Knowledge Center

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What Are The Tools Of The Trade For Network Data Cabling Installation?

When installing a network cabling system you can make your life a lot easier if you have all the right tools of the trade. To be honest you really shouldn’t even think about attempting to do it without the right tools. As doing so will not only most likely take you much longer with a lot of frustration along the way, but you will also probably end up doing a substandard job.

Choosing the right tools

When it comes to choosing the right tools you do have to be prepared to spend some serious money if you want a complete kit of quality tools.

If you are a DIYer you can probably get away with only spending a few hundred dollars. But if you are a professional looking for tools then you need to understand that you are making an investment in your future business and that can mean thousands of dollars.

It is often a total waste of time and money buying the cheapest version of a tool as it will either not do the job properly or will only last 5 minutes. That being said you don’t need to get the most expensive models either. Just take your time choosing and compare all the different features.

There are numerous online catalogs and e-commerce sites that sell the different tools and parts you need to complete your cabling tool kit such as:

  • Amazon
  • e-Bay
  • Jensen Tools & Supplies
  • Siemon

But if you are one of those people who like to have a feel of tools before you decide to buy them then you are better to search out the local distributors in your particular area. In the Philadelphia we prefer ADI supply houses with several in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Common Cabling Tools
Some common cabling tools to have in your kit are wire strippers, cable crimpers, punch-down tools, fish tape and testing tools. Most of these tools are pretty much essential for installing even the most basic of cabling systems.

Wire Strippers (aka Snips)

When choosing the type of wire strippers that you need, take into account the type of cabling that you want to strip. Do you need strippers for UTP, coaxial wire or fiber optic cable? Strippers that are used to remove the outer jacket of UTP, STP, SCTP cables are normally adjustable due to the fact that they have to be wide enough to go around the different cable width and also handle the uneven surfaces, without causing any damage to the insulation.

Coaxial wire strippers come with two or three different depth settings which relate to the different layers of the wires material and usually have settings that you can adjust to choose the correct layer. Fiber optic cable strippers are specialized tools that look similar to a multi gauge wire stripper. They have notches on them to provide the right depth of penetration of the cable.

Cable Crimpers

Crimpers are a specifically designed tool that applies force evenly when used to connect modular plugs and coaxial connectors to the end of the cables. Some types of crimpers have a ratchet mechanism that ensures a complete crimp cycle has been made. There are two types of cable crimpers to use with twisted pair or coaxial cable and they either have a fixed size crimp opening or come with changeable ends.

Punch Down Tool

A punch down tool is also known as a chrome tool and consists of a handle, spring mechanism and removable blade. Its job is to insert the wires into insulation displacement connectors on patch panels, a punch down box and Keystone modules. It literally punches the wire into place using an impact action (hence the name) and the blade then cuts off any excess wire.

Fish Tapes

A fish tape (also known as a draw wire or tape) is a flexible long steel tape, wire or fiberglass rod that can go around corners and bends without kinking; but is stiff enough to be able to be pushed through long confined spaces.

Voltage Meters

If you want to check if an electrical circuit has a light voltage you could always just touch it, but that isn’t something that we would advise you to do; seriously, don’t do it. So having a simple voltage meter in your kit is always a good idea.

Cable Testers

A cable tester is used to test the strength and connectivity of a particular type of cable or wire and there are numerous types of cable testers available on the market ranging in price from under $100 to over $5,000. The simplest type of tester available is a cable toning tool which is a basic continuity tester to determine that the cable has been properly installed at both ends.

Cable Pulling Tools

Pulling cable can be a monstrous task when you are trying to get the cables through an area between the structural ceiling and a false ceiling. A cable pulling tool can be a godsend for the process and they can be either telescoping pole tools or pulleys that the cables are threaded through allowing for more cables to be pulled without exceeding the maximum tension.

Wire Pulling Lubricant

Another useful tool for wire pulling through conduit or raceways is a special wire pulling lubricant that allows the cables to slide easily over rough surfaces.

Cable Marking Supplies

A professionally installed cabling system should be properly documented and while some installers even use color coding on the cables, a simple but effective way, is to assign a number to each cable using wire marking labels.

professional network cabling tool kit
What’s in a Professional Network Cabling
Techs Kit?

Check out one of our many informative YouTube videos! Feel free to explore out Tutorials, Experts on Location, Tips and even our Extras!

Learn the Basics of Cabling on Your Own
Below we review some of the key factors in the network cabling business.

What is Network Cabling?

Cable is the medium through which information usually moves from one network device to another. There are several types of cable which are commonly used with LANs. In some cases, a network will utilize only one type of cable while other networks will use a variety of cable types. The type of cable chosen for a network is related to the networks topology, protocol and size. Understanding the characteristics of different types of cable and how they relate to other aspects of a network is necessary for the development of a successful network.

 

Bridgecable.com handles all types of network cabling installs. You can review the complete list on our Services page or review our YouTube page.

Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP) Cable

Twisted pair cabling comes in two varieties: shielded and unshielded. Unshieled twisted pair (UTO) is the most popular and is generally the best option for business networks. The quality of UTP may vary from telephone-grade wire to extremely high-speed cable.

 

The cable has four pairs of wires inside the jacket. Each pair is twisted with a different number of twists per inch to help eliminate interference from adjacent pairs and other electrical devices. The tighter the twisting, the higher the supported transmission rate and the greater the cost per foot.

Unshielded Twisted Pair Connector

The standard connector for unshieleded twisted pair cabling is an RJ-45 connector. This is a plastic connector that looks like a large telephone style connector. A slot allows the RJ-45 to be inserted only one way. RJ stands for Registered Jack, implying that the connector follows a standard borrowed from the telephone industry. This standard designates which wire goes with each pin inside the connector.

Shielded Twisted Pair (STP) Cable

A disadvantage of UTP is that it may be susceptible to radio and electrical frequency interference. Shielded twisted pair (STP) is suitable for environments with electrical interference. However, the extra shielding can make the cables quite bulky. Shielded twisted pair is often on networks using Token Ring topology.

Coaxial Cable

Coaxial cabling has a single copper conductor at its center. A plastic layer provides insulation between the center conductor and a braided metal shield. The metal shield helps to block any outside interference from the fluorescent lights, motors and other computers.

 

Although coaxial cabling is difficult to install, it is highly resistant to signal interference. In addition, it can support greater cable lengths between network devices than twisted pair cable. The two types of coaxial cabling are thick coaxial and thin coaxial.

 

Thin coaxial cable is also referred to as thin net. 10Base2 refers to the specifications for thin coaxial cable carrying Ethernet signals. The 2 refers to the approximate maximum segment length being 200 meters. In actual fact the maximum segment length is 185 meters. Thin coaxial cable is popular in business networks, especially linear bus networks.

 

Thick coaxial cable is also referred to as thicknet. 10Base5 refers to the specifications for thick coaxial cable carrying Ethernet signals. The 5 refers to the maximum segment length being 500 meters. Thick coaxial cable has an extra protective plastic cover that helps keep moisture away from the center conductor. This makes thick coaxial a great choice when running longer lengths in a linear bus network. One disadvantage of thick coaxial is that it does not bend easily and is difficult to install.

Coaxial Cable Connectors

The most common type of connector used with coaxial cables is the Bayone-Neil-Concelman (BNC) connector. Different types of adapters are available for BNC connectors, including a T-connector, barrel connector and terminator.

 

Connectors on the cable are the weakest points in any network. To help avoid problems with your network, always use the BNC connectors that crimp rather than screw onto the cable.

Fiber Optic Cable

Fiber optic cabling consists of a center glass core surrounded by several layers of protective materials. It transmits light rather than electronic signals eliminating the problem of electrical interference. This makes it ideal for certain environments that contain a large amount of electrical interference. It has also made it the standard for connecting networks between buildings due to its immunity to the effects of moisture and lighting. We do indeed do all types of network cabling services for your company!

 

Fiber optic cable has the ability to transmit signals over a much larger distance than coaxial or twisted pair. It also has the capability to carry information at vastly greater speeds. This capacity broadens communication possibilities to include services such as video conferencing and interactive services. The cost of fiber optic cabling is comparable to copper cabling, however, it is more difficult  to install and modify. 10BaseF refers to the specifications for fiber optic cable carrying Ethernet signals.

 

Facts about fiber optic cables:

-Outer insulating jacket is made of Teflon or PVC

-Kevlar fiber helps to strengthen the cable and prevent breakage

-A plastic coating is used to cushion the fiber center

-The center (core) is made of glass or plastic fibers.

Fiber Optic Connector

The most common connector used wit fiber optic cable is an ST connector. It is barrel shaped, similar to a BNC connector. A newer connector, the SC, is becoming more popular. It has a squared face and is easier to connect in a confined space.

Wireless LANs

Not all networks are connected with cabling. Some networks are wireless. Wireless LANs use high frequency radio signals, infrared light beams or lasers to communicate between the workstations and the file server or hubs. Each workstation and file server on aw wireless network has some sort of transceiver/antenna to send and receive the data. Information is relayed between transceivers as if they were physically connected. For longer distance, wireless communications can also take lace through cellular telephone technology, microwave transmission or by satellite. Wireless LANs have several disadvantages. They are very expensive, provide poor security and are susceptible to inference from lights and electronic devices. They are also slower than LANs using cabling.

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Network Cable Installation Pricing

Wondering what are the costs associated with the various installs of all the types of low voltage wiring including data and voice?

Without a local Project Manager that BridgeCable.com, Bridge Group Services, sends out to you this is a difficult question. Many of our competitors will just send a template proposal but without actually looking at the structure where the installation is to occur this could be overlooking certain challenges. For example: a firewall in a drop ceiling might be in place, various pipes.

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Network Data Cabling Management

We can provide solutions for network cabling management for all of your projects. We serve the local Philadelphia Pennsylvania areas as well as New York City and surrounding New Jersey cities.

It is the placement of your cabling and especially in an enterprise situation, provides ease of wire management for troubleshooting and replacement of cables.