I think I have the basics of my home network sketched out in my head now, and I've started ordering parts and materials for it. Thanks for all of your suggestions. I've decided to do pretty much what I'd thought I would, actually. Because I'm cheap, practical, and from the midwestern U.S., I will probably go with proven, widely-available technologies like 100Mpbs Ethernet and Cat 5e cabling, for the most part.

So far, it looks like I'll have serveral key bits mounted on the wall in the storage room adjacent to the new Damage Labs, including a 16-port 10/100 switch, the cable modem, my SMC Barricade firewall/router, and an external dial-up modem hooked up to the Barricade. The switch will serve a bunch of Ethernet ports installed in multi-port outlets around the new Labs, while the cable modem and Barricade will provide Internet access. The Barricade will use the dial modem to call Road Runner's dial-up Internet service in the event of a cable service outage, providing some basic redundancy for our Internet access.

The only big question now is how best to provide connectivity to other rooms in the house. I'm thinking right now that a home phoneline network might be easiest given this house's wiring, although I will probably have to use a PC in the Labs to route packets to/from the HomePNA segment. No biggie, but that means the idea of a central file server sounds a little more appealing.

Of course, what I want to do is get my hands on a Cisco 3550 switch and a 7200-series router, so I can do really cool things with the home network. (Heck, I'm not picky; a 3548XL or a 2691 would do.) There's nothing quite like a 48-port switch that's capable of working as a 48-port router. Too bad about those Cisco prices. Maybe I need to build a Linux router with a VIA EPIA board and a few NICs? Hmm.

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