How to build a rocket workshop (part 9: tropical storm)

Since we had already done all the work involved in running copper wire and conduit outside to bring electricity to the shed, we figured we might as well run some cat 5 (ethernet) cable out there, too, for a wired ethernet connection. I mean, we’d already dug the trench – so why not? An excellent yet rhetorical question.

And as long as we’re running one cat 5 cable, might as well run two. Right?

white door on blue exterior wall, with grey pvc conduit above and to the right of the door
double the conduit

In view of the larger project of transforming the shed into a workshop, I have to concede that this step was really more along the lines of “what the hell” than anything else. I can’t say it was absolutely necessary. In fact, one might argue it was totally unnecessary. I can’t say that I have any immediate plans to use a wired internet connection out there. The wifi signal from the house certainly reaches the shed, if I needed it. I cannot imagine why I would need a wired connection.

And yet… we already dug the trench, which is the type of work that I’d never want to do again. It may be totally unforeseeable now, but in the unlikely event I suddenly need a wired internet connection in the workshop, it seems worthwhile to invest in just a small amount of extra time and effort now, instead of undertaking another huge (and avoidable) project later.

And to be honest, compared to running electricity out there, this was much easier.

open metal junction box with cat-5 cable and ethernet jacks
labeling the jacks for future reference

The PVC conduit (3/4″ this time, easily able to hold two ethernet cables) was laid in the trench about 8 inches above the other 1″ conduit with the electrical wires, still about 10 inches below ground level. Next to the house, the conduit runs up vertically along the wall and then over a door and off to the side, right next to the 1″ conduit. I’ll paint them both blue to match the house, eventually, as well. At that end of the conduit, we ran the ethernet cable through the floor and wall of the house, and installed a 4-jack outlet inside, next to the modem/router.

On the other end of the trench, the conduit came up inside the shed to a single junction box, pictured here. It was basically the same process as the electrical wiring, just much simpler inside the shed with a single piece of conduit and single box.

I labeled the jacks and ethernet cable on both ends for future reference and then slapped a metal box cover and 2-jack wall plate on top. Tested both jacks and they are perfectly functional. Success! I may not know why I did this, but I know that the objective was achieved.

two finished ethernet jacks with wall plate cover
ready to use

This means the wiring is complete and I’ve entered a new phase of this project: beautification. Basically, time to clean things up. Outside, there’s an enormous mountain of dirt and rocks that needs to go back into a deep trench and cover up the conduit. I also need to buy a few (hundred) bags of mulch to cover the bare soil, and make the building’s external appearance look at least marginally more presentable (not dissimilar to goals related to my own appearance).

Inside the shop, there’s some general cleanup to do and a few pieces to put back in place. I also need to spend a little time planning the design for the layout, and where tools and equipment should go. It may only be a small 10×10 ft space, but all the more reason that the layout matters: space is at a premium.

I’ll have a few more pictures and a final update once it’s complete. It’ll be ready for building rockets just in time for spring – a.k.a. rocket-building season.

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