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How to make the two kinds of cables which can be used to network two or more computers together to form quick and simple home or small office local area networks (LANs).

A LAN can be as simple as two computers, each having a network interface card (NIC) or network adapter and running network software, connected together with a crossover cable.

 

The next step up would be a network consisting of three or more computers and a hub.  Each of the computers is plugged into the hub with a straight-thru cable (the crossover function is performed by the hub)

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CABLE , CONNECTORS and TOOLS

CAT 5 cable has four twisted pairs of  wire for a total of eight individually insulated wires.   Each pair is color coded with one wire having a solid color (blue, orange, green, or brown) twisted around a second wire with a white background and a stripe of the same color.   The solid colors may have a white stripe in some cables.  Cable colors are commonly described using the background color followed by the color of the stripe; e.g., white-orange is a cable with a white background and an orange stripe.

CONNECTORS.   The straight through  and cross-over patch cables discussed in this article are terminated with CAT 5 RJ-45 modular plugs.  RJ-45 plugs are similar to those you'll see on the end of your telephone cable except they have eight versus four or six contacts on the end of the plug and they are about twice as big.  Make sure they are rated for CAT 5 wiring.  (RJ means "Registered Jack").  Also, there are RJ-45 plugs designed for both solid core wire and stranded wire.  Others are designed specifically for one kind of  wire or the other.  Be sure you buy plugs appropriate for the wire you are going to use.
Modular Plug Crimp Tool.

 

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COLOR-CODE STANDARDS

pin-out diagrams of the two types of UTP Ethernet cables

Note that the TX (transmitter) pins are connected to corresponding RX (receiver) pins, plus to plus and minus to minus.  And that  you must use a crossover cable to connect units with identical interfaces.  If you use a straight-through cable, one of the two units must, in effect, perform the cross-over function.

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Two wire color-code standards apply: EIA/TIA 568A and EIA/TIA 568B. 

 RJ-45 jacks as follows:

     

 at the cable end:

If we apply the 568A color code and show all eight wires, our pin-out looks like this:

Note that pins 4, 5, 7, and 8 and the blue and brown pairs are not used in either standard.  Quite contrary to what you may read elsewhere, these pins and wires are not used or required to implement 100BASE-TX duplexing--they are just plain wasted.

Again,  the wires with colored backgrounds may have white stripes and may be denoted that way in diagrams found elsewhere.  For example, the green wire may be labeled Green-White.  The background color is always specified first.

Now, all you need to remember, to properly configure the cables, are the diagrams for the two cable ends and the following rules:

  • A straight-thru cable has identical ends.

  • A crossover cable has different ends.

  It makes no functional difference which standard you use for a straight-thru cable.   You can start a crossover cable with either standard as long as the other end is the other standard.  It makes no functional difference which end is which.  Despite what you may have read elsewhere, a 568A patch cable will work in a network with 568B wiring and 568B patch cable will work in a 568A network. 

  The total length of wire segments between a PC and a hub or between two PC's cannot exceed 100 Meters (328 feet) for 100BASE-TX (and 10BASE-T).

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MAKE the CABLES

Strip one end of the cable a little over 1/2" of the jacket off the cable. Untwist the pairs and arrange the wires in the order of the desired cable end. It is very important that the unstripped (untwisted) end be slightly less than 1/2" long.   If  it is longer than 1/2" it will be out-of-spec and susceptible to crosstalk.  If it less than slightly less than 1/2" it will not be properly clinched when RJ-45 plug is crimped on There should be little or no space between the wires. The jacket should end just about where you see it in the diagram Hold the RJ-45 plug with the clip facing down or away from you.  Push the wire firmly into the plug. Looking through the bottom of the plug, the wire on the far left side will have a white background.  The wires should alternate light and dark from left to right.  The furthest right wire is brown.  
The wires should all end evenly at the front of the plug.  The crimper pushes two plungers down on the RJ-45 plug.  One forces what amounts to a cleverly designed plastic plug/wedge onto the cable jacket and very firmly clinches it.  The other seats the "pins," each with two teeth at its end, through the insulation and into the conductors of their respective wires.

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Copyright 1997- 2010        MM C&S Inc. 

Information in this document is subject to change without notice.
Other products and companies referred to herein are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies or mark holders.
UPDATE 30-Mar-2010


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