Have you ever had to make a networking cable on the fly? Have you ever had to troubleshoot a networking issue only to have it come down to an improperly crafted cable? It happens. Not every network cable is created equally, and it is those sometimes subtle differences that can make or break an installation.

The good news is, you have everything you need to understand networking cables right in your pocket. That’s right, within the Google Play Store, you’ll find plenty of apps to help you get up to speed with networking cables.

Let me introduce you to three Android apps that are up to the task.

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Networking Cables

Although the interface seems to be stuck in earlier Android iterations, the Networking Cables app does a fine job of serving up the information you need. On the main window of the app, you’ll find three categories to choose from: Twisted Pair Cable, Fiber Optic Cable, and Coaxial Cable. Tap on one of those entries to dive into the specifics. For instance, if you tap Twisted Pair Cable, you’ll be presented with a number of sub-categories (Figure A).

Figure A

Networking Cables running on a Verizon-branded Droid Turbo.

Tap on one of the sub-categories to gain more insight into the topic. For example, if you tap Crossover Cable, you’ll be presented with an illustration on how this particular cable is wired (Figure B).

Figure B

How to wire a crossover cable.

Some of the topics (such as Comparing STP and UTP) offer text and image information (such as throughput, cost, connector, noise immunity, etc.).

This app is free and will install on most all iterations of Android.

Wire Reference

If you need details on just about any type of network wiring, Wire Reference might be the app for you. This free and simple to use app offers information on:

  • TIA/EIA-568-A Cat5A
  • TIA/EIA-568-B Cat5B
  • RJ11
  • RJ14
  • Crossover 10Base-T
  • Crossover Gigabit T568A
  • Crossover Gigabit T568B
  • Power over Ethernet

From the main window, tap one of the categories. In the category information window, you’ll find the following possible tabs (not all are relevant to each category):

  • Standard (basic information about the wire)
  • Conductors (cable pair requirements)
  • Radius/Length (data on bend radius and cable segment length)
  • Diagram (color-coded wiring diagram)
  • Cable Pinouts (information specific to a particular cable termination)
  • Description (general overview of the cable)
  • Overview (more detailed information of the cable)

Each tab gives you specific information to help you better understand or successfully create your own cables. Pay special attention to the Diagram tab, as it gives you a visual representation of the color coding for a particular cable (Figure C).

Figure C

A color-coded T568B Wiring diagram.

RJ45 Cables Colors & Connections

If you just need a quick glance at how different networking cables are wired, RJ45 Cables Colors & Connections is a no-brainer. Tap on a connector from the main window to see the layout of wires for that particular cable (Figure D). You won’t find any information about the particular cables…just how to wire them.

Figure D

Diagram for a cross-over cable.

There are ads in this free app, but they are unobtrusive.

Wire it up!

These three apps should give you all the information you need to grasp the various types of networking cables and help you understand how to create your own cables correctly. Give one or all of these a try, and see if they can help your cabling skills.