Tag Archives: DIY

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.

How to Build a Computer Network

If you own or manage two or more computers you need to connect your computers in a wired network to share Internet Connection and other services.
Here is a complete How To Build a Network.

Whether you are doing it at home or at your workplace, creating a computer network is not very difficult if you are a handy person and you have basic knowledge of computer networks. We will cover here most of the concepts you need to make your own LAN.
Computer Network
The series of articles will show you how to create a physical network and how to configure it to provide various services to your network users. We will focus on TCP/IP networks as this is the most common networking protocol.

Why Do You Need a Network?

You need a network if you need to share services for two or more computers.
Services that can be shared include: File sharing, sharing a network printer, Internet sharing, email services, Intranet, media broadcasting, etc…
In a home network, it is very common to share a printer and the Internet Connection.
In Business environment, the network becomes more complex and many more services will be needed to accommodate the use of many computers in a single network. Such services are DHCP – for automatic IP configuration, DNS – for name to IP resolution, corporate email, Proxy Server – for increased security on Internet, Intranet server – this is a private web server, VOIP phone system, etc…

What are the Limitations of My Network

You Ethernet cables are limited to 100m between any two active devices. If you need more than 100m between any two active devices such as computer and switch or computer to computer, you need to add a repeater or a hub, a switch will work as well, at each additional 100 meters, (or 333 ft.).
Depending on your materials and equipment, your network can run at 10Mb/s, 100Mb/s or 1Gigabit/s.
The most usual is to use Cat 5 or Cat 5e cables and connectors. A Cat 5 network can provide a speed up to 1000Mb/s.
If you need to connect at longer distances the more suitable solution are
Coaxial cable – up to 500M, speed 10Mb. You need special repeaters or hubs or special network cards.
The fiber optic – 10Km or more, speed up to 100Gb, depending on the equipment. It is the most expensive solution; the price though can be affordable for slower connections. For slower connections, most of the cost will consist on running the cable between the two points.
DSL is the cheap way to connect two remote offices if you have an available copper pair between the two offices.

What Do I Need to Make My own Network?

To make your own Ethernet Network you need the following equipment:
UTP/STP networking cable, RJ-45 connectors, Crimping tool, Punch down tool, Keystone Jacks, Wire stripper / Knife, Network Tester, Patch Panel, Network Switching device. The list includes also a stud finder, drywall saw, measuring tape, mounting plate, fish tape, ladder, and the usual tools such as screwdriver, drilling machine, hammer, etc…
Ample descriptions on the tools and materials are provided by following the links.

Computer Network Planning

The typical Ethernet Network has a star topology. That means that you have a central device, (network switch), that connects all of your network participants. This is important for your planning since you will have to run all of your cables to a central point. Make your measurements and place your central point in such manner that all of your cables are 100m or less. This includes the patch-cord as well.
If you have computers farther than 100m you will need to install a repeater. Alternatively you can use other types of connection, (coax, fiber optic, etc…), see the limitation paragraph.
When you run a cable consider the maximum amount of devices that can be stuffed into that office. It is a lot cheaper to run an extra cable or two per each office location than to run a single cable after the initial installation.
Install the keystones as close as possible to the actual location of the computer. Plan this thoroughly and pick the best location so that the patch-cord is out of the way.
Buy extra cable and extra connectors.
Use common paths for your cables whenever possible. If you run ten cables at once saves a lot of work and time.
Plan your cable route. Use ceiling whenever possible, it is the easiest path. Avoid running the cables near big electromagnetic sources.

Buying Computer Network Tools and Supplies

Do not buy cheap tools and materials. If you do, you will be penalized in different ways:
At the installation time you will get all sorts of problems trying to connect poor materials, cheap cable will be damaged more easily when manipulated, connectors will break easier.
In time the quality of the network will decrease if poor supplies and tools are used.
Overall experience and quality will be very poor if you get too cheap. If buying expensive tools is not justified, (a one time job), try to borrow good tools and don’t buy cheap ones.
Follow the links to learn what to look for when you are buying specific materials.
Now that you planned and bought all the Networking tools and supplies you can proceed to the Running the Cables for a Computer Network.

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)

Computer Network – UTP and STP cable

UTP Cable

UTP Cable

Twisted Pair networking cable

Depending on the building configuration and the cable’s traject you will need to use UTP or STP.
STP stands for Shielded Twisted Pair and is mostly used outdoors or when running the cable near electromagnetic sources. The shield helps remove the unwanted interference. It has to be properly grounded otherwise it will make you communication worse. If you decide to go with STP, you need to use shielded RJ45 connectors and properly ground your switch. Using STP is not a do it yourself network installation.
UTP, Unshielded Twisted Pairs, is the most common networking cable and it produced in various grades/categories, (Cat 3, Cat 5, Cat 5e, Cat 6, and Cat 7) . The higher the grade the better the properties of the cable, hence the higher the speed that can be obtained on that cable. UTP cable can be purchased in large spindles at stores that specialize in cabling. The most common type is Cat 5 that supports networks up to 100Mb. Note that for a Gigabit network is not enough to use Cat 6 cable, you also need to use the right connectors and jacks, which is very often overlooked.


Deep Surplus

Networking UTP cable is a media that consists of eight wires twisted in pairs to reduce interference. The wires inside the UTP cable can be solid or stranded and they have different applications. The stranded wire cable is used for patch cables, which require flexibility and does not put mechanical stress on the jack or the equipment connectors and are able to withstand frequent plugging/unplugging from connections. The solid wire cable is used for long distances and connects in solid terminations such as patch panels, or the wall-mounted jack. The solid wire is cheaper, connects better and easier in patch panels and is a better match for long distances were flexibility of the cable is not an issue.
Never use flat cable for Ethernet cabling and avoid cheap UTP cable as you will run into various problems such as: wire is too thin and cannot be properly inserted, solid cable is too rigid and it breaks easily, very poor quality overall.