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Computer Network – Tools and Supplies

Punch down tool

Punch down tool – The punch tool is used to insert the network cable in the patch panel or similar connection panels. For a small network up to 7 devices you might not need it as you can easily connect all of your devices directly into the switch.

Keystone module RJ45

Keystone Jacks – The RJ45 keystone jack is the female connector, usually immobile, part of a network connection that is mounted on the wall or similar. It provides a network connection close to the device to be connected. A patch-cord is used to connect the device to the keystone jack.

There are many types of RJ45 keystones, some require a punch down tool to be used, and some are tool-les, providing a lever for insertion and a retaining clip to secure the connection. The keystone is also produced for various categories, (Cat 3 – Cat 7), make sure you buy the correct one.


Deep Surplus
Wire Stripper Twisted Pair Cable

Wire stripper / Knife – I am not a fan of the wire stripper because it always cuts a little of the wires. Most of the times, the cut is superficial and it doesn’t get to the wire. But sometimes the stripper will scratch the wires. Using a utility knife or cutting pliers, is a little more laborious but I prefer it as I get more control. Moreover the many crimper tools come with a cable stripper. Don’t use that one, it doesn’t work for round cables, it only works for flat cables.

Simple Cable Tester

Network Tester – This is not a must, but if you are doing this for the first time, it will save you a lot of troubleshooting. For professional network cabling an expensive Network Tool that can measure attenuation, cable length, category supported, etc…, it’s a must. You need to give your client a report with your measurement results.
For small DIY jobs a simple tester will do it.


Patch Panel

Patch Panel – This is beyond the purpose of this article since it applies to bigger networks.

Network Switch

Network Switching device – The switching device switches packets between the different devices on your network. Modern switching devices can make a virtual map of all of the devices in your network and route packets according to this map.

Older connectivity devices, such as network hubs, used to indiscriminately broadcast the packets on all of the ports and only the device which the packet belonged to would have accepted it. This design creates a lot of collisions and saturates the network with unnecessary traffic.

Network hubs, (two or more ports), or repeaters, (only one port), are used to increase the maximum of 100m, (333 ft), between two devices connected on an Ethernet segment. Every repeater adds up another 100m.

Computer Network – RJ45 Crimper

Crimper Pro RJ45
Good Quality Crimper RJ45

Crimping tool

The crimper is very often the cause of bad connections. Buy a good quality crimper even if you use it for a few cables. Here are some problems associated with cheap crimpers:

  • Uneven force applied on the pins because of the angled compression.
  • Uneven wearing of the teeth and general faster wearing of the teeth.
  • The poor design of the crimper presses on the locking tabs and it reduces its flexibility to almost breaking them.
  • You need to apply two-three times more force when using a cheap crimper. You don’t have a ratchet system to guarantee a fully closed crimp and a release mechanism upon a complete crimp.

A good quality crimper will avoid all of the above and it will greatly improve your productivity; your RJ45 connectors will operate as expected for longer time; A good crimping tool costs 4 – 6 times more than the cheap ones. A good quality RJ45 crimper applies the force at the same time on all of the teeth, has a ratchet system and a release mechanism.

Crimper RJ45
Crimper RJ45

Cheap Crimping Tool
Cheap Crimping Tool

Professional Crimper RJ45
Professional Crimper RJ45
 

Computer Network – RJ45 Connectors

RJ45 Crimped
RJ45 Crimped

RJ-45 connectors

RJ45 is a type of registered jack. The registered jack specifies the physical male and female connectors as well as the pin assignments. RJ45 features 8 pins and is the standard connector for Ethernet based networks. We can also find it on ISDN, and T1 connections. Ethernet is the standard media for the VOIP phones so we can find it used with modern digital phone systems. The RJ11 male connector, (standard telephone connector), fits perfectly into an RJ45 female connector being a little narrower, which is why many companies have deployed data networks only. The middle pair only is used for the telephone connection. There are different RJ45 male connectors for various cables.

  The male RJ45 are very cheap but they are prone to various problems.
Shielded RJ45
Shielded RJ45
The locking tab is prone to breaking. Here are some tricks to avoid this: buy the connectors with the locking tab curved down so it avoids the snagging. If you can’t find the cleverly designed connectors use boots to avoid snapping the tabs.
Snagless RJ45
Snagless RJ45

Snagless RJ45
Snagless RJ45

Snagless RJ45
Snagless RJ45

Snagless Shielded RJ45 Male
Snagless RJ45 Sheilded


There are RJ45 specially designed for solid cable, for stranded cable, for STP cable.
Rj45 Male Compare Rj45 Male Compare Use only the appropriate connector for the cable you install. Using an RJ45 for solid wire with stranded wires, or the other way around, will cause poor contacts, hence a bad connection.
Use a good quality crimper that doesn’t press on the tab when you crimp the connector.
Crimping a male RJ45 is not easy. The operation requires dexterity attention and training. If you want to make your life easier, you can use wire guides that come with some packages. Practice a lot and you won’t need the guides.
Check the “How to make a patch cord” post, for a detailed, step by step article with pictures. (coming soon)