Tag Archives: UTP

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 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.

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.