Tag Archives: cables

Snagless RJ45 connectors – How To Make Network Cables Snagless

Patch Panel

Snagless RJ45 Connectors – the Odd Request

Snagless RJ45 connectors are that odd request that my department makes from time to time. Why do you need RJ45 connectors anyway, it’s the invariable answer from supervisors, and the typical reminder: “You have all sorts of patchcords, all dimensions…” Well, first of all, we sysadmins never have all the patchcords dimensions available. The IT racks should be something that should be kept as tidy as possible, and one way is to have custom length of the patchcords.

Depending on your infrastructure, you might want or might not want to use handmade patchcords in your racks; however, in many cases this is totally acceptable. You can probably make a Cat 5 patchcord, but you won’t be able to make a Cat 6 one. In other words your hand made patchcords will be able to run at Gigabit speeds, but not at 10 Gigabit speeds, even with the proper connectors and cables. Having said that, most of the equipment in a business server room is connected into a Gigabit switch or at lower speeds, so this would not be a problem.

Custom Patchcords – Always Broken Lokcing Tabs

The major problem with all the handmade Ethernet patchcords and cables is that the locking tab is breaking. I probably don’t have to explain why broken tabs are bad; they will not be secured into the equipment’s jack, resulting in intermittent data loss, or even disconnection.

There are two reasons for the locking tabs breaking so often. Firstly, the little locking tab is very fragile, and we can’t change that, it is fragile to keep the costs down. The other reason is the design, the locking tab sticks out, and it is very easy to get snagged and broken off. All store-bought cables come with a snagless boot; it’s the standard these days. All the cables with broken locking tabs don’t have the boots, because they are terminated in place, by either a datacom tech, or an admin.

These plugs from Panduit are the best snagless RJ45 connectors.

The connectors are meant for patch cords, and they are rated as providing Category 5e performance.

The patented tangle-free plug latch prevents snags, hence breaking.

They are easy release, unlike some snagless boots, and they save time on frequent moves, adds, and changes.

The design facilitates easy insertion and termination of wires

What Is the Solution for Broken RJ45 Connectors

One of the solutions to fix the snagging network cables is to install a "snagless" boot over the cable, before crimping the connector. After crimping, just push the boot over the connector and the boot will protect the little tab.

My preferred way to fix this is to use snagless RJ45 connectors, and a boot. This ensures the plug will not break ever, unless you purposely do it. You can also use just the snagless connectors, they are very good, and I do it very often, but if I have both the snagless connectors and the snagless boots, I will use both for optimization. The snagless plugs are slightly more expensive than the regular ones, but when you draw the line, and consider the troubleshooting needed on the long term, and the fact that sooner or later those RJ45 connectors will break and will need to be replaced, the additional cost is worth paying.

Like I already mentioned before, with the low prices for commercial made patchcords, and the quality ensured by a machine made ethernet cable, there is no need to make your own, it's just not practical.

This cables are made in a commercial facility, they are tested, and they come in a variety of lengths, just choose the one that is right for you. You can even get  to choose the color, so you can color code your patch panel connections, so everything looks tidy, and easy to follow.

How to Run Network Cables?

The best time to run your cables for a Computer Network is at the construction/renovation time. At this time it is the easiest to run cables and drill all the passage holes. If the building is already done and it doesn’t need any renovation you can still run your cables.

Fishing and Running Network Cables

For a new building, it is wise to run the cables through designated conduits and to calibrate your conduit so additional cables can be added at a later time if needed. Plan junction boxes at each floor or major node.

For an old building, installing conduits might not be possible. In this case you need to tie your cables in a bunch and secure the bunch to walls, ceiling, etc… You need to use a fish tape to fish your cables in the wall cavity. You might need to use a stud finder to avoid obstructing framing. Adjust your outlet’s position accordingly. Very often the help of a second person is needed when fishing cables, especially when you fish the cables from ceiling to the outlet, behind the wall. In this case on person feeds the fish tape down, or up depending on the case, the other person tries to catch the fish tape with another fish tape or something similar. Once the fish tape is on the position, passed through the drywall hole, attach your cables to the fish tape using duct tape. Run a pull line as well, it will be very useful in the future, in the case you want to add additional cables or replace the defective ones.

Rules for running Network Cables
Make sure before drilling any holes into joists, that you follow the building codes.
Take care of the network cable integrity:

  • do not drop objects on the cables
  • do not step on the cables,
  • do over-bend or over-twist the network cable

When you pull your cable through holes do not pull too hard as this could stretch the cable and modify its electrical qualities. Using a pull-string will provide additional firmness.
Try to avoid electric cables and other electromagnetic sources.

Cable Length and Routes

On an Ethernet type network, typically, we use a star network topology. This means that all of the devices connect into a central point, which is usually a network switch. The network switch receives and distributes all the network packets to network devices.

You need to plan your network so that the longest path from any two network devices is less than 100m, (328ft). If this is not possible plan using additional repeaters or switches. Position your network room, to obtain the least cable lengths.  

How to Make an Ethernet Patch-cord

Tools and supplies needed for a network patch cord:

  • Twisted pairs cable
  • Scissors or cutter pliers
  • RJ45 male connectors
  • Good quality Crimper

Ethernet Network Tools
Ethernet Network Tools

Utp Cable Stripp
Utp Cable Stripp
Start by stripping the pvc cover off the twisted pairs cable. Remove about 3inches (7cm).
Separate and untwist the wires. Arrange the wires in order using your favorite cabling standard. Use the same standard for both of your ends.

If you are redoing just one end make sure you are copying the other one, otherwise your patch cord will not work.
I always use the same standard so I don’t get confused when I am redoing cables. I use the T568B standard because there is a little trick to remember the wires order. See at th post Mnemonic for Network Cable pinout for a trick on how to remember the cable order.

Network Cable Standards
Network Cable Standards – Wires order

Straighten UTP Wires

Straighten UTP Wires
Straighten Wires
Straighten the wires, making sure you keep them in order. It is very easy to mix the wires after putting them in order.
If doing this feels painfully difficult, try to find RJ45 male connectors with guides for wires. The guides keep the wires in place and help you insert them into the connector. It is a real help for a beginner.
Cut the wires just a little longer than the RJ45 connector.

Cut UTP wires
Cut UTP wires

Insert Wires RJ45
Insert Wires RJ45
Insert the wires into the connector ensuring that you keep them in the correct order. To keep the wires straight push up a little against the upper side of the connector while you slide them. This procedure helps you keep the wires aligned while inserting them.
When you reach the end of the connector the exterior jacket will be outside of the connector. Make sure you push a little more so that the jacket gets inside. at the time of the crimping the plastic indentation on the connector gets pressed on the exterior jacket, conferring the patch-cord more rigidity and resistance. If the jacket doesn’t get into the RJ45, the wires will be loose inside the connector. This will cause the wires to move and loosen up the point of insertion.

Insert Wires RJ45
Insert Wires RJ45

Crimp UTP RJrj45
Crimp UTP RJrj45
Crimp the connector maintaining the wires and the cable jacket inside the connector.
Inspect the cable, verifying that the wires are in the correct order.

Inspect RJ45
Inspect RJ45

Compare Ends RJ45
Compare the Ends patch cable
Proceed to the other end and untwist the wires. Maintain the same wires order. Redo the same operations as above.
Compare the two ends. Make sure they are identical. If they are not your cable will most likely not work.
For a 100Mb network only two pairs are needed, the active wires are at the pins 1,2,3 and6. For a 1Gb network, all of the four pairs are needed.

Compare RJ45 Ends
Compare RJ45 Ends

Network Cable Tester
Network Cable Tester
Depending on the nature of your job you might need to use a cable tester. For a small network a simple continuity tester will be sufficient. The tester injects a signal on one end and it tests the signal at the other end.
If the cable is correctly crimped all of the LED’s will light up in order. The shield LED might not light up if your connectors are not a shielded.
For bigger networks you will need a more complex tester that can measure attenuation, cable length, and can even give you an overall result of the point to point capability. This type of testers can sum up the various aspects of a measurement and tell you if your segment qualifies for a CAT3 or CAT5 or CAT6 connection.