trueCABLE Site Visit Success Story
Written by Don Schultz, trueCABLE Technical Sales Representative & Wire Expert
Home projects. We all do them. It makes sense. Doing it yourself saves money and you always learn something new. What happens when you come across a project that is stumping you and there seems to be no way out? There is a half-done project, and your significant other is frustrated with you, your kids are frustrated with you, and even the family dog is frustrated with you!
That’s where trueCABLE comes in. The conversation with “Joe” began with his frustration that he could not find the proper RJ45 connector for our Outdoor Cat6 Shielded cable. He had even brought two different installers into the situation and they were at a loss as well. One installer even handed his money back to him and gave up. He was at the point of returning the cable.
Given my detailed installation experience with this cable, I was able to provide direct installation and termination advice. Joe explained just how much trouble this whole project had caused him and was looking for help. In my usual fashion, I explained the specifications on this particular beast of a cable, which are as follows:
- Category 6
- 1.08 mm conductor insulation diameter
- Jacket Outer Diameter (OD) of 7.80 mm
- Shielded, so it requires shielded hardware and grounding
- Thick outer PE jacket designed to handle any outdoor scenario, including direct burial
- Waterproof “tape” inside
My recommendations were to select a shielded pass-through RJ45 plug that could accommodate the jacket OD and insulated conductor OD, and rated Cat6 or higher. This blog article goes into more depth about selecting RJ45 plugs, Selecting the Correct Connector. I further recommended that he and his installer read some of the blogs on our Website, found here in our Cable Academy.
During my conversation, Joe and I discovered we live only a short distance from each other. I thought this was a rare opportunity to provide on-site help to one of our customers. I offered to go to his home and show him precisely what to use and how to use it. Joe accepted. We both jumped at that this rare chance! I always love a good drive and helping somebody. We planned to meet on the weekend.
While planning my visit, Joe mentioned, and I concurred, that RJ45 connectors might not be the best solution in this case. Normally, you would not attach RJ45 connectors to bulk solid copper cable meant for permanent installations. RJ45 connectors are meant for patch cabling, like from a wall jack to a computer for example. He asked me to bring a keystone jack along.
Bulk structure cable, unless you have a specific reason to attach an RJ45 plug, should be terminated to keystone jacks and/or patch panels. There is a single ANSI/TIA approved reason to attach a RJ45 to an end-point termination: a PoE (Power over Ethernet) camera or WiFi Access Point. My personal take on it is if there is no way to install keystone jacks, then this is a valid alternative as well. Just be cautioned that bulk solid copper Ethernet is not patch cable. It is not designed to handle vigorous or repeated handling.
Joe’s installation did not have either of these use cases. I took along a shielded patch panel (8 port wall mount). I had an extra, plus multiple shielded keystone jacks, with no intention of using them for any upcoming installations. Just in case, I also took along some shielded RJ45 plugs, if for no other reason than to show Joe just how they get attached.
I arrived and was greeted with your typical, multi-level house. A nice place to call home. Joe and I exchanged greetings and I started asking some pretty direct questions. I discovered exactly what his intentions were for his installation, and the Q & A went something like this:
Q: Why did you select outdoor direct burial rated shielded cable?
A: I am running the cable outside, since I did not put it into the walls. The cabling is affixed to the side of the house, under the eaves.
Correct answer...this installation is where you would use this cable, as long as you are not making long runs inside your structure. CMX outdoor cable is not fire rated. Take a look at this blog regarding cable jacket types and where they are used, Facts About Ethernet Cable Jacket Ratings.
Q: How is the cable coming back into the house?
A: Through the exterior walls, into where the coaxial TV cable is at...same box
AHA! I thought this might be the case. I am glad I brought those extra keystones along…
Q: Where is the cable running in regards to a central location?
A: The cables are running into the basement, near my WiFi router.
AHA again! We needed that shielded patch panel I brought too.
Q: Why are you trying to attach RJ45 connectors?
A: I need the RJ45 connectors so I can plug stuff in, like my TV on one end and the WiFi router on the other. The installer also mentioned wall jacks and figured that might be the only way to terminate this cable.
Now that I fully understood what his intentions were, I was able to formulate a plan pretty quickly. I recommended we proceed as follows:
- All end point terminations at the wall should be to a shielded keystone jack
- All switch-side terminations should be to a shielded patch panel (in this case punch down, but a shielded keystone jack patch panel would work too)
- The shielded patch panel must be grounded to the AC ground, as ungrounded shielded Ethernet can cause serious issues, which I detail in Shielded vs Unshielded Cable.
- All cable from the keystones to the final devices, or from the patch panel to the switch, also need to be shielded Cat6 or higher patch cables
Joe agreed with my recommendations and we set about getting this done. First, I want to show you a picture of what his installer attempted to do with an RJ45 plug.
There are words to describe this, but I won’t put them in print.
I took this opportunity to teach. I showed Joe exactly how terminations of RJ45 plugs are done. And more specifically how to deal with trueCABLE brand Cat6 Direct Burial Shielded cabling.
I explained all of the best practices that apply to his situation. The primary ones we covered are:
- Untwist maximum. For the record, this is 0.5 inch for any Category cable. This means when untwisting the pairs, the maximum is 0.5 inch from the last twist in the conductor pair to where the conductor actually makes electrical contact with the plug.
- Shielding. Since this is shielded cabling, the whole installation needs to use shielded hardware from end to end and there has to be a ground point.
- Not nicking a conductor! When using a stripper, be careful. If you cut through the cable shield then you probably nicked a conductor too. Start over.
- The differences between T568A and T568B color code schemes. As long as both ends are terminated to the same color code, the connection is “straight through” and it does not matter which one you use. Pick one, but stick with it. I typically use “B”, but that is just me.
To be clear, following ANSI/TIA specifications are recommendations. These are the “best practices” for installers and manufacturers to follow. Violating these recommendations means you could end up in trouble. Your network might not work correctly or at all.
Next, I introduced Joe to a punch down tool and a punch down patch panel. I then started punching down his switch side terminations. Joe practiced too! Here are two completed terminations:
Yes, I like to use copper foil with conductive adhesive.
Finally, I also brought a Triplett Real World Certifier testing device. This device will digitally certify (actually, qualify) Ethernet cable runs up to 1 Gigabit. After a re-punch of one termination at the patch panel, we had Category 6 PASS with more than 1 Gigabit performance on each run. Success!
A big thanks to Joe for affording me the opportunity to come to his home and placing his trust and confidence in trueCABLE to do the right thing. We are always looking for ways to delight our customers and this is just one such example.
As always, Happy Networking!
trueCABLE presents the information on our website, including the “Cable Academy” blog and live chat support, as a service to our customers and other visitors to our website subject to our website terms and conditions. While the information on this website is about data networking and electrical issues, it is not professional advice and any reliance on such material is at your own risk.