Serial printer cabling problems
Posted on 2004-08-30
We are a reseller of POS (point of sale) equipment and routinely run cabling in bars and restaurants to establish connections between kitchen printers and a POS terminal. Recently, we have run into a spate of problems with the connections between these two end points. Through a process of elimination, we have concluded the cabling/cabling route to be the source of our problem. Until recently, we were running flat-sat cabling until we encountered a problem at one of our installations. One of our technicians replaced the flat sat cable with a small cat5 patch cable and the problems disappeared. Since then, we have been using cat5 UTP cable in all of our installations. However, we seem to be experiencing even more problems with the cat5 cabling. It should be noted that cat5 is the cable the supplier of our software uses in their own installations. However, I am not convinced of the efficacy of this cable in these types of environments (bars, restaurants). I have consulted a previous post similar to this topic with the following suggestion:
"In general, however, CAT5 UTP cable is NOT THE BEST choice for RS-232 signals. The difference is that RS-232 is SINGLE ENDED and 10BasteT network signals are DIFFERENTIAL. The UTP cable is just that, UNSHIELDED TWISTED PAIR, which is excellent for DIFFERENTIAL signals but poor for RS-232 single-ended.
The best choice for RS-232 is SHIELDED multi-conductor 16 to 18 ga. stranded copper wire."
My question is, how accurate is the above statement? Do you agree with this person's assessment of the cabling to use for RS-232 signals? Furthermore, how sensitive is CAT5 UTP cabling to the external environment? Our experience suggests it may be experiencing interference via adjacent electrical wiring. Will shielded multi-conductor 18ga. stranded copper wire be able to withstand the types of interference likely to be encountered in a bar or restaurant? Thank you for your time.