I’m Not Properly Equipped

As you already know, I spent last weekend on Lake Mead at Temple Bar Marina. They _were_ without a _real_ network and since I’ve already done work for the company, my name came up when the “who do I call?” question came out.

There are many things I can do with computers. When people ask me exactly what I can do, I tell them everything except programming, which isn’t 100% true, but I don’t count HTML or batch files programming.

Of the skills in my quiver is small office networking. I don’t know Cisco routers (yet), I don’t really know routing tables and DNS (still) gives me fits. That said, if you have an office with 50 or less workstations and a server or 2, I could hook you up.

Of the skills that wasn’t was recently added to my quiver is cabling. Sure I could pull a cable through a hole to connect to a machine under a table, tie-wrap them together to make them look nice and all that. I mean starting-with-raw-cable-and-pulling-it-through-a-building cabling. I’ve never really done that for many reason, one of which is that I don’t have the tools required to do it correctly. Or the patience.

Saturday morning I did a full site walk and started planning where everything was going to go, including setting the spot in the office to be “the server room”, since they don’t have one. Once that was done, I sat down with my 1k feet of CAT5e cable and a brand new bag of RJ-45 adapters and began attempting to make custom length cables. Why? I was trying to do this as cheaply as possible. A bag of 50 RJ-45 ends is about $8 at Fry’s where as punch-down blocks and biscuit jacks cost that much for 2.

An hour later, I was making a run for punch-down blocks and biscuit jacks.

If you haven’t tried to make your own network cables, it’s a little bit like trying to thread a needle. No, scratch that. It’s a little bit like trying to thread 8 needles that have been fused together. And the holes made smaller. and surrounded by a plastic sheath. Assuming you can get all 8 wires (oh yea, in the correct order) in their little slots fully, then you need a special tool to crimp the RJ-45 jack down to secure the wires. They have machines to do this and I now know why.

I ended up pulling about 500′ of cable to create a network with 12 nodes possible and it worked. Now I’m stuck with a bag of RJ-45 ends and a crimp tool. Looks like I’m going to have to give making my own cables another go.

By Don

Lead bottle washer at donburnside.com, host at whiteroofradio.com and tech guru for the MotoringFile family of sites.


  1. I did Inside PLant install for Uncle Sam for a few years and COMPLETELY hear you on the RJ-45’s db, lol. The only thing worse (IMO) is polishing fiber connectors 🙁

  2. As I’ve not polished fiber connectors before, I will go with you on being worse. Making net cables is just frustrating, but not tedious and boring 😉

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