How to: Terminate a Cat6A Field Term Plug
Is it a RJ45 connector plug or a tool-less keystone jack? We have a potential personality disorder going on here! In all seriousness, shielded field termination plugs terminate your raw cable like a tool-less keystone jack but are then used to plug directly into a piece of equipment.
Common scenarios are:
- Quick and temporary connections in the field for testing purposes
- Frequently moved/removed cabling such as in sound and video studios
- Situations where RJ45 connector plugs simply won’t fit onto your thick shielded cable
When connecting one end of your Ethernet cable to a true keystone jack or patch panel and then the other end to a shielded field termination plug you have what is known as MPTL or Modular Plug Terminated Link style run. Such runs have a maximum segment length of 295 feet from jack/panel to field termination plug. The remainder of the actual 328 foot limit on an Ethernet Channel is then used for a patch cable that will plug into something else, like an Ethernet switch.
Now, you could use a RJ45 connector plug at one end of the cable (the kind you have to actually crimp on) and still achieve the same thing but what if you wished to periodically change the length or move the cable around, possibly wasting multiple RJ45 connector plugs? Field termination plugs can be reused (re-terminated to the tool-less portion) up to 20 times.
For shielded Ethernet cable, it bears mentioning that putting standard RJ45 ends on can be a bit frustrating. Really thick outdoor shielded Ethernet cable might not fit at all. The only solution is the field termination plug if you need a RJ45 style connection at one end.
Professional installers and DIY folks will benefit from this article and video combination. Shielded Ethernet cable termination requires additional attention to detail, as grounding of the cable shield is critical to avoid ground loops or other maladies. For these maladies, and how to avoid them, take a look at How to Fix a Ground Loop.
This blog is a companion to the video below. I strongly recommend you watch the video and read the blog. Both mediums bring something to the table.
This blog focuses on our Cat6A Shielded Field Term Plug. These instructions are suitable for any of our shielded Ethernet cable, regardless of Category. Our Cat6A Shielded Field Termination Plug is backward compatible with any shielded Ethernet cable, including Cat5e. Just be aware that Cat5e cable does not have a center spline, and the rest is the same.
Three must haves
Alternatively, if you have channel lock pliers on hand you can use those to close the field term plug lid. Cat6 and Cat6A shielded cable, with their thicker conductors, will require more finger and hand strength than you may expect. I often cannot close the housing, especially with my teeny hands...
For this demonstration I am using our Cat6 Shielded Plenum cable -- in gray.
Let’s get to it!
First things first. The boot MUST be placed onto your cable before termination.
The strain relief boot also serves as the locking mechanism to keep the field term plug closed. Cut the boot to fit as shown above, and then slide it down out of your way.
Strip off about 3” of cable jacket. You want to score it, not cut through it. Then, pop open the jacket by bending a couple of times at the score.
If you see the cable shield has been cut by the strip tool, you might have nicked a conductor! Start over unless you are certain you did not.
Now cut off the rip cord, cable shield, and any other plastic wraps.
Fold back the tinned ESD drain wire (ground wire) and then wrap it around the cable jacket, no more than 3/8” back from the cut end. MAKE SURE THE CONDUCTORS ARE NOT NICKED.
In this step, if you are working with direct burial Ethernet cable, you will need to fully cut off the water proof fabric tape (not shown). This is also a good time to inspect the conductors again for nicks at the cable jacket edge.
Cut each "wing" of the spline resting the clippers near the cable jacket and at a downward angle. Make four cuts. Again, skip this for Cat5e.
How those four cuts should look... up close! And then just twist the spline to remove it.
Insert the conductor pairs and line them up for success.
Take a look at the color sequence on the sides and front of the conductor cap. You will notice a sequence for both T568A and T568B. I am using “B” for this.
Now, look at your cable and how the pairs are oriented. Place the pairs into an orientation that lend themselves to minimal cross-over. Place the blue and green pairs first into the conductor cap, under the bar.
Slide the conductor cap downward to the cable jacket and raise the two rear (brown and orange) pairs upward so they will be above the bar. Get the conductor cap as close as reasonably possible to the cable jacket as shown, but no closer than 3
Use a piece of cable jacket to help untwist the pairs. Both blue and green conductor pairs seated.
Always begin with the green and blue pairs and work on one pair at a time! Only untwist the pair as much as necessary to get down to the conductor cap. Excessive pair untwist will ruin your termination.
All pairs seated. This is the T568B sequence..
The distance from the last twist in the pair to where the individual conductor wires seat into the conductor cap cannot exceed 1/2”. The closer the last twist is to where the wires actually seat, the better the performance
Flush cut the conductors even with the cap housing and raise up the tool-less lid. Place the conductor holder cap into the housing using the notch for alignment. PRESS DOWN ON CAP TO PRESET CONDUCTORS.
The conductor holder cap will only go in one way. There is a notch at the front of the cap that mates to a plastic blue tab at the front of the housing.
The cable jacket should not go pass the green line. Doing so will make it impossible to close the lid. It will also likely result in the lid breaking!
Remove the plastic locking latch tab and hinge the lid downward to start closure. Using the inside steps of the trueCLOSE parallel pliers, fully close the lid.
Slide the locking boot upwards over the metal of the field term plug until it snaps. Mate the “WiFi” signal icons for proper alignment. And you're done! If desired, you can replace the plastic sliding retention tab.
Well, there you have it. A ready to go field plug termination. Now you can plug it into your equipment and if necessary unterminate it for future use. Talk about versatile!
WAIT! Something went wrong? Check out What Does a Bad Termination Look Like?
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