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How to Make Your Own Ethernet Cables

Jennifer Ballard, RCDD

What is the Ethernet

 

Ethernet is nothing more than defining a network structure or Local Area Network (LAN).  Whether it be a small home computer connected to a router and the internet or a large school corporation with many switches and connections.  All are connected to achieve a common goal of allowing the individual to connect to several computers or the world wide web.  Ethernet is commonly transmitted using copper twisted pair and fiber optic cabling.  Due to the widely evolving processes the idea became a standard. 

 

Standards

 

The  Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE commonly pronounced I triple E) started the IEEE 802 standardization. The standard originally defined the data broadcasting over coaxial cable similar to that of a radio station. Then it defined twisted pair as the mode of choice. Twisted pair cabling is referred to as 1000BASE-TX: 1 Gbits/s Ethernet over Category 5e cable using two of the four pairs. To the 100BASE-SX: 1Gbits/s over fiber.  

 

Construction of an Ethernet Cable

 

Ethernet cables are commonly constructed from either CAT 5e or CAT 6.  CAT 5e and CAT 6 are both able to transmit 1000 Mbits/s.  However, CAT 6 has twice the bandwidth of the CAT 5e.  What does this mean?  Well if you were to compare CAT 5e to the standard two lane highway with a few chuckholes you can travel 60 mph down the road, but it is going to be a little bumpy. However, the CAT 6 is like traveling down a major interstate with 4 lanes of traffic and the ability to travel at the 60 mph.  You can simply transmit more data through the CAT 6 at one time.  This is why most all businesses and schools use CAT 6 today because it will be the cable of choice in the future. The ends on the CAT 6 or CAT 5e are called RJ45 plugs.   

 

Materials

 

(2) RJ45 plugs, one for each end (commonly found at Radio Shack or Lowes, etc.) 

(1) Cable CAT 5e or CAT 6 cable (commonly found at Lowes, or Home Depot either in box of 1000′ or cut to length) 

Allentel AT680 Modular Crimp Tool (commonly found Radio Shack, Lowes, etc.) 

 

Advantages

 

For some the reasons to make your own Ethernet cable (patch cable) is to save on cost as well as customizing your own length so there isn’t a messy spider web of cables in your data center area.  You also can make a cable at a moments notice just to see if a particular peripheral will work. 

 

Disadvantages

 

The larger amounts of these cables you make the more costly it can become. While it is cheaper to make a small amount, less than 20 the benefit will start to lessen and you could have purchased in bulk factory made patch cords.  Large corporations and schools would simply purchase the Ethernet cables in bulk.  However, in times of dire need they too still make their own Ethernet cables.