Hello all you Electriduct fans, I thought it was time to bring a little creativity to the blog. It’s time to make things happen and if you’re into electronics, then you’re most likely also interested in making stuff; the classic if A = B scenario. So welcome to the very first Electriduct how-to.
Making your own Ethernet Cable
This month I think we should take a look at network systems, primarily the internet, and like any internet set-up, you’re going to need some Ethernet supplies. Luckily, a lot of these are conveniently found on our website (linked below). All you need to do is figure out what kind of connection you would like, though I highly suggest going with the Cat6A. 500MHz transmission is a hard speed to beat.
Of course, most of the time you can just go out and buy an Ethernet cable, so why make them yourself? Well, how many times have you accidentally broken the jack, rendering it useless? Or are your cables not working properly, forcing you to go out and buy a new one? Those are two good reasons why you should learn how to make one yourself. That, and the slim possibility that one day the fate of the internet lies in your now capable hands.
- A pair of scissors or #2
- An Ethernet crimping tool – pending on the cable you use, but I assume you’ll be working with Category 5 or higher, so let’s just say the RJ45 Crimping Tool. If you opt for this instead of #1, you’ll want a crimp tool that strips too.
- Ethernet jacks – Again, this depends on the connection you want. Let’s say you take my recommendation and want to try out Cat6A. U-jacks are easy to use, so that’s another good suggestion to consider.
- Ethernet cable – You’ll need a spool of this, or if you measure out how much length you need in advance, that will save you much more time. You can buy some here, which comes in 1000 feet, but this will only run at Cat 6 specs, although compatible with Cat6A. You can also buy some pre-constructed 6A cables here, but that kind of defeats the purpose of this tutorial. They’re low-cost though, and practice is always helpful.
- Punch down tool – The easiest one to use is the V-Max Punch down tool if you choose to get the u-jacks. You’ll see why later in the tutorial, but this is optional if you get a regular jack.
- Cable tester — This is for testing the cable connection once you’re done. It is also not necessary and optional.
So let’s say you bought a little more than you need, which is completely fine. Take the cable, measure out the length you need, and then cut it with a few more inches (3-6”) left for slack and mistakes. If you’re replacing a broken jack, cut it off.
Now you have a fresh wire ready for priming. The first step was easy, but the rest isn’t too tough. It just takes some precision, which is why you bought extra :). If it makes you feel safer, practice this next step a bit on the left-over cable and then tackle the rest of the project. What we’re doing next is stripping the insulation that protects the wires inside. If you’re using the Rj45 crimp tool, then it’s easy: place the cable in between the blades and strip off the insulation. Scissors are a little more complicated because you need to cut around the cable without damaging the wires and then pull the insulation off.
Once you remove the insulation, you’ll notice four pairs of twisted wires. These are called twisted wire pairs, and they’re designed to block out alien interfering signals. But for this project, you’re going to carefully untwist the wires with your fingers and make them nice and straight. You’ll also notice that the wires come in different colors, or a blend of colors.
You’ll need to arrange them in this specific order from left-to-right: white/orange, orange, white/green, blue, white/blue, green, white/brown, brown. Once you have them in order, flatten them out and pinch the wires between your thumb and finger to hold them in place. If you have a regular jack, you may need to trim the wires if they’re uneven; they should all be even lengths for a regular jack. Now it’s time to place the wires in the jack. If you picked a u-jack, read part “A”; if you grabbed a regular kind of jack, read part “B”.
- Pick up the u-jack and you’ll see that the sides are color-coded for the standard placement of wires. You don’t necessarily need to follow this but since we have arranged the wires in this order already, might as well. Once you place all of the wires into the u-jack and it’s prepared, grab your punch down tool. Insert the u-jack into the punch down placement and squeeze. There you go; the connections have been set-up and terminated in 1-2-3.
- Pick up the jack and you should see some specific placements for each wire. This is not an option; it is the standard set-up (or should be). If there is a different set-up than the order specified, then comply accordingly. Insert the wires altogether into the jack and keep sliding them in until the tips connect to the contacts inside. If you mess-up, just pull out and do it again until they’re all correctly in position. Now place the jack into the hole of the crimp tool and squeeze the handles together until you hear a click. Keep applying the pressure for a few more seconds to make sure the connection sticks.
Congratulations, you’re pretty much done. You’ve made your very own Ethernet cord, yay! Now you just have to test the connection to make sure it’s running right. Just plug this bad boy into the wall and if you connect to the internet, then it clearly works. But for those of you that are very specific, that’s why material 6 was optional.
With the cable tester, just turn it on and plug the head of the cable into the open port. There will be 9 lights, and if all connections have been made correctly, then all but the last one (“G”) will light up. If the first 8 are lit then you’re done hooray! If not all 8 are lit, then a connection is missing and you may want to check the jack. If this is the problem, you’re going to have to cut off the jack and start over :(. If this is an Ethernet cable done from scratch, it takes two ends to make a connection so you’re not out of the woods yet. But that shouldn’t be too hard now, just repeat the steps.
You’re on your way to becoming your very own electrician, setting up Ethernet cables and soon entire home networks. How does it feel? Let me know what you think of this article and if you’d like to see more.