Chapter 1 - Computer Hardware - Category Cable Termination (RJ45)

"Computer hardware includes the physical, tangible parts or components of a computer, such as the cabinet, central processing unit, monitor, keyboard, computer data storage, graphics card, sound card, speakers and motherboard. By contrast, software is instructions that can be stored and run by hardware." - Wikipedia

Welcome to the next series of chapters covering computer hardware. We will start with terminating category cables with RJ45 connectors. What do you think connects us to the internet? Wireless is getting better but it all comes back to cable and fiber optics. Fiber is great for long runs but category 6a is becoming standard with new office construction. We will look at category 5e, 6, and 6a.

Tools and Parts Required
1) Cables
2) Connectors
3) Tools

Let's look at the different type of cables, connectors and tools to put them together.

Cables

We need to figure out what type of cable we need. If the cable is for a printer, VOIP phone or home use then cat5e with standard connectors will work great. If we are planning a new office or building set up, then we want to go big with cat6a. Maybe we need cat5e weatherproof due to being exposed to the elements as normal sheathing will not last.
Here are a few options.

Category 5e

    Speed: 10/100/1000 Mbps (up to 100 meters)
    Use: Mainly for home use and business VOIP phones.
    Termination Scale: Easy
    Connectors: Standard and pull through.
    Cons: Offer higher crosstalk, lower signal-to-noise ratio, and are not compatible for 10GBASE-T (10-Gigabit Ethernet).
    Pros: Cheap

Category 6

    Speed: 10/100/1000/10000 Mbps (up to 37 meters)
    Use: Professional building installations. (6a is preferred)
    Termination Scale: Medium
    Connectors: Standard
    Cons: Only offer high speed within 37 meters. Higher cost than cat5e.
    Pros: Offer lower crosstalk, higher signal-to-noise ratio, and are compatible for 10GBASE-T (10-Gigabit Ethernet)

Category 6a

    Speed: 10/100/1000/10000 Mbps (up to 100 meters)
    Use: Professional building installations
    Termination Scale: Hard
    Connectors: Staggered Standard
    Cons: Higher cost than cat6. Thicker cable which makes it harder to work with. You will need a wire straightener due to the wire twists.
    Pros: Robust sheathing eliminates crosstalk and can keep the speed up to 100 meters.

Others

    Category 6a Mini: Half the size of standard 6a cables for short runs.
    Category 7: Same as 6a but better transmitting frequencies.
    Weather Proof: Special sheathing to allow for outdoor use.
    Gel Filled: Special sheathing and gel filled to allow 100% weather proof for external or underground runs.

Twisted Pair Types

    F/UTP - Foiled / Unshielded Twisted Pair
    F/FTP - Foiled / Foiled Twisted Pair
    S/UTP - Braided Shielding / Unshielded Twisted Pair
    S/FTP - Braided Shielding / Foiled Twisted Pair
    U/FTP - Unshielded / Foiled Twisted Pairs
    U/UTP - Unshielded / Unshielded Twisted Pair
    SF/UTP - Braided Shielding + Foil / Unshielded Twisted Pairs
    SF/FTP - Braided Shielding + Foil / Foiled Twisted Pairs

Connectors

Now we need to figure out what type of connector we need. Cat5e, Cat6 or Cat6a? Standard, Pull Through or Staggered? Cat5e will work with standard and pull through. 6 and 6a is best to use staggered due to the larger wire size. It is possible that EMI/RFI is present. Electromagnetic interference (EMI), also called radio-frequency interference (RFI) is a disturbance generated by an external source that affects an electrical circuit. We would need to shield the connector.

Wire Order

Type 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
T568A W/G G W/O BL W/BL O W/BR BR
T568B * W/O O W/G BL W/BL G W/BR BR
* Standard

    W/O = White Orange
    O = Orange
    W/G = White Green
    G = Green
    W/BL = White Blue
    BL = Blue
    W/BR = White Brown
    BR = Brown

Standard Connector


    Cons: You will need to cut the exposed wires to a short length to get the sheathing inside the connector prior to crimping.
    Pros: Very cheap

Pull Through Connector

    Cons: A bit more expensive than standard connectors. A crimp tool with pull through required.
    Pros: There is no need to cut the exposed wires to a short length since the wires pull through.

Staggered Standard Connector

    Cons: Takes more time to get the wires in place with the load bars. No pull through as the wires are thicker.
    Pros: A must when using thicker category cables.

Shielded Modular

    Cons: Only needed when EMI/RFI is present.
    Pros: The shielding protects against EMI/RFI interference and maintains proper ground connection to shielded jacks.

Tools

The last step is what tools we need to make it all work. We need a RJ45 crimp tool. Wire straightener as 6 and 6a cables are twisted tight and will require straightening. A snip tool and a tracer / toner tool to test the cable.

Termination Tool

    I use the EZ-RJ45 Crimp Tool. This high quality tool is designed to crimp and cut the wires of the EZ-RJ45 Connector in one easy simple operation. The ratcheted straight action crimping motion ensures a uniform crimp every use. Features cast crimping dies for accuracy. A built in wire cutter and stripper for silver satin.

Wire Straightener

    This handy tool will help straighten wire that has be slightly bent or disfigured. Simply lay the wire in the center of the open tool, close the tool around the wire, and pull the wire through.

Wire Tester

    This instrument is a multi-functional handheld cable testing tool. It has wide application with reinforced cable types and multiple functions. Trace RJ11 and RJ45.

Snip Tool

    This tool shears wire producing a flat, flush cut and greatly reduces cutting effort and minimizes fly-off.

The Steps

We have all the tools and we will now put it all together. We need to cut the sheath off the cable exposing about an inch of the wires.

Put the cable in the cutter part of the crimping / termination tool. Click it once setting to put the cutter at the 8p position. Hold the cable and rotate the tool around the cable cutting the sheath. Pull the cable through before releasing the tool as it will go down to 6p and will most likely cut the wires.

Separate the twisted parts and use the straightening tool to remove any bends.

Align the wires to either T568A or T568B standard. Put the wires in order and use the snip tool to make sure they are all the same length for standard connectors.

Or just align and pull them through for pull through connectors. 6a cables require the load bar to align for staggered connectors.

Take the cable and connector and insert into the crimp tool. Make sure the cable and connector are firmly locked into place before crimping. The tool will crimp and cut any wires that have been pulled through and crimp the connector so it won't come off.

Once both sides of the cable are finished plug one side into the rj45 port on the emitter and the other side in the rj45 port in the receiver and have it set to scan. Ports 1 through 8 will light up green if the cable has been set up properly. If one of them is not green, then you will need to terminate again.

Conclusion

Most of the time it is generally easier to purchase specific cables that have already been terminated but there will be times when you will need to create one for a specific purpose. Knowing how to do it will save time waiting for the cables to arrive and a little money. However, purchasing each tool, connectors and cables will cost a few hundred dollars to get started. You will save money in the long run if you plan on doing many terminations but cheaper to purchase already made cables for only a few projects.

We have covered so far...
CH 1: Computer Hardware - Category Cable Termination (RJ45)


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4/18/2019 - Chapter 1 - Category Cable Termination (RJ45)
7/9/2019 - Chapter 2 - Popular Switch Commands

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About Wade

I am dedicated and accomplished application developer and multi-hat information system administrator and manager. Extensive background with the full lifecycle of hardware with systems, devices, networks, databases and software development while ensuring optimal performance.
 
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