All posts by Meghan Damico

How to terminate your own patch cable

Of all the components in your network, none is arguably more underrated than the RJ-45 connector. Simplicity incarnate, this transparent marvel literally defines plug-and-play connectivity—from the desktop to the data center. Yet it defies the obvious: How’d they get those wires in there? Who puts these things together? Where are the seams?
Wiring-Standards-terminate-your-own-patch-cable

So, in the spirit of demystifying one more aspect of modern-day communications, we give you this behind-the-scenes look at terminating twisted-pair cable using RJ connectors.

The prep work.
First, gather your materials. You’ll need bulk cable, such as the bulk cable, a cable cutter and stripper, a connector, a pre-plug (optional), a crimp tool, and a continuity tester. All these items—except the cable and the pre-plugs—are in our CAT6 and CAT5e Terminations Kit.

The challenge: Do it right the first time.
You must take time to install each connector carefully, according to the specifications of the wiring system you’re installing. Then test each cable to certify that it supports the specified performance levels — in this case, the TIA specs for CATx cabling. The wiring standards illustration (above right) indicates proper T568A, T568B, and USOC pairing and pinning for twisted pair cable. T568B wiring is most commonly used in Europe for networking.

Terminate-own-patch-cable-step-1Step one
First, start with a wire stripping tool, such as the Multi-Strip (FT231A). Next, put the tool around the cable, squeeze, and carefully remove the jacketing from the cable. You’ll want to expose about one inch of the insulated wire conductors.

DO NOT remove any insulation from the conductors.

When you crimp the RJ-45 connector, the contacts inside will pierce the conductor insulation to make contact, so there’s no need to do it here.

terminate-own-patch-cable-step-twoStep two
Untwist each pair of conductors to within 1⁄8″ of the jacket with a stripping tool. Do not untwist the conductors more than 1⁄2″. Arrange the wires according to the cable spec you’re using (T568B in this case). Flatten and align the wires. Use your wire cutters and make one straight cut across all the conductors. Trim the ends to ensure they’re all of equal length. Once you cut the cable, make sure you flatten out the wires.

terminate-own-patch-cable-step-3Step three
Orient the wires so the cable’s Pin 1 connector aligns correctly with the RJ-45 connector’s Pin 1, and do the same for all pins. (To maintain the correct alignment, see “Rule of Thumb” below.) While carefully maintaining the proper position of each conductor, slide the wires into an RJ-45 connector.

All connectors must extend all the way into the conductor so they’re flush against the back and aligned underneath the contacts within the plastic connector housing. The cable jacket should also extend into the connector about 1⁄4″ for strain relief.

Rule of Thumb:
Many people miswire RJ-45 connectors because they’re careless about proper conductor alignment. Before terminating connectors, be sure they’re oriented properly so connector Pin 1 aligns with cable Pin 1, etc. To determine which RJ-45 contact is Pin 1 in CATx applications, hold the connector in front of your face as if you were going to plug it onto the tip of your nose. With the locking thumb tab up, connector Pin 1 is on the far left.

terminate-own-patch-cable-step-4Step four
Insert the connector into an RJ-45 crimp tool. Make sure you’re using the proper die for the type of connector you’re using. For instance, connectors that use a load bar require a different crimp die than connectors that don‘t feature a load bar. If you don’t use the right die, you’ll damage the connector when you try to crimp it.

Firmly squeeze the crimp tool handles together. They’ll lock in a ratcheting action as you crimp the connector. A final click indicates the connector is firmly latched, and you can release the handles.

terminate-own-patch-cable-step-fiveStep five
Check your work using a continuity tester or cable certifier rated for the cable standard you’re installing. Your tester should be able to check for shorts, opens, or miswires.

For network certification, more expensive testers can even store and download test results based on standardized minimum performance levels.

The result
The majority of RJ-45 cables are terminated by machine. But field technicians and professional cable installers crimp on modular connectors every day. You can terminate cables, too. Once you do, you’ll gain a new appreciation for the skill it takes to successfully terminate these cables inside a connector the size of a jelly bean.

For questions or to learn more about building and testing a patch cable, contact our FREE Tech Support.

Additional Resources:
Video: How to Terminate and Test Copper Cable
Video: Learn how to identify counterfeit cables

PoE applications and benefits: Save money and time

PoE is a technology that works well for wireless access points, video surveillance, building management, retail video kiosks, smart signs, and retail point-of-information systems, making it possible to easily move a device with minimal disruption. Additionally, if your LAN is protected from owner failure by a UPS, the PoE devices connected to your LAN are also protected from power failure.

Using Power over Ethernet can save hundreds of dollars per Wi-Fi access point (AP) locations compared to a non-PoE solution.

In a non-PoE installation, in addition to the Ethernet backhaul link, power must be wired to the access point. Depending on factors such as AP location, distance from the AC circuit, and local safety codes, the savings from using a PoE solution can be $250-$500 per AP. In harsh, outdoor, or industrial environments, you can save $750-$1500 per AP by using Power over Ethernet.

PoE Mid-Span Injectors add power to Ethernet for powering PoE powered devices ranging from wireless access points to IP cameras. PoE enables you to easily move equipment from room to room without costly, time-consuming rewiring.

Power over Ethernet is also the answer if you’re doing a high-density phone conversion from keyed phones to VoIP phones. There’s a much lower installation cost—all you need to do is provide the Ethernet connection. We have a variety of PoE PSE equipment including switches,media converters, and injectors.

Plus, using PoE can improve VoIP phone system availability. Power over Ethernet PSE gear can be located in data centers with uninterruptible power supplies and battery backup. This arrangement means that your PD VoIP phones will remain working if there’s a power failure. On the other hand, wall-powered phones will stop working when the power goes out.

Additional resources:
Video: Power over Ethernet explained

6 Reasons to switch to digital KVM

Analog technology can’t keep up in the digital marketplace. Digital video is sharper and digital KVM is faster. Don’t get left behind in the digital revolution.

1. The VGA standard is being discontinued.
The VGA standard will not be supported going into 2015. Analog KVM and video won’t work any longer either. VGA sources and displays are getting increasingly difficult to find. We recently heard from a client who had to buy VGA parts on eBay.

2. Digital technology is distinctly better.
Digital technology improves users’ experiences by providing crystal-clear images at any supported distance. HD video is delivered pixel by pixel to digital displays at higher resolutions and increased color depth.

3. Digital systems are bigger and better.Broadcast Booth
New larger matrices and IP-based systems increase flexibility and enable connecting to a much higher number of endpoints. Thousands of devices can be incorporated into one unified system. On a digital matrix system, I/O ports are interchangeable, making changes and adds as simple as plugging a device into a port.

4. HD video switching is faster than it’s ever been.
Digital systems provide instantaneous HD video switching with no delay. Digital KVM switching is much faster, too, nearly instant rather than having to wait several seconds for video to show up.

5. Digital KVM improves the user experience.
Digital KVM systems feature improved USB support and compatibility with most other USB devices on the market: touchscreens, flash drives, tablet computers, as well as the workhorses, keyboards and mice.

6. Higher resolutions mean better images.
Increased bandwidth gives users the capability to work with images at higher detail levels as well as fit more content on the desktop for a more efficient workflow. Future-proof systems accommodate support for WQXGA (2560 x 1600) and 4K/UHD (3840 x 2160). Wherever users need pixel-perfect image transmission, they can now get it, via CATx or fiber cabling. Plus, send USB, serial, and digital audio signals.

8 advantages to choosing fiber over copper cable

Fiber optic cable is one of the most popular mediums for both new cabling installations and upgrades, including backbone, horizontal, and even desktop applications. Fiber offers a number of advantages over copper.

  1. Greater bandwidth

Fiber provides more bandwidth than copper and has standardized performance up to 10 Gbps and beyond. More bandwidth means fiber can carry more information with greater fidelity than copper wire. Keep in mind that fiber speeds are dependent on the type of cable used. Single-mode fiber offers the greatest bandwidth and no bandwidth requirements.

Laser-optimized OM3 50-micron cable has an EMB of 2000 MHz/km. Laser-optimized OM4 50-micron cables has an EMB of 4700 MHz/km.

  1. Speed and distance

Because the fiber optic signal is made of light, very little signal loss occurs during transmission, and data can move at higher speeds and greater distances. Fiber does not have the 100-meter (328-ft.) distance limitation of unshielded twisted pair copper (without a booster). Fiber distances depend on the style of cable, wavelength and network. Distances can range from 550 meters (984.2 ft.) for 10-Gbps multimode and up to 40 kilometers (24.8 mi.) for single-mode cable.

  1. Security

Your data is safe with fiber cable. It doesn’t radiate signals and is extremely difficult to tap. If the cable is tapped, it’s very easy to monitor because the cable leaks light, causing the entire system to fail. If an attempt is made to break the physical security of your fiber system, you’ll know it.

Fiber networks also enable you to put all your electronics and hardware in one central location, instead of having wiring closets with equipment throughout the building.

  1. Immunity and reliability

Fiber provides extremely reliable data transmission. It’s completely immune to many environmental factors that affect copper cable. The core is made of glass, which is an insulator, so no electric current can flow through. It’s immune to electrometric interference and radio-frequency interference (EMI/RFI), crosstalk, impedance problems, and more. You can run fiber cable next to industrial equipment without worry. Fiber is also less susceptible to temperature fluctuations than copper and can be submerged in water.

  1. Design

Fiber is lightweight, thin, and more durable than copper cable. To get higher speeds using copper cable, you need to use a higher grade of cable, which typically have larger outside diameters, weight more, and take up more space in cable trays. With fiber cable, there is very little different in diameter or weight. Plus, fiber optic cable has pulling specifications that are up to 10 times greater than copper cable, depending on the specific cable. Its small size makes it easier to handle, and it takes up much less space in cabling ducts. And, fiber is easier to test than copper cable.

  1. Migration

The proliferation and lower costs of media converters are making copper to fiber migration much easier. The converters provide seamless links and enable the use of existing hardware. Fiber can be incorporated into network in planned upgrades. In addition, with the advent of 12- and 24-strand MPO cassettes, cables, and hardware, planning for future 40- and 100-GbE networks is easier.

  1. Field termination.

Although fiber is still more difficult to terminate than copper, advancements in technology have made terminating and using fiber in the field easier. Quick fusion splicers enables with auto-alignments enable fast splicing in the field. Auto-aligning pins ensure accuracy. And the use of pig-tails and pre-terminated cable make field connections quick and easy.

  1. Cost

The cost for fiber cable, components, and hardware has steadily decreased. Overall, fiber cable is more expensive than copper cable in the short run, but it may be less expensive in the long run. Fiber typically costs less to maintain, has less downtime, and requires less networking hardware. In addition, advances in field termination technology has reduced the cost of fiber installation as well.

Here are some resources if you’re interested in more information about fiber:

White Paper: Fiber Optic Technology

Video: MTP Connector Rackmount Solutions