How to DIY Ethernet Cables?

Buying the Ethernet cables in stores is probably a common way for average people. However, have you ever met the problem that the cable length is too long or too short? It is so difficult to find the most appropriate cable length at ordinary stores for your network. Especially when the cable is too long, the extra length may end up becoming a mess at your place. In order to solve this issue, why not make your own Ethernet cables? You can create your desired length and the procedures are fairly simple. This post will guide you to make a DIY Ethernet cable.

Essential Tools and Materials

Before you get started, there are some necessary tools and materials needed during the procedure. Wire cutter or wire stripper is used for the task of cutting and stripping wires. RJ45 cable crimping tool can make your cable’s data plug a permanent part of your new cable. RJ45 data plugs are important materials which can be found at many cable stores. Some plugs are labeled specifically Cat 6 or Cat 5e, you can buy specific ones if your network needs one or the other. And you should prepare the bulk Cat 5, Cat 5e, Cat 6 or other Ethernet cables according to your needs. Sometimes, having a cable tester is better since it will save time and prevent headaches down the line when you have a problem with a cable or connection.

Which Wiring Schemes?

Ethernet cables have several standard wiring schemes. T568A and T568B are the common wiring schemes which define the order of the individual wires and pin-outs for eight-pin modular connectors and jacks. If the cable is used for home-networking connections, T568B wiring scheme is recommended. T568A wiring scheme may be employed for the preexisting residential network wiring or other similar projects. The following figure presents the different wiring orders of T568A and T568B.

t568a-t568b-wiring-schemes

Ethernet Cable DIY Steps

After all the preparations, now you are ready to make your own Ethernet cable. Follow these steps and you will soon have your first self-made cable.

    • Step 1, measure the cable to the proper length you want. And don’t forget to add an inch or two because you may lose a bit of cable during the process. Then use the tool to cut down the cable.

cut-the-ethernet-cable

    • Step 2, remove the outer jacket of the cable. A good way to do so is to cut lengthwise with snips or a knife along the side of the cable, away from yourself, about an inch toward the open end. Also leave an inch to an inch and a half if you are green hand.

strip-the-cable-jacket

    • Step 3, untwist and straighten the wires, then arrange the wires into the desired scheme order.

wire-the-cable-into-specific-order

    • Step 4, once your wires are in the correct order, trim the excess away. Only leave slightly less wire to be fit inside the RJ45 clip. And hold the wires in place with your fingers and insert them all at once into the data plug.

install-cable-into-plug

    • Step 5, place your data plug into your crimping tool and give it a firm squeeze. And you just finally complete your Ethernet cable.

cimp-data-plug

Conclusion

If condition permits, using the cable tester to test the Ethernet cable before installation is recommended. Getting this new skill, you will no more worry about the cable length, you can make them as long or as short as you want. Enjoy using your DIY Ethernet cable!

Cat 5e or Cat 6 – Which Do You Choose?

As one type of copper cabling, twisted pair wiring is widely adopted for Ethernet networks which wraps the two conductors of a single circuit together. Nowadays, many kinds of twisted pair cables are available in the market. To specify the cable wiring standards, the Electronic Industries Alliance (EIA) and Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) have defined twisted pair cables into a series of categories, such as Cat 5, Cat 5e, Cat 6, Cat 6a, Cat 7, etc. This article will put emphasis on the two common categories of Cat 5e and Cat 6 to see their differences and which one to choose for your application.

cat5e-cat6

Wiring Standards of Cat 5e & Cat 6

Two standards of T568A and T568B can be used to wire Cat 5e and Cat 6 Ethernet cables. The only difference between T568A and T568B is that the green/green strip and orange/orange strip wire positions are swapped. In general, T568B is more popular for office and commercial networks. But no matter which wiring standard you choose, the most important thing is to continue with the selected standard for consistency. The following picture shows the concrete structure of T568A and T568B wiring.

t568a-t568b

Differences Between Cat 5e & Cat 6
Speed

Data speed is important for cable selections. You have to choose the cable that is equivalent to what is running on it. As for Cat 5e cable, it can support 1 Gigabit Ethernet. While Cat 6 can support higher data rate of 10 Gigabit Ethernet. This is because Cat 6 cable performs up to 250 MHz, which is more than twice that of Cat 5e cable with 100 MHz.

Maximum Length

The common ground for Cat 5e and Cat 6 cables is that they are all designed for short distance data transmission because they are made of copper wires. If the cable is used for lower data rate transfer, both Cat 5e and Cat 6 are able to reach the maximum length of 100 meters. However, when the data rate achieves the maximum speed, Cat 5e cable can only reach 50 meters and Cat 6 with 37 meters.

Cost

Compared with Cat 5e cables, the cost of Cat 6 cables is typically 10 to 20% more expensive because of higher transmission speed. But the price of these cables are comparatively cheap, which only takes up a small portion of the total budget. For the consideration of your application, Cat 6 might be a better choice if higher data rate is required. The additional cost can save you more money in the long run.

Application

Traditionally, Cat 5e cable is run for the business telephones. But using Cat 6 cable with a phone might be a waste. Cat 6 is suited for broadband video and digital video applications because of the lower signal losses and better transmission performance at higher frequencies compared with Cat 5e.

Can We Use Cat 5e With Cat 6?

The answer is yes. Regardless of a possibly different coating on the pins, Cat 5e and Cat 6 are both employing the RJ45 plug standard which makes them compatible to each other. But you can only receive a limited speed of the lowest link in the chain. Therefore, if you want to receive the best performance of cables, you should better use the matching components for your application.

Conclusion

Cat 5e and Cat 6 are two different categories of twisted pair cabling. The major difference between them is the data speed. Cat 6 has a higher speed than Cat 5e which accordingly varies their maximum length, cost and application. All these factors are important for you to make a choice between Cat 5e and Cat 6. Moreover, if higher speed over long distance is demanded, fiber optic cables might be a better solution.

Comparision Between Three Common Cables

1. Three Most Common Types Of Cables Used In Local Area Network
Coaxial Cable

Coaxial cable comes in two versions: Thinnet and Thicknet. Thinnet looks like regular TV cable. It is about 1/4 inch in diameter and is very flexible and easy to work with. In contrast, Thicknet is about 1/2 inch in diameter and not very flexible. Thicknet is older and not very common anymore except as a backbone within and between buildings. Coax transmits at 10 Mbps.

Twisted Pair Cable

Twisted pair cable looks like telephone wire and consists of insulated strands of copper wire twisted together. There are two versions of twisted pair cable: Shielded Twisted Pair (STP) and Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP). STP is commonly used in Token Ring networks and UTP in Ethernet networks where it is referred to as “10Base-T”, transmission rates vary between 10-100 Mbps.

Fiber Optic Cable

The bulk fiber optic cable consists of a thin cylinder of glass surrounded by glass cladding, encased in protective outer sheath. Fiber optic cable transmits data signals in the form of light, can transmit over long distances (over 2 km) but is expensive.

2. The pros and cons of the basic cable types
Coaxial Cable

PRO–Flexible and easy to install, relatively good resistance to electronic interference, electronic support components are relatively inexpensive.

CON–Short cable length, more expensive than UTP, unsecure, hard to change configuration, thinnet generally not good for use between buildings.

UTP Cable

PRO–Most flexible, cheapest cable (but requires expensive support components), easy to install, easy to add users, may be able to use existing phone cable if data grade.

CON–Shortest usable cable length, susceptible to electrical interference, unsecure, generally not good for use between buildings.

Fiber Optic Cable

PRO–Fastest transmission rate, not susceptible to electrical interference, secure, light weight, low ttenuation, high bandwidth, good for use between buildings.

CON–relatively expensive, relatively difficult to work with.

3. What Factors Should I Consider When Choosing Cable?

Cost – What is the budget and how much can be spent on cabling?

Reliability – How dependent are your organization’s operations on the network?

Speed – How many concurrent users are there be and how critical is response time?

Security – How important is it to protect data from possible interception?

Growth – What are the organization’s plans for growth?

Administration – How will the network be administered?

Electrical Interference – What is the physical environment in which the network will operate?

Existing Cable – Are there conduits or cabling already in place that might be useable.

Currently, people more often use extensively by bulk fiber optic cable to provide fast connections to the Internet. Being light weight and less likely to get trapped, bulk fiber optic cables make it more preferable to cable installation companies. Fibre optic cable is often used in backbone networks because of its wide bandwidth and cost effectiveness. Aslo bulk fiber optic cables have various types, such as tight buffered fiber, loose tube cable, large core fiber, simplex cable, duplex cable, ribbon cable, distribution cable, breakout cable, waterproof cables, elc. There is also corning optical cable available, which is manufactured by Corning company.