Category five (CAT 5) unshielded twisted pair (UTP) cable is by far the dominant wiring infrastructure for corporate networks. This type of cable is composed of four UTPs of wiring and is capable of carrying a bandwidth of at least 100 Mbps over a distance of at least 100 meters. CAT 5 UTP cable provides a good compromise between reliability, security, and cost.
Because of CAT 5’s prevalence, many IT support technicians are constantly using patch cables, both standard and crossover, to connect new workstations to the network. While preassembled cables (see Figure A) can be purchased in several lengths (usually between two feet and 25 feet), it is sometimes necessary to create a custom cable. This process may be a bit intimidating to the inexperienced, but TechRepublic can help. Our CAT 5 Patch Cable/Crossover Creation Guide offers easy-to-follow instructions for creating a standard and crossover CAT 5 cable of any length.
|Preassembled standard CAT 5 cable|
Necessary tools and materials
Before creating a CAT 5 patch cable, you will need three things: the CAT 5 UTP wire, plenty of RJ-45 connectors (to attach to the cable ends), and a crimp tool. You can usually purchase CAT 5 cable for around 10 cents per foot. However, there are different types of CAT 5 cable, some of which may cost up to $2.50 per foot. For most installations, however, the less-expensive cable will work fine. The RJ-45 connectors, shown in Figure B, typically sell for 25 to 50 cents each. Be sure to buy plenty of extra ones because installing them may take some practice. Once a connector has been crimped, it can't be reused.
|An RJ-45 connector already attached to a CAT 5 cable|
You can usually buy a crimp tool, shown in Figure C, for about $40 from the same place you buy the RJ-45 connectors. With your tools in hand, you’re ready to begin.
|Crimp tools cost around $40 but are well worth the expense.|
Did you know that you don’t actually utilize all eight wires that are included in a CAT 5 cable? Most preassembled CAT 5 cables have all eight wires crimped, however, the only wires used are the green and orange pair.
Getting the TechRepublic CAT 5 Patch Cable Creation Guide
You can download our CAT 5 Patch/Crossover Cable Creation Guide by following this link or by clicking on the Downloads link in the navigation bar at the top of this page. TechRepublic has many useful documents, templates, and applications available for download, so be sure to check out our other offerings.
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Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop support specialist in the social research and energy industries. He has bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Louisville, where he has also lectured on computer crime and crime prevention.