How To: Terminating a Cat5e Standard Push On Unshielded RJ45 Connector
Written by Don Schultz, Technical Sales Representative and Fluke Networks Certified Technician
This combined video and written blog will show you how to put on one of the most challenging styles of RJ45 8P8C Ethernet connectors (referred to hereafter as “plug”) - the standard push on style! This style of plug has a solid nose. The conductors don’t pass-through the front prior to termination onto your cable. You are dealing with a cut-to-fit affair. Ready to head back to the old school? Get out the chalk boards and slide rules, as we will go through this step by step.
Recommendation? I suggest you watch the video and read this blog as both bring their own level of detail to the table.
You may be asking yourself why you would want to use one of these older style RJ45 plugs when you have access to the new fangled pass through kind? Believe it or not, there are quite a few people who prefer them for the following reasons:
- That is what they were trained with and prefer to this day. Not broke? Don’t fix it.
- These types of plugs cost less than the pass through style
- Some installers' perception is that pass-through style RJ45 plugs may present an issue with PoE devices (power over Ethernet) by being more prone to short circuit. Interestingly, this is true to some extent but not because they are pass-through in design! Bad fitment or insufficient flush cutting of the conductors at the plug nose is the root cause.
First, you should make certain that your cable will fit onto the RJ45 plug. The whole “category” thing is very misleading unless the cable and RJ45 plug are both made by the same manufacturer as is the case with trueCABLE. trueCABLE will stamp a Category on the bag because we go the extra step of confirming fitment and performance with our cable. If your Ethernet cable is of a different brand, you need to confirm fitment. A great resource is Selecting the Correct Connector.
For those who would like to understand more about RJ45 plugs and why there can be such a great deal of confusion surrounding them, please read What is an RJ45 Connector?
Enough of that! Let’s jump right into terminating the little beast, shall we?
Tools you will absolutely need are:
- RJ45 crimp and termination tool (the pass through kind will work fine for standard plugs)
- If your crimp and termination tool has an adjustment for the strain latch presser bar, make certain to set it to ON as this plug has a strain latch
- Flush cutters
- Cable cut and strip tool
Tools of the trade
Recommended tools to make your life a lot easier (and less painful):
- Light work glove (you only need one)
- Smooth metal shaft of some kind, like a screwdriver shaft
Step 1: Stripping your cable jacket
Strip off about 1.50” of cable jacket, carefully!
- Before you place your cable into the strip tool, adjust the blade all the way up since it may be too low and cut too deeply. You need do this only once at the start of your session.
- When adjusting the stripping blade downward, use just enough pressure on the cable jacket to score it, but not cut through it. This is especially important for Cat5e indoor cable jackets, as they tend to be thinner and not completely circular due to the lack of an internal spline skeleton. A quick tip I learned is to make the end of the cable jacket (more) circular by rolling it between your thumb and index finger prior to stripping. It does help!
- If you accidentally slice too far into the cable you will likely nick a conductor and that will result in a bad or poorly performing termination--you may need to start over.
- Now, pop the jacket open at the score and remove the jacket. Keep the jacket piece, it will be a free tool for at least five minutes. I promise.
Properly scored jacket being “popped”
Step 2: Inspect your conductors
Look at the conductors at the cable jacket edge. Check for nicks (slices in the conductor insulation or even noticeable copper).
Step 3: Remove the nylon ripcord
Flush cutting that ripcord right off. You don’t want it.
Step 4: Untwist the conductors down to the cable jacket
Untwist time. You can toss your free tool when done.
All untwisted. Now we get kinky about it all.
Step 5: Kink removal
Don’t have too much fun on this step.
Remember that glove and metal rod?
- The glove and metal rod will make this much faster.
- Work the conductors individually, starting at the end of the cable jacket and going to the ends
- Easy does it...usually only one or two passes is needed on 24 AWG conductors. Don’t use too much pressure as you are liable to remove the conductor insulation right off the copper.
- The straighter they are, the easier it will be for you to put the plug on
Step 6: Put the conductors into the proper color sequence
This is one of the most important parts, and takes a bit of practice. When doing this, be sure you don’t excessively cross over the conductors at the jacket edge. If you are using T568B like I do, the solid green wire will cross over, so that you will have to live with.
T568B sequence shown. I like to work from top down (if I can). White-orange at the top, and solid brown at the bottom.
- You can use either T568A or T568B for your sequence. One is not better than the other. Just be sure to use the same sequence at both ends of the cable, unless you want to create a cross-over cable.
- Once you have those conductors lined up, keep pressure on them so they don’t get out of order on you. They will, trust me. Try it once to see what I mean...
Here is a handy reference for you. When looking at the conductor color sequence, be sure you understand the orientation of the plug itself! Yes, it is quite possible to get the sequence correct and put the plug on upside down. I have done it, so don’t be a Don.
Step 7: Gauge your flush cut
For this part, you will need to grab a RJ45 plug. Ideally, you will have this close by and handy so you don’t have to take your fingers off the conductors. You know what happens if you do that…
This is how you get that ½” of untwist. Eyeballing it out.
Take the RJ45 plug and lay it out in front of you. Put the cable jacket edge right at the end of the “ledge”. Choke upwards with your fingers until your thumb nail is precisely at the end of the plug nose and then...reverse your hold using your other hand. If you are uncertain about the length (you accidentally lost control of the conductors for example) then perform this step again.
Flush cut straight across
- When placing the plug in front of you to gauge your cut length, use the bottom (non latch side) of the plug as your reference point.
- Have the plug nose pointing to the right
- If you are in a situation where you must use the latch side of the plug as a reference (like not enough slack while you are on top of a ladder) then you will need to make certain you understand the color code you are using in reverse. For T568B, I would need to be certain solid brown is at the “top” and the white-orange conductor is at the “bottom”.
Step 8: The dangerous part
Put on the plug without getting your wires crossed!
Confirm that color sequence before actually putting the conductors into the plug! Push the cable jacket in and “encourage” those conductors to go into the proper place. You may have to pull it back out and start again. I have this happen too.
This step takes attention to detail and practice. Even experienced installers are thrown for a loop from time to time.
- Make certain the cable jacket is fully in the plug, at or past that ledge!
- Make certain the copper conductors go to the nose of the plug. Check the end and make sure you can see a conductor in each of the eight spots.
- Check for the correct color sequence again
Step 9: Termination
No, I don’t mean kill it dead!
Place the end of the cable into the crimp tool.
Don’t force the cable in. Light pressure is sufficient. Once you start to close the tool you can even take your hand off the cable, as the strain latch presser bar will enter the rear of the plug and keep it in the tool during this process.
Push the lever down to complete the cycle.
Step 10: Check your work
All done! So, there you have a Cat5e standard push-on RJ45 connector on your cable now. Go plug it in and HAPPY NETWORKING!
Something not right? Is your cable not performing your expectations? You could have a bad or poorly terminated RJ45 plug. Better check out What Does a Bad Termination Look Like?
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