All posts by Roberta B. Szyper

Save space, improve airflow, and optimise cable handling with Slim-Net™ 28-AWG Cable

Black Box recently introduced Slim-Net, the company’s 28-AWG CAT6 and CAT6A UTP cables to answer a need for better patching in crowded cabinets and racks. Over the past few years, 28-AWG cable has been gaining fans and is becoming a popular choice, especially for high-density data centres and telecom rooms.

In this article, we’ll examine the advantages of using Slim-Net 28-AWG cable as well as some usage considerations.

What is 28-AWG cable?

It’s a patch cable made with thinner, 28-AWG stranded copper conductors as opposed to traditional patch cables made with thicker 23-, 24- or 26-AWG conductors. Black Box Slim-Net 28-AWG cable is constructed with top-quality, stranded copper conductors. The plug is custom designed to ensure a snug fit on the RJ-45 gold-blade contacts and to guarantee top performance.

Here are some of the advantages of using Slim-Net 28-AWG cable.

Blog_28AWG_Image1Advantage 1: Space savings

With a diameter of only 4.1 mm, Slim-Net 28-AWG cable is almost half the size of a typical 24-AWG cable at 5.9 mm. This gives you a lot of extra space in cable managers and in pathways. The difference can be dramatic, as shown in this photo of a bundle of 28-AWG cable compared to a bundle of 24-AWG cable. When you calculate the physical cable area in bundles and in patching connections, you’ll actually save more than 50% space when compared to traditional cables. This can make a significant difference in congested telecom rooms and data centres.

Advantage 2: Improved airflow

Cooling is a hot issue in today’s data centres, especially in crowded racks and cabinets. Slim-Net 28-AWG cables actually help cooling because they are so much thinner than traditional 24-AWG cables. The result is that they take up less space in front of patch panels and hot network equipment, such as switches. The extra space between cables results in improved airflow and cooling for the equipment.

Advantage 3: Easier handling

There’s more space between patched Slim-Net 28-AWG cables, so the cable is much easier to handle. Compared to 24-AWG cables, which often are a dense mass in front of equipment, you’ll find there’s more space for your fingers to get a hold on plugs when doing installs and moves, additions, and changes. Also, you’ll find it’s much easier to identify port assignments on equipment because of the extra space.

Advantage 4: Fewer cable managers

Slim-Net 28-AWG cables are much less bulky and offer better flexibility than 24-AWG cables. With a bend radius that’s 70% tighter than 24-AWG cable, you can easily route cables to other equipment or to the side without cable managers or with fewer horizontal cable managers. Because of that, you can reduce the number of horizontal cable managers you need, or possibly eliminate them entirely. When routing Slim-Net 28-AWG cables in vertical managers, you’ll also gain up to 50% more space.

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Advantage 5: Conserve rack space

By eliminating horizontal cable managers, you’ll actually conserve valuable rack space. Consider how many rack units you can free up in a typical rack enabling you to add more equipment or to reserve space for future expansion. Depending on your application, you may even free up enough space to consolidate equipment from two racks into one rack.

Advantage 6: Big performance

Black Box Slim-Net 28-AWG cables meet or exceed all TIA 568-C.2 performance requirements and pass all tests. The standard currently specifies 22- to 26-AWG cable, so 28-AWG cable is not included. When the standard is revised, it will most likely include 28-AWG cable.

Another benefit of using Slim-Net 28-AWG cable is that the thinner conductors actually increase NEXT and PS-NEXT because there is less copper in the jacket. Higher NEXT is a good thing in terms of cable performance. Here’s the formula for cable performance: Bandwidth = NEXT – Insertion Loss

Advantage 7: PoE

One of the most common questions about Slim-Net 28-AWG cable is if it can support Power over Ethernet (PoE).

The answer is a resounding “Yes.” Black Box cable can support all PoE levels: IEEE 802.3 af PoE, 802.3 at PoE+, and the upcoming 802.3 bt (PoE++). This makes Slim-Net cable a more economical choice for powering remote security cameras, manufacturing sensors, wireless access points, and more. The only consideration you should keep in mind is that because the cable is smaller, it should be grouped in smaller bundles to counteract any extra heat build-up and to comply with the 15°C temperature rise outlined in TSB 184.

Advantage 8: Price

Slim-Net 28-AWG cable has less copper in its conductors, so it costs less than traditional 24-/26-AWG cable. This can add up to significant savings when setting up and patching high-density telecom rooms and data centres with hundreds of cables.

Mix and match in the channel

When using Slim-Net 28-AWG cable, you’ll need to reduce the size of your channel, but not by much. For example, if you have 90 metres of 23-AWG horizontal cabling, you can run three-metre Slim-Net patch cords on each end instead of the traditional five metres. That gives you a total channel of 96 metres.

There’s no problem using Black Box’s Slim-Net cable on one end of your channel and our premium 24-AWG GigaTrue® CAT6 or GigaBase® CAT5e cable on the other end. In fact, this will give you a few extra metres in your channel.

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Summary

Black Box Slim-Net 28-AWG cables are a great alternative to traditional 24-AWG cable, especially in high-density telecom rooms and data centres where rack space is at a premium. The thinner, 4.1 mm diameter is almost half the size of a 24-AWG cable so it’s ideal for saving space, reducing clutter, and improving airflow. It’s easier to handle, so the need for cable managers can be reduced or eliminated. It also costs less than traditional cable.

With almost 50% more space between cables, you’ll like working with Slim-Net cable. It’s much easier to get your fingers in between the cables for patching; easier to identify port designations; and easier to route cables.

Guaranteed for life

Black Box offers CAT6 and CAT6A Slim-Net cable in seven lengths and seven colours. The company unconditionally guarantees the cables for life and will replace them if they fail. The entire line can be seen here.

InfoComm 2016 Preview: Exciting New Black Box Solutions

Infocomm 2016 Banner

InfoComm will be here before you know it! It’s the largest event for professional AV with 10,000+ products and nearly 1,000 exhibitors. We thought we’d give you a sneak preview of the new and exciting solutions Black Box will showcase at InfoComm, June 8-10!

Not registered? Be our VIP guest. Use guest pass BLA176 for free access to the exhibitor hall. Stop by the Black Box booth C5034 any time during the show, June 8-10.

Here’s what you’ll find at the Black Box booth.

Conference Room and Classroom Collaboration Solutions

CoalesceDEMO_AP1CImagine idea sharing without barriers. Encourage collaboration with modern huddle spaces, conference rooms, and classrooms.

  • Coalesce™ Wireless Collaboration System:
    Create. Connect. Collaborate.
    Your path to smarter collaboration starts here with Coalesce, the new, one-of-a-kind BYOD wireless collaboration system. With touchscreen simplicity and simultaneous wired and wireless connectivity for an unlimited number of users, you’ll be able to encourage collaboration and share ideas without barriers.
  • Best-in-Class Presentation Switchers
    Connect, extend, and switch any wired video device to any conference room display with Black Box Presentation Switchers. These all-in-one switchers/scalers support resolutions up to 4K (UHD), upscale/downscale video to match the display resolution, and support all standard video formats, including DisplayPort, HDMI, DVI, and VGA.
  • HDMI Extenders with Built-in Scaling
    Use the new VX1000 Series HDMI Extenders with our Presentation Switchers to easily switch and present any video signal on a remote display. Or use them alone for simple video extension. Two transmitter models available: standalone box or wallplate. USB support enables them to be used for basic KVM applications.
Stunning Visual Solutions

MediaCento4K_diag

When you want to impress, inform, and educate, turn to Black Box for AV technologies that turn boring into bold. Send signals from any source to any screen over IP, and get real-time data visualisation.

  • Better than Ever AV-over-IP Extension, Switching, and Video Walls
    The ever-popular MediaCento IPX product line has expanded to now include MediaCento IPX USB 4K. The new AV-over-IP extenders are now better than ever with increased video performance and 4K (UHD) support. The new transmitter and receiver also support built-in 4K to HD downscaling, analog and digital audio, touchscreens, and KVM functionality.
  • Stunning iCOMPEL™ Digital Signage
    Your complete digital signage solution begins here with iCOMPEL. Select from an array of digital signage media players and content commanders.
Command and Control Room Solutions

CONTROL-ROOM-NASA_PCImprove productivity and mission-critical reliability in broadcast, public safety, industrial, and defense command and control rooms.

See something that sparked your interest? Call a Black Box technical specialist at 00800-2255 2269 (00800-CALLBBOX). We look forward to connecting with you!

We look forward to connecting with you!

Preventing Cable Theft Through IP Surveillance

Industry: Government

IP-video security and surveillance for a city road-works department.

The problem: preventing theft
A city road-works department in Germany is responsible for installing and maintaining traffic lights and street lights. The department houses its raw materials, including lampposts and cable reels, in an outdoor area on its premises. Until a few years ago, there was never any problem with the outdoor storage area. But, as metal prices rose, the department found itself the victim of metal theft, not once, but multiple times. Lockers and barriers set up to protect the materials proved to be an unsuccessful solution as the thieves were quite professional. The city needed a better solution to secure its outdoor storage area.

An IP video network
To improve security, the department turned to Black Box for an IP-video surveillance system.

The first step was to perform an on-site survey to determine the best locations for the security cameras. The next step involved the implementation of the IP infrastructure. The plan called for three distributed camera locations, each equipped with an Ethernet switch connecting the IP cameras. For convenience, it was decided to use a PoE switch to power the cameras over the Ethernet lines instead of running separate power lines. In addition, each camera location was furnished with a wireless Ethernet extender providing a remote, wireless connection to the city’s central LAN. Black Box delivered the wireless Ethernet radios fully pre-configured for an easy plug-and-play installation by the customer. Because both the switches and extenders are being used outdoors, they are designed with IP-rated cases and are capable of withstanding extreme temperatures.

A legal regulation demands that the system have the capability to be shut down on demand. To meet this requirement, Black Box provided on-site training to instruct the security team how to control the cameras over the web interface on the Ethernet switch. The operation is quite easy and the team understood quickly how to switch cameras on and off and how to change the viewing angle. Monitoring the video the IT team still needed a solution for displaying the video from the surveillance cameras. Black Box suggested and installed a 2×2 video wall with four HD screens at the gatehouse for 24/7 monitoring.

Because the customer had experienced theft, everyone was worried about the security of computers in the gatehouse. Black Box suggested that the customer back-rack these computers to a secure location inside the main building. The advice was highly appreciated and the customer moved the computers to a secure location and connected them to the gatehouse using a KVM extender.

Black Box products
Industrial Managed Gigabit Ethernet PoE+ Switch: LIE1014A

Wireless Ethernet Extenders: LWE200A-AP and LWE200A-S

KVM DVI/HDMI Extender: ACX300

VideoPlex4  4K Video Wall Controller: VSC-VPLEX4

The competence Black Box showed here convinced us that we made the right choice. Everything was simply perfect—the consultancy, services, expertise, and delivery.”

Ten factors to consider when choosing a cabinet or rack

The sheer number and different types of cabinets and racks can make choosing the right one for your data centre a daunting task. But, if you consider your requirements one at a time, you can zero in on the right cabinet or rack for your application.

A cabinet is an enclosure with four rails and a door (or doors) and side panels. A rack is an open, freestanding 2- or 4-post frame that doesn’t have doors or sides. The decision on whether to use a cabinet or rack depends on a number of factors.

1. Equipment

Before you choose a cabinet or rack, you need to determine what equipment you’re planning to house. This list can include servers, switches, routers, and UPSs. Consider the weight of your equipment as well. The extra stability of a cabinet might be important if you’re installing large, heavy equipment like servers. An open rack is more convenient than a cabinet if you need frequent access to all sides of the equipment.

2. Environment

With the open design, racks are a good choice in areas where security isn’t a concern such as in locked data centres and closets. And racks typically cost less than cabinets.

Cabinets, on the other hand, protect equipment in open, dusty, and industrial environments. Aesthetics can be a factor too. Will customers or clients see your installation? A cabinet with a door looks much neater than an open rack. When you’re trying to create a professional image, everything counts.

3. Ventilation

If your equipment needs ventilation, a rack offers more air circulation than a cabinet. Even if your cabinet is in a climate-controlled room, the equipment in it can generate a lot of heat. The requirements for additional airflow increase as more servers are mounted in a cabinet. Options to improve airflow include doors, fans, and air conditioners.

4. Size

Width: The width between the rails in both cabinets and racks is 19 inches with hole-to-hole centers measuring 18.3 inches. But there are also cabinets and racks with 23-inch rails. Most rackmount equipment is made to fit 19-inch rails but can be adapted to fit wider rails.

Rack Units: One rack unit (RU or U) equals 4.45 cm (1.75 inches) of vertical space on the rails. A device that’s 2U high takes up 8.89 cm (3.5 inches) of vertical rack space. Rack units are typically marked on the rails. The number of rack units determines how much equipment you can install.

Depth: Cabinets and four-post open racks come in different depths ranging anywhere from 61 cm to 122 cm (24 to 48 inches) to accommodate equipment of varying sizes, particularly extra-deep servers. The rails on some cabinets and 4-post open racks are also adjustable to different depths.

When you consider the width, height, and depth of a cabinet or rack, clarify whether they are inside or outside dimensions.

5. Weight

Cabinets and racks vary in terms of the amount of weight capacity. Some cabinets can hold 500 kg or more. Carefully consider the weight of your equipment and decide where you want to mount it before choosing a cabinet or rack.

6. Rails

The vertical rails in cabinets and racks have holes for mounting equipment. Two-post racks typically have threaded 12-24 or 10-32 tapped holes. Four-post racks and cabinets often have M6 square holes for mounting servers.

7. Moisture, dust, shock, vibration

When housing electronic components outside of a protected data centre, look for a cabinet with an IP rating. IP standards are designed for corrosion resistance, protection from rain, submersion, liquids, dust, falling objects, and other hazards. Cabinets and racks can also be bolted to the floor for extra stability.

8. Power provisioning

There are multiple options for powering rackmounted equipment. Power strips can be mounted vertically or horizontally. Power Distribution Units (PDUs) and Power Managers have additional capabilities such as remote management and metering. Uninterruptible power supplies (UPSs) typically mount in the bottom of a cabinet or rack because of their weight.

9. Cable management

Most cabinets and racks have built-in cable management troughs and cable rings for routing cable. For a complete overview of our cable management solutions, visit our online store.

10. The extras

The type of shelving you choose depends on the equipment you plan to mount. There are multiple options: solid, vented, stationary, and pull-out shelves. And there are shelves built to hold specific pieces of equipment, such as servers or keyboards. Other extras include fans, waterfall brackets, and grounding bars.

For more information on our cabinets and racks, visit our online store, or contact our free Tech Support.

Cable Basics: Fiber Optic Cable Construction

Fiber optic cable provides one of the most effective means today for safe, and long-distance communications, and it offers a number of advantages over copper. Fiber optic cable construction consists of a core, cladding, coating, strengthening fibers, and a cable jacket.

Fiber optic cable constructionCore
This is the physical medium that transports optical data signals from an attached light source to a receiving device. The core is a single continuous strand of extruded silica glass or plastic that’s measured in microns (µm) by the size of its outer diameter. The larger the core, the more light the cable can carry.

All fiber optic cable is sized according to its core’s outer diameter. The two most common multimode sizes are 50 and 62.5 microns. Single-mode cores are 8.5–9 microns.

The cores of OM1 and OM2 multimode cable are made differently than the cores of laser-optimized OM3 and OM4 cable. OM1 and OM2 have a small defect in the core called an index depression. This enables them to be used with LED light sources. OM3 and OM4 are manufactured without the center defect to enable them to be used directly with VCSELS for greater speeds and distance.

Cladding
This is the thin layer that surrounds the fiber core and serves as a boundary that contains the light waves and causes the refraction, enabling light to travel the length of the fiber segment. Typical fiber cladding is 125 microns.

Coating
This is a layer of plastic that surrounds the core and cladding to reinforce and protect the fiber core. Coatings are measured in microns and can range from 250 to 900 microns.

Strengthening fibers
These components help protect the core against crushing forces and excessive tension during installation. The materials can range from aramid yarn (Kevlar®) to wire strands to gel-filled sleeves.

Cable jacket
Just like copper cable, fiber cable comes with PVC and Low Smoke Zero Halogen jackets. Whether you choose PVC- or Low Smoke Zero Halogen cable depends on where you are going to use the cable. PVC cable is typically used for patch connections in the data center, wiring closet, and at the desktop. Low Smoke Zero Halogen cable is used when you need to route a cable through the buildings air plenum. Low Smoke Zero Halogen cable has a flame-resistant jacket to inhibit the spread of fire.

Fiber cable and connector colors
To easily recognize what type of fiber cable you have in the data center, the cable jackets, connectors, and connector bodies are color-coded.

OM1 62.5-/125-Micron Multimode Fiber
Jacket: Orange
Connector: Beige
Connector Body: Beige

OM2 50-/125-Micron Multimode Fiber
Jacket: Orange
Connector: Black
Connector Body: Black

OM3 Laser-Optimized 50-/125-Micron Multimode Fiber
Jacket: Aqua
Connector: Aqua
Connector Body: Black

OM4 Laser-Optimized 50-/125-Micron Multimode Fiber
Jacket: Aqua/Violet
Connector: Black
Connector Body: Aqua/Violet

OS2 8.5-Micron Single-Mode Fiber
Jacket: Yellow
Connector: APC: Green, MPO: Black; UPC: Blue
Connector Body: APC: Green; UPC: Blue

Additional Resources:
White Paper: Fiber Optic Technology
Blog post: 8 advantages to choosing fiber over copper cable
Webinar: High-Density Fiber Connectivity for Data Centers