Wiring the backyard for Music and Internet

A year ago or two, we decided to install a brick paver patio at the back of our yard. I had dreams of using my computer there to work while listening to the birds and squirrels, breathing fresh air, and enjoying the beautiful summer weather. This would be a welcome change from spending the last several summers in the dark basement, removed from natural light, and confined in a windowless environment of air conditioning.

After the patio was completed, I brought my IPad there, and sat on a folding chair, trying to realize my dream of binding the enjoyment of computers and nature.¬†With great dismay I saw one bar of wireless connection, and the internet browsing was slow and intermittent. After several hours of unsuccessful tries, I gave up, knowing that it just wouldn’t work out without some changes.

For my fix, this is what I came up with… extend the wire based home network to the garage using Netgear powerline bridge adapters and existing electrical wires. Then use an Apple Airport Express to create a wireless network access point, and provide a ‘network to audio’ connection. Run an audio cable from the audio out of the Airport Express to a stereo receiver, which powers the outdoor speakers.

How I extended the network to the back yard


How to extend the local area network to the garage in the back yard, using Netgear Powerline adapters


The internet comes in over the cable tv cable, and is fed from the cable modem to a router (mine is a fancy one…), and from the router to a switch. A patch cable from the switch to the Netgear Power Line adapter ‘inserts’ the internet signal onto the electrical power wires in the house and garage.

 


In the garage, another Netgear device ‘extracts’ the internet signal from the power line, and converts it to a standard network connection which is fed to the Airport Express via the white patch cable. The Airport Express provides a strong wireless signal which provides a full strength wireless access from the patio. The Airport Express also functions as an “Air Play” device. The Air Play feature allows audio out (see the black ‘headphone jack’ that is connected to a stereo amplifier, which powers the outdoor speakers).

 


When using Apple ITunes, the Airport Express shows up as a speaker option… The name of the speakers is set when using the Airport Express configuration software (which can be downloaded from Apple). Since I’ve got two of the units on the network, they both show up (one is labeled ‘living room2’, and the other ‘garage’). Note that my Apple TV shows up as another possible speaker selection.

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