Although CAT 6 cable is a growing standard in the world of computer networking, bulk CAT 5 cable remains a trusted standard that is not going away quickly–especially when you include CAT 5e in the mix. In this short primer, we’ll explain what exactly CAT 5 is and even focus on how to make your own.

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In the world of Ethernet cables, Bulk CAT 5 cable is considered the original. Within a CAT 5 cable are four pairs of wires twisted together, and contained within the same jacket. This ingenious design lowers the interference from other airs as well as from external sources. This interference is known as crosstalk. CAT 5 performance specs were created to be used in networks that operate at speeds of up to 100Mbit/s. A 100BASETX Ethernet is how bulk CAT 5 cable is most often used.

As network technology advanced, Enhanced CAT, otherwise called CAT 5e, was developed. While it is part of the CAT 5 family its specifications for performance and speed are stricter. CAT 5e can also be used with Gigabit networks–one of the chief aspects separating it from regular CAT 5. Gigabit networks are those that have transfer speeds up to 1000Mbit/s (such as 100BASET). A slight modified wiring setup in CAT e also gives it superior protection from crosstalk. Wire Crimp Tester

Today, CAT 5e has become the heir to the name CAT 5, replacing it in most networks. Although you can still find CAT 5 here and there, CAT 5e is widely known to be superior. And since they both cost about the same amount of money, there’s little reason to stick with the older iteration of bulk cat 5 cable.

Some people who don’t want to keep spending money for cables have taken to creating their own. It’s not that difficult, provided you’re not afraid of dealing with thin wires and doing a little cutting. here’s how to make one if you feel up to the challenge.

Start by measuring how much length you need for your cable. Add 4 or 5 inches to this number to make sure you have some slack to work with.

Using some wire strippers, strip about an inch or a bit more off the cable. Then untwist the flexible cables down to the rubber shield. You should be sure to have around half an inch exposed, because you’ll want these wires to contact the RJ45 connector.

Next, check and be sure that each wire is in its correct position before you put on the RJ45. The colors for normal ends will go as follows (moving from left to right): white – orange, orange, white – green, blue, blue – white, green, brown – white, brown. The colors for crossover cables will go, again from left to right: green – white, green, orange – white, blue, blue – white, orange, brown – white, and brown.

Now make sure that each of the wires are in the right position prior to putting on the RJ45. For normal ends, the colors will go, from right to left, brown, white-brown, green, white-blue, blue, white-green, orange, white-orange. For crossover cables, it will be brown, white-brown, orange, white-blue, blue, white-orange, green, white-green.

Next, you should put on the RJ45 connector. As you do,make sure that the copper ends touch the metal plates. If they don’t touch, you’ll need to re-organize the wires until they do.

And finally, crimp using your crimping tool. At this point you’ll have one end terminated. Now just repeat the second through sixth steps for the other end. Use an Ethernet tester to make sure it’s working; if so, the lights will light up green. If that happens, you’ve succeeded in your project.

Bulk CAT 5 cable is an excellent option for most networking needs. Thousands of businesses rely on it because of its reliability, speed and ease-of-use. And it also helps that it’s so affordable.

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