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brad2157

Cat5 Network Cable (make cables or buy?)

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I am adding many more controller boards for my 2011 display and therefore I will need a lot of network cable to run around the yard to "daisy-chain" all my controllers. I did not know what the best idea would be to do:

1. Buy bulk rolls of CAT5 cable and crimp my own ends on, to make the lengths I need

2. Buy premade lengths of network cable at lengths I could use (50', 100', etc..)

I read somewhere where someone made their own cables and had a lot of trouble with them, so they were going back to premade cables.

What is the best method that is most reliable. I am sure they both have their good and bad.

Thanks

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I am adding many more controller boards for my 2011 display and therefore I will need a lot of network cable to run around the yard to "daisy-chain" all my controllers. I did not know what the best idea would be to do:

1. Buy bulk rolls of CAT5 cable and crimp my own ends on, to make the lengths I need

2. Buy premade lengths of network cable at lengths I could use (50', 100', etc..)

I read somewhere where someone made their own cables and had a lot of trouble with them, so they were going back to premade cables.

What is the best method that is most reliable. I am sure they both have their good and bad.

Thanks

ebay has 50 footers 2 bux a pop

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I added over 1,200 feet of comm cable to my display last year. With all the different lingths, I went with the make it myself.

If you are going to make your own, be sure to get a cable tester to make sure the cable works...

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This was my first year, and I made my own Cat6 cables. I even ohmed them end to end to verify continuity and correctness. I assume it was due to carelessness in routing (not placing perp. to power cords, etc.), but I had channels coming on at random. Really disappointed in what was going on, I bought all new shielded cat5 cables from Monoprice.com. While waiting on them to arrive, I tried several other things that I read may fix my problem. When I installed them, my problem was gone, but I am not certain what exactly it was that fixed my problem, whether it was new cables or something else I had done.

Monoprice is the best for all things related to cables - awesome quality and great price. I, too, plan to add more controllers for 2011, and I think I will at first try to use my own homemade cables, but I will be more careful in keeping them away from power cords, but if I run into problems again, I won't hesitate to order more shielded cables from Monoprice.

Also - I decided to use shielded just so I wouldn't have to wonder later if I should have used shielded. They were just a few dollars more than unshielded. The only bad thing is that they were only available in grey, no other colors.

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Brad -

I make my own. Either way you go, get a cable tester. You can find them on-line for as little as $5. I bought mine at Home Depot on sale for $22 (normally $27); decent quality and comes with a protective canvas carrying/storage case.

Here's the one I got, but I can't find it in their on-line store anymore:

http://reviews.homedepot.com/1999/100605453/rj45-network-cable-tester-reviews/reviews.htm There are cheaper ones out there, but this one works well for me.

It will save you a lot of frustration if something stops working, no matter what type of cable you use. You'll know if you have cable continuity or if there's been a break in the cable.

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I always build, but then I'm a professional network engineer. Getting them to exactly the correct length has always been important to me.

My suggestions:

1. Don't bother with cat6. Doubly true if you're building them yourself!

2. Don't bother with outdoor rated cable. Its cheaper to replace them every few years, and you might not even be using this tech by then.

3. Do bother with shielded cable (STP) if you're running them next to power cables for long distances. Unshielded cable is called UTP.

4. Consider injection-molded boots. In these, the plastic of the boots protecting the jack is injected all the way into the jack. Check out the zoomed-in images of http://www.monoprice.com/products/product.asp?c_id=102&cp_id=10208&cs_id=1020815&p_id=291&seq=1&format=1#largeimage ; this will provide water protection.

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My suggestions:

1. Don't bother with cat6. Doubly true if you're building them yourself!

2. Don't bother with outdoor rated cable. Its cheaper to replace them every few years, and you might not even be using this tech by then.

3. Do bother with shielded cable (STP) if you're running them next to power cables for long distances. Unshielded cable is called UTP.

4. Consider injection-molded boots. In these, the plastic of the boots protecting the jack is injected all the way into the jack. Check out the zoomed-in images of http://www.monoprice.com/products/product.asp?c_id=102&cp_id=10208&cs_id=1020815&p_id=291&seq=1&format=1#largeimage ; this will provide water protection.

I would agree with all these except for number 4.

Be VERY careful if you are going to use cat cables with the boots on them. It is WAY to easy to get them stuff in the RJ45 jacks on boards and have a tough time getting them out. Seems like there were a few threads last year about this and NOT using cables with the boots on them.

I personally don't use the cables with boots since I have seen the sticking problem first hand and it is really hard to get the cable undone without damaging the RJ45 jack unless you are really careful.

I do use shielded cables from MonoPrice for all my runs (from 1 footers inside controllers to 100 footers) in various lengths. I just went through the display and figured out how many of each length cable that I would need and ordered them plus 2 each extra of every length they have. Now I have enough for everything as well as changes or repairs if necessary.

However if you want to use unshielded cables then just make sure that you keep your cables at least 2 feet away from power cables and if you have to cross a power cable then od it at a 90 degree angle to minimize interference. I used unshielded cables my first year with this method and had no problem, but had to buy a bunch for the second year so I just decided to go with shielded as long as I had to get so many.

MonoPrice was much easier and their prices are great. I do have a tester for my cables and check them before set up and well as before I store them away after drying things out as I can check them over for any damage and repair/replace for the next season.

I bought one of these a couple of years ago and it has proven itself worth it many times over already. I like it since it will tell me if there is a broken wire in the cable and how far away the break is from the end that I plug into. I have found staples and drywall screws driven through Cat cables in new houses using it.

http://cgi.ebay.com/CAT5-RJ45-Network-Cable-Tester-Meter-Length-SC8108-NEW-/220722652748?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item336418664c

As far as protecting the jack for water protection, I use di-electric grease if necessary but all my controllers are in boxes with pass-through water proof RJ45 connectors on them so it is not so much trouble for me. You want to be careful to not get the di-electric grease on the contacts of the cat cable. I plug the cable in first and then put a small amount around the back side of it if necessary for water protection. I have not seen any interference with this method so far.

Bill

Edited by beeiilll

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I bought one of these a couple of years ago and it has proven itself worth it many times over already. I like it since it will tell me if there is a broken wire in the cable and how far away the break is from the end that I plug into. I have found staples and drywall screws driven through Cat cables in new houses using it.

http://cgi.ebay.com/CAT5-RJ45-Network-Cable-Tester-Meter-Length-SC8108-NEW-/220722652748?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item336418664c

Bill

Bill -

That seems to be a bit of overkill for this application; the <$30 one I use works well for this, but looking at the specs of the one you have, I wish I had it for when I do computer network wiring/troubleshooting.

Brad -

My comment of getting a cable tester has very little to do for when the cables aren't installed yet, although it's a good idea to verify the cable is good before installing it, and is almost mandatory if you make your own. I mention it for after-install troubleshooting, when a controller stops working properly (or set of controllers) - it's good to verify the cable that someone/some animal tripped over or a rodent chewed. When setting up, I thought I had a bad cable, but the tester proved it good. It turns out the controller firmware had gotten zapped and needed to be refreshed. It worked well enough to indicate that it was functional (blinking LED) but would not respond to any commands, just like it had a bad cable. The cable tester proved it wasn't, so I knew where to look for the problem.

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buy them ... monoprice cat6 ... never a problem

I agree. I have too many other things going on to worry about making my own cables.

http://www.monoprice.com

Cheepest prices I've found. I need to pick up a few 25' cables for next year so I can move them even closer to the display elements. I made large controll boards and purchased the 1' cables. All worked fine.

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