Analog Fax Machine over Ethernet (The Ghetto Way)

It was recently brought to my attention that we do not have a fax machine at my place of business.  Keep in mind that I work for a fortune 500 company which likes to keep up with emerging technology.  Apparently users have been complaining amongst themselves about our lack of fax machines but decided to not bring it to my attention.  It wasn’t until a programmer was unable to send a fax to a software company for it to come to my attention.  It turns out that our office Copier/Scanner also has a built in Fax Machine.  Regrettably, there are no phone jacks located near the copier.

What I had planned to do was purchase a Cisco modem (we’re mainly a Cisco ran company) which would convert the analog fax machine into an IP fax machine.  From there our network admin could assign a number to it through Cisco call manager.  My boss however decided that this would be a waste of money and suggested that I figure a way to hook it up for next to nothing.  Like stated previously, there are no phone jacks near the fax machine.  In fact, there’s probably only about 5 phones jacks in the building. Yes that’s right, we are strictly VoIP.   This means, of course, that I have a plethora of RJ45 wall jacks to choose from.

RJ45 half of my RJ11 to RJ45 cable.
The RJ45 half of my RJ11 to RJ45 cable.

After mapping out where the closest ethernet wall jack ran and where the analog phone lines are terminated I brainstormed a resolution.  Luckily, the ethernet patch panel and 66 block (phone patch panel) are loacted in the same room.  What I figured was my best plan of action would be to run a CAT5 cable, with a RJ11 connector on one side and a RJ45 connector on the other, from the fax machine to the wall plate.  From there I would run another CAT5 cable from the patch panel to the 66 block.

Blue CAT5 cable punched down on the 66 block

Blue CAT5 cable punched down on the 66 block

Once I had all of the cables crimped and installed, the final step was to map the fax machine to one of our phone numbers.  To do this, I simply punched the ethernet wires down parralell to a phone line that has a number leased from the phone company and then conected the two connections with briding clips (the silver clips shown on the picture to the left).
I searched for hours looking on a how-to for this topic with no luck, that is why I decided to document this.  Consider this a starting point for people who are in the same predicament.

5 Responses to Analog Fax Machine over Ethernet (The Ghetto Way)

  1. tnk says:

    good creative ingenuity

    question why didnt you just buy rj45 to rj11 converters or cables such as this

    http://www.hobby-boards.com/catalog/product_info.php?language=en&products_id=1545

    and with the correct cable accessories/sockets

  2. The Jim Report says:

    Sure, I could have used that but you have to understand my work environment. Its basically find a solution now and use what we already have. Plus, I didn’t know cables like that existed. Thanks for the heads up!

  3. Miguel Villa says:

    thank you very much for posting your experience, it really helped me

  4. Ute Nalbone says:

    I am absolutely fascinated at how great the content is on this site. I have written down this web site and I truly intend on visiting the site in the upcoming days. Keep up the fantastic work!

  5. Otto Lyons says:

    Analog Fax Machine over Ethernet (The Ghetto Way) The Jim Forum is an interesting name for a blog, keep up the good work, thanks, from Otto Lyons

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