2

My house came with what I presume are 2 phone circuits. I've now connected one of them to VoIP service -- it works great for my wife's work. However, we'd like to move her office to a different room in the house where the phone outlet is dead (no dial tone).

In the basement I see the two 66B4-3 punchdown blocks below. I have no idea where each of the brown cables go, presumably to the multiple phone outlets in the house.

Picture of a couple of phone blocks

In an ideal world I'd identify the new office's connection and move it over to the correct block. That's probably not going to happen. I'd settle for bridging the two blocks together therefore merging the lines into one (I think).

Can you help me figure out how to do that? I have a bunch of hobby breadboard wires (for hobby electronics), a soldering iron and a voltmeter. :-)

3
  • 1
    That's something of a cluster-bleep. Looks like the brown cables on the upper block are set up for 2-line service (both blue and orange pairs are connected on them.) The rest of it is hard to follow in this picture.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Jul 6, 2022 at 23:11
  • 2
    Be very careful. That mare's nest is about four synapses away from achieving self-awareness. Commented Jul 7, 2022 at 0:02
  • @Ecnerwal thanks for the comment, I've edited the question. The presence of the 's' was meant to indicate plural, I've gotten rid of it.
    – Pedro
    Commented Jul 7, 2022 at 15:04

3 Answers 3

4

With a soldering iron and duct tape, you can do pretty much anything. But the right way to do this is with a punch tool, the right type of wire and possibly a toner.

  • Punch Tool

There are two types of punch tool blades - 66 and 110. 66 is for phone wires, and is what you need here. 110 is generally for twisted pair networks, but often phone jacks as well. For occasional use, unless you think you will never need to do any Ethernet wiring (e.g., add or move a jack), I would get a cheap tool that comes with both 66 and 110 blades (which actually are each usually two blades in one - one end cuts, the other doesn't) like this one from Amazon:

Punch tool

If you plan on doing this a lot then move up to a name brand (Klein, Fluke, etc.)

  • Wire

That's the easy part. Some of your cables have extra wire wrapped around them because they are (typically) 4-pair cables but with only one pair in use. Chop it and use it. No need to strip - the punch tool does its thing without you having to strip the wires first.

  • Toner

Strictly speaking, you don't need a toner. The catch is that if you need to remove a cable from one block in order to make space to patch from one block to the other, you need to know which one is safe to remove, or rather which ones are in use and not safe to remove. It looks like the top block has one line in the top two rows of the block and the other line in the bottom two rows. But no extra spaces available in those rows. Things are then wired to the bottom block, but not clear how. You can trace things carefully and/or use your multimeter to figure it out. But if, in the end, you want to just figure out where a cable goes (e.g., where does the cable you want to have "live" currently terminate), a toner is the tool of choice. Something like this from Amazon:

Toner

As with the punch tool, this example is a cheap model and there are plenty of others available. For occasional use, a cheap one will do just fine - if it is a regular thing (or part of your job) then get a name brand or be prepared to replace it regularly. The key here is you want to make sure that you get one with clips so you can attach to bare wires and/or punch blocks and not just to fully wired jacks, because you may need that when figuring out a situation such as this one.

5
  • 2
    You forgot to add bubble gum to the list of tools with which you can accomplish anything! :)
    – FreeMan
    Commented Jul 7, 2022 at 13:54
  • 1
    You really want regular chewing gum with the foil wrapper, (additional material help, conductive!) which bubble gum usually lacks, then again, so does much modern non-bubble gum. ;^)
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Jul 8, 2022 at 13:56
  • @Ecnerwal Absolutely! The foil gum wrapper works as a great "temporary" fuse It sort of worked for Macgyver Commented Jul 8, 2022 at 14:09
  • 1
    I can't believe you all forgot bailing wire. ;) Commented Jul 8, 2022 at 15:00
  • And for those who may be wondering: While I didn't find it the rest of the episode (haven't spent much time searching) I very clearly remember that Macgyver episode. The gum wrapper fuse was at the very beginning of the show. Not too much later, the building burned down. Commented Jul 8, 2022 at 15:04
3

If we make the generous assumption that the difficult to decipher wiring makes any sense, should be able to connect red to yellow and green to black on the "incoming" connection to bridge the two lines. Right-most top two and bottom two positions on the lower punch block.

You should understand that each horizontal row is all tied together electrically, and all are separate vertically. There are otherwise similar 66 blocks where the two halves horizontally are not tied together inside, but this version is not that one. Those typically use exterior clips to connect the two halves.

You can probably do that with a screwdriver used normally inside the beige wall jack below the panels, just using it as a connection point, as it's not clearly in use as it sits. You can also strip and twist wires together, use test leads with alligator clips, punch it down properly, punch it down improperly, etc. Test leads are handy for checking if it works before doing something else more permanently.

One thing you have going on there is an "alarm" connection, where the red/green pair goes off to an alarm on red/green, and comes back on yellow/black. It's then spliced back to red/green before entering the punch block.

The opportunity to clean this mess up a great deal is out there, but your question implies you have no intention of doing that.

Note that it is also possible that connecting the two lines to each other will kill your good line, if the dead line is shorted or otherwise miswired. As such, a temporary test is the best first thing to do.

1

Thanks to all who posted suggestions. It was exactly what I asked for! I learned a lot from these.

But in the end the answer was in the jack -- the two lines were available in all jacks as primary/secondary. The solution was simply to open up the cover and rewire the jack's connections so secondary became primary. That did the job.

(Sorry, I don't have a picture.)

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.