Backyard Fiber

  1. Backyard Fiber Update 2
  2. Backyard Fiber Update 1
  3. Backyard Fiber (you are here)

We moved into our current house in the middle of 2020. Between then and now (end of March 2023) we've experienced at least one power outage per year longer than 12 hours, the most recent of which was five days due to a historically bad ice storm. We were lucky to get a hotel room that let us stay the entire time, but we still had to discard a fridge and a freezer full of food.

Even at our old house we had been throwing around the idea of getting a whole home generator, but it was always just too expensive. This most recent event put us over the edge, though, and so now we have a generator in the yard waiting to be hooked up next week.

As part of this work, the contractors happen to be installing trenches exactly where I've wanted them since we moved in, so I'm having them put some low voltage conduit into the trenches and running it into junction boxes.

Check out this diagram:

Diagram of my backyard fiber project

The generator is going out by the shed, at the left end of the 80 foot conduit segment. Here's a gratuitous shot of what that looks like today, not hooked up:

Generac Guardian 26kw generator sitting on a concrete pad next to a tan shed under a pine tree

Ok, but why?

Why the generator or why the conduit?


A couple of reasons why we wanted to get a generator:

  • We have an all-electric house so a small generator to run the furnance and fridge won't cut it.
  • We hate knowing that if we have to cheese it in the winter there will be a thundering herd trying to book the same hotel rooms.


Three reasons for conduit:

  • I have a security camera and a few bits of equipment in the shed and they're connected today over a CAT5E copper link. I'm rolling the dice every thunderstorm to see what equipment is going to blow up from induced voltage on that cable.
  • The connection between the house and the office is a dicey CAT5E link that I have to run through several switches before it gets here. This is both aesthetically displeasing and also expensive if I want to have faster than gigabit speed in the office.
  • Fiber is cool!

The Plan

The plan is simple in concept but of course completely overkill complicated in execution.

Phase 0: Prep (we are here)

In this phase the generator is set but the trenches are not yet dug. I will be disconnecting the CAT5E link in favor of a wireless mesh link because of what happens in Phase 1.

I'll also be ordering a bunch of stuff from soon:

  • Two custom-built twelve strand armored direct-burial rated single mode fiber assemblies with LC ends and pulling eyes, one for each conduit
  • Some shorter indoor-rated single mode patch cables to run into each building
  • Several gigabit and 10gig optical transceivers
  • Assorted bits and bobs

Why twelve strands? That seems excessive.

Because, dear reader, I don't want to have to do this again. Running 12 strands of single mode fiber in a super tough armored cable in a buried conduit means that I likely won't ever have to. 12 strands gives me 6 links with conventional optics and up to 12 with bidirectional optics, should the need arise.

Phase 1: Trenching and Hookup

The contractors come back to dig the trenches, install the transfer switches (yes multiple), gas line, and low voltage conduits and get the thing running. The conduits will end at junction boxes at the shed, office, and house with small stub conduits into each building ending in either another junction box or a wall box. When the contractors dig the trenches I'm confident that they're going to cut the CAT5E link, but that's fine because I'm going to replace it with fiber.

Phase 2: Running Fiber and Shed Activation

My plan is to set up some kind of spool dispenser for the fiber assemblies and pull them through either solo or with my spouse helping to guide them in. After they're settled in the conduits, I'll couple one pair from each together at the office junction box to get the shed directly connected to the house core switch. This will be a gigabit link because it's really just one camera and an access point.

Phase 3: Office Activation

Here's where things get a little hazy.

Today, all of the connections from the house to the office to the shed terminate in a small cabinet under my desk. I've spent way too much money and time trying to get things to work in this cabinet and recently just gave up and moved everything over to a closet in the house.

Said cabinet when it was full:

Cabinet under desk with a home-built equipment rack and way too much gear

I haven't settled on what exactly I'm going to do, but the leading contender right now is to install either a rack or a structured media enclosure in a closet in the office and re-run everything to that: a couple fiber strands from outside and a dozen or so ethernet drops around the office and garage.

This will involve some electrical work and crawling around in the dingy crawlspace under the office to pull more cable, so I might suffer with my dodgy ethernet connection for a little while longer.

I'll keep this page updated with photos from each phase as I complete it. I'm sure I'll also be keeping the #HomeLab tag on my Hachyderm account apprised, so follow there if you like!

Posted in: Home Improvement  

Tagged: DIY Projects