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LAN & WAN Basics

Patch Panel Punch-down

Once I had all the outlet boxes terminated, I turned my attention to the patch panels. This was where the cable tracing kit that I described earlier came in handy, along with a cable test kit I had purchased a few years ago (Figure 7).

Cable Test kit

Figure 7: Cable Test kit

I forget where I got mine (Figure 7 comes from Altex Computers and Electronics), but they are pretty widely available. The kit consists of the larger test box, smaller "remote", adapter cables and carrying case. All you need to do is plug the boxes into the two ends of a cable run, turn the test box on and put it into auto (scan) mode.

Testin' cables

Figure 8: Testin' cables

If you've connected everything up correctly, the lights will march in sequence from 1 to 8; if not, you've got work to do.

Tip TIP: Since you'll be connecting into jacks at both ends, you'll need two known-good normal Ethernet patch cables in order to plug in the testers.

So my patch panel punch-down sequence went something like this:

1) Walk to an outlet box and plug the cable tracer tone generator into a white (data) jack or blue (phone) jack (the built-in RJ11 cable was handy for this).

2) Walk back to the patch panel, use the cable tracer probe to find the tone, then mark the cable. ( Direct contact with the wire isn't necessary, since the probe senses the RF field created by the tone generator.)

3) Walk back to the outlet box and remove the generator so that I don't accidently short it while cutting and terminating the cable on the other end. (The tone generator might have had output protection built-in, but I wasn't going to risk it.)

4) Walk back to the panel, complete the punchdown, and plug in the cable tester.

5) Walk back to the outlet, plug in the cable tester remote and cross my fingers.

6) Rinse and repeat

You can see I would have saved a lot of hassle (and walking) by not screwing up on the cable marking!

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