Vs Atticat Blown In Insulation

The recent cold snaps here in the Northeast got me thinking of adding insulation to my walls and attic. Most of it would need to be blown in and there are two options available through the big box stores. GreenFiber Cellulose Insulation and Owens Corning AttiCat Fiberglass insulation. At first glance GreenFiber may seem much cheaper since a package sells for about 1/3rd the price of AttiCat but when you add everything up, AttiCat is actually the cheaper choice. Let's look at why.

First let me say there's a lot of  competing information on which is better, fiberglass or cellulose insulation. Both can be blown into existing walls and attics without significant demolition. The people who mainly sell and install cellulose insulation think it's worlds better than fiberglass and those that manufacture and install fiberglass insulation think that's the best choice. I'm still trying to make up my mind what to believe but both options can be DIY projects and both choices offer a free blower rental with a minimum purchase from Home Depot.

Insulation recommendations changed a few years ago. If your home was built before 1990 there's a good chance you don't have enough attic insulation. If the level of insulation in your attic is at or below the floor joists, you don't have enough. If you can't see your floor joists in the attic because they're covered with insulation you're probably good.

If your home was built before 1980 you may not have any insulation in your walls. If your home was built before 1960 you more than likely don't have insulation in your walls. There's really no way to tell without making a small inspection hole in an exterior wall and visually checking.

To add insulation to existing walls without having to tear down all the drywall the only two affordable choices are blown-in fiberglass or cellulose insulation. Foam is way too expensive for me right now.

Here's what cellulose and fiberglass insulation is currently selling for at Home Depot in my area:

$11.48 for GreenFiber Blown-In Cellulose Insulation
$29.68 for Owens Corning AttiCat Fiberglass Expanding Blown-In Insulation System

When I first saw those numbers I got excited and thought I could blow in cellulose for a lot cheaper than I previously priced fiberglass. Unfortunately you need a lot more cellulose packages than you do fiberglass because the fiberglass is compressed. When it comes to walls it gets even worse which I'll explain after we look at the numbers for attics. Let's say we have a 1,000 sq ft attic we want to insulate by adding an additional R-30 worth of insulation. Here's what the numbers look like.

Attic Insulation Cost Comparison

InsulationPkgs NeededPrice/PkgTotalSavings
GreenFiber R-3044$11.48$505.12
AttiCat R-3016$29.68$474.88$30.24 (5.99%)
OC Fiberglass R-30 Batts29$15.98$463.42$41.70 (8.26%)
GreenFiber R-3859$11.48$677.32
AttiCat R-3820$29.68$593.60$83.72 (12.36%)
GreenFiber R-4981$11.48$929.88
AttiCat R-4926$29.68$771.68$158.20 (17.01%)

The costs above only reflect the cost of the insulation. You get a free 24 hour blower rental if you buy 20 bags of GreenFiber or 10 bags of AttiCat and we're above both of those and I assumed you'd need to rent a truck for either if you don't already have one. Although you're getting a lot more packages of GreenFiber so for some people, that may mean having to rent the HD truck instead of using their own truck.


If you're only adding an additional R-30's worth of insulation the cheapest option is to use Unfaced R-30 Batts that you just roll over your existing installation (perpendicular to your joists.) if you don't mind crawling around cutting insulation.

If you'd rather blow insulation, AttiCat is slightly less than GreenFiber and not much more than R-30 rolls. Not a big enough difference to choose one over the other if you have a certain preference for either fiberglass or cellulose in my opinion.

R-38 and R-49

If you want to add an additional R-38 worth of insulation or more you really start to see significant savings with AttiCat. For some reason, GreenFiber's recommendations aren't linear. You need proportionally more insulation as you increase R-Value.

At R-30 you need about 2.75 times as many GreenFiber bags as you need AttiCat. At R-38 it's 2.95 times more and at R-49 it's over 3.1 times as many packages.

I think the labor will become an issue as well with cellulose. You have to load, unload, carry and feed about 3 times as many bags of GreenFiber as you do AttiCat.

Wall Insulation Cost Comparison

The following table compares the price for 2,000 square feet of 2x4 framed exterior walls.

InsulationPkgs NeededPrice/PkgTotalSavings
GreenFiber R-1398$11.48$1,125.04
AttiCat R-1327$29.68$801.68$323.68 (28.77%)
AttiCat R-1531$29.68$920.08$204.96 (25.58%)

Things get a lot worse for cellulose insulation when it comes to blowing into existing walls. When installing blown-in insulation in walls you have to blow it in at a higher density than you do for attic installations.

This is true for both cellulose and fiberglass but fiberglass only needs double the amount while cellulose needs triple the amount. With AttiCat you also have the option to add a little more to get a higher R-15 insulation rating. With cellulose you'd probably start busting through your drywall?

Cellulose insulation settles a little bit compared to fiberglass so you really have to pack it in. When you do that, the settling is minimal. I'm guessing that's why it takes much more cellulose insulation compared to fiberglass.

You're saving a lot more money on material cost with fiberglass than with cellulose insulation even if you choose to go with the R-15 installation option of AttiCat. You're also dealing with about 1/3rd as many packages of insulation.


There are pros and cons to each but it's a bit difficult to discern what's truth and what's marketing. For example fiberglass is more affordable and provides good insulation but is itchy. Cellulose is treated with borates which makes it fire retardant and may repel pests and mold. It can be as much as three times heavier than fiberglass which could be an issue in some structures and if not installed to the correct density it can slump over the years leaving an uninsulated void at the top of the wall cavity.

Either GreenFiber or AttiCat is going to be better than not having enough attic insulation or any insulation in your walls if you live in a colder climate. Both can be installed by DIY'ers who spend time reading the instructions and preparing beforehand.

For adding insulation to your attic at R-30 they're similar in cost but as you go deeper you realize more savings with AtticCat.

For adding insulation to existing walls you can save close to 30% with AtticCat versus GreenFiber and you'll need to deal with about 1/3rd as many packages of insulation. They're similar in size but the AtticCat is heavier because it's compressed. Still I think having to open and load that many more packages into the blower is going to get tiring and possibly slow things down.

You can get a free blower rental with either so other costs should be similar.

The numbers I calculated are from current prices in my area. Check to see what GreenFiber
and AttiCat is selling for in your area before you make any decisions.
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How To Wire A 66 Block

A 66 wiring block is an older but still widely used style telephone distribution panel. It is used to distribute incoming phone lines to all the phone jacks in your home. It may seem a bit confusing but we'll break down the parts so you can learn to wire a 66 block yourself.

If you don't have a 110 block you may have a 66 block in your home. Phone companies can charge a monthly inside wire maintenance fee if you want them to repair any issues that may occur with the phone wires inside your home. If you learn to maintain your own phone system you can save a decent amount of money. For me it's about $120 every year.

66 Block Components

There are different types of 66 blocks. The most commonly used is the 50 pair Split 66 Block.

The 66 block is normally mounted on an 89D Mounting Bracket to provide some clearance to run cables behind the 66 block.

Pins in the center of the block are were wires get connected. On a split 66 block there are 4 pins on each row. The first 2 pins on a row are electronically connected, as are the last 2 pins on a row but the 4 are independent of each other. If you connect a wire to pins 1 and 2 the signal from the wire on pin 1 will also flow to the wire on pin 2 but not to pins 3 and 4.

If you want the signal from pins 1 & 2 to flow to pins 3 & 4 you would install a metal bridge clip over pins 2 & 3.

They're normally mounted vertically but to fit larger illustrations in this article I'm going to be showing them in a horizontal orientation.

A 50 Pair split 66 block will have 25 rows of pins which allow you to punch down 50 pairs of wires, 25 on each side. With old style 4 pair (green, red, black, yellow) telephone wire you can punch down 12 cables on each side. With newer style Cat5e wire (white-blue, blue, white-orange, orange, white-green, green, white-brown, brown) you can punch down 6 cables per side.

Fins on the sides of the 66 block are meant to keep wires separated from each other. Some of the fins are slightly rounded to help you identify every 10th wire. You can write on the fin with a permanent marker or apply labels to them for identification.

66 Block Vs 110 Block

66 blocks are older style wiring blocks for telephone wiring but many telecom installers still prefer them. They're more durable which allows them to be punched down multiple times and are able to handle thicker wires that may be present in older installations.

I personally prefer the 110 blocks. They serve the same function but take up less space. 110 blocks are also more compatible with high speed networking which can save a lot of time if you want to upgrade to VOIP phones in the future. 

Durability isn't an issue for me because neither should really be reused and I like that the connections in a 110 block are in the C-Clips instead of on the base so if the connector goes bad you just replace the C-Clip, you don't have to always replace the whole block as you would in a 66 block.

Step 1: Installation

66 blocks are typically screwed to a mounting board which can be a simple sheet of plywood. Above the 66 block, 2 wiring spools (mushrooms) are also installed to neatly route cross connect wires from one side to the other or between blocks if multiple are installed.

Step 2: Punch Down Incoming Phone Lines

The cable coming from your phone company could be a 4 conductor (red, green, black, yellow) cable that supports 2 phone lines or it may be a Cat3, Cat5 or Cat5e cable with 3 or 4 pairs of wires, each pair supporting 1 phone line.

All cables should come up through the bottom of the 66 block and then pulled out the side.

On a 66 block incoming wires are typically punched down on the left side of the block starting from the top.

Each wire is punched down to the first pin in a row with one wire per row. The order of the pairs is blue, orange, green and brown with the white wire from the pair being punched down on top. That's white-blue, blue, white-orange, orange, white-green, green, white-brown and brown.

Untwist each pair only as much as you need, pass it through a fin then hook it onto a pin from the top down. After you have all the wires from a cable on the pins, punch them down using a punch down tool with a 66 blade.

Step 3: Punch Down Phone Jack Cables

Now it's time to connect our premise wiring, the cables that run from our distribution point to the phone jacks throughout the house. These cables will be punched down on the right hand side of the 66 block using Cat5e cable. Each cable is going to use 8 pins and the order of the wires is again going to be blue pair, orange pair, green pair, brown pair with the white wire of each pair on top. Even though you may not use 4 lines in each cable it's still good practice to punch them all down.

I've highlighted the different cables with an orange box to make it easy to see in the illustration. Each cable will run to a different jack to allow one phone to be connected to it.

Step 4: Create Incoming Lines Daisy Chains

Right now our incoming lines aren't connected to any of the phone jacks since we're using a split 66 block. There are a number of ways to send the signal to each jack but the preferred method is to use cross connect wires to duplicate the signal to other pins on the left side of the block. This allows you to use bridge clips when you want to send a particular line to a phone.

We'll start with the blue pair, line 1.

Start by attaching the wires to the second pins where you punched down the incoming phone lines (left in illustration) then loop the cross-connect wires and and out of the fins so you can hook them around every 8th pair of pins as shown.

Keep the twists in the cross-connect wires as much as you can. For the illustration they're untwisted for clarity.

When you punch down the cross connects you'll need to switch to a non-cutting 66-blade in your punch down tool so you don't trim the wires when you're creating the daisy chain above.

If you have multiple incoming phone lines, repeat the daisy chain process for each line or all the punched down wires so you have them if you need them.

Step 6: Attach Bridge Clips

The jacks still aren't connected to the incoming lines but we'll do that right now.

In our example we want to send line 1 to all of our phone jacks. To do so all we need to do is insert a bridge clip between pins 2 & 3 for all the blue pair wires. 

Each phone is now connected to line 1 from the phone company.

If you want to connect other lines to phones, insert a pair of bridge clips to the corresponding pair of wires.

Step 7: Alternate Cross Connect Method

Using bridge clips is the best method but sometimes you may want to do something a little different like have incoming line 2 be the line that a phone sees as line 2. 

For example you have a home office and you only want your office phone line to be connected to that phone. Instead of using bridge clips you'll use cross connect wires coming out of the left side connected to pins 2 of an orange pair, looping around the top of the mushrooms and then punched down to pins 3 of the blue pair that leads to your office phone.

If our office phone was the second cable on the right, instead of using bridge clips our cross connect would look something like this.

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Bad Dishwasher Smell Keeps Coming Back? Try This!

For over a year I was battling with a terrible smell coming from a dishwasher that didn't get much use. I'd try something new to clean it and the smell would go away for a while but would always return. It wasn't until I finally replaced the dishwasher that I realized where the problem was coming from.
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Tom Builds A New Web Design

Tom Builds Stuff get's a face lift. The new design should hopefully make it easier to read plans and view images. The site works better on mobile devices too including tablets and even televisions. Wherever you may be browsing TBS from.
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Choosing Daylight or Warm Color Bulbs

These days when it comes to energy efficient lighting there are a lot of choices. One of those choices is the color temperature of the light. No longer are we stuck with orange for incandescent, green for fluorescent. Using light bulb color wisely in your home can have positive effects on your and your families lives. Below you'll find my tips for choosing light bulb color.
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X16 Small Business Phone 110 Wiring Diagram

The X16 small business phone system can be wired in various ways. In this guide I'll show you one example of how to wire the X16 system with 4 pair twisted pair cabling in a 110 wiring block.
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How to Wire A 110 Block Telephone Connector

110 wiring blocks are commonly used for distributing telephone lines in homes and offices. If your home was built after 1990 there's a good chance you have a 110 block connecting your telephone jacks to your incoming phone lines. They're a bit complicated but knowing how they work can wind up saving you a lot of money. In this post we'll go over over the different parts of a 110 block and how to wire your phone system.
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Office Organization: What You Need To Know

A disorganized office can hurt your productivity and cause you to miss opportunities and waste time. Lots of people tell you what to buy or how to make things look cute. Today I'm going to discuss processes more than products to help keep your work space neat and productive whether it be an office or a home office. How paper should flow through your office, how to create an effective filing system and how to keep files your working on organized plus more.
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TBS Structured Wiring Jacket Colors

Color coding your structured wiring can make it easier to install and maintain. It can also help mishaps like having a contractor cut into the wrong wire by mistake. Unfortunately there's no standard for structured wiring jacket colors so let's come up with our own residential structured wiring color guidelines.

Structured Wiring Cable Color Convention

We're going to separate our cabling into 2 types. Premise wiring and patch cords. Premise wiring is the wiring that runs throughout your home, mainly between your central distribution area and jacks. Patch cords are used to make connections between devices in your central distribution area such as connecting a port on your network patch panel to a port on your network switch.

Cat5e cables are really the only cables that give you much of a choice when it comes to jacket colors. You can easily find them in blue, green, purple, orange, yellow, red, grey, white and black. I chose to not use grey, black and white because those are the only colors some other cables come in so I reserved them for that use. I chose not to use yellow and orange for premise wiring because white, yellow and orange are commonly used for electric wiring and I wanted them to be easily distinguished visually. These colors may be used as patch cords however.

I'll go into more details but here's the basic color coding for residential structured wiring.

Here's an example of what a structured wiring panel may look like using this configuration.

Video Wires

The wires you run for your video distribution will generally be coaxial cable (RG6 Quad Shielded preferably) and it really is only easy to find in 2 colors, black and white.


Since every cable and satellite installer I've seen use black cable we're going to designate black coaxial cable as cables that connect you to incoming video signals (A) whether it be from cable, FiOS, satellite or your over-the-air antenna. That will help us identify these input sources both in the wall and at the patch panels.

Black patch cords should be used at the TV if you need to connect one or more devices via coax like a Satellite receiver to a TV.


White is one of the colors I really wanted to avoid but with coax there isn't much choice if we wanted to use more than one color. I recommend running the premise wiring (wiring between your distribution center and wall jacks) using white coaxial cable (D) to help differentiate it from the incoming wires. White coax should also be used for patch cords in your distribution panel.

White should also be used for the patch cables (G) that run between wall jacks and devices to help differentiate them from other patch cords that go between devices.

Phone Wires


Incoming telephone lines (E). We don't usually have a choice what color cable the phone company uses but in my experience they usually use grey so we'll stick with that for the incoming lines.


Green will be used for telephone premise wiring (C) as well as patch cords that connect the phone system together (F) at the distribution panel.

Data Network Wires


Blue will be used for the premise wiring (B) and patch cables (H) that connect the distribution center to the wall jacks as well as for patching those wires to a network switch. Many installers already use blue for networking which is why I thought it would be a good choice.


For connecting devices to the network such as servers, wifi access points, routers, etc, I chose orange (I) patch cords.

Making these colors different helps identify these devices on the switch when maintaining them compared to the patch cords that feed the wall plates.


Purple is used for crossover cables (J). Crossover cables are network cables that are terminated as T568A on one end and T568B on the other. They are used for directly connecting two devices without the need of a switch or hub between them. You'll probably only need them if you have more than switch that you want connected together. Since crossover cables are wired differently it's important that they have a different color so you don't mix them up. 

Even though many switches can auto sense whether a cable is straight-through or crossover and adapt, I still think it's best to use crossover cables to help visually mark these types of connections.

Fiber Optic


If you're running fiber optic cables I would suggest using red to differentiate them from the other cables. Both for premise wiring and patch cords (K). If you're using multiple switches they may have a fiber interconnect.

Wall Jacks

Slightly related is the choice of colors for the ports in your wall plates. For the most part I feel you should stick with a port color that matches the wall plate for aesthetic reasons. The only time you should deviate if you have 2 ports that have the same type of connector that serve different purposes. In those cases you should use different colors to differentiate them.

For example, if you use RJ45 jacks for both phone and network, phone should match the wall plate and network should be blue. You don't want to accidentally plug in your computer's network card in a phone jack because the voltage in the phone line could damage it. If you're using RJ11 jacks for phone and RJ45 for data you can keep them both the same color as the wall plate since you won't be able to accidentally insert a network cable into the phone jack.

If you're running 2 lines of coax (maybe cable and over the air antenna) you may want to choose different colors but I think it's best to just be consistent with always having the left and right ones (or top and bottom) be for specific services on all ports.
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Where to Put Structured Wiring Wall Jacks

One of the most difficult tasks in planning a structured wiring project for your home is identifying the location to install your wall jacks. You want to find a location that will minimize the use of long patch cords for safety and aesthetic reasons while still allowing you to move furniture around. Here are some of my tips.

How Many Wall Plates Per Room?

Most rooms should have at least one wall plate that can provide at least a phone line and one network line. Larger rooms such as bedrooms, offices, living rooms, etc should have at least 2.

Step 1: Determine Furniture and Traffic Patterns

In some cases furniture will only fit in a room a certain way, a bed will only work in a bedroom on one particular wall for example. In most cases though there's some flexibility.

What I find works best is to try to identify traffic flow between fixed elements such as doors and windows. These will restrict the locations where you can place furniture. Sketch out your floor plan and mark the major paths people would flow through the room. For this tutorial I just grabbed a floor plan from and drew arrows indicating the major flows of traffic through the rooms.

Notice how the traffic patterns split the rooms in 2 or 3 sections. Furniture will need to be laid out in a way that doesn't restrict the flow of traffic. The most convenient location for the jacks will be near certain furniture. Since the traffic patterns help guide furniture placement we can also use them to place wall jacks.

In the Master Bedroom for example we have 2 main flows. From the entrance to the window wall and from the window wall to the bath/dresser/porch doors.There are really only 2 ways the bed can be placed in that room. Either on the left wall as shown, or on the top wall. (Okay, 3 if you count in the corner between those two walls but I'm not a big fan of beds in corners.)

Step 2: Put a Wall Plate In Each Traffic Zone

The paths of traffic split up the room into different zones. In Bedroom 1 for example, there's one main traffic path from the entrance door to the patio door that splits the room in half diagonally. The bed is in the top half and the desk is in the lower half but it could easily be set up the other way around.

If we place one wall place on the top wall and one wall plate on the bottom wall we can easily hook up a phone on a nightstand next to the bed, a computer on the desk or a TV opposite the bed in all reasonable furniture placements without having to run wires across the flow of traffic (trip hazard) or without having to run long, unsightly patch cables.

Also consider most rooms will have a sitting/sleeping location, a viewing location (location of TV). The traffic patterns will normally split things up into workable sitting and viewing locations but make sure you can accommodate different sitting/tv locations with your wall plate locations.

Here is how I would run structured wiring and install wall plates in the sample floor plan to get the most functionality and versatility. Each orange dot represents where a wall plate would be installed.

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RJ11 Phone to RJ45 Jack

Cat5, Cat5e, Cat6 cable is frequently used for wiring telephone jacks. You can send up to 4 telephone lines on one 4 pair cable that terminates at a RJ45 (8P8C) jack. The problem is most phones, even multi-line phones, don't directly plug into an RJ45 jack. We'll discuss some options for connecting phones with RJ11 connectors to an RJ45 port.

Jack Configuration

Before we get into separating the phone lines, lets understand what's going on in the jack. Nobody uses the old quad (green, red, black, yellow) phone cable anymore in new wiring. It's mainly Cat3 or better cable which consists of 4 twisted pairs of wire in blue, orange, green and brown along with their white wire that has a colored stripe (white-blue, white-orange, white-green, white-brown). Since a standard telephone only needs one pair of wires per line, we can send up to 4 lines on each cable. This offers a lot of flexibility and saves time and labor running phone cables in a multi-line system. Even if you're only going to be running a single phone line, you have room for expansion.

For consistency, the ability to utilize all 4 lines and to save space in the wall jack, phone installations are typically terminated in an 8P8C (8 pin 8 conductor) jack. This is the same jack used for your ethernet cable. This is a bigger jack than you might normally expect for a phone which is typically a smaller 6P6C or similar (RJ11, RJ12, etc). 6P6C supports up to 3 lines, 6P4C 2 lines and 6P2C is a single line jack but they all use the same plug. Only difference is the number of wires in the cable.

There are three standard ways of wiring a phone jack. T568A, T568B and USOC. The difference is what colors are connected to what pins on the jack.

T568A is the preferred method for wiring telephone and ethernet jacks and the only method suggested in the residential TIA-570-B specification. Somehow T568B became popular in U.S. commercial installations but T568A is used more outside the U.S. and the Federal Government specifies T568A for their installations. To all the naysayers... See sometimes the government can do things better than the private sector. :) USOC isn't commonly used anymore but is the type of wiring scheme telephones use. 

It would make sense to wire ports following the USOC specification but by using T568A a cable can later be easily switched from voice to data or vice versa in the future. You'll notice that Line 1 and Line 2 on both T568A and USOC are identical. If you have a two line phone, you can plug it directly into a T568A wired jack and both lines will work. The smaller RJ11/12 plugs will fit directly inside an RJ45 jack. It's not preferred since you might damage the other pins but it is designed to work that way.

Unless you need to match a currently installed pinout plan, try to always use T568A. Either way, it's important to know how your jacks are actually wired.

Telephone Jack

Compare the above jacks with old style 2-line phone jacks that used to be used on walls and are still used in phones. They look like this.

The above is a standard 6P4C telephone jack that supports 2 phone lines. Line 1 is on the center pins line 2 is on the next set of outer pins. If twisted pair wiring is used the colors would be white-blue for green, blue for red, white-orange for black and orange for yellow.

If you hook up a single line phone it will only make a connection with pins 2 and 3 (line 1). With a two line phone you'll use all 4 pins.

Connecting Standard 4-Line Phone to RJ45 Jack

The Jack supports 4 lines, the phone supports 4 lines this should be easy right? Nope, not usually. The problem is that most standard 4-line phones don't have a single 4 line RJ45 jack, instead they usually have 2 6P4C (RJ11) jacks that support 2 lines each.

There are a few ways to handle this correctly but let's first talk about how not to do it. You may think that it would make life easy if you just split the pairs of cables behind the wall plate and use 2 RJ11 keystone jacks. This will theoretically work and considering it's just phone there will be minimal issues with interference having a bunch of exposed pairs but it can lead to problems. You will obviously increase the chances of having interference, the wires will be easier to damage, you're going to be taking up extra space in the wall plate and you lose the ability to easily change that port to a network port in the future. It's also prohibited in the spec.

RJ45 4-line to 2 RJ11 2-Line Adapter

There are a number of different splitters (usually named 400E) like this Suttle 400E Cat5 Splitter that plug into the RJ45 Jack and have 2 RJ11 jacks each with 2 lines. These are fairly easy to find but just make sure you're not getting a regular telephone splitter (1 RJ11 to 2 RJ11). It needs to have a male RJ45 on one side and 2 female RJ11's on the other.

Taking a close look at the wiring diagram it appears to follow T568B on the RJ45 side. You can still use it with T568A pinouts but line 2 and 3 will be swapped. If your phone jacks pinouts follow USOC this adapter won't work.

Break Out Cable

If you can't find the splitter above, you can make a breakout cable from twisted pair cable.

On one end you'll crimp an RJ45 jack following the pinout used in your wall jack. On the other you'll crimp 1 or more RJ11 jacks. If you just want to pull one line out for a single phone, pick the pair of wires for the line you want and insert them in the center pins of the RJ11. You can also do 2 2-line RJ11 plugs, 4 1-line RJ11 plugs, whatever works for you.

Break Out Box

Manufacturers of structured wiring systems also have premade break out boxes that will allow you to access the 4 lines in different ways. The Leviton 47609-4x4 4x4 Breakout Module is one example.

Since the Leviton systems are geared towards residential installations the Leviton 47609-4x4 is wired according to the T568A pinout unlike the splitter above which is T568B.

DIY RJ45 to RJ11 Break Out Box

If you can't find the break out box above or have special needs you can make your own break out box.

You can make one anyway you'd like but to give you an example let's make a a 4 port box that takes an incoming cable and splits it up to L1&2, L2&1, L3&4, L4&3 similar to the Leviton.

We'll need:
For tools we'll need:
  • Punch down tool with 110 cutting and non cutting blade
  • Modular Plug crimper
  • Screwdriver
We're going to daisy chain 2 pairs on 2 ports for Lines 1 & 2 and then do the same on 2 other ports for lines 3 &4 so we'll have 4 jacks wired like this:

With this configuration we can connect:
  • 4 separate 1-line phones to one RJ45 jack to access all 4 lines.
  • 4 2-line phones 
  • 2 2-line phones
  • or some other variations like one 4-line phone a fax machine and a single line phone.
It's snowing and I don't have any phone jacks handy so I'll be wiring it up using standard 8 wire Cat5e jacks. Same principle but I'm punching down the wires on different pins than I mention in the instructions.

Step 1: Strip cable

Strip the outer jacket of the cable fairly long (maybe 8-10") so you have plenty of wire to work with.

Step 2: L2&1 Jack

We're going to start with one of the center jacks (Lines 2 & 1) and work our way out on either side.  Untwist the orange pair of wires near the base (don't untwist the pair completely) and punch them down to pins 3 & 4 (orange and white-orange) using a non-cutting 110 blade. I'm using the plastic punch down tool that comes with the jacks. Repeat for the blue pair on pins 2 and 5 (white-blue and blue).

Step 3: L1&2 Jack

Next we'll do the Lines 1 & 2 Jack using the same blue and orange pairs except we'll punch them down on the opposite pins as before. 3 and 4 for blue and 2 and 5 for orange. This time when we punch down the wires we'll use the cutting 110 blade to trim off any excess wire.

Have a look at the jack and visualize how you want it to appear in the surface mount box. For me, I'm going to want to punch down the next jack to the right of the first one. Your jacks may be different so stop and check. Remember the pins will be on the top when mounted in the box.

Also, position the next jack far enough away so you have ample wires to position the jacks in the ports on the surface mount box. 

Step 4: L3&4 Jack

Now on the other side of the L2&1 jack we're going to add a jack for Lines 3&4 using the green and brown pairs on pins 3&4 and 2&5 respectively as shown in the previous diagram. 

Use the non-cutting blade and leave enough wire to be able to position the jack in the surface mount box.

Step 5: L4&3 Jack

The last jack is the lines 4 and 3 jack. We'll punch the green pair to pins 2&5 and the brown pair to pins 3&4 using the cutting 110 punch down blade.

Step 6: Insert Jacks In Surface Mount Box

Put the dust covers on the jacks if supplied then install the jacks into the ports on the surface mount box. Mark the surface mount box above the jack so you know it's function (L1&2, L2&1, L3&4, L4&3 or whichever configuration you chose.)

Step 7: Crimp RJ45 Connector

On the other end of the of the wire crimp on an RJ45 connector using the appropriate pinout for your wall jack. Either T568A, T568B or USOC.
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