Wiring Ethernet Cables
How to wire your own ethernet cables and connectors.
What You Need:
* Cable – bulk Category (Cat) 5, 5e, 6 or higher cable
* Wire Cutters – to cut and strip the cable if necessary
* For Patch Cables: RJ45 Plugs
* RJ45 Crimper
* For Fixed Wiring: RJ45 Jacks
* 110 Punch Down Tool
* Wire Stripper
* Cable Tester
About the Cable:
You can find bulk supplies of the cable at many computer stores or most electrical or home centers. You want UTP (Unshielded Twisted Pair) cable of at least Category 5. Cat 5 is required for basic 10/100 functionality, you will want Cat 5e for gigabit (1000BaseT) operation and Cat 6 or higher gives you a measure of future proofing. Bulk cable comes in many types, there are 2 basic categories, solid and braided cable. Braided cable tends to work better in patch applications for desktop use. It is more flexible and resilient than solid cable and easier to work with, but really meant for shorter lengths. Solid cable is meant for longer runs in a fixed position. Plenum rated cable must be used whenever the cable travels through an air circulation space. For example, above a false ceiling or below a raised floor. It may be difficult or impossible to tell from the package what type of cable it is, so peal out an end and investigate.
Here is what the internals of the cable look like:
Internal Cable Structure and Color Coding
Inside the cable, there are 8 color coded wires. These wires are twisted into 4 pairs of wires, each pair has a common color theme. One wire in the pair being a solid or primarily solid colored wire and the other being a primarily white wire with a colored stripe (Sometimes cables won’t have any color on the striped wire, the only way to tell which is which is to check which wire it is twisted around). Examples of the naming schemes used are: Orange (alternatively Orange/White) for the solid colored wire and White/Orange for the striped cable. The twists are extremely important. They are there to counteract noise and interference. It is important to wire according to a standard to get proper performance from the cable.
About RJ45 Plugs and Jacks:
The RJ45 plug is an 8-position modular connector that looks like a large phone plug. There are a couple variations available. The primary variation you need to pay attention to is whether the connector is intended for braided or solid wire. For braided/stranded wires, the connector has sharp pointed contacts that actually pierce the wire. For solid wires, the connector has fingers which cut through the insulation and make contact with the wire by grasping it from both sides. The connector is the weak point in an ethernet cable, choosing the wrong one will often cause grief later. If you just walk into a computer store, it’s nearly impossible to tell what type of plug it is. You may be able to determine what type it is by crimping one without a cable.
RJ45 jacks come in a variety styles intended for several different mounting options. The choice is one of requirements and preference. RJ45 jacks are designed to work only with solid cable. Most jacks come labeled with color codes for either T568A, T568B or both. Make sure you end up with the correct one.
Here is a diagram and pin out:
RJ45 Plug and Jack Pin Out
Ethernet Cable Pin Outs:
There are two basic cable pin outs. A straight through cable, which is used to connect to a hub or switch, and a cross over cable used to operate in a peer-to-peer fashion without a hub/switch. Generally all fixed wiring should be run as straight through. Some ethernet interfaces can cross and un-cross a cable automatically as needed, a handy feature.
The Difference Between Straight Through, Crossover, And Rollover Cables
There are generally three main types of networking cables: straight-through, crossover, and rollover cables. Each cable type has a distinct use, and should not be used in place of another.
Straight-through cables get their name from how they are made. Out of the 8 pins that exist on both ends of an Ethernet cable, each pin connects to the same pin on the opposite side. Review the diagram below for a visual example:
Notice how each wire corresponds to the same pin. This kind of wiring diagram is part of the 568A standard. The 568B standard achieves the same thing, but through different wiring. It is generally accepted to use the 568A standard as pictured, since it allows compatibility with certain telephone hardware- while 568B doesn’t.
Straight-through cables are primarily used for connecting unlike devices. A straight-through cable is typically used in the following situations:
Use a straight-through cable when:
* 1. Connecting a router to a hub
* 2. Connecting a computer to a swtich
* 3. Connecting a LAN port to a switch, hub, or computer
Note that some devices such as routers will have advanced circuitry, which enables them to use both crossover and straight-through cables. In general, however, straight-through cables will not connect a computer and router because they are not “unlike devices.”
Crossover cables are very similar to straight-through cables, except that they have pairs of wires that crisscross. This allows for two devices to communicate at the same time. Unlike straight-through cables, we use crossover cables to connect like devices. A visual example can be seen below:
Notice how all we did was switch the orange-white and green-white wires, and then the orange and green wires. This will enable like devices to communicate. Crossover cables are typically used in the following situations:
Use a crossover cable when:
* 1. Connecting a computer to a router
* 2. Connecting a computer to a computer
* 3. Connecting a router to a router
* 4. Connecting a switch to a switch
* 5. Connecting a hub to a hub
While the rule of thumb is to use crossover cables with like devices, some devices do not follow standards. Others provide support for both types of cables. However, there is still something that both crossover and straight-through cables can’t do.
Rollover cables, like other cabling types, got their name from how they are wired. Rollover cables essentially have one end of the cable wired exactly opposite from the other. This essentially “rolls over” the wires- but why would we need to do such a thing? Rollover cables, also called Yost cables, usually connect a device to a router or switch’s console port. This allows a programmer to make a connection to the router or switch, and program it as needed. A visual example can be seen below:
Notice that each wire is simply “rolled over.” These types of cables are generally not used very much, so are usually colored differently from other types of cables.