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Tools to qualify and test CAT5e cabling / termination

Posted on 2014-04-03
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Last Modified: 2014-05-08
What kind of tools can I use to *properly* qualify CAT5e cabling in a building and certify it for gigabit network traffic (well, not officially certify, but at least provide some concrete evidence that I can personally have confidence in)?

I have a network with 30-40 network points, and I'm worried that it has some underlying flaws - cable runs that are too long, terminations that are poor or incorrect, wires crossed, generally not adhering to best practices etc. which is causing intermittent physical network connectivity issues.

I'm going to be re-terminating the network with a new patch panel and new jacks on both ends, but I want some concrete evidence that

  1) there really was a problem with the original wiring, and
  2) it's much better now

So... I'm looking to for a tester of some kind that does something more than just a simple wiremap test.

What kind of tools should I be looking at?

I know these kind of network qualifying tools are expensive ($2000+), do you know where I can rent them? Preferably in Canada?
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Question by:Frosty555
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5 Comments
 
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Expert Comment

by:Lee Ingalls
ID: 39975699
I use a Fluke Networks IntelliTone Pro 200 (~$200) to test continuity for CAT5e and CAT6 cables I make; and the Fluke CableIQ Qualification Tester (~$1000)... but find I rarely use the CableIQ Qualification Tester any longer.
http://www.flukenetworks.com/datacom-cabling/copper-testing/IntelliTone-Pro-Toner-and-Probe

http://www.bhdrentals.com/fluke-networks-dtx-1800-ethernet-cable-tester.html
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Accepted Solution

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Fred Marshall earned 250 total points
ID: 39975802
I would think of it along these lines:

I'm using a Test-Um LanScaper cable tester.  It tells you two things:
- are the 8 wires connected (i.e. not open), not shorted and connected properly (re the pairs)?
- how long is the cable?
Generally this is good enough for most things if you know that the cable is indeed the type you require.
A pretty good kit is available for under $300.

http://www.aaatesters.com/JDSU-JDSU_Test-Um_NT750_LanScaper_Network_Cable_Tester.html?gclid=CLTyi57sxL0CFdKGfgodQKYA_Q

Some will say that you should never "make" cables but, of course, there are situations where you have to terminate an existing cable and where adding a jack or a punch-down strip aren't feasible.  Still, it's best to terminate building cables with one of the two.

The only thing that I've not found is a good tester for NOISE.  Sometimes that's important.
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Expert Comment

by:kode99
ID: 39977109
Get a Bytebrother unit,

http://www.bytebrothers.com/bb_tester/Real%20World%20Certifier.htm

It's not as cool as a nice fluke but it's a whole hell of a lot less and shows the stats on the wire that you need.

Ours paid for itself the first day we had it.  Great tool for anybody who does not going to be doing enough testing to warrant the price of big name units.  It's also very easy to use.
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Author Comment

by:Frosty555
ID: 39981399
I've been eyeballing the CableIQ for some time now. Do you know what the practical difference between the CableIQ Service Kit and the DTX CableAnalyzer is?

--edit-- I think this page explains it, is there anything else I need to know? http://www.flukenetworks.com/Expertise/Learn-About/Cable-Testing

The Bytebrothers RWC1000 (or RWC1000K) looks nice, too, and indeed it is a fair bit cheaper (and more within what my budget can handle)... but their website, YouTube videos etc. don't give me a whole lot of confidence that it really is a decent quality product.

Of course, the fact that Fluke has a rebuttal page specifically against them suggests that they are a major threat to Fluke as a competitor (http://myaccount.flukenetworks.com/fnet/en-us/supportAndDownloads/KB/Copper-Testing/CableIQ/CableIQ+vs.+REAL+WORLD+CERTIFIER) which I suppose is a good sign. I'm not looking to certify the network, only to qualify it, so it may be appropriate for me.

But, how can I know if the Byte Brothers unit is actually good enough?
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LVL 25

Assisted Solution

by:kode99
kode99 earned 250 total points
ID: 39993413
CableIQ is a qualification tester and the DTX is a certification tester.  

Certification is looking at the cable for the full specification so the the cable would be suitable for any application.  A qualification tester is looking at it with respect to suitability for ethernet.  The DTX also tests up to 10 GBit.

This is part of the confusion with the name of the Bytebrothers unit.  'Real World Certifier' as in the 'real world' most applications only care about suitability for ethernet and a qualification tester is good enough.
 
I would imagine the Fluke sales people are more than tired of hearing about the low cost Bytebrothers 'certifier'.

We got the Bytebrothers unit because I simply was not going to spend the money on a Fluke and renting one a few times would pay for a Bytebrother unit.  I actually thought there was a bigger difference on the testing vs what the Fluke does.  

Since you are dealing with a in-place network you could also stress test your network connections to find issues or limits without the need for a tester.  

We were checking new installation of many very long runs and it was quite helpful.  These needed to be checked at the time of installation because if there were issues the cable has to be replaced right away while there was access to the wire runs.  

If this is a one time thing a rental might be a good option or even having a guy come in and do a unofficial cert/qualification test.  Might not take long or be very expensive.

It works fine for our use,  I do agree though the website is not very inspiring.  Maybe source one from somewhere you could return or exchange it if you want to try it out.
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