can anyone recommend a router besides 2511? They are very hard to find. Something good enough for CCNP, CCIE eventually.
A suitable 2500 that is often offered for less than $100 is the 2501. Although the current Cisco exams are based on IOS 12+, I wouldn't worry too much about the IOS version, as long as it is at least 11 you'd be able to practice most commands for the CCNA exam.
As for cable requirements, I really suggest looking at the at link I posted a couple of replies earlier...
Another huge topic in this forum is the My Router Lab topic:www.techexams.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=3349
It contains questions and answers to the most common problems people building a Cisco home lab run in to.
I forgot the other gentleman whom is really good, but I am sure johan can help you with his name.