What You Need:
Cable - bulk Category (Cat) 5, 5e, 6 or higher cable Wire Cutters - to cut and strip the cable if necessary For Patch Cables: RJ45 Plugs RJ45 Crimper For Fixed Wiring: RJ45 Jacks 110 Punch Down Tool
Wire Stripper Cable Tester
About the Cable:
You can find bulk supplies of the cable at many computer stores or most electrical or home centers. You want UTP (Unshielded Twisted Pair) cable of at least Category 5. Cat 5 is required for basic 10/100 functionality, you will want Cat 5e for gigabit (1000BaseT) operation and Cat 6 or higher gives you a measure of future proofing. Bulk cable comes in many types, there are 2 basic categories, solid and braided cable. Braided cable tends to work better in patch applications for desktop use. It is more flexible and resilient than solid cable and easier to work with, but really meant for shorter lengths. Solid cable is meant for longer runs in a fixed position. Plenum rated cable must be used whenever the cable travels through an air circulation space. For example, above a false ceiling or below a raised floor. It may be difficult or impossible to tell from the package what type of cable it is, so peal out an end and investigate. Here is what the internals of the cable look like:
Internal Cable Structure and Color Coding Inside the cable, there are 8 color coded wires. These wires are twisted into 4 pairs of wires, each pair has a common color theme. One wire in the pair being a solid or primarily solid colored wire and the other being a primarily white wire with a colored stripe (Sometimes cables won't have any color on the striped wire, the only way to tell which is which is to check which wire it is twisted around). Examples of the
naming schemes used are: Orange (alternatively Orange/White) for the solid colored wire and White/Orange for the striped cable. The twists are extremely important. They are there to counteract noise and interference. It is important to wire according to a standard to get proper performance from the cable. The TIA/EIA-568-A specifies two wiring standards for an 8-position modular connector such as RJ45. The two wiring standards, T568A and T568B vary only in the arrangement of the colored pairs. Tom writes to say "...sources suggest using T568A cabling since T568B is the AT&T standard, but the US Government specifies T568A since it matches USOC cabling for pairs 1 & 2, which allows it to work for 1/2 line phones...". Your choice might be determined by the need to match existing wiring, jacks or personal preference, but you should maintain consistency. I've shown both below for straight through cabling and just T568B for cross over cabling.
About RJ45 Plugs and Jacks:
The RJ45 plug is an 8-position modular connector that looks like a large phone plug. There are a couple variations available. The primary variation you need to pay attention to is whether the connector is intended for braided or solid wire. For braided/stranded wires, the connector has sharp pointed contacts that actually pierce the wire. For solid wires, the connector has fingers which cut through the insulation and make contact with the wire by grasping it from both sides. The connector is the weak point in an ethernet cable, choosing the wrong one will often cause grief later. If you just walk into a computer store, it's nearly impossible to tell what type of plug it is. You may be able to determine what type it is by crimping one without a cable. RJ45 jacks come in a variety styles intended for several different mounting options. The choice is one of requirements and preference. RJ45 jacks are designed to work only with solid cable. Most jacks come labeled with color codes for either T568A, T568B or both. Make sure you end up with the correct one. Here is a diagram and pin out:
RJ45 Plug and Jack Pin Out
Ethernet Cable Pin Outs:
There are two basic...