Smellyeyeball LogoWall Jack Hell

Pretty Little Package

PacBell sent me a two jack fixture with all of the DSL equipment but for some reason there were no terminal screws included with the fixture, so I decided to get another one. I purchased a simple RCA brand dual RJ11 fixture, Model Name: RCA Dual Modular Wall Jack, Model Number: TP253WH. Basic modular phone jacks and cable end plugs are often referred to as RJ11. Actually, what most people call RJ11 can be one of two types. RJ11 refers to 2 conductor (one pair) cables and jacks. Most cables and jacks that you will find in stores have 4 conductors (two pairs), these are actually RJ14. Although, there is room in each jack for 6 conductors the end channels are rarely used in basic house wiring. From here on out I will refer to all telephone jacks and cables as RJ11 because that is what this set up really is. Even though their are 4 conductors (two pairs) in the jacks and connector cables (wall to phone/modem) we are only using one of the pairs. So don't walk into Home Depot asking for RJ14 jacks and cables, they won't know what you're talking about. I also bought an extender box made by Leviton, Model Name: Surface Mount Wiring Box, Model Number: 631-40851-WBR. The extender box allowed me to put two jacks into an ancient, round phone wall grommet. Basically it just gave me more room on the outside of the wall. I had to drill an extra hole in the wall mount part to conform to the wall grommet. Note the small hole right next to the large center hole.

Wiring Box Image

Surface Mount Wiring Box

Partially Installed Wiring Box

Surface Mount Wiring Box and RJ 11 Jack
Partially Installed


Twisted Ends and Home Depot Bends

Now that I have determined that the Green is the DSL pair and Blue is the Voice pair I just have to attach the two different pairs to two different jacks. A great deal of the time the wires will not be cut at the wall jack. Most of the time if you just strip a small portion of the insulation off the wire you can just loop the wire around the screw terminals. If they are cut, as in my case, you have a couple of options, both of which I do on this job. Twist the bare ends of the wires around one another or use these little crimping devices called Communication Connectors (I bought a box of 25 at Home Depot for about $6 made by 3M). I have it on good authority, these are also referred to by telephone linespeople as "Jelly Beans" (makes sense, don't it?). There are several different type of connectors, ones for splicing 2 wires and for splicing 3, 4, etc. They work by inserting the wires into holes on one end of the connector, and then you crimp a self locking button built into the connector that forces the wires in contact with a metal strip. This metal strip cuts through the insulation on the wire and bites into the wire making the contact. The connectors are filled with a sealant that helps keep everything in place. I assume that the sealant is a form of super glue. The box claimed that I was to use a "3M Scotchlock E-9 series hand tool" to crimp the connector; I just used the end of my wires strippers.

Close up of Pigtail
Twisted Ends

Close up of Communication Connector

Communication Connector

All Jacked Up

So far we have determined which pair will go to what device so now we just have to figure out which wires goes to what terminals on the jack. I chose the bottom jack for voice, top for DSL. As I mentioned earlier, although each jack itself has channels for 6 conductors, for basic home phone installation the most conductors used will be the middle 4. Of those 4 only one pair is generally used for one single line device (telephone, modem, etc.). The conductors are once again made up of pairs. In general, the hot pair on preconfigured jacks like the one in the pictures is the Red and Green pair. This pair pertains to most basic single line telephone devices. This pair follows the same Ring and Tip system found through out the rest of the wiring. Red (Ring) Green (Tip). The terminal screws and wires: Red (Ring) and Green (Tip) lead to the 3rd and 4th channels/conductors respectively (the center pair) looking from outside of the jack reading from left to right including the unused end conductor channels in the jack  .

Note: Solid Blue with White stripe goes to Red - Ring to Ring. The White with Blue Stripe goes to Green - Tip to Tip. Same with the Green pair - Solid Green goes to Red, etc., etc.

By the way, ignore that cable with the white jacket at the bottom of the pictures. That goes to another phone extension.


Voice Lines Attached Image

Voice lines attached.

DSL Lines Attached Image

DSL Lines attached.
Diagram of RJ11 JackRJ11 jack

Crimp or Cram

You can connect the wires to the jack 2 ways. You can use a three conductor Communications Connector with a jumper wire leading from the connector to the jack terminal screws or you can just cram the twisted ends under the terminal screws and screw them down tight. I guess the preferred method would be to use the connector, but there is something so frustratingly wrong about trying to cram that many little wires into an even smaller space that just make the beads of sweat pour from your brow and truly makes you feel like the ultimate do it yourselfer. The best way to connect any wires to screw terminals is to curl the wire ends so that they loop around the terminal screw shaft. Insert the loop so that it wraps around the shaft in a clockwise fashion; that way when you tighten the screw it pulls the wires around the shaft creating a better contact.



Aren't You Gonna Use Those Connector Thingies?

Since I still have the Orange pair exposed, I need to connect them in case I wanted to get another active line in the house. I don't want to just push the twisted bare ends back into the wall bare, they may short out something else. This is where I use the communications connectors to butt splice them back in to their continuous selves. Once I gently cram all the wires back into the Surface mount box, I pull out my handy dandy modular telephone line tester (Home Depot $3). The line tester checks to see if my polarity (Tip and Ring) is correct. Green light for correct, red light for reversed polarity. As of right now, only the voice line is connected at the protector, so I check to see if the voice is hot and installed correctly. The tester gives me the green light!



Communications Connectors Image

Communication Connectors on the Orange Pair


Image of Line Tester

Line Tester says Green Light!
  Next: What's that Splitter thing for?

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