Blog on “The Embassy Project” by Chris

Starting the day, checking messages, a Gumtree enquiry was put through. I was contacted by a man named Graham to discuss assisting him in a Canberra Embassy.

It was to be an exciting job involving the planning, installation and testing of Server Equipment, Computer & Server Door Security and a snazzy new Smartboard called the Commbox which is used for interactive computing/presentation and conference calls.

Day 1

Graham and I spent the first day planning our project execution by checking out the building and the rooms we would be working in. This would be the pivot of an interesting next few days…

Day 2

Graham and I discovered that we would have a few hurdles in our way when doing the project, such as, having a direct power cable from the breaker to the server room so we could directly plug it to what is called a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) which has a battery backup system to keep the equipment running in the event of a power outage.

Graham called in for an Electrician to fit that service in. While that was happening, we got the move going for the equipment for the conference room.

By the time we got help getting what we needed up to the conference room, we got stuck as the special setup requirements were outdated and not matching this particular setup. So we had to end our day.

Day 3

I had a big day ahead of me, I had a planned maintenance job in the morning at a dentist then rushed over to start working on the conference room in the afternoon.

I would be building the Smartboard equipment by myself.

I built up the stand and unpacked the biggest TV screen you’d ever see in your life, ok, you may have seen bigger, but it was HUGE! I had to get some Embassy staff to help me lift and secure the TV to the stand, it took 3 others to do so.

Once that was done, I was able to cable the system together and mount the Camera. DILEMMA! I had to screw in the camera first before mounting the TV!

Another 15 minutes and it was complete. I plugged in the necessary cables and it was ready for testing with Graham.

I had a bit of time left and decided to cable the microphones around the table. With only 9 mics and 17 chairs, things got a bit awkward, so I left it with 8 sharing and the head chair on its own. A decision was to be made whether the current setup would be ok for them or if they wanted a 1:1 ratio.

Day 4

Today was the day to check if the conference equipment was working perfectly. As we turned it all on one by one it was clear we were successful. It did however turn annoying as we found the internet connection back to base was not working. After trying tons of tricks and fixes, we had a connection issue that needed to be sorted before any proper testing could take place. Base would be the one to tell us what was wrong but we had to wait til the afternoon to get an answer.

We decided to look into the server room to check the Electrician Charles’ handy work. It was perfect.

We tested to see if it was turning on nicely and that the battery is charging properly.

Another bump in the road. Alarms went off stating the battery wasn’t plugged in and so we double checked if the plugs were firmly in the port. Nothing we did helped. All equipment was tested before being sent so we didn’t understand what happened. It was suggested that the long travel from base, sitting there not doing anything had just caused wear and tear and by the time it got to the Embassy, it was broken. The solution? Replacement batteries. This was to be our first unresolved issue.

Day 5

Today’s the day Graham and I are to build the new Server rack. It wasn’t going to be a big version like the old Server but more of an extension. It would include Security, Fax & Auxiliary machines. Dell make great server equipment, especially when it comes to installing the equipment in its rack. Most of the equipment was just a snap on and screw, which was quick and easy.

While we were building the server, we also worked on getting the Video Conference room working and establish a connection to base so we could do some tests.

I noticed that some microphones were having issues connecting to the network. I determined that the pins to indicate the numbers were broken, Graham confirmed that those type of pins usually are very fussy and can easily break. Once we worked out which pins were working, all microphones were connected and we were able to setup the webcam. The awesome Sony webcam has the ability to zoom to the person talking then head back to the default view of the whole table.

More troubleshooting was to be done for the connection issue so we finished off for the day.

Day 6

Graham had news about the connections, we had to patch the Ethernet Cable to another server hub as it was on the public Internet connection.

Once that was patched in, I put up the Security camera for monitoring the door.

We completed the setup stage of the Server Rack equipment and ended our day there.

Day 7

We hit day 7 even though if all was prepared properly and have no hitches or glitches, should have been done in 3-4 days.

Today was the day we did our site survey, count the Ethernet Ports in each connected room that have both old and new connections and install a security app called Junos Pulse. It took us the whole day as we had to get permission to go into rooms. We found out, as what we were hired to do was “Phase 2” of the changes to the Embassy, that “Phase 1” which includes piping in new network connections, was infact not 100% complete and caused us issues when completing our jobs and getting an accurate survey done.

Since we had to wait for tests to be done, tomorrow will be the last part of the project, fitting the security for the server room.

Day 8

First thing in the morning was to find a drill that could cut through concrete. We were lucky to find out some tradesman were in to do some maintenance somewhere in the building and one of the guys had a powerful drill to use.

The first thing we did was get a hole in the wall so we could feed cords through for the fingerprint scanner.

Graham then worked on cabling up the scanner and I got the Ethernet connection put under the floor.

We were ready to install!

In the afternoon, Graham had some news about Junos Pulse and getting it to work properly which base required his help, so I decided to continue with the installation of the fingerprint scanner, exit switch and magnetic lock. I wired up the scanner, drilled up a hole to feed wires to the maglock, and fitted the exit button. All that was left was to double check the magnet was working and the button then I mounted the scanner onto its wall bracket. All that was needed to be done to finish this part of the project was getting the doors magnet fitted onto it, but the biggest hurdle to face was….. THE DOOR WAS STEEL! Not solid luckily, but steel plated and box framed. Unfortunately, where the lock needed to be fitted would require having to drill through the plate and the frame, we did not have the equipment for it, so we had no choice but to hire a heavy duty drill courtesy of the friendly folks at Coates Hire Fyshwick.

Day 9

Graham and I went first thing to Coates so we can get started on drilling the hole into the door.

This thing was MONSTEROUS!


Chris holding Monster Drill


We started to drill through nicely until we hit a snag, we hit the edge of the frame so rather than nicely cutting through, it bent back a small portion causing the drill bit to jar. As both Graham and I were not professional carpenters, we had no chance of being successful with this and indeed had to get a professional tradesman to finish off the job.


With all the final tests, reports written up, everything double checked. The project was finished to its maximum ability. With a steel door, unfinished Phase 1, and Dead on Arrival equipment, we were satisfied with what we managed to achieve.


To read a blog Graham made regarding this job, please read The Project Blog here:

(Update: His Site has been disconnected)