Punching cable Part 1 – Patch panel, cables, switches

Introduction

The other weekend I got the opportunity to practice my cable punching skills and learn a little more about the wiring behind networks and phone systems. In this post I’ll briefly give a quick overview of a project I had the chance to work on and part 2 will look at how this can translate into the home environment.

Part 2 will also look at how these home applications can be used with the intelligent heating system I am building.

Punching cable

My wife’s family business is currently going through the process of building a new office, and as a result of this there is a substantial amount of phone and network cabling that is required in order to support the staff. Along with one of the employees I spent a weekend hooking up the cables the electricians had run from the network and phone sockets to the patch boards in the phone room.

Cables!

Cables!

As you can see in the photo above there was a substantial amount of work to be done.

In total we had a trunk cable with 50 pair leading from the PBX to a patch board, 48 cables running from phone sockets (these are the white cables) to the same patch board as the trunk and another 48 Cat-5 cables (the blue) which will be used for ethernet.

Our first job was to take the loose end of the Cat-5 and punch this into the patch panel.

Patch board

Patch board

Patch panels are relatively cheap and can be picked up at Home Depot for example. For most home projects a 12 port patch panel should do the trick, and only set you back around $30

In order to attach the cable you will need a punch down cable installation tool.

TRIPPLITE TrippLite 110/66 Punch Down Cable Installation Kit

Dell – TRIPPLITE TrippLite 110/66 Punch Down Cable Installation Kit

These can be picked up online, or at most good stores that stock electronic/electrical products.

For this project we were following the B standard (T568B) of Cat-5 termination. There are two standards you can following, T568A and T568B, Wikipedia provides a more in-depth look at the differences.

The process of punching the cable itself for the B standard is relatively straight forward.

You simply match up the cable pair by color with the schematic on the back of the panel and then punch the cable into place using the tool shown above.

Once the cable was punched into place, the next task was to test our work to ensure the cable was sending a signal from the wall socket to the patch panel.

Testing the cable

Testing the cable

The photo above shows both the phone line toner and the network line tester. Both of these devices work in a similar manner. You hook one end up to the wall socket, and then in the case of the network tester, plug it into the patch board, and in the case of the toner, hold the sensor tip over the phone line on the patch board.

When you hit the test button on the network tester you should see all the light go green to indicate that the connection is good. With the toner, when you hold the sensor tip over the connected phone line on the patch board you’ll hear a sound that indicates you have a signal.

You can see some example of these tool here.

We repeated the above process of punching and testing until the 48 phone lines, trunk cable and 48 Cat-5 cables were complete.

You can see the finished work below on the phone patch board with the phone lines and the Trunk hooked up:

Phone patch board

Phone patch board

And here is the completed job, ready for the switches to be attached to the network patch board.

Punching cable complete

Punching cable complete

Conclusion

The above process has given me a good overview of how to set up cables and get them in punched in ready to use. As with most things in electronics, practice makes perfect. Once you get the hang of punching cable it is relatively easy. It will also give you the ability to cable Cat-5 in your own home taking some of the load of your Wi-Fi connection if you have hardware that needs a good solid, strong connection.

In Part 2 we will look at the home application of installing a network switch and implementing a patchboard.

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