Before I go any farther, credit to bradcoudriet
for harvesting this silly idea to use networking gear to wire up switches in a Jeep. You'll notice his switches and punchdown and relays look a whole lot like mine--we bundled our orders together to save on shipping.
The idea was to use punchdowns and Cat5 (standard networking cable, 8x24awg copper conductors) to power relays. I added the perk of in-cab winch controls with a three-position momentary switch.
Here you can see my dash panel, switches installed. A sharp eye will notice that I wired everything backwards... Everything was upside down so right after this pic was taken I had to move stuff around. PITA.
I used Loctite Stick'n Seal
to seal the punchdown caps and attach the punchdowns to their final resting surfaces. It's waterproof and bonds like a mofo in just a few minutes. A+
Here you'll see a grey Ethernet cable with a standard RJ-45 end (configured for EIA-568-B on both ends because you NEVER need a crossover on the trail...) coming from the red loom. The red loom snakes its way to a hole in my firewall and then on to the gauge cluster. My MV-50 in the foreground is above some relays self-tapping-screwed into my fender. The black loom coming of of the blue punchdown hides a mess of heat-shrink that is protecting the sometimes-delicate 24AWG wires. The two relays in the foreground waiting for some more KC Daylighters as per this thread
; thus, they aren't connected to the small distribution block next to the punchdown.
Below is the pretty end of the switches. The amber-illuminated paddle switch next to my rear wiper switch controls the 12V supply to the panel of switches under the gauges. That switch previously powered the relay for my KC lights and it was a convenient 12V source so I used it as a master kill switch. The silver switch under the temperature gauge controls the winch, but only if the switch above it is in the ON position. Forward spools out, pull towards you to reel in: no need for labeling since it's intuitive. (The black box under the clock is a Bracketron bracket for phones and GPS crap. Yes, it's held in with wood screws. I'm not ashamed.)
A (fuzzy) iPhone phone pic shows the Cat5 snaking its way to my Superwinch solenoids. Two seconds with a multimeter and I figured out which solenoid controlled IN and which controlled OUT. I doubled up on the Cat5 strands for the winch control for three reasons: safety; I had unused strands left; it ended up being a much tighter crimped connection on the winch side. Orange and White Orange go to the IN solenoid, the Greens to the OUT.
If I did it again tomorrow, I wouldn't solder anything while on Dayquil. I melted some wires when my attention wasn't 100% focused on the present. I said that the 24awg wires are kinda' delicate, but it's really only during assembly. Once everything is in place they are tough enough. If you've ever crimped an Ethernet cable you know that you can EASILY nick one of the strands while stripping the outer casing off of the cable. The cable stripping notch in my Leatherman pliers was perfect for stripping the individual strands to bare copper for soldering.