Most networking devices ship with Ethernet cables that let you connect the hardware to your network. Many of these cables, however, are of a fixed length usually measuring no more than four feet. That lack of length doesn't present many placement options for devices that are not portable and usually are hard-wired to a network such as routers, switches, servers and NASes.
Of course, you can purchase longer Ethernet cables from electronic/computer stores. Buying pre-made Ethernet cables is the most practical option if you have a couple of devices to setup on a small or home network. But what if you are responsible for a large network, or several networks, as a small business tech consultant? Or, what if you need a super-long cable that you just can't find in the store? The answer is simple: Make your own cables. Ethernet cables (also known as RJ-45, patch, and network cables) are easy to make with a little practice and the right tools.
We'll show you how to make your own cables which are exactly the right length in seven steps – and even if you don't plan on making anything, you might still find it interesting to see how it's done.
Okay, on with the show...
Get the right tools. You will need a spool of Cat5 (Cat5e is now the standard) or Cat6 (if your network is Gigabit Ethernet) cable. Cat5 or Cat6 cable can have plenum or PVC jackets. PVC cable is cheaper, but it also releases a toxic smoke if it catches on fire, so some building codes prohibit it. Plenum, on the other hand, does not release these toxic fumes. If you have no prohibitions preventing the use of PVC and are new to making Ethernet cables, your best bet is to
You'll also need RJ-45 plugs or "heads," plastic modular plugs that terminate both ends of the cable, a wire cutter (or a good, sharp pair of scissors), a wire stripper and an RJ-45 crimper. The crimper is used to secure the heads at each end of the wire. You can purchase crimpers, cable and plugs from a slew of online stores or computer shops.
Terminate the cable at both ends. Straighten the wires out as much as possible; it will make them easier to place inside of the RJ-45 plug. Get the wires as close to one another as possible, holding them between your thumb, index, and middle fingers. Trim the wires down evenly to about a quarter of an inch. Here's the tricky part that may take some practice: Slip the wires inside of the RJ-45 plug with the clip-side down. Don't try to jam the wires in, they should slip inside the clip and fit snug. You don't want to see any wires between the plug and the jacket; you want just a bit of the jacket going into the plug. You also want to make sure each wire is making contact with the gold leads in the plug.
Take the crimper and crimp down on the plug, pressing the crimper firmly, but not too hard.
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