[conspire] (forw) Re: [TAG] Wiring a house with ethernet

Dan Martinez dfm at razorwind.org
Tue Oct 18 15:50:52 PDT 2005

[This is my first attempt at posting to conspire. Please kill me
*gently* if it's off-topic or otherwise unauthorized, and I promise
never to do it again. Thanks.]

Rick wrote:

> Since I happen to be home and have my toolbag in front of me, I can now
> actually revisit the question of what can't-miss tools I own -- and get
> the brand names right, this time:

Oooh! Oooh! Oooh! Can I play? (Looking over my list, I realize it
looks suspiciously like I'm some kind of paid shill for Paladin Tools.
I'm not. I swear. I hadn't quite realized how often I wind up being
won over by the design details of the company's gear.)

> o  Ideal Industries, Inc. Crimpmaster (some model or other, not indicated)

I have a Crimpmaster Telemaster, and it's a very handy tool. It crimps
both RJ-11 and RJ-45 plugs, and includes cutting and stripping blades
as well. If you anticipate doing a mixture of voice and data wiring
and want to keep the number of tools in your kit to a minimum, it's
the one to pick.

However, when I expect to be doing a bunch of Ethernet-only crimping,
I tend to go with a Paladin CrimpALL/8000 ratchet tool, fitted with a
standard RJ-45 die.


Paladin claims that the CrimpALL/8000's mechanical design greatly
reduces the amount of force needed to produce a solid crimp. Simply
put, it's true. This is especially important if, say, you recently
managed to break your left wrist while mountain biking. A tool that
will solidly crimp while being operated one-handed is, under such
circumstances, a godsend.

FWIW, I've seen what appear to be Chinese clones of the CrimpALL/8000
on the racks at Halted <http://www.halted.com/>. I've no idea how they
compare to the Paladin version.

> o  Harris - Dracon Division model HD8762/D-814 punch tool ("impact tool")

I recently picked up a Paladin SurePunch Pro. It's similar to the
Harris unit, but adds a detachable LED light, angled to illuminate the
target contact, and has a pair of useful tools built into the handle:
a hook for splitting insulation, and a spudger that can be used to
pre-seat the wire.


> o  Siemon Company Modapt RJ45 pin-breakout tool (w/pin-diagrams for
>    T568A, T568B, and USOC)

Interesting. Didn't know that one. It took me a second to figure out
its purpose from the image and description I was able to dig up:


I take it that each of the indentations around the edge is a contact
corresponding to one of the pins? Elegant and useful, that. I might
have to get one.

I've been making do with a Paladin Patch-Check tester, which lets you
identify the pin correspondences between the ends of an RJ-11- or
RJ-45-terminated cable. This lets you verify the wiring on a cable
you've just made. It also lets you identify random cables you
encounter. ("What the heck is this?" <Click> <Click> "Oh, okay, it's
an Ethernet crossover cable.") Of course, YOU always rigorously label
your cables. But, um, OTHER people aren't always so thorough.


The Patch-Check's biggest failing, if it can be called that, is its
lack of a remote, meaning that it's of little use for diagnosing
in-wall wiring. Someday I'll need to do that, and get something

Let's see, what else do I have in my kit?

o Paladin Punchdown Stripper

This is handy for cutting the insulation off of everything from UTP to
coaxial cable. The fixed-depth blade makes it relatively easy to do so
without nicking the conductors beneath. It's small, lightweight, and
simple; the 110 punchdown blade integrated into the handle, while no
match for a full-bore impact punchdown tool, works surprisingly well
in a pinch and is a nice bonus.

o Panduit MP588-L Ethernet Plugs

As surely as any dropped piece of buttered toast will land
buttered-side-down, any Ethernet cable equipped with a bare standard
plug will, when pulled backward, snag its latch release on something.
Carpeting, furniture, other cables -- *something*. The standard
solution to this problem is the "boot", a little rubber shroud that
fits over the end of the jack to prevent snags. Unfortunately, if
you're plugging your cables into the kind of port with status LEDs
situated immediately above the jack, the boot can obscure your view of
the lights.

The Panduit MP588-L offers an alternative so elegant that one wishes
it were better known, if not more widely used. (Lack of widespread
adoption is probably due to Panduit's claiming a patent on the idea.)
Said idea, simply put, is to shape the latch release so that it bends
back down toward the body of the plug after rising. It's easier to
illustrate than it is to explain:


Panduit claims that you must use its MPT5-8 crimp tool, which lists
for $300 and is practically impossible to find anywhere, to crimp
these plugs, but I've had no problem using standard crimping tools.
Only a very few retailers offer the plugs on-line, but Graybar, in the
Bay Area at least, can order them for you with a one-day turnaround
time. They're noticeably more expensive than regular RJ-45 plugs, but
I think they're worth it.

o One or more Ethernet loopback plugs

While no substitute for full-blown cable testers with remotes,
loopback plugs make it relatively straightforward to verify that you
have correctly identified the patch-panel socket corresponding to a
network outlet somewhere else in the house. Plug the loopback plug
into the network outlet, then run a cable from the patch panel to your
switch. If the switch light for the newly-connected jack illuminates,
and all of your other networked gear is accounted for, you've
correctly identified the network outlet's patch-panel socket.

While there are people who will be happy to sell you "professional"
loopback plugs, homebrew ones work just as well and are easy to


Adapting the above pinout to produce a female loopback jack is
trivial, and left as an exercise for the reader. (It should be added
that loopback jacks, in my admittedly limited experience, are not as
frequently handy as loopback plugs. YMMV.)

Here's the professional version, in case you're curious:


Happy wiring, y'all.


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