Learning how to crimp an ethernet cable, in my opinion, is a very useful skill if you have an interest in computers or if you work a lot with networks or electronics in general. This article will take you through the steps and some tips I’ve learnt when crimping an ethernet cable.
What You’ll Need
- UTP Ethernet cable (length and CAT depending on your requirements, see below )
- RJ45 Connectors
- Rubber Protectors
- RJ45 Crimping tool
- Network Cable Tester
Step 1 – Strip The Outer Sheeve
Most crimping tools are able to strip the outer sheath of the wire to expose the inner cables, use this to expose about 1.5cm of the inner wires. If your crimping tool doesn’t have this then you can use a separate stripping tool or a pair of scissors to lightly score the sheave and then twist to remove. Be sure to check that the cables haven’t been cut as some crimping tools / strippers aren’t correctly aligned or a designed for thinner cables.
Step 2 – Cut off the Cotton Strand
Most ethernet cables will have either cotton strands or plastic separators in them to take the strain when the cable when being pulled or to reduce cross-interference respectively. Use a pair of scissors to cut this off.
Tip: At this point, I’ll usually hold the wires and pull the sheave back slightly as it’ll give you more wire to work with making it easier to manipulate, in a later step I’ll push the sheave back again.
Step 3 – Add a Rubber Protector
Put a rubber protector onto the cable. When the cable is being used this will help protect the clip on the RJ45 head that prevents the wire from coming loose in the port.
Step 4 – Untwist and Order the Pairs
Untwist the 8 wires so that they are in this order from left to right. White–Orange, Orange, White-Green, Blue, White-Blue, Green, White-Brown, Brown.
Tip: To make the wires stay in place I hold them between my thumb and index finger then bend the wire towards me and then away from me.
Step 5 – Cut to Straighten the Cables
Use a pair of scissors to cut the tip of the wires so that they form a straight line. This will help later on when inserting the wire into the RJ45 head.
Step 6 – Insert the Cable into the Connector
This step is where the most can go wrong so take your time and double check all your work. Grab an RJ45 connector and hold it with the clip facing away from you. Insert the cable with the White-Orange on the left-hand side. While inserting, check to see that the wires didn’t come out of order. When inserted check that all the cables reach the top of the connector and that they are in the correct order. Ideally, the sheave should be pushed up as much as it can go, this will help to protect the cable in the long run.
Step 7 – Crimp the Connector
Insert the cable into the crimping tool and crimp the cable. Afterwards, push the rubber protector over the connector.
Step 8 – Repeat for Other End
Repeat steps 1 – 7 for the other end of the cable.
Step 9 – Test the Cable
Grab your cable tester, insert both ends of the cable and test. Depending on the cable tester you will be looking for all the lights to light up and no errors reported.
Do take note that there are many different cable testers, some better than others. Mine will be one of the more simplistic ones where all the lights will light up at the same time. The downside to this is that it might not detect shorts or crossovers 100% of the time, so do to take note. The next best cable tester is where the transmitter and receiver both have lights on them and they test each cable one at a time in sequential order. This way you can see that cable 1 on each side lights up together and so forth for the rest. This will tell you if any of the pairs aren’t properly connected, or if there are shorts and crossovers 100% of the time. Other more advanced cable testers are great in that they can tell you the length of the cable and which pairs have been crossed etc but it will come at a higher price tag and I would only recommend this for people who crimp cables on a very regular basis but they are worth the money!
If you have finished all the steps and your cable tester says that you have a working cable and you have tested it on a computer then your work is done!
If you having trouble with the cable here are some tips to help diagnose what might be wrong:
- Visually check that the 8 cables on each side of the ethernet cable are in the correct order and that they have been pushed all the way to the top.
- Is your cable tester telling you there two of the wires are touching each other (short) or that some of the wires might have come out of order, if so then there
- Is there a break in your cable? This one is a bit hard to detected and mostly will be guesswork unless you have a more advanced cable tester.
- Check that the cable has good grade copper inside. You can do this by stripping down the cable down to the copper and then scrape away the outer layer. If its copper coloured all the way through then highly likely it’ll be good grade copper. I once bought cheap cable from China and it wouldn’t work past 20 metres and the reason was that it wasn’t copper all the way through.
- Ethernet has a theoretical limit of 100 metres and it is not advisable to exceed this distance.
- CAT 5 ethernet can only do 100 megabits/sec (T-base 100) up to 100 metres.
- CAT 5e ethernet can do 1000 megabits/sec (T-base 1000) up to 100 metres. This to this day is the most common cable you’ll come across but is not considered future proof. But for home use generally speaking will be more than enough for the immediate future.
- CAT 6 ethernet can do 10000 megabits/sec (T-base 10000) up to 100 metres and provides better shielding to minimise interference.