Slaying the Dragon: RJ45 Termination of Cat6 Shielded Direct Burial Ethernet
Written by Don Schultz, Technical Expert, Fluke Networks Versiv & BICSI INST1 Certified Technician
If you want the biggest challenge of all when terminating Ethernet cable, then take on our Cat6 Shielded Direct Burial cable and put an RJ45 connector onto it! Of all the cables that trueCABLE sells, this particular cable will sit there on the spool and just mock you as you do your level best to tame it. You just know it laughs and makes rude gestures behind your back. Up until now, many have found this cable to be an exercise in frustration, despite how well suited it is for the task it was designed for. Adding to the frustration was the lack of well-designed RJ45 shielded connectors and the tool to go with those connectors.
Here, we will walk through the process of putting an RJ45 shielded plug onto this beast. I will take you through each part of the process step by step and provide all the tips and tricks for this task. Like anything, practice will make perfect, but this will give you an excellent head start and maybe add something to your knowledge base.
Recommendation? I suggest you watch the video and read this blog as both bring their own level of detail to the table.
First, let's talk about what makes this cable so tough and a termination challenge:
- 7.80 mm cable jacket OD (overall cable thickness)
- 1.08 mm insulated conductor diameter (thickness of the 23AWG copper + insulation)
- Epically thick and tough CMX direct burial rated cable jacket
- Overall foil shield
- Waterproof dry tape
So, we have a cable that is designed to withstand just about any outdoor scenario here. I assure you we did not add in any items designed to test your sanity. We charge extra for that :>)
The primary issue installers faced was locating RJ45 shielded plugs that were:
- Documented well enough to match up with the cable
- Did not cost an arm and a leg for the tool and connectors
Of course, trueCABLE saw the problems in the market immediately and set about designing our own connectors and tools.
We created a Cat6/6A shielded pass through RJ45 connector that:
- Uses an external ground collar but can be categorized as an internal OR external ground!
- Does not make use of an internal strain latch but has the cut out for the strain latch presser bar, so there is no need to disengage it
- By design, the rear half of the plug is entirely metal, so it is easy to bond your cable shield
- Fits and has been performance tested with our Cat6 Shielded Direct Burial cable
The metal rear on the inside. Now you know our secret!
Also, we also updated our all-in-one crimp and termination tool, the trueCRIMP.
Enough of that! Let's jump right into terminating, shall we?
Tools you will absolutely need are:
- All-In-One Crimp & Termination tool (trueCRIMP)
- Leave the strain latch presser bar set to ON (the tool comes this way from the factory) even though the plug in question does not technically have a strain latch inside.
- Our pass through crimp and termination tool's older model is not compatible with these Cat6/6A Shielded Pass Through RJ45 Connectors. The strain latch presser bar on that tool will crush the rear of your shielded plug.
- Flush cutter
- Cable Stripping & Cutting Tool (optional but recommended-- our All-In-One Crimp and Termination Tool has an excellent cable stripper too but lacks a cable cutter)
Tools of the trade
Recommended tools to make your life a lot easier (and less painful):
- Light work glove (you only need one)
- A smooth metal shaft of some kind, like a screwdriver shaft
- Lineman's electrical pliers, small size (6")
You will definitely want to use these!
Bend the external ground crimp/strain relief collar downward from the default position of 45 degrees.
The idea is to get the collar out of your way
Step 1: Cable Preparation
We will use our trueCRIMP tool to perform the cable jacket stripping for this blog.
Using the built-in stripper on the trueCRIMP tool...remove about 2.5" of the cable jacket.
- The built-in stripper is self-adjusting
- The size compatibility is 6.00mm to 8.00mm cable jacket OD, covering everything from trueCABLE Cat5e Shielded Riser and thicker.
- It helps to roll the cable between your thumb and forefinger to make it more round before stripping. This reduces the chances of slicing the cable shield or nicking a conductor.
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.
The properly scored jacket being "popped." Don't toss the stripped off jacket piece just yet. Remove the nylon ripcord. Check for slices in the cable shield near the cable jacket edge. If you see any, you may have nicked a conductor. Keep your eyes open!
Fold back the cable shield along the length of the cable jacket. Snip off the drain wire (you won't be needing it) and carefully trim off the waterproof tape.
The ESD drain wire may be removed during this step. Since the cable shield is making contact with the rear inside the plug housing and is bonded when terminated in this fashion, the ESD drain wire is not required. There are many ways of connecting the cable shield to the plug-- this is one of them and the easiest.
Remove spline by making four snips. Rest the clippers on the cable jacket edge and snip each "wing" downwards. Be careful not to nick a conductor. DO NOT remove the spline by cutting straight across--it will make termination more difficult.
The internal spline is found on all trueCABLE Cat6 and Cat6A cables. The purpose is to improve performance by reducing pair to pair crosstalk. We did not add it to make your life difficult!
Twist spline to remove
Step 2: Prepare Conductors
Untwist time. You can toss your free tool when done. Check to be sure the conductors are untwisted as much as practical, but not more than necessary. In other words, right down to the cable jacket but no further.
All untwisted...but how do you get the kinks out? Now, remember that glove and metal rod?
- The glove and metal rod will make this much faster and far less painful.
- Work the conductors individually, starting at the end of the cable jacket and going to the ends.
- Easy does it. 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 connector on
Put the conductors into the proper color sequence. I am using T568B. Be warned that the spline will fight you every step of the way. Keep the cable jacket area "clean" and neat. Less neat = more difficulty putting on the connector.
Locate a good spot, about 1.5" away from the cable jacket, and flush cut the conductors. T568B sequence shown. I like to work from the 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 upside down. I have done it, so don't be a Don.
Step 3: Terminate
Push the conductors into the plug, so they come out the nose. Don't fully seat the cable yet. The conductors will automatically stagger for you. Recheck the color sequence.
The plug staggers the conductors because they will not physically fit inside the plug in a standard "8 across" fashion. Conductor insulation thickness is the reason. The staggered design has the side benefit of potentially reducing crosstalk at the connector.
Using the oval cut-out near the nose of the electrical lineman's pliers, shape the last 1/2" of the cable in line with the rear of the plug. Don't smash the cable flat!
Fully insert the cable jacket into the plug. Seat to the green line as indicated. Alternate between pulling on the conductors and pushing on the cable jacket.
Remove excess foil shield. Hinge the ground collar back up in line with the cable jacket
Insert the plug and cable assembly into the trueCRIMP tool. Use only light pressure and then press the tool lever fully downward.
Check to be sure all eight golden contacts are down and the conductors are thoroughly flush cut
Step 4: Crimp the Ground Collar
Using the nose of your clippers or a flat blade screwdriver, bend the ground collar tabs downward to pre-start the crimp
Use the larger crimp cavity FIRST. This is the "start" cavity. The plug should be latch-side down as shown. Fully cycle the handle lever to complete the crimp.
Now switch to the smaller "finish" cavity. Again, the plug latch-side should be down. Fully cycle the handle lever to complete the final crimp.
Step 5: Admire & Check Your Work
External ground tab properly crimped. You want it to slightly compress the cable jacket but not mangle it. You don't want it loose either. This may take practice!
Side view of the crimp. Notice how it slightly compresses the jacket?
All done. We have slayed the dragon! Go plug it in, and HAPPY NETWORKING!
Something not right? 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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